A-z - Animals

German Shepherd Guide

Guidelines for German Shepherd Dogs as Pets:

general health
energy level
chewing tendency
family and kid friendly

separation anxiety
preferred temperature
average climate
exercise needs
be friendly with other dogs
Thoroughbred Cost of Ownership
pack of dogs
male weight
66-88 lbs
female weight
49-71 lbs

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The German Shepherd, or Alsatian as British dog lovers call it, is the second most popular dog breed in the United States.

This working dog from the herd has a luxurious double coat that can be anywhere from mid to long and is available in a variety of colors such as traditional black and tan, solid white or solid black. Their remarkable intelligence and adaptability make them perfect for a variety of jobs, including police work, service training, and of course, adorable companions.

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The breed has gained a notorious reputation for aggressive behavior, but in reality, these dogs are aloof rather than aggressive toward strangers. As with any other breed, a reputable breeder and early and consistent training define a dog's personality. These dogs can change their personalities to suit their owners and training, so it's up to the owner to show them how they should behave.

© AZ-Animals.com

Different Types of German Shepherds and German Shepherd Mixes

There are many German Shepherd cross breeds, including:

  • Bernese Shepherd – German Shepherds are big dogs. The Bernese Mountain Dog is bigger. Cross those two canine lines and the result is the Bernese Shepherd, a suave giant dog who is intelligent, calm, and very good-natured. This hybrid dog is sometimes called the Euro mountain sheparnese. It is endorsed by the American Canine Mix Club, Designer Breed Registry, Designer Kennel Club, and American Canine Registry.
  • Holy Shepherd Dog – The Holy Shepherd Dog is a hybrid dog that is a cross between a St. Bernard and a German Shepherd. Both bitches are quite large, making the Holy Shepherd an incredible breed. When they are adults, these dogs weigh about 120 pounds and stand about 28 inches tall.
  • Gerberian Shepsky – With his shaggy coat, bright eyes, and incredibly alert senses, the Gerberian Shepsky is one of the most majestic designer breeds on the market. These gorgeous and loyal dogs are a mix of a German Shepherd and a Siberian Husky, hoping to get the best traits out of both breeds. The result is a dog that is hardworking, obedient, energetic and always happy to be a part of.
  • Golden Shepherd – The Golden Shepherd is a mix between a Golden Retriever and a German Shepherd. Both breeds have a fascinating history. The Golden Retriever was originally bred in the Scottish Highlands as an exuberant hunting dog for finding and hunting game. The German Shepherd is a descendant of the large German Shepherd of the 19th century. With its uncanny combination of intelligence, athleticism and speed, it has been used for a variety of purposes, from police work to search and rescue. It was also used in both world wars.
  • Alaskan Shepherd – The Alaskan Shepherd is a hybrid crossbreed that combines two large breeds: the Alaskan Malamute and the German Shepherd. The Alaskan Malamute is a large, intelligent working dog originally bred as a sled dog in the Arctic region, possessing a confident, dignified and loyal demeanor. It is descended from the wolfdogs that crossed the Bering Strait thousands of years ago. Another intelligent working dog, the German Shepherd is now in the home as a police dog, service dog, and general companion.
  • Shepkita – Also known as the Akita Sheepdog, the Shepkita is a crossbreed dog. It is a cross between an Akita and a German Shepherd, endowing them with a loyal and stoic nature. They are also very hardworking. Shepkita puppies often end up inheriting some of the best traits from their parents.
  • German Shepherd – The German Shepherd is a first-generation crossbreed of two different breeds: the German Shepherd and the Bulldog. German Shepherds are large herding dogs that are good at many different tasks, including police work, search and rescue, and home protection. Bulldogs, by contrast, are a group of several different breeds, including American Bulldogs, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Pit Bulls, all united in a muscular, short-haired appearance.
  • Chow Shepherd – The Chow Shepherd, also known as the Sheprachow, is a cross between two distinct breeds: the Chow Chow and the German Shepherd. The Chow Chow is an intelligent, dignified, multipurpose dog that originated in ancient China and became the darling of the country's nobility. A member of the spitz group, it has long, thick fur and a pointy muzzle and ears. In contrast, the German Shepherd is a large and intelligent herding dog with a long history of police work and service.
  • Beagle Shepherd – The Beagle Shepherd is another crossbreed that emerged from the recent frenzy of designer dog creations. Typical of such endeavors, the breed's origins are not fully known or acknowledged. The Beagle Shepherd is an enthusiastic and intelligent dog that can be trained to do the most amazing circus-like tricks. It is often very surprising to find this in larger dogs.
  • Shepweiler – If you are looking for a loyal and protective working or guard dog, look no further than the Shepweiler. This uncommon hybrid is the result of a cross between two different breeds: the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd. The Rottweiler is a strong, muscular working breed that originated from the ancient mastiff. It has been used for centuries to herd livestock, guard homes, and perform police and rescue work. The German Shepherd is a muscular, agile herding dog that first appeared in the 19th century as a breed of sheep. It makes an excellent watchdog, police dog, and general service dog.
  • Shollie – The Shollie is a crossbreed, or designer breed. They are a German Shepherd and Border Collie mix. These dogs are energetic, loyal, and loyal. They are a large dog breed that sheds a lot and require a lot of exercise. In return, they make loving companions and are a great choice for families with children. Shollies are one of the latest popular mixed breeds.
  • Corman Shepherd – Corman Shepherd puppies are known to inherit the best qualities of both parents and they go by multiple names such as German Corgi or Corgi German Shepherd. You can adopt these crossbreed dogs from adoption centers and rescue shelters, but you can also seek out reputable breeders. These dogs live about 10 to 15 years.
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3 Pros and Cons of Ownership

