German Shepherd Dogs


German Shepherd Dogs

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Breed Notes

The German Shepherd Dog, also known in Britain as the Alsatian, is a highly versatile working dog. Among its many functions are police and military work as a guard and a sniffer dog, as a guide dog for the blind, for search and rescue, as a sheepdog by farmers and as a companion. Although its ancestry dates back for centuries to the mountain sheepdog of Germany, the breed of today was established in Germany in the 1800s. It was introduced to Great Britain and the United States by soldiers returning from World War I.
The German Shepherd Dog is very intelligent and dependable. It is an obedient and loyal companion but also highly territorial. Exercise is necessary.
The head of the German Shepherd Dog should have a broad skull with a wedge-shaped, powerful muzzle of equal length. The bite is scissor. Its ears are medium sized and set high and erect. The eyes are medium-sized. almond shaped and dark brown in color. The expression is one of alertness and intelligence. The neck is strong and muscular. The legs are straight and the feet compact with well-arched toes. It is a dog that is both strong and agile. Its movement is a smooth, flowing gait that should be ground covering yet seemingly effortless. The body should be longer than tall with a deep chest, straight back and sloping hindquarters. The tail is bushy, set low, and hanging in a saber-like curve. The German Shepherd Dog has a medium length, double coat with a hard, coarse outercoat and a thick undercoat. The coat may be black, tan, gray, or tan with a black saddle. Although white coats exist, they are a disqualification from show competition. The average weight of the German Shepherd is between 75 and 95 pounds while the average height is between 22 and 26 inches at the withers.


WFHBear@aol.com of Las Vegas, NV writes:

Protector and forever friend.
Large, strong and intelligent. Family protector. Able to handle heat and cold extremes. Quick learner. Ever faithful.


fanto88@yahoo.com of Massachusetts writes:

Character and companionship.
I have owned four GSDs. Highly intelligent, they are not for everyone. Males can be strong-willed and require a firm hand, and always lots of exercise. Females are very affectionate. Good dogs are 110% trustworthy around children. They bond to a family and are very aloof with strangers. I believe that you really have to abuse one to make them vicious; that is not part of their character.
They take to training and like to work. They need room to run and require a lot of interaction and attention. You will get back ten times what you give. Need smart owners as these dogs are smarter than a lot of people I know.


rp217il@aol.com of Illinois writes:

The "almost perfect" dog.
I am the owner of five beautiful Shepherds, three females and two males. They all live in our home with us and our four children (ages two to sixteen). Although they require a lot of attention and a lot of training and exercise, they are well worth the effort. When purchasing a Shepherd for a house with small children, you should always select a puppy that can grow up with your children. Obedience training is a must and the entire family must be consistent with rules. My two-year-old can even control our oldest Shepherd on a leash. Training your dog and teaching your children to respect what the dog is capable of is a must. Never buy an aggressive or timid puppy as they are hard to work with. Although German Shepherds are known as an aggressive breed, mostly it comes from the breeding and handling of the puppy. A well-tempered German Shepherd puppy will not be aggressive unless it is taught to be. My Shepherds when outside in the yard, do not bark unless someone comes onto the property that they don't know. They are highly intelligent and learn to recognize who is a stranger and who is not. When in the house, they do not bark. It is all mostly a matter of your training and handling of them. A badly tempered puppy remains badly tempered. A good tempered puppy can be ruined by an uneducated and neglectful owner. A well-bred, well-tempered, and well-trained German Shepherd is not aggressive. As my vet says, the "normal" German Shepherd Dog is a big baby. They cry and whine when they don't get their way and act like spoiled children. They have the capability to know when they have done something wrong. I no longer have to discipline my dogs. If I catch them doing something they know they aren't suppose to be doing, they hang their heads, tuck their tails, and run into their individual crates all without me saying a word. If you do not take the time to make your dog part of your family and get the training at a young age that they require, you could have a very large problem on your hands as your dog becomes an adult. My husband brought home one adult Shepherd. She turned on one of the other dogs that she had been playing with and did a lot of damage to it. She was suppose to be trained and nonaggressive. What we found out was that the previous owner neglected to tell us is that he had tried to do search and rescue and military posse training on her and had no clue what he was doing. All turned out well as the other dog is now healed and the Shepherd went into a K-9 unit and is getting the proper training. You must do a lot of research and make sure you are getting the dog that is right for your lifestyle and you can take the time to train it right at a reputable trainer.
The only drawback we have with our Shepherds is the shedding. They also think that once we are asleep, they can take over the couch and our bed (if they get up there softly so mom and dad don't wake up)! All in all, a very energetic, playful, and almost overly intelligent breed. Before buying, though, make sure you are worthy of owning this highly active and easily bored dog as a bored German Shepherd can also wreak havoc on your home.


animal_action@hotmail.com of U.S. writes:

Loyal and trustworthy.
I have always loved German Shepherds, starting from the very first time I saw one on the Eukanuba dog show. With their amazingly superior gait, unwavering support and trust of humans what is not to love about this gentle and gracious breed?!


Name withheld by request of Maryland writes:

Woman's best friend &shyp; special dogs!
I currently own two Shepherds. One I've had since he was a puppy; the other, I rescued from the local shelter. In general the German Shepherd Dog is the best companion you could ever ask for, if that is what you are looking for in a dog, a companion, family member, a part of the family. This breed cannot be ignored, therefore is not for everyone. If you do not have the time to spend with your German Shepherd, then you shouldn't have one.
My dogs are my loyal companions, by my side constantly, and I wouldn't have it any other way. My male, I got at eight weeks which was the beginning of an unbelievable friendship that I didn't think was possible with an animal. But that comes from understanding, obedience, kindness and mutual respect. He's an amazing animal. He is what a Shepherd should be, according to the breed standard. Friendly with all, but knows the difference between friend and foe. I trust his judgment 100% and I trust him with my life. My female I rescued at about nine months, abused, half-starved and very scared. With lots of love, patience and all the above, she's become a loving and loyal companion, even though her history gave her no reason to trust people. Now she loves people, she even likes to herd visitors to try and keep them from leaving the house because she likes the attention!
I love this breed and will probably never own another. Are there problems with the breed? Absolutely (what breed doesn't). They're bred too often, too indiscriminately, for all the wrong reasons. There are too many dogs in shelters and rescue. Unfortunately, when a breed is very popular there are prices to pay. If you are looking for a quality dog, go with a breeder you trust and respect. Just because a puppy is from top "show lines" doesn't mean squat; there are lots of show dogs out there that are unhealthy and ill-tempered. Health and temperament comes first. I love this breed for what it should be. If you can get a good one with good temperament and health you will have a loyal and loving companion for life, just as I do.


