Breed Profile: German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is one of the world’s most recognised breeds of dog. They are medium to large in size, have a lifespan of 10 to 14 years and are extremely intelligent; they can assist the disabled and work alongside police, military, rescue services and farmers. Significant features include the bushy tail, erect ears and long neck (on display at times of alertness). German Shepherds are intelligent, playful, energetic and loyal.
The German Shepherd is courageous and protective, having sharp senses that can detect drugs and danger. They generally come in colours black, fawn and gold, although varying degrees of white can be seen on their coats. Males reach approximately 60-68 cm in height and 30-45 kg in weight, while females can be expected to grow to slightly less in both measurements. They are strong, sturdy and muscular, perfect for the owner who enjoys the outdoors. These dogs also thrive on a challenge, being agile and well balanced for their size.
Alert and fearless, the German Shepherd is a fast learner and excels in a group (be it animals or humans). They are wary of strangers due to extreme loyalty to their owners; bad habits and attacks on others only result from a lack of training. German Shepherds require an owner that ensures stability, can demonstrate authority and isn’t neglecting. As this breed is amongst the most intelligent, they need mental and physical stimulus rather than being left alone for large portions of the day. This is a key reason as to why they make such good working dogs; giving Germans Shepherds tasks allows their energy to be placed in meaningful activity that benefits the dog and the owner. They crave tiring activities.
This breed is usually low maintenance, but is considered to be more suitable to older children and adults due to its active nature; German Shepherds are not ideal for small spaces such as apartments or flats, requiring areas to run around and exert their energy. Growing bored can lead to bad behavioural traits, as does not having your dominance asserted on to them in the early stages of their growth.
If German Shepherds are well trained, well looked after and regularly exercised they are considered healthy dogs that live full lives. Despite this, issues such as blood disorders, epilepsy, digestive problems and tumours on the spleen are the most common areas of concern. Regular vet checks are highly advised as German Shepherds are active and spend the majority of time outdoors, which increases the risk of various diseases linked to the breed and muscle/bone wear. In cases of irresponsible breeding German Shepherds can be in danger of more severe illnesses, so it is best to know the background of your pet prior to adoption.
Even with an active nature and sizeable build, German Shepherds don’t need too much food comparatively. One meal and one snack per day is recommended, using dry dog food or mince as the main course. Toys and backyard obstacles are smart buys to keep the breed positive and playful. They do shed (the heaviness depends on the season) so brushing is a wise idea to keep the home free of excessive hair. Regular clips and trims are necessary for claws, while worming and vaccinations are similar to other breeds of medium sized dog.
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