advantage! shortcoming!
They are beautiful dogs.
German Shepherds are known for their thick, luxurious coats and come in a variety of attractive colors such as black and tan, solid black and solid white.
They have a reputation for being aggressive.
Although their reputation is not accurate, many people consider this breed to be aggressive. Because of this misunderstanding, dog parks may not welcome your dog, and new friends may be hesitant to visit your home. Your homeowners insurance premium may also be higher than average.
They have a long lifespan.
German Shepherds live about 10 to 14 years, which means you can enjoy time with your canine companion for years to come.
They shed excessively.
When you groom your German Shepherd multiple times a week for most of the year, their coat is manageable, but during their twice-yearly shedding period, you need to groom at least once a day to maintain Leading off.
They are very smart and easy to train.
Unlike most intelligent breeds, German Shepherds are eager to please their owners, which makes training them a joy. This trait makes them highly skilled working dogs both in the service field and in police training.
They can be destructive if they are not given enough attention.
German Shepherds are very attached to their families and can develop separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time. This anxiety can lead to extremely destructive behavior that can not only destroy your home, but also cause health problems in your puppy.
isolated image of german shepherd
German Shepherds are known for their thick, luxurious coats and come in a variety of attractive colors such as black and tan, solid black and solid white.

© Jagodka/Shutterstock.com

size and weight

On average, a German Shepherd weighs between 75 and 90 pounds and stands 22 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder. Males of this breed tend to be larger than females.

German Shepherd Guide to Health and Recreation

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common health problems

Like many purebred dogs, German Shepherds are prone to some pretty serious health conditions. One of these conditions, degenerative myelopathy, is a neurological disorder that targets the spinal cord. It tends to appear later in life and causes reduced mobility.

Bloating is another life-threatening problem for this breed, so owners should establish proper eating habits from an early age. Owners can reduce the occurrence of bloating by eating smaller meals throughout the day, using dishes that force the dog to eat slowly, using elevated feeders, and preventing strenuous exercise for up to two hours after each meal.

Other serious conditions can also occur with this breed, such as:

  • epilepsy
  • hip or elbow dysplasia
  • von Willebrand's disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Skin allergies
  • lupus
  • progressive retinal atrophy
  • perianal fistula
  • Annona
  • Insufficient pancreatic enzyme function
  • panosteitis
Long-haired German Shepherd in veterinary office
Like many purebred dogs, German Shepherds are prone to some pretty serious health conditions.

© Andrey_Kuzmin/Shutterstock.com


This breed has a level of dignity that many other breeds don't, which means you have to work hard for their friendship. While they may take longer to make new friends than other dogs, once a friendship is established, they make very loyal companions.

These dogs are among the most intelligent of the breed, which makes them competent for any job their owners choose. They're also sensitive and hate being left alone, so if you're away most of the time and can't take your dog with you, German Shepherds aren't for you.

german shepherd jumping among leaves
While they may take longer to make new friends than other dogs, once a friendship is established, they make very loyal companions.

© Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com


Another myth is that German Shepherds don't like children. Instead, they are energetic, extremely trainable, and loyal, all good qualities in a family pet. Because of their adult size and strength, early training and socialization around children is essential to prevent injury. It is also important for parents to teach their children how to interact with dogs safely.