Name withheld by request of Illinois writes:

Not a more perfect companion can be found.
I own two GSD puppies currently, both are under two years of age, one male, one female. You couldn't get me to trade them for all the tea in China. Now granted I spend countless hours at puppy school, mostly training me because there is NO doubt these are smart animals. I love my GSDs unconditionally and they love me 100 times more in return. They are amazing off leash and perfect canine citizens on leash. My female will not stray more than 20 to 30 feet away from me. My male will venture a little further but not much. They are fabulous family members. I know my two dogs would lay down their lives for me if they had to, but welcome all into our home that I welcome into our home. I do have about 160 pounds of lap dog each night, which is great in the winter and horrible in the summer. All that fur and they still want to cuddle!
If you are looking for a perfectly loving, loyal, intelligent, hard working, (and yes sometimes stubborn) member of the family get a GSD. Around kids my dogs' biggest problem is they are BIG and don't realize it! The worst thing either of my dogs has ever done is lick someone to death. I come home from work every day and the first thing I do is sit on the kitchen floor because I know I have hugs and kisses coming my way and it is just easier to be on the floor than have two full-sized GSDs coming at me with all the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning.
If you train a GSD from day one and stick to your guns they will respect your rules and not need much reinforcement. I love my GSDs and will never own another breed. I will say that my dogs come from German lines and I will always stick with the European lines. That is personal preference, I just don't like the lines of the American-bred dogs.
DO YOUR RESEARCH! A GSD is not for everyone, but for the right person the GSD is perfect!


Name withheld by request of U.S. writes:

Can attack humans.
Every German Shepherd that I have known has had some vicious tendancies. They may be loving at times, but they are one of the five worst breeds in biting people so seriously that the person needed hospital treatment. The name in America is even a misnomer. They were bred to be police dogs, not herding dogs. The name "German Police Dog" is far more accurate. In Europe they are called "Alsatian Wolf Dogs," which is also a more fitting name. If you are looking for a family pet, look for a breed without a history of attacking.


Name withheld by request of Miami, FL writes:

Simply the best.
I am writing about my experience with the German Shepherd Dog. I have four decades of experience with them, spanning four dogs. Two of them were crossbred Shepherd/Collie who were extremely well-behaved and devoted pets who guarded the home and were great companions and friends. The third one, however, is so very special. She is a White German Shepherd and at nearly eleven years old, is only now showing a little age. She was a ten-week-old ball of peeing fur when I brought her home. She was so frightened I was unsure she would last. Boy, was I wrong! She grew up into the smartest, best-trained, most loving and protective dog I have ever seen. The best advice I could recommend for anyone contemplating this breed is to take the puppy to basic training and then review the training with the dog on a daily basis until they get it down pat. I had her on hand signals at seven months old. She is my childrens' constant companion and even though I am no longer at the home, whenever I visit, she always greets me as though I had never left. She also is very vocal, not barking, but "talking." She also learned the alphabet as my release command from "stay" was "OK" and I used to test her by saying "OA," "OB," etc., and until I got to K, this dog would not move! I am now in a new location and have a new dog, this time having gone with a rescue dog, a Malinois, which is the smaller Belgian cousin to the German Shepherd. We have had her for about six months and I have her on hand signals for sit and stay. In any event, a Shepherd, in any form, either pure or crossbred, will be the best companion and protector you could want. Take the time to learn about the breed and take time to teach and play with them. You will never regret it!


timberk2@aol.com of Pittsburgh, PA writes:

Wonderful dogs.
I got my first little female only asking for a dog that would be suitable for search and rescue. Now five years later, we have spent time doing Schutzhund, agility, herding, playing hide-and-seek, and many, many long walks all over these United States. She has even "saved" me from everything from butterflies to rattlesnakes. Keep them busy and treat them as part of your family and they will become a special part of your life. Ignore them and tie them to trees and you have a problem.


kauble@precisiongraphics.com of Illinois writes:

Intelligent and loyal companion.
I had a GSD for eight years before he died due to megaesophagus. He was extremely intelligent and friendly and a wonderful companion. He was up for any activity but would be lazy when you were lazy. It wasn't a totally positive experience though. He had hip dysplasia, he threw up constantly due to various stomach problems, he was extremely protective and he was aggressive toward other dogs. I still love German Shepherds but I think breeders need to stop mass-producing this wonderful dog without any consideration to health issues or temperament. We are in a puppy training class right now and there is a German Shepherd puppy in it who is skittish and aggressive and barks a lot. He's a beautiful dog whose parents are champions but he's scared of his own shadow. If you get a GSD be sure to get it from a very reputable breeder who breeds for temperament and has the dog checked for hip dysplasia and epilepsy. It's a magnificent breed if you choose carefully.


wulf1@adelphia.com of Bucksport, ME writes:

