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German Shepherd Dog History and Characteristics
The German Shepherd Dog is also known by these other names: Alsace, Deutscher Schaferhund, GSD.
German Shepherd’s temperament
The German Shepherd is among the most intelligent of dogs and its versatility and excellence in performing all sorts of activities has secured its eternal position in the hall of fame when it comes to police duties, search and rescue, military functions such as bomb-sniffing and even as human sight dogs , who are blind or those with impaired vision. The German Shepherd is a quick study and, due to their innately high intelligence, is very easy to train.
These dogs are active, alert and, like many other animals of high intelligence and active nature, the German Shepherd must be constantly challenged and stimulated both physically and mentally to avoid becoming a nuisance. That being said, this dog breed makes a great companion and is both brave and loyal. Although some dogs tend to be a bit reserved and cautious in general, this dog breed makes a great family pet and they generally get on well with children. Sometimes certain dogs can become a bit domineering towards children, which can show in the form of the German Shepherd trying to herd them around; in accordance with its breeding lineage.
German Shepherds have excellent watchdog skills and are typically wary of both strangers and other dogs. Early socialization is a must if your dog is to be with other animals. As far as climate tolerance goes, these dogs adapt quite well to moderate cold as well as moderate heat, although extremes in either direction do not go down well.
German Shepherds, care and exercise requirements
The German Shepherd boasts a high energy level and therefore this dog breed requires plenty of exercise on a daily basis. However, its grooming requirements are not quite as demanding, and its coat only requires brushing once or twice a week. The German Shepherd is a moderate to strong trapper and is therefore perhaps not the best choice of dog for allergy sufferers.
The appearance of the German Shepherd
The body of the German Shepherd is typically longer than it is tall, and in the modern variant, when the animal is standing, the body leans downwards, as if the dog is ready to jump off its hind legs. This was not always the case, as the early version of the German Shepherd had a more square body and less slanted chins. The tail is usually bushy and hangs with a slight curve.
This dog breed boasts an athletic build and erect ears atop a head with a pointed snout, which enhances the dog’s alert appearance. Coat color can vary and includes the following: black, black and tan and sable. From a show dog perspective, white-coated dogs are not permitted, although there is a recent movement for such specimens to be represented in their own subcategory.
This dog breed has a double coat with a thick outer coat consisting of close lying medium length hair that can be straight or slightly wavy.
Weight: Men: 75 – 100 pounds
Females: 60 – 80 pounds
Height: Males: 24 – 26 inches
Females: 22-24 inches
German shepherd health problems/lifespan
This dog breed has an average lifespan of 10 – 12 years. Due to fairly intense breeding over the years, the German Shepherd suffers from a number of genetic disorders, which include the following:
Minor worries: Panosteitis; vWD; Degenerative myelopathy; Cauda Equina; Skin allergies; Hot Spots; Neoplasms; Pannus; cataracts; Gastric Torsion; Perianal fistulas; Cardiomyopathy; Hemangiosarcoma
German Shepherds are also extremely susceptible to a potentially fatal systemic infection from the fungus Aspergillus.
The history of the German Shepherd
The modern German Shepherd is the end result of a concerted effort in the late 19th century to breed the perfect German Shepherd. Until then, each district had its own distinctive herding dog. To achieve the perfect herding dog, various dog breeds from the north were crossed with dog breeds from the central district, ultimately resulting in the ancestors of the modern German Shepherd.
The goal of the German Shepherd breeding program was to produce a dog that could look after and control stray sheep from the rest of the flock without scaring the entire flock. Unlike cattle herding dogs, therefore, it was undesirable for the German Shepherd to exhibit leg snapping, nor could it control its wards by barking at them, because one of these traits would most likely send the entire pack into a panic!
Essentially, the German Shepherd breeding program had to come up with an extremely intelligent, versatile, fast and independent-minded breed of dog that performed its duties in a precise, fast, calm and steady manner.
Between 1899 and 1901 a special racing club was established, initially headquartered in Stuttgart before moving to Munich and eventually ending up in Berlin. This club was known as Der Verein Fur Schaferhunde (SV for short) and the primary aim and purpose of this organization was to oversee the continued positive development of the German Shepherd breed.
Within a decade of its breeding, the German Shepherd had soon become one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Its rising star in popularity was slightly tarnished by the occurrence of the two world wars, when it was considered sensible in both Britain and France to refer to the dog breed as either an Alsatian or simple sheepdog to avoid the inevitable backlash at the time associated with the word German incorporated into the dog breed name.
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