German Shepherd Dog Breed

German Shepherd Dog Breed at a Glance


Also referred to by the following names, Alsatian, Alsatian Wolfdog, Berger Allemand, and Deutscher Schäferhund, the German Shepherd dog breed is a highly intelligent one. Strong and athletic, loyal and protective, it is viewed as one of the top military and police breeds around the world. It is also extremely popular, ranking as the 2nd most popular dog in the US and the 4th in the UK. It is a suitable breed for kids, and is easy to train.

German Shepherd Puppies

Breed Group: Herding

HISTORY of the German Shepherd Dog Breed

Originally, the German Shepherd was used to protect and herd flocks of sheep in Germany. Because of its high level of intelligence and willingness to work, it was developed into a work dog of various capacities including as a police dog, guard dog, search and rescue dog, guide dog, narcotics detecting dog, and a war dog.

Origin: Germany


With the German Shepherd, expect a dog that is protective of its family and home. While it may be friendly with other pets in the home, including being a cat-friendly dog, it will not be so friendly with strange animals or strangers. It has a superb watchdog ability, capable of alerting owners of an intruder, and will act aggressively and without fear to protect its family. The German Shepherd has a high hunting drive but a low impulse to wander. It is a sensitive dog and may not take well to reprimanding. It may bark frequently.

When considering adopting a German Shepherd, it is important to consider the statistics regarding dog attacks. The German Shepherd ranks in the top 10% of dog attacks, which include 81 maimings (67 of those maimings were children) and 15 fatalities, as well as other injuries requiring medical attention. These statistics are inclusive of all the years dating back to 1982, so it would be unlikely that this dog breed would cause death. 

Physical Characteristics of the German Shepherd Dog Breed

The common colors of the German Shepherd are typically red and black or 10 and black. There are also, albeit rarer colors including all-white and all black. It has a double coat. The undercoat is thick, and its outer coat is dense and straight or slightly wavy.

The German Shepherd dog breed typically weighs between 75 and 95 pounds making it one of the heavier dog breeds. It stands between 22 and 26 inches tall.

Dog Breeds
White German Shepherd

Shedding is to be expected with the German Shepherd dog breed. It is both constant and seasonal, however brushing may help. Whatever the case, frequent vacuuming will be required.

The German Shepherd is not a hypoallergenic dog breed.

HEALTH and CARE of the German Shepherd Dog Breed

Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the German Shepherd is between 10 and 12 years, which is slightly shorter than the average lifespan of a large dog.

Common Health Concerns

Each dog breed is susceptible to certain health issues. The German Shepherd is at a high risk of developing:

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Cataracts
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Compulsive Behaviors
  • Corneal Dystrophy

and the German Shepherd is at a medium risk of developing:

  • Hemivertebrae
  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus or Bloat


The German Shepherd can adapt to both warm and cold climates. It is imperative to include exercise sessions that will serve to keep its body fit and its mind active. Regular physical exercise will be required. Be sure to visit the veterinarian regularly for routine checkups because of the numerous health issues and other concerns, such as its proneness to fatal fungal infections.

German Shepherd Dog Breed


Feed your German Shepherd between 3 and 4 cups of kibble each day.


Trimming and stripping is not required with the German Shepherd. In fact, grooming on the whole is infrequent with this breed, however, weekly brushing with a pin brush and a slicker brush will reduce the amount of shedding, which as mentioned above, is constant throughout the year.

The German Shepherd dog breed was recognized by the AKC in 1908.