Fine dogs, but not for everyone.
We have four GSDs. two males, two females, they are from the top Czech-German bloodlines. Dogs like these have been bred for generations for what some would call "drive," strength, courage, and athletic performance. The males will top 100 pounds, the females, 80. They must have obedience training, exercise (lots), and much human contact. The sooner they are socialized to be around other dogs, children, and adults, the better. Remember, the dog was bred for protection &shyp; it is highly territorial, and possesses the equipment and strength to do real damage. Do not expect your GSD (particularly the females) to accept your five-year-old if the first time she sees the child she is already grown. From her point of view the child is an intruder &shyp; prey. Do not expect your male to accept the UPS or FedEx man unless he has been thoroughly trained to do so. These dogs bark; they can be trained somewhat to reduce the barking, but again, barking is part of protection, and your GSD has generations of genes telling him exactly that. This is not an apartment dog &shyp; it is a muscular, energetic animal, that on a leash can pull a 200-pound man off his feet. They cannot be allowed to run free, unless you're willing to pay the price. They do not naturally get along with other (neighbors') dogs, and will kill them if they intrude. In sum, there is no nobler, more beautiful, more loyal, more intelligent, more courageous dog &shyp; but they must be socialized as puppies to accept other animals, children, and adults; they must be obedience-trained before they are a year old, and they must have what some might consider an inordinate amount of time each day with their owner. Your best bet is to buy from a breeder who is more interested in improving the breed than cashing your check. For a top quality GSD with proven bloodlines, $1,000 is not unusual.


Name withheld by request of Texas writes:

I love GSDs!
The GSD is one of the most versatile, intelligent, beautiful dogs there is. I have had more than one, and just like people, they have different personalities. The female I own now comes from top German working lines and she has more energy and drive than the one I owned before her. She is smart and driven and a joy to own ... she can be a pain at times, too ... but who or what is perfect at all times? She requires a lot of exercise and attention but this has been good for her, me and my fiancee as well. We are in much better shape now because of her! As with any breed, one needs to do a lot of research before buying a dog. And you should check out many reputable breeders before buying one. I will agree that the German lines are MUCH MORE aggressive and active than the American lines so you need to research both lines thoroughly and decide which one fits your lifestyle and needs better before you buy one so you won't be disappointed or overwhelmed. If you decide this breed, whether German line or American line, is for you, you won't regret it!


Name withheld by request of California writes:

Smart and full of personality.
My GSD is my best friend and loyal companion. She has a great personality and thinks she is a human. She has never bitten anyone in my family and she knows when it is appropriate to guard the house. German Shepherds are truly angels.


Name withheld by request of the U.S. writes:

Our daughter's pride and joy and guardian.
We have had our GSD for three years now. We rescued him from the local shelter. He was not socialized at all, and was afraid of his own shadow. Well, three years later, he has become a wonderful loving and loyal companion. Our seven-year-old daughter won't go outside to play unless she has him at her side. They play outside for hours together. This puts our minds at ease also, having him outside with her, we don't worry so much. He is a great baby-sitter, he will stand in her path if she trys to go anywhere near the road. The only downside I can see to our dog, is he is a rock and big branch collector. He will pile rocks all around his doghouse, and he brings the largest branches onto our yard, I don't know how he gets them out of the woods. We get great joy from our GSD, he is protective, in a civilzed and very intelligent manner. If we say, "It's okay," he is perfectly fine after that, and is everybody's friend. We enjoy him tremendously, and will be heartbroken when he is no longer with us.


tig4107@hotmail.com of Moore, TX writes:

Awesome dogs.
I was six years old when I got my first dog. It was a German Shepherd. He was just three months old and a ball of fluff. His feet were too big for his body and he would trip on a flat surface. He was my constant companion. He went with me when I rode my bike; he pulled me on roller skates in a make-shift harness; he ran along next to me and my horse on our numerous rides. He protected me from other dogs. He tried to protect me from my parents when I was in trouble. He knew that our family was his pack and his to protect. He was the best. He was sixteen when I lost him. I was devastated. I didn't get another dog for six years. Not one breed could compare to my Shepherd. Then fortune smiled on me. A friend had to give up her two Shepherd littermates. A male and a female. I quickly volunteered my home as their new dwelling. They were five years old. Approximately one year later, the female was poisoned. I had the male with me at work that day so he was saved. My male quitely grieved himself down to 60 pounds. I had to find a friend for him. My father called one day and asked if I wanted a German Shepherd puppy. I, of course, said yes! This puppy was almost a year old and he was the same size as my other male! Here we are a year later. Two happy males and me. The two of them work my horses with me and sleep next to me at night. They are great with my spouse and my children. I couldn't recommend a better dog for any family. They are great protectors and family dogs. One word of caution; they think they are little five-pounders that belong in your lap and bed!


marley713@cox.net of Rhode Island writes:

Loyal, loving, the best friend you could have.
I am the owner of two beautiful GSDs and I wouldn't trade them for the world! They are my best friends, my companions, my protectors. GSDs are very intelligent and with the right training they can do almost anything. They have been great with children and never a problem with visitors. Shepherds do shed a lot, and I mean a lot! But it's a small price to pay in exchange for a wonderful pet. Remember, there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.


Name withheld by request of Texas writes:

Loyal companions.
My experience with the German Shepherd has been a very pleasurable experience. My dog was very willing to please, very smart, and was very easy to train. She is not an aggressive dog. German Shepherds are great guard dogs. My dog would bark at strangers, but if I told her it was alright she would be very friendly toward the person. GSDs are herding animals and unless trained they will chase cattle. The one fault I see of the GSD is that they are prone to hip dysplasia. I feel that the GSDs that are aggressive were not properly trained and socialized and that it is the owners' fault. These are great family dogs.


gordana70@hotmail.com of Toronto, Canada writes:

Love and affection makes a world of difference.
My parents raised me with German Shepherds. I've seen the good and the not so good about this breed, but most of the not so good came from the owners of the dog. I believe that there is a romantic notion when it comes to German Shepherds. But when looking into a breed that will be suitable to your lifestyle, all romantic notions should be forgotten.
The latest addition to my family was eight months old when he came to live with me. He came to me with a broken leg and was scared of the wind blowing. He was a very abused dog that at the request of my local veterinarian I took in. His previous owners were not very selective or experienced large dog owners, and didn't know what was involved in training and caring for a German Shepherd. In the end it was the dog that suffered until he came to live with me.
It's been three years now, and let me tell you that it has not been easy building his self-confidence up and healing the wounds of his past. But now he is a well-behaved and very happy dog. All the love and affection I gave him, he has given back to me tenfold!
My advice to anyone looking for a loving, loyal and protective dog is to spend some time with a German Shepherd. Their ability to forgive and to please is unlimited and unconditional.


