The German Shepherd is a breed of medium to large-sized working dog that originated in Germany. The breed's officially recognized name is German Shepherd Dog in the English language, sometimes abbreviated as GSD and was also formerly known as the Alsatian in Britain. The German Shepherd is a relatively new breed of dog, with their origin dating to 1899.
German Shepherds are medium to large-sized dogs. The breed standard height at the withers is 60–65 cm (24–26 in) for males and 55–60 cm (22–24 in) for females. The weight standard is 30–40 kilograms (66–88 lb) for males and 22–32 kilograms (49–71 lb) for females. They have a domed forehead, a long square-cut muzzle with strong jaws and a black nose. The eyes are medium-sized and brown with a lively, intelligent and self-assured look. The ears are large and stand erect, open at the front and parallel, but they often are pulled back during movement. They have a long neck, which is raised when excited and lowered when moving at a fast pace. The tail is bushy and reaches to the hock.
German Shepherds have a two-layer coat which is close and dense with a thick undercoat. The coat is accepted in two variants; medium and long. The long-hair gene is recessive, making the long-hair variety rarer. Treatment of the long-hair variation differs across standards; they are accepted but not competed with standard coated dogs under the German and UK Kennel Clubs while they can compete with standard coated dogs but are considered a fault in the American Kennel Club. The FCI accepted the long-haired type in 2010, listing it as the variety b—while short-haired type is listed as the variety a.
Most commonly, German Shepherds are either tan/black or red/black. Most color varieties have black masks and black body markings which can range from a classic "saddle" to an over-all "blanket." Rarer color variations include the sable, pure-black, pure-white, liver and blue varieties. The all-black and sable varieties are acceptable according to most standards; however, the blue and liver are considered to be serious faults and the all-white is grounds for instant disqualification from showing in conformation at All Breed and Specialty Shows.
German Shepherds are moderately active dogs and are described in breed standards as self-assured. The breed is marked by a willingness to learn and an eagerness to have a purpose. They are curious, which makes them excellent guard dogs and suitable for search missions. They can become over-protective of their family and territory, especially if not socialized correctly. They are not inclined to become immediate friends with strangers. German Shepherds are highly intelligent and obedient.
Aggression and biting
Well-trained and socialized German Shepherds have a reputation of being very safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs each year, but bully breeds are less often to blame than many other breeds, including chow chows and German shepherds. An Australian report from 1999 provides statistics showing that German Shepherds are the breed third most likely to attack a person in some Australian locales.
Many common ailments of the German Shepherds are a result of the inbreeding practiced early in the breed's life (although this was necessary to preserve other traits for the breed). One such common ailment is hip and elbow dysplasia which may lead to the dog experiencing pain in later life and may cause arthritis. A study conducted by the University of Zurich found that 45% of the police working dogs were affected by degenerative spinal stenosis, although the sample studied was small. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals found that 19.1% of German Shepherd are affected by hip dysplasia. Due to the large and open nature of their ears, German Shepherds are not prone to ear infections because there is no hair in the outer ear canal to hold debris or moisture. According to a recent survey in the UK, the median life span of German Shepherds is 10.95 years, which is normal for a dog of their size.
Degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disease, occurs with enough regularity specifically in the breed to suggest that the breed is predisposed to it. A very inexpensive DNA saliva test is now available to screen for degenerative myelopathy. The test screens for the mutated gene that has been seen in dogs with degenerative myelopathy. A small study in the UK showed 16% of young asymptomatic GSDs to be homozygous for the mutation, with a further 38% being carriers. Now that a test is available the disease can be bred out of breeds with a high preponderance. The test is only recommended for predisposed breeds, but can be performed on DNA from any dog on samples collected through swabbing the inside of the animal's cheek with a sterile cotton swab. Now that there is a test available, prospective German Shepherd buyers can request the test from the breeder or buy from a breeder known to test their dogs.
Additionally, German Shepherds have a higher than normal incidence of Von Willebrand disease, a common inherited bleeding disorder, and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), a degenerative disease of the pancreas. It is estimated that 1% of the UK GSD population suffers from this disease. Treatment is usually in the form of pancreatic supplements being given with food.
|Other names|| Alsatian (UK)
Alsatian wolf dog (UK)
|Common nicknames||Alsatian, Deutscher Schäferhund, DSH, GSD, Shepherd, Schäferhund|