Contrary to popular belief, these dogs are not naturally aggressive dogs. One of the biggest myths about this breed is that even though they start out as docile animals, they can become aggressive. Many times, the public's perception of the breed is based on dogs employed in jobs that require selective aggressive tendencies, such as the kind commonly found among police dogs. Training is the most important factor in determining any dog's aggressiveness. Because German Shepherds are adaptable and eager to please, owners can teach them calm behavior as easily as they can teach them aggressive behavior. That's not to say that a well-trained German Shepherd can never become aggressive. Any dog that feels threatened may display aggressive behavior to defend itself.

Along these lines, German Shepherds are also notorious for biting people. This reputation is another behavior some owners train their dogs to give all German Shepherds a bad name. In fact, Labrador Retrievers are bitten more times per year than German Shepherds. With most dogs biting when they are scared, proper training and socialization is essential to prevent your dog from exhibiting behavior that may be considered aggressive.

Aggressive german shepherd showing its teeth
Training is the most important factor in determining any dog's aggressiveness, and because German Shepherds are adaptable and eager to please, owners can teach them calm behavior as easily as aggressive behavior.

© iStock.com/Milan Crassula

Origin and History

The origin of the German Shepherd can be traced back to the early 20th century. Sure, they came from Germany, but they didn't look the way they do today until after World War II, after years of curing the breed. These early shepherds were developed by a cavalry officer named Max von Stephanitz after his retirement from service. Working with country sheepdogs, he bred an extreme working dog capable of herding all day and running long hours throughout the day. The first version had a short tail and a rough fur coat.

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As mentioned, German Shepherds are sometimes referred to as "Alsatians" in the UK, which causes some confusion. Many of this breed are often found in the Alsace region of France, which was once a region of Germany. Also, due to the two world wars, avoiding the use of "Germany" in the name may have been a marketing choice that helped make the breed more popular.

how to care for a

If you want to choose the best dog food for your German Shepherd, you first need to consider whether your dog is a puppy, adult or senior. Smaller varieties mature to adulthood in about 10 months, less than a year. And larger breeds, such as German Shepherds, usually mature at 16 months, or about a year and a half. Most breeds are considered senior at age 10, although some very large breeds (100+ lbs) reach this milestone earlier at around 8 years of age.

Based on your German Shepherd's size, coat length and specific health considerations, our team recommends the following:

  • Best dog food for German Shepherd puppies.
  • Best dog food for adult German Shepherd dogs.
  • Best dog food for German Shepherd senior dogs.
  • Best dog food for German Shepherds with allergies.

German Shepherds appreciate a high-quality food formulated for large dogs. These dogs tend to have somewhat sensitive stomachs, so they should only eat small amounts of human food, if available. If you do choose to feed your dog table scraps, you should avoid fatty foods and never feed them cooked bones. When dogs eat cooked bones, the bones break into pieces that can puncture their stomach or intestines as they pass through their digestive system.

big dog bowl
German Shepherds tend to have somewhat sensitive stomachs.

©Aleksandra Dabrowa/Shutterstock.com

The best dog food for them

There are many health issues that can plague German Shepherds, so owners must do their best to find a dog food with the right nutrients to keep them alive.

Here at AZ Animals, we researched Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Bread in Sauce Wet Dog Food, and we think it might be a good choice for your German Shepherd.

First and foremost, this food contains glucosamine, calcium, and chondroitin, which support German Shepherds' hips and elbows for freedom of movement. Pork and chicken provide plenty of high-quality protein for lean muscle, along with other important nutrients like riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamins.

Check out Chewy or Amazon for this product.

the best

best insurance

As with any other purebred dog, you'll need to purchase pet insurance that covers genetic diseases associated with German Shepherds.

Maintenance and Grooming

All German Shepherds have a thick double coat consisting of a soft, dense undercoat and a coarse, water-repellent mid-length coat. Their coats are easy to brush every few days for most of the year. Twice a year, they go through a large shedding spree called blowout, a month-long process in which they lose their seasonal undercoat. During windy seasons, you'll want to brush your dog daily to avoid bedding and hair buildup around the house.

In addition to brushing teeth, the daily maintenance of the German Shepherd is very simple. All you need to do is brush your teeth regularly and trim your nails monthly. This breed is clean with only a slight odor, so they only need baths a few times a year.

german shepherd
The German Shepherd's coat is easy to maintain most of the year, requiring only brushing every few days.

©Dora Zett/Shutterstock.com


Unlike many intelligent breeds, German Shepherds are eager to please their owners, which makes them a joy to train. All collies are somewhat protective of their family members, so proper training and socialization should begin immediately to show them that not every stranger is going to hurt them.

german shepherd training with the army
German Shepherds were bred to be the ultimate working dogs.