Name withheld by request of Phoenix, AZ writes:

Intelligent, loving family pet.
I am an experienced dog owner. I have had several breeds but not one dog will take the place of my GSD. He has passed on now from hip dysplasia. This breed is highly intelligient. My GSD was obedience trained as well as personal protection. He never failed to surprise me. When I thought of an outlandish trick for him he always caught on. Also he was very good at tracking, thus we would play hide-and-seek with him for hours and he just loved the attention. Silent commands was what he learned best. I could tell him to do almost anything silently.
They are also very loving and loyal dogs. My GSD thought that he was a lap dog and would lay on my lap as long as I would let him. I loved the expressions on his face. He was a gentle bear. However, they do shed a lot. Their health concerns are hip dysplasia, pancreatic and congenital heart problems. With training and lots of love they easily become a protector and a part of the family. If you're thinking of buying a GSD go to a reputable breeder. You'll get an idea of their temperament and bloodlines.


shepalutes@aol.com writes:

Too hyper.
As a trainer/breeder/groomer/behavioral specialist I have come in contact with many AKC dogs and in many different environments and conditions. If you put all the Shepherds I have been with throughout my 40 years, I could say that 89 percent of all the purebred GSDs were hyper and aggressive. Far too hyper for the normal pet family. It is my opinion that until the breed club pays more attention to correcting this feature the GDS will not rise to the top of the most wanted breeds' list. And then again perhaps they don't want to! Being at the top of the most wanted breed list isn't really an honor a breed club might wish to attain as this fosters "breeders" who do not breed for the best qualities in the breed.


ngatt@yahoo.com of Germany writes on 5/4/01:

The alpha breed.
I was brought up in an 'animal loving' environment, as, for as long as I can remember, my dad always kept a dog in the house as a componion. There was never a GSD though - he sometimes had a cross-breed and later he seemed to settle on Labradors. Until I got my first Shepherd when I moved to my own place. I didn't have any prior experience with this breed but there was always something about the way they looked that conveyed free spirit, bravery and cleverness. Perhaps the initial drive for getting the GSD was more based on my romantic perception of the breed rather real facts. Even after the various horror stories that I read and heard, one always seem to think that it would never happen to you !
Anyway, so after sometime looking around, I got a female Shepherd. To say that I was completely satisfied
is an understatement. I won't mention that several pleasing characteristics as they have been mentioned
numerous times here already. However, the thing which I admired the most was that the GSD is much more
than the romantic figure which I previously had in my head. It's like when you have several breeds put into
one - a compound, feature rich, product. For instance, my experience with Labs was of a docile, affectionate
and intelligent dog. My GSD was this but also could be 'my enemy's worst enemy' when the occasion arises. And
as they say, the enemy of my enemy is my friend :-)
After 2 years of having my first GSD, unfortunately I had to go abroad. My dad at the time has just lost his Lab
through old age but wasn't sure whether to adopt my Shepherd, due to apprehension based on the common negative myths aboutthe breed. So he decided to take her on 'probation'. Well, the rest is history - ask him whether he would give it back today? Since then, I got myself another 2 GSDs, a female and a male from 2 different bloodlines. They are pure German lines as I'm currently located in Germany and there's no way these 2 dogs are going to part with me. As to the German blood line myth, I think it's a bit like trying to forecast the weather for next year ! Found none of the negative points usually quoted.
The bottom line I guess is that dogs will always remain dogs, and why shouldn't they after all ! With highly intelligent breeds, like the GSD and so many others, they can be whatever you want them to be. The outcome is the prerogative of their owner.


Name withheld by request of Washington, DC writes on 5/4/01:

The best dog you will ever have.
Having owned several dogs, I am constantly amazed how intelligent our Sheppard is, particularly at speech recognition. I can tell her to go to any room in the house and she will do it! She is also one of the gentlest animals that we have owned while being very protective of everyone in the house. She never barks at just anything so we know that when she does, someone has just come into the yard or walking towards the house. The only problem (if it really IS one) is she thinks she still is a puppy. She loves to sit in your lap and anytime you go out with her, she stays within arms distance and when you stop she likes to stand leaning, touching you looking forward. I have talk to MANY people who own Shepherds and these are all common traits. In reading other reviews, anyone who tells you that their Shepherd makes them nervous needs to seek drug rehabilitation. I canít wait to get home to have her stand up and literally hug me when I come in the door!


Name withheld by request of Texas writes on 4/20/01:

Wonderful, intelligent companions.
As with any situation, the relationship between you and your dog will not only depend on the dog itself (not just the breed) but largely on you and what kind of person YOU are. With that said, I want to recommend the German Shepherd as a great addition to most families. My family has owned two Shepherds and both of them were amazing. They are very gentle creatures that love to be with you. They are great with children and tolerate most anything.
Our first, was given to us by a friend who was moving overseas. He instantly became the son my father never had. For us children, he was also a great companion, always tolerating our insistence to play. He was so smart and so loving. However, the breed does have a downside - they commonly have health problems such as hip displasia and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Ours developed this problem and had to be put down due to kidney failure (I may be misquoting the exact problem as it was many years ago and I was much younger). My dad was devastated and took the day off of work, which for my dad was a very big deal.
We bought our next and current Shepherd from a breeder. She was very nervous when we brought her home, but she quickly warmed up to the entire family. She's now quite a few years older and just amazing as ever. We have about 15 acres, so she stays outside and "protects" the house. She will chase away other dogs that come on the property and bark at people walking by the house. She has never chased or attacked anyone walking by. She just likes to warn them that she's there watching over us. We live out in the country, so having somewhat of a guard dog is great. When strangers come to the house, they won't get out of their vehicle until we come outside and let them know it's okay. She'd never hurt anyone, though. Even when she has puppies. She's very protective & will only let certain people handle the puppies. She has always been very gentle about letting people know that they need to leave. The worst thing she has ever done is lightly nipped at the person, being very careful not to break the skin. When my mother or father mows the yard or the pasture, she follows right behind the entire time. If you're working outside, she sits with you, just content to be there.
German Shepherds are amazing animals. They just love to be near you and receive your affection. They are highly intelligent and can be trained to do so many things. I've heard of people having bad experiences with Shepherds, but I truly feel that it was just a bad combination and that the person and the dog just weren't compatible. Of course, there can be Shepherds that for whatever reason behave badly just as there are children who behave badly. In most situations (not all), this stems from their past & hard times they've experienced or the way they were treated by a previous owner. Every potential dog owner should take a good look at what they are capable of handling. If you can't handle the shedding, don't get a dog with a heavy coat. If you can't handle 'large poop' don't get a large dog. I could go on and on, but just use common sense. Be smart about picking your pet. Once you've decided on a suitable breed, if at all possible, research the actual dog you are looking at buying. Getting a dog should be something you think about carefully because if it doesn't work out, then the poor animal has to deal with it more than you do. You just take it to the shelter or give it away. They have to adjust all over again to a new family, a new home (or no home), and a new way of life. Think about that. I hope you find the right pet for you!


