German Shepherd (Alsatian)

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    History & Overview

    The German Shepherd (also known as the Alsatian) is an intelligent breed of dog. Because they are eager to please, they are easily trained in obedience and protection. German Shepherd Dogs are often used as working dogs in many capacities, including search and rescue (SAR), military, police or guard dogs. They are valued around the world for their work as police dogs, trackers, drug detection, search and rescue, guide dogs, mine detection, armed services dogs ( Army, Navy, Airforce ) and Security dogs.


    When provided with regular training and attention, the German Shepherd can also make a great family pet. They are very loyal and protective of their own family but tend to be a bit suspicious of strangers, especially when not in the company of their master.

    German Shepherd Lines

    In America, you will find two distinct types of German Shepherd Dogs: the American line and the German line. While there is a notable controversy between breeders of the two types, in general, the American line is considered to have strayed from the original herding function to create a more graceful dog with a flying trot. In contrast, the huskier German line is considered to emphasize the original “working dog” capabilities which include sheep herding and protection.

    At A Glance

    Other Names:

    German Shepherd Dog, Alsatian

    Country of Origin:



    FCI Classification: Group 1: Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (except Swiss Cattle Dogs). Section 1: Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs; With Working Trial
    AKC Classification: Herding Group


    Sheep Herding – Sheep Guardian


    Large (22 – 26 inches at shoulders)


    Base color should be black with markings of brown, red-brown, blonde and light gray. Alternatively a gray base-color with “clouds” of black markings and a black “saddle” and “mask”. Inconspicuous white markings on the chest, and “brighter” shades on the under – and inner sides of the dog are permitted but not desirable.

    Litter Size:


    Life Span:

    10 – 12 years

    Grooming Requirements:

    The German Shepherd is a “double-coated” dog with an undercoat and guard hairs. The guard hairs will be shed all year. The undercoat is “blown” twice a year. German Shepherds shed heavily all year round and need weekly brushing. As a matter of fact, the more you brush, the less they shed.


    Heavy all year round


    Highly intelligent, highly adaptable, extremely responsive to training, devoted, protective and fearless. These dogs are known to build a strong bondage with their owners.

    Social skills:

    When not properly socialized at an early age, GSDs can develop unruliness or lack of self-confidence.

    Suitability for Children:

    Good with children of their family, but because they are naturally wary of strangers, they need close supervision when introduced to visiting children and adults. They are reserved but not aggressive toward strangers.

    Exercise Needs:

    The German Shepherds are high energy dogs and need 2 hours vigorous daily exercise, preferably 3-4 times a day.

    Train Ability:

    Extremely responsive to training, especially to voice commands. If well-trained, they can do almost anything.

    Health & Behavioral Issues:

    Body Proportions

    The German Shepherd is a trotting dog, and his structure has been developed to best meet the requirements of his work in herding. A long, effortless trot which shall cover the maximum amount of ground with the minimum number of steps. The proper body proportions, firmness of back and muscles and the correct angulation of the fore and hindquarters serve this end. This enables the dog to propel himself forward by a long step of the hindquarter and to compensate for this stride by a long step of the forequarter. The high withers, the firm back, the strong loin, the adequately formed croup, even the tail as balance and rudder, all contribute to this same end.

    In America, show German Shepherds tend to have so much rear angulation that it has become a great source of concern regarding the dog’s ability to perform the tasks for which it has been bred.

    German Shepherd Anatomy
    1. Stop
    2. Withers
    3. Neck
    4. Back
    5. Cheek
    6. Croup
    7. Lower thigh (gaskin)
    8. Hock (ankle)
    9. Brisket
    10. Hindfoot
    11. Knee
    12. Upper Thigh (femur)
    13. Shoulder (with shoulder blade or scapula)
    14. Elbow
    15. Forefoot
    16. Flews
    17. Nose
    18. Forearm
    19. Pastern
    20. Stifle

    Dog Terms


    The angles of the bony structure at the joints, particularly of the shoulder with the upper arm (front angulation), or the angles of the stifle and the hock (rear angulation). Rear angulation has been the source of many disagreements in the German Shepherd dog breed. With extreme rear angulation, the position of the leg is so far behind the body that even though it creates a long and powerful stride at the same time, it leaves the dog with a lack of balance and loss of agility. Show dogs have more angulation than the working ones.


    The breast or lower part of the chest in front of and between the forelegs, sometimes including the part extending back some distance behind the forelegs.


    The rear of the back above the hind limbs; the line from the pelvis to the set-on of the tail.


    The chaps; pendulous lateral parts of the upper lips.


    The part of the foreleg between the fetlock (or pastern joint) and the foot that consists of five metacarpals (cylindrical bones). The front pastern and lower segment correspond to the wrist and hand of humans.

    Stifle (or stifle joint)

    The joint next above the hock, and near the flank, in the hind leg; rear hock joint bends backwards only.


    The point between the eyes where the muzzle ends, and the forehead starts.


    The part between the shoulder bones at the base of the neck; the point from which the height of the dog is usually measured.

    Video Credits: AnimalWised


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