© iStock.com/Puttachat Kumkrong


German Shepherds are an active breed that need a lot of exercise to stay happy and healthy. Because these dogs are so intelligent, their exercise choices don't have to end with walks or backyard play. Both dogs and owners can enjoy intelligence and agility based activities such as tracking and herding, creating an unbreakable bond between them.

German shepherd puppy running in the grass
German Shepherds are an active breed that need a lot of exercise to stay happy and healthy.

© Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com


As with all puppies, weeks 7 to 12 are the most critical period for proper socialization of German Shepherds. If you want your dog to get along well with children or other pets, this is the perfect window for them to accept the rest of the new family without question. That's not to say you can't teach your dog to be on the road with kids and other animals, but the more you expose your puppy to situations when he's young, the more likely you are to be calm and adaptable Good adult dog.

German Shepherds don't become adults until they are about 3 years old, so remember to be patient with your dog, even if it appears to be an adult.

german shepherd puppy
As with all puppies, weeks 7 to 12 are the most critical period for proper socialization of German Shepherds.

© Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com

with children

If you raise your German Shepherd with children from the start, they will get along well with all members of the family. That said, they are energetic dogs that don't always realize how big they are. Owners should take the time to teach dogs and children how to interact with each other safely and never leave them unattended to avoid accidental injury.

It is the nature of German Shepherds to be indifferent to strangers, and children are no exception. Socializing them extensively and training them for this task while they are young is critical for any owner who plans to keep their dog around strange children. At the same time, parents should take care to teach their children the correct way to approach any dog they don't know.

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Owners should take the time to teach dogs and children how to interact with each other safely and never leave them unattended to avoid accidental injury.


similar dog

Some breeds that are similar in size or personality to the German Shepherd are the Australian Shepherd, Collie, and Old English Shepherd.

  • Australian Shepherd: The Australian Shepherd has the same loyal and intelligent personality as the German Shepherd, but in a smaller size.
  • Shepherd Dog: The Shepherd Dog is about the same size as the German Shepherd and has the same loyalty to the family, but has a slightly longer lifespan. Check out our German Shepherd vs Border Collie comparison here!
  • Old English Sheepdog: Old English Sheepdogs are just as adaptable and intelligent as German Shepherds, but they don't require as much exercise.

famous example

While there have been many famous German Shepherds throughout history, it was the Rin-Tin-Tin that thrust his breed into the spotlight. During World War I, Corporal Lee Duncan found Rin-Tin-Tin and his countrymen in the small French village of Flirey. Duncan raised the puppy as his own and taught him tons of tricks. Rin Tin Tin's impressive intellect eventually landed him some movie deals. During his illustrious career, he often played the role of wolf, as film directors found him easier to live with than real wolves. The famous pup was the original key to the success of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Taste of the Wild Mountains
There are many famous German Shepherds throughout history.

©Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock.com

Some popular names for these dogs are:

  • Ruger
  • bandit
  • master
  • Tucker
  • diesel engine
  • low quality coal
  • daisy
  • Harley
  • sasha
  • Miss

See all 169 animals that start with G

about the author

heather ross

Heather Ross is a middle school English teacher and mother of 2 people, 2 tuxedo cats and a golden doodle. In between taking the kids to soccer practice and grading homework, she loves reading and writing about all things animals!

German Shepherd Guide FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the German Shepherd's scientific name?

The scientific name of the German Shepherd Dog is Canis lupus familiaris. The breed is also known as the Alsatian among British dog lovers.

How Long Do German Shepherds Live?

The average lifespan of a German Shepherd is 10 to 14 years.

Are German Shepherds aggressive?

Despite the bad reputation that pop culture has given them for aggressive behavior, most German Shepherds are more aloof than aggressive. As with any breed, care in breeding, training, and socialization determines a dog's behavior.

Is a German Shepherd a good family dog?

German Shepherds are loyal, intelligent, and eager to please, making them excellent family dogs.

How big is a German Shepherd?

German Shepherds typically weigh between 75 and 90 pounds and stand 22 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder. Males are usually larger than females.

Are Charlotte Shepherds and German Shepherds the same breed?

No. Although Charlotte Shepherds and German Shepherds look alike and have similar temperaments, they are different breeds. The main difference between them is that the German Shepherd is a pure breed while the Charlotte Shepherd is a mix of Alaskan Malamute and German Shepherd.

Are German Shepherds Herbivores, Carnivores, or Omnivores?

German Shepherds are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals.

To which kingdom does the German Shepherd belong?