iris_gsd@dog.com of Illinois writes on 4/12/01:

One of the most versatile breeds.
The German Shepherd is a easy to train, intelligent dog. Even though all of them might not be so life-saving as Rin-Tin-Tin there are alot like him. German Shepherds tend to "stick" to you and want to stay less than 5 feet away from you. That's why when you're outside (and they're not) they go crazy! Make sure that if you get a German Shepherd puppy start socializing and training early. If not, then when it grows up it might be aggresive and unable to handle. If you do you will have a great friend that might live with you for 11 years. German Shepherds are large dogs, 65-95 pounds and 22-26 inches at the shoulder. Their coat color is usually black & tan/silver/red and all black. The UKC has the new breed called the "White Shepherd". It's basicly an all white German Shepherd. I have a German Shepherd that I compete in agility and obedience. She does wonderful in both sports. Of course they are one of the most versatile breeds around.


louis@scottsbluff.net of Torrington, WY writes on 2/17/01:

Second to none - intelligence, loyalty, companionship.
I have owned a several diffent breeds, but have never encountered a finer companion than my German Shephard Dog. She is very intelligent and was housetrained within a week of bringing her to our home as an 8 week old puppy. She was easily trained to sit, retreive, stay. They quickly pick up on habits and routines, and react accordingly. As a puppy she was kenneled while I was at work. She knew when it was time for me to leave, and would go to her kennel and patiently wait for me to close the door. It is as if she is able to "tell time" and knows when feeding, play, bedtime, quiet time is, it is all automatic to her. Our German Shephard is from 100% German bloodlines. I have read several reviews that caution regarding the high drives and activity levels of Shephards from German lines. I have not encountered this with our dog. She seems to adapt to the activity level of our family. When we are active, she is right there. When we are relaxing, she is sitting quietly by our side. I have teenage children and a toddler-age niece and nephew. She is very fond of children, is tolerant, and likes to play. She does have a protective nature, and will follow the toddlers wherever they go. She gets along well with other dogs, and lives with a Cairn Terrier. She has accepted my little Cairn as dominant, and has never offered a challenge. We also have a Golden Retriever and a Bassett Hound next door that she is fond of. This dog never barks. Every dog in the neighborhood can be barking, and she will sit, quietly watching them. I do caution prospective owners regarding health problems associated with this breed. Although we purchased our dog from a reputable breeder, she was diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, which is common in this breed. Medication for this disorder is expensive ($60 to $100 per month), and must be continued for life. Our dog's parents had both been DNA tested, and were clear. However, there is currently no DNA marker available to detect for carriers of this disorder, so make sure you talk to the breeder about this disorder prior to purchasing. I highly recommend the German Shephard dog as an intelligent, loving companion.


ThatDogGuy@aol.com of Pennsylvania writes on 2/3/01:

Commonly found in shelters for a good reason - ignorant owners.
Before you buy a dog, any dog, please think about what you are committing yourself to. No dog should be left for hours in a kennel or tied to a tree. Yes, they will bark and become a general nuisance. German Shepherds, especially, are very social dogs. I have four, all quietly laying at my feet as I type. If your dog is becoming a "pain in the bark", trying bringing him in the house and making him a member of the family. If the shedding is unbearable, perhaps he belongs in another home. Too bad you didn't realize that when you picked him up as a puppy.


Name withheld by request of Maine writes on 1/11/01:

This breed is found in often found in the shelter for a good reason.
They bite. They terrorize the neighborhood. I have a Shepherd who I love, and who is trustworthy, and I'm grateful for her. But I've also tried with two other Shepherds, and alhough I'm an experienced dog owner, the Shepherds were nightmares. Bark bark bark bark bark - my neighbors wanted to kill me. My Shepherds displayed both territorial and fear aggression - in particular against other dogs. You need to have the right kind of mood to withstand all the hours of training a large dog to stop pulling your arm out of your socket.
I know all the great things about a Shepherd CAN (but don't bet on it) also be true. My bitch was the top of her class in obedience and agility (clicker trained in both) but I couldn't trust her off leash. If you weren't right there, holding onto her leash, she'd flip out and terrorize any person or dog who passed by our house. It wasn't because she wasn't well socialized - she was born nervous. Although she was raised with children, she didn't like the neighbor's children and it wasn't because they ever hurt her - she just was nervous.
German Shepherds have LARGE poops. Mine had some sort of pancreas problem that made the large poops runny. They shed these long straight hairs CONSTANTLY. They need an outdoor kennel,(imagine you can hear them out there barking now) and an indoor crate. They are dangerous animals. Where I live, a well behaved, well bred German Shepherd just killed the families human baby. Surprise - this breed is unpredictable. They are much more likely to bite your neighbor or your child than to bite a criminal, because after all, who is really most likely walk in your door? Your neighbors are all praying that if you must get a dog, it will be a good citizen of the neighborhood - but unless you're planning on controlling your dog and picking up the many LARGE poops, and socializing, socializing, socializing your pup from 7 weeks of age, a German Shepherd is likely to be the neighborhood pain in the bark.
Go for a walk at night, and listen to the sound of barking dogs. Those are usually German Shepherds. They are the most overbred, and abused breed of dog in our country - well, maybe next to the Pit Bull. I love my one Shepherd (although I AM tired of the shedding,after thirteen years, and it makes me sad to see her in pain when she walks - like most, she has hip displasia), but I could love a Collie or a Australian Shepherd just as well, and those other breeds are just as beautiful, trainable and way less likely to be a danger to the neighborhood.
Don't buy a Shepherd if you feel scared - buy a can of mace, get better locks on your door. My purebred German Shepherds made me a nervous wreck because I was always having to pull them out of attack mode. It's very stressful living with protective German Shepherds - it's like living with a loaded gun. They don't always go off when you WANT them to go off, and they DO go off when you really REALLY wish they wouldn't!
Don't buy a Shepherd if you aren't able to really give it all the time and energy that it needs. And don't breed. When I bought my Shepherds, believe it or not, i visited a bazillion breeders. They all had tons of puppies, tons of adults pining away in kennels. Look at all the dogs being put down in shelters. There are too many Shepherds being bred, but rare indeed is the busy American family that can really do justice to the high power of a german shepherd, but many are the breeders who want to sell this high prey drive animal as pets to families. They are working animals. I know the idea of a Shepherd is very romantic - we imagine that big protective hero - but the reality is often very different.They are only dogs. BIG aggressive dogs. They can be dangerous at worst and hairy at best.


facemodel@musclemail.com of Ohio writes on 1/1/01:

The worlds premier working showdog.
I have been in Shepherds since 1986. I have discovered after owning quite a few of them and acting as a breeder, handler, and exhibitor that there is no better all around dog. I guess you could say that stament is debatable, but let me tell you why I say that. The German Shepherd is a loyal family companion, who loves his person or persons. They are good with children on most occasions. They are independant thinkers. GSD do not only respond to commands, but they show cognitive skills. An example of this would be schutzhund or protection work. There is not a breed that is more versatile than the Shepherd tracking, herding, hearing dog, seeing eye, show, pet, protection the Shepherd can and has done it all. Lastly, the top show dog of all time all-breeds is a German Shepherd bitch and the top male all-breeds is a German Shepherd. Need I say more. However, it should be warranted the shepherd is not for everyone. They are high drive and extremely intelligent.


Lomarek@earthlink.net of Wichita, KS writes on 12/3/00:

Find the right breeder.
Almost everyone thinks that their dog is the best. Finding a breeder that can deliver the appropiate dog for you can mean the difference between experiencing the worlds greatest breed or misery. Do not make a rash decision. Check the resources in your area to find someone with a good reputation. Long term breeders will gererally have the best dogs. Find a breeder who screens for dysplasia, temperament and has healthy dogs. Large, well known kennels are not always your best choice. Small breeders who breed a few litters a year are probably the best. Expect to pay around $1000 for a quality puppy. Titles are important. However,they can be misleading. The philosophy of the breeder is the most important. Find out what their philosophy is. Some breeders are now combining german and american bloodlines to increase selectivity and health. However, high quality german dogs are expensive. Beware of low quality imports. Both German or American dogs can have many problems. Look for high quality dogs that have been screened by a knowledgeable person. Good luck, you will need it.


info@bmk.org.uk of the UK writes on 11/21/00:

Working dog and family pet.
I am a breeder of German bloodline GSDs. Each dog is an individual with it's own very special personality. These dogs will protect you, the house and grounds, rough house with the master/mistress of the house but play gently with the baby. Baby can poke their eyes and ears and get no reaction from the dogs. My 3 year old can take food from the dogs bowl with no reaction at all. The dogs guard his bedroom at night. They would risk their lives to protect you. They are sad when you are sad and happy when you are happy - they read your mind so training is easy. My first dog NEVER messed in the house at all - he toilet trained in 2 days! Doing your research and buying from a breeder who knows in depth about the breed is very very important. American lines are to be avoided at all costs - yes they are very calm lovable dogs BUT they have so many health problems that you will spend your life and your life savings at the vets. Then you will be sad when at the age of about 6 the dog is ready for the rainbow bridge! I know you don't believe this - spend some time on American GSD discussion boards and see how often they discuss all their many many health problems!! My (German) male is 5 years old and has never been to the vet for anything other than routine vacinations! True pure working lines from Germany do tend to have high drives and are less suited to family life - they need several hours exercise a day and work in order to keep their brains occupied but German show and German working mixed together (Carefully!) will produce dogs with a combination of traits from which you can pick the individual puppy most suited to its new home.


tabmaur@aol.com of Virginia writes on 11/13/00:

Loytalty, intelligence and agility in one package.
I was not prepared, even with all I had read, for a dog that can never give enough of anything. She was with me for 12 years and had a loyalty and love for me that was truly amazing. These dogs are fierce protectors of those they love and will stand up for you in face of any adversity. They are aloof at first, which is how they should be, but once they get to know you you have a friend forever ... they do not forget.
While our dog was an indoor dog, always waiting for 5:30 knowing I would be home, she would sit at the window waiting for me. Our other GSD is an outdoor dog - very playful, extremely intelligent, she opens doors, and one day our fence blew over and she stood on the perimeter of the property and would let noone on her property..she stayed there till I got home. I could never be without a GSD and despite the fact that there are those who would say bad things about the character and temperment of this breed, I say with good breeding and a good home this is the dog of all dogs for men, women and children alike ... yes for other dogs as well.


hmd71655@hotmail.com of Ashland, MO writes on 11/8/00:

