A guide to German Shepherd dogs
German Shepherd lover? We’ve gathered some handy information about German Shepherds. Take a look at the breed profile below if you want to know more about their temperament, history and characteristics.
Breed group: Herding dog
The German Shepherd sits within the ‘herding dog’ breed group. Commonly known as a stock dog or working dog, this group has been selectively bred for corralling livestock such as sheep and cattle.
Herding dogs manage to round up their flocks in a number of ways depending on the breed; common features are nipping at the heels, circling and strong eye contact. While most dogs in this group who have been raised as pets have yet to even see a sheep, they’ll still show off their natural instincts by “herding” family members or circling children during play.
German Shepherd Dog’s are known for their intelligence and diligence and it is this that makes them a great working dog; being able to retain knowledge and manoeuvres easier than some other breeds.
Now officially recognised as the German Shepherd Dog, this adorable pooch is often also referred to as an Alsatian. Originating from Germany, they were first called Deutscher Schäferhund – literally translated to ‘German shepherd dog’. The first official breeder, Max von Stephanitz, did so to introduce a breed standard throughout shepherding dogs.
Over the years they were selectively bred into the dog we see today. His selected traits proved popular and in WWI the breed was appointed as war sentries for many countries. It was at this point that the American and British Kennel Clubs made the decision the retract the ‘German’ from their name, with America opting for just ‘Shepherd Dog’ while Britain completely rebranded to the ‘Alsatian Wolf Dog’. The USA returned to the original name in the 30s, but it wasn’t until the late 70s that UK kennel clubs officially reverted back.
One of the reasons German Shepherds make great guard dogs is their protective nature. Whilst they can be initially cautious of strangers you’ll find they become incredibly loyal once they know you.
At a glance, German Shepherds are:
● Active & high-energy
What are they bred for?
As part of the herding group, German Shepherds were originally bred to protect and guard the flock. Their natural instincts to chase without attacking make them perfect for this. Whilst historically this was their job, these days you can see them apprising roles in many different capacities.
Their diligence holds them in good stead for military and police enforcement, whilst their incredible sense of smell has made them invaluable in scent-detection roles like search-and-rescue and narcotics detection. They have a protective nature and can make good guard dogs.
What sort of owner would they suit?
As adorable as these lovable creatures are, German Shepherd’s wouldn’t necessarily suit every household. Due to their high energy, they would need to be with very active owners who have the time to take them out on daily long walks, play with them and can offer a garden for some extra running around.
Their intelligence means they can easily get bored so they do need lots of stimulus throughout the day. They tend to be very protective too so will need a firm hand and plenty of early training to distinguish between welcome and unwelcome guests. Whilst they can live with other pets and children, it is very important to start socialising them when the dog is still quite young.