The German Shepherd belongs to the animal kingdom.

What type of dog is the German Shepherd?

German Shepherds are mammals.

What phylum does the German Shepherd belong to?

German Shepherds belong to the phylum Chordate.

What family does the German Shepherd belong to?

German Shepherds belong to the canine family.

What Order Are German Shepherds?

German Shepherds belong to the order Carnivora.

What type of mulch do German Shepherds have?

German Shepherds are covered in fur.

What genus is the German Shepherd?

German Shepherds belong to the genus Canis.

What are some interesting facts about German Shepherds?

German Shepherds are very active and fearless dogs!

What's the Difference Between a German Shepherd and a King Shepherd?

German Shepherds are purebred dogs while King Shepherds are not. King Collies are also larger dogs overall.

What's the Difference Between a German Shepherd and a Rottweiler?

There are some key differences between Rottweilers and German Shepherds, that is, the average size of a Rottweiler is much larger than a German Shepherd. The German Shepherd also has a thicker coat compared to the Rottweiler's short coat.

What's the Difference Between a German Shepherd and an Australian Shepherd?

There are many differences between German Shepherds and Australian Shepherds. Australian Shepherds come in more colors and markings than German Shepherds, and German Shepherds grow larger on average than Australian Shepherds.

What's the Difference Between a German Shepherd and a Golden Retriever?

German Shepherds grow larger than Golden Retrievers, and they are bred for different purposes. Golden Retrievers also have floppy ears, while German Shepherds have pointy ears.

What's the Difference Between a German Shepherd and a Norwegian Elkhound?

German Shepherds are larger than Norwegian Elkhounds, and they also have longer ears and noses. Also, the Norwegian Elkhound is an old dog breed from Europe, while the German Shepherd originated in Germany in the 1800s.

Which is a better guard dog: Doberman Pinscher vs German Shepherd?

Due to its size, trainability and adaptability, and temperament, Dobermans are better guard dogs.

Both Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds are versatile breeds, able to adapt to almost any situation and anyone with enough training and socialization.

What's the Difference Between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Shepherd?

German Shepherds are larger than Belgian Shepherds, and Belgian Shepherds are friendlier than standoffish German Shepherds. Also, although these breeds were bred for the same type of work, they originated in different locations.

What's the Difference Between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Teferen?

The German Shepherd is larger than the Belgian Tervuren, which has a slightly longer lifespan. Both dogs were bred as shepherds, although German Shepherds have more police jobs than Belgian Teflons.

What's the Difference Between a German Shepherd and an Akita?

Akitas grow larger than German Shepherds, although their sizes often overlap. Also, the Akita was originally bred for hunting, while the German Shepherd was originally bred for herding.

What's the Difference Between a German Shepherd and a Dutch Shepherd?

The main differences between German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd are their size, coat, longevity, popularity, country of origin and price. German Shepherds are larger, have a shorter lifespan, come in a wide variety of coat colors, and are extremely popular, leading most breeders to charge less for puppies.

What are the main differences between a Catahoula Leopard and a German Shepherd?

The main differences between Catahoula Leopard and German Shepherd are appearance, coat, temperament, health issues, exercise, and training.

What are the main differences between a Beauceron and a German Shepherd?

The main difference between the Beauceron and the German Shepherd is temperament . Collies tend to be more affectionate and easy to train, while Bessellons are more independent.

Other important differences include size, appearance, longevity, trainability, energy levels, grooming needs, and drooling levels.

What's the Difference Between a German Shepherd and a Kangaroo?

The main difference between German Shepherd and Kangal Shepherd is size. Other key differences include appearance, longevity, and degree of barking.

Thanks for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the 10hunting.com editorial team.

  1. American Kennel Club, available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/german-shepherd-dog/
  2. Dogtime, available here: https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/german-shepherd-dog#/slide/1
  3. Jubilantpups, available here: https://jubilantpups.com/owning-a-german-shepherd-pros-and-cons/
  4. Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue, available here: https://magsr.org/content/gsd-health-issues
  5. Deutscher Schaeferhund, available here: https://deutscher-schaeferhund.org/german-shepherds-aggressive-myths/
  6. Total German Shepherd, available here: https://www.total-german-shepherd.com/GSD-development.html
  7. The Happy Puppy Site, available here: https://thehappypuppysite.com/are-german-shepherds-good-with-kids/#:~:text=German%20Shepherds%20and%20Kids,and%20plenty%20of %20loving% 20 attention.
  8. History of War Online, available here: https://www.warhistoryonline.com/instant-articles/rin-tin-tin-the-famous-dog.html