The family dog.
My family and I have owned GSDs since I can remember. We have always lived in the country so our dogs have always had plenty of room, but I have friends who live in apartments and they do just fine with daily exercise. Our dogs become family members and are treated as such. Over the years we have owned approx. 20 GSDs all have been assets to our family in more ways than I can list, from baby sitting our children in the yard, yes we have had two GSD's one male and one female
that literally herded our children back into the yard if they stayed to far, this was not taught to them, it just seemed like the natural thing for them to do. Now the kids are all gone, but the Shepherds have stayed, we now run a small GSD rescue with 5 dogs in residence. All thank us on a daily basis
Although if you plan to have the dog with small chidren I suggest raising the dog with the children, and not a full grown dog as some are kinda set in thier ways. If you do choose a GSD plan on a very busy new member of the family, who will repay you with unconditional love


illusion_lk@hotmail.com of Creston, WA writes on 11/7/00:

The ultimate in telligence, beauty, and movement.
The GSD is an all around dog,he possess strength in everything he does. From his gracefull,"flying" trot, to his keen perception of life, his undeniable devotion to his people is unsurpassed by any other breed. His intelligence is under-rated, this is a dog that not only can "think", but is always thinking. The German Shepherd Dog,is, has, and always will be the TOTAL DOG.


Name withheld by request of Riverton, WY writes on 22/1/00:

Almost human.
I have two Shepherds at this time. Anymore and I could open up a weigh loss clinic for the masses to give them the excersise they need. I had one before these two, whom died of old age. When he died, part of me died too. I was so lost and half scared because I came to depend on him very much for protection and as an early warning system. In the void of his absence I looked for a yaer for a dog that I could be sure wouldn't die of the problems that ignorant breeders breed in just for show. I made up my mind I didn't care any more about looks, I wanted a friend.
They were both easy to house break, yard train and since I do alot of outdoor activities in the farthest areas of my state from civilization, voice command train when wild life jumps up that I don't want them to persue. They have taken on a bear but I was able to call them back so that the poor guy could go on his way. It was a surprize to the bear and to us when we met so there wasn't time to leash them up.
Since I am by myself for 90% of the time and both big dogs out weigh me, all their training has been done by me, for me. I would have no other dog for a back country companion. Two of them assures that no Grizzly or mountain lion are goning to hassle me, nor they them because they are so good about obeying. They do gripe. They gripe at each other. They gripe at anything that might look at our house. They gripe because I don't do camping in the snow. They gripe if I walk by the truck and they can't get out of their kennels. I gripe right back. That insures a mild disussion bettween us and I always win. They howl at sirens, and they howl with the coyotes and wolves. They are sick sounding wolves and lusty coyotes, great sirens.
If you don't like smart friends, you won't like these dogs. They like to tease, play, and are always trying to show you how good they are at their jobs. They refuse to believe you are tired after a 14 hour work day and prove it by goading you to play.


bobbie hudson@hotmail.com of Vandenberg AFB, CA writes on 9/9/00:

Power protection with a lot of love for family!
I am a proud owner of a 1 year old German Sheppard. She is a very loving dog and enjoys the family very much. She is also very protective of me and my children. Not only loving and protective but intelligent. My German Sheppard was so eaily trained at home by me. Sit, stay, shake, lay down ... she does it all by voice command or hand signal.


dianawilk@email.com of Hampton, VA writes on 6/25/00:

Best friend, extremely intelligent, an absolute joy in my life.
I think the German Shepherd Dog is the best dog in the world. I have a three year old female German Shepherd Dog and I love her to death. She is the best dog I have ever had, she is always with me and has protected me on several occasions. I don't know what I would do without her with me. She is very intelligent and so much fun. She loves to swim and play ball,and is in the process of learning how to be a tracking dog and loving every minute of it! I have had other dogs, but none have ever compared to her, she is just amazing. She is so much fun to teach things to. I have taught her to sit, stay, speak, shake, down, come, go around (which means go around the other way), back up, move and tell me. She also barks when the smoke alarm goes off. She knows English and German commands and knows hand signals as well. She has such spirit and facial expressions. She has actually knocked a book out of my hand trying to get my attention, and goes up to my husband and pushes at his arm when he is on the computer! I believe German Shepherds make the best dog in the world and I wouldn't trade mine for anything! I absolutely, positively adore her!


pddt4@msn.com of Pennsylvania writes on 3/30/00:

Very intelligent.
My GS was a very inteligent dog he trained very fast and very well. He took to house breaking in about two weeks and was wonderful with my children ages 3 and 1. He had a wonderful personality towards everyone. I love this breed and would recomend them to anyone that was interested in big dogs and had the time to spend with them.


name withheld by request of Flagstaff, AZ writes on 2/29/00:

Intensely loyal, energetic.
My German Shepherd is a wonderful dog, most definately one of the most loyal dogs I have ever owned. I do however, think that he suffers from seperation anxiety. He hates ever being left home, even though he does have the company of my other two dogs, a Doberman and Sheltie. He becomes very destructive, chewing and tearing things up. Having owned only one German Shepherd, I don't know if it is just him or if that's just how they are (maybe because of their intense loyalty). He also has all German bloodlines which I have heard tend to be much more active then the American bred variety. I have also found that the German Shepherd MUST have a lot of exersize. Being as active as he is now, even with daily hikes and acerage to run around on, I couldn't see him being happy with a lesser amount of exercise. Being as loyal as he is, he likes to go everywhere with me and has no desire to wander, though he does occassionaly like to chase rabbits on our forty acers. I found him harder to train then my other two dogs, I think due to his higher dominance and activity level. He does know how to sit, lie down, and he stays very well, he also catches a biscut in his mouth and barks on command. He is a one-person dog, and is very protective of me and aloof with strangers. I would reccomend a German Shepherd to a very active person who can be as devoted to their Shepherd as he will be to them. An owner also has to have plenty of time to train their dog well, and estabish dominace (also be able to handle a lot of shedding). Due to my experience with Brutus, I would not reccomend a German Shepherd to some one with small children (due to exuberant activity level) or other animals (jelousy and dominance level).


dackley@cqc.com of Walton, IN writes on 2/8/00:

