Perhaps one of the most iconic dogs in both popular culture and everyday life for their work as police dogs, in the armed forces, and with disabled persons, the German Shepherd Dog is consistently in the top 10 most popular AKC breeds every year.
Their extreme loyalty and courage, willingness to learn and regal looks are other reasons people just love this breed. German Shepherds make wonderful additions to many families, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into when you decide to add a German Shepherd to your family.
While they are incredibly intelligent and loving, these working breeds take work to the next level. As no stranger to adopting and fostering various working breeds, I was blown away by how different a German Shepherd was in their needs for both physical and mental stimulation every day.
Let’s learn a little more about these amazing dogs to help you better understand your German Shepherd Dog if you have one, or aid in your research as you decide on the perfect dog for you.
Physical Traits and Health of German Shepherds
German Shepherds are large dogs that weigh between 60-95 lbs, with males on the larger end of that range. They are longer than they are tall and stand between 24-26 inches from floor to shoulder. They come in a range of colors, but most iconic is the tan and black coat.
German Shepherds have a life expectancy of 7-12 years. This varies greatly based on their breeding lines and predisposition to health issues. Because of their popularity, inbreeding in German Shepherds has led to the breed’s association with a variety of health issues including food and skin allergies, dysplasia, epilepsy, thyroid disorders and more.
For this reason, you should get your German Shepherd from a responsible breeder than can give you detailed ancestry information. Alternatively, if you choose to adopt or foster a German Shepherd from unknown origins, be aware of the health issues you may be dealing with later (or not so later) in their life.
Related reading: Steps to Take to Help Your Dog Live Longer
German Shepherds have a medium-length double coat which sheds extensively twice per year. Aside from these major shedding periods, you will need to keep up with brushing a few times a week to manage a small amount of daily shedding. Otherwise, German Shepherd coats are pretty low-maintenance. No need for excessive bathing, grooming or ever getting a haircut.
Personality and Lifestyle of German Shepherds
German Shepherds are very smart which makes them easily trainable. They have incredible memories and will quickly adapt, adjust and pick-up on your routines, often acting a step ahead of you. Extra training classes and efforts to keep your German Shepherd mentally stimulated will go a long way in their happiness and a calm disposition around the house.
German Shepherds are active dogs that need 30-60 minutes of exercise every day. They are bred for herding and guarding, but are adaptable to being exercised in a variety of ways to fit your lifestyle. Because of their intelligence, switching up daily exercise and making a point to take them to new or different locations a few times a week is important.
German Shepherds are able to get along with children and other pets easily if they are raised around them. Constant efforts to socialize your German Shepherd, getting them around other dogs and people regularly can help quell their guarding instincts.
Drawbacks to the German Shepherd Dog
German Shepherds that are not well socialized and exercised can be challenging around the house. They will find their own sources of entertainment and fun often in the form of destructive chewing, pacing, jumping and guarding.
Because of their intelligence, when their mental and physical needs are not being met, German Shepherds are prone to obsessive habits like licking and chewing themselves or furniture, separation anxiety and generally frustrating behavior.
The most important thing to keep in mind before adding a German Shepherd to your home is a commitment to keeping them well-exercised and stimulated.
Thinking about a German Shepherd for your family?
German Shepherds are the 2nd most popular dog in the US year after year for good reason! Their incredible intelligence and loyal nature make them excellent and easy to train companions. Just be sure you are ready to commit to their physical, mental, and sometimes, health-related needs.
Do you have a German Shepherd Dog or are you thinking about adding one to your pack? We’d love to hear your questions and stories below.