Number one worldwise for many reasons.
The German Shepherd Dog has long been the most popular breed worldwide, and this is a well-deserved position. There are several distinctly different variations within the breed, and understanding those variations can help you select a dog that will fit into your life. No particular bloodline, color variation, or country of origin is all good or all bad, just more or less suited to a variety of purposes. All living creatures have the capacity to produce defects, Nature does not make everything perfect. The best breeders strive to minimize the number and severity of defects by screening their breeding stock and making careful decisions in matching the parents of a prospective litter. A good breeder also should have a goal in breeding and should be able to state what that goal is. The below observations are generally true and it must be remembered that there are always individual exceptions to every rule.
German working bloodline dogs tend to have a high energy level, strong drive to play with objects, and make good enthusiastic workers. They tend to have dominant confident temperaments, and often can be too active and headstrong for the novice owner. They are often too energetic to settle down in the house or play gently with young children. They often have a strong desire to chase cats, cars, kids on bikes, etc., due to their prey drive. This drive is an asset for someone who wants to work a dog in Schutzhund or other high intensity activity. Prospective police dogs should be tested for "civil drive"-in other words, the dog should be more interested in the agitation helper than in the object. A dog that is more interested in the agitation sleeve than in the man is a dog that will be unreliable in a real-life situation. German show line dogs are generally high energy dogs also. Because of the fad for uniformity of appearance in German conformation showing, these dogs are usually saddle patterned black and red two-tone. Dark dogs, blacks, and agoutis are seldom seen in the German conformation ring anymore. They also can be too rowdy for household pets and for novice owners.
American bloodline GSDs often are much more mellow than the German strains. They usually are more submissive toward the owner. They are usually calmer in the house and gentle with the children than the German dogs. They often are too easygoing and mellow to be good in the Schutzhund sport or other such high intensity activities. This difference makes them a better choice for the novice owner and the household with young children.
The best all-round GSD is a dog that combines some American and German bloodlines. Again and again, the dogs I have seen that can work and at the same time be gentle with kids and cats, and calm in the house, have been dogs that combined American blood with German lines. The American influence seems to calm them down, while the German influence adds enthusiasm and drive to the combination dogs.
The breed is overall easy to housebreak, with strong cleanliness instincts. They want to be with you and are very loyal. The loyalty of the breed is the source of its protectiveness. Their intelligence and creativity can amaze (and aggravate!) you. Sometimes, they can seem almost human.
For the best success, get a pup from a knowledgeable breeder who can match the dog to your lifestyle. Socialization is very important to the mental development of the GSD. Basic obedience training is also a must, this is how the dog learns to respect you and your position as alpha in the household. My GSDs have done such things as carry backpacks, pull a wagon, keep the kids out of the creek, find people and objects, watch the vehicle (weather providing), track an archer's lost deer, open doors (don't encourage this one!), lead you to things to show you what they can't tell you in words, and many others. This breed is one that is limited only by how much you choose to train and socialize it.


jody@bigvalue.zzn.com of Olympia, WA writes on 12/17/99:

An awesome intelligent family dog and companion!
I have owned three German Shepards over the years. I love most dogs but German Shepards are by far my favorite. They are so intelligent and will eargly learn just about anything to please their master(s). I put all my dogs through obedience, search and rescue and personal protection training. They literally become part of the family and need to be treated as though they are. They are great superb with children and when raised together will form a tight protective bond with them. The key to owning a great all around family/protectiveguard/working dog is always buy from a reputable breeder. This will assure temperment and long health of your dog. You can easily find a best friend within this breed of dog.


germanybrdgknnl@rtcol.com of Rochester, IN writes on 11/14/99:

The first at nothing, second to everything dog.
Let us start out by saying that doing your home work of the breed you intend to select is the most importent thing you can do. Know what you want out of your dog.The next is to find yourself a GOOD mentor. There are several out there, and many people will help, just ask! Try to take all your information that you can compile with a grain of salt, some may be better than others. Learn about the importence of bloodline research, suppliment feeding, the ins and out of trust when it comes to breeders, and the heartaches.
We say if there not your"children," then your not worthy of "their" love. They DO know!
We also believe that NO dog food is "complete". The number one suppliment is raw meat, then the vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium tabs, etc.. Take all the knowledge that you recieve and compile the best of it. Trust only a select few, to an extent. We,ll be the first to tell you that we don't know it all, and probably won't, but one can sure try! We would love to go on, and sure could, about the great times behind and ahead of us. Enjoy!


cateyes555@yahoo.com of Georgia writes on 11/3/99:

They are great family guard dogs.
The German Shepherd is the a great dog for a family who wants a guard dog. They are sweet loving and easy to train. My GSD (German Shepherd Dog) can jump three feet high, walk backwards on her back feet, jump forward on back feet. She sits, lays, fetches, and stays on command on command.


Name withheld by request of NW Ohio writes on 10/10/99:

Devote some time to it and it will devote its life to you.
Buy from a good breeder. If you don't know what a good breeder is, don't buy any dog. Period.
The GSD is a versatile breed. It is still used to herd in Central Europe, it is therefore more intelligent than most other dogs, though can be a bit slow to fully mature. If left on a chain all day, it will become mean (as will most dogs), but if socially developed will, in all likelihood, be a good loyal dog. I trained my Shepherd in agility and obedience and she is a registered therapy dog (TDI, chapter 422) and she'll do just about anything you ask. The only word of caution it that they can be a bit reactionary. They'll look to the their master to see how to react and if your reaction is negative, you can expect the same of them. I plan on owning one or two Shepherds the rest of my life. Take the time to work with the dog and develop it and you will be rewarded.


mystic@wmol.com writes on 10/2/99:

Do your homework on the breed
German Shepherd Dogs are very loyal, smart and eager to learn new things. Excellent dogs when raised with family as a puppy, but I would be careful when getting a adult because they become very loyal to their family members. Do your homework on the breed. One other thing is that they will die for you to protect you. Also they have to be socialized alot when a puppy or they will be aggressive.
They do have hip problems .I find that giving vitiman c when growing up will help the problem. I have owned four Shepherds.and now own two of them. I love them. But it's not a breed for someone who has not done their homework on the breed.


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