German Shepherd Dog
Dog Group: Herding
Registration Organizations: AKC
National Club Name:German Shepherd Dog Club of America, Inc
- National Club Corres. Secretary Address:
- Blanche Beisswenger 17 West Ivy Ln. Englewood, NJ 07631
- Breeder Contact
- Blanche Beisswenger, 17 West Ivy Lane, Englewood, NJ 07631 (201)568-5806
- German Shepherd Dog Club of America Rescue:
- Linda Kury, (408)247-1272 California
- Original Purpose: Developed as a general working dog for police and military work. This is a manufactured breed. The basic breeds that were incorporated into the production of the German Shepherd were European drovers dogs, farm dogs and herd guarding dogs. Some English Collie influence is also present.
- Breed History: The German Shepherd dog was developed from prick eared European herding and farm dogs in the late 1800's. Much of the credit for developement of the breed goes to the German Captain Max von Stephanitz, founder the first German Shepherd Dog club, the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde in Germany in April of 1899 (SV). Intensive development occured around the time of the founding of the German parent club.
- Earliest record: German Parent Club founded 1899
- Country of Origin: Germany
- Year of Registry with AKC: 1908
- Breed Registration Statistics:
- Height (inches): 24 - 26 (dogs); 22 - 24 (bitches)
- Weight (pounds): 60 - 130 (dogs); 45 - 110(bitches)
- It should be noted that German Shepherds are one of the breeds that have been affected by 'the bigger the better' syndrome. The standard calls for a medium sized working dog capable of prolonged work. Many fanciers have chosen to emphasize extreme size in their breeding programs. The official standard gives a size range for height and is mute on the weight range. The weights i have given are based on my own observations. Large and smaller dogs will occasionally be encountered.
- Eye color: As dark as possible.
- Lips: Firm, not pendulous
- Ear type: The desired ear is erect and pricked.
- Cosmetic Surgeries (to establish 'breed look')? None
- Color: Commonly a saddled black and and tan, sable, bicolor black and tan and black dogs are also acceptable. Black and silver dogs are felt to be a bit too pale. White dogs are disqualified from AKC conformation showing although they are bred by individual fanciers who have even formed their own clubs and have their own shows.
- Coat Type: Medium length (1 1/2 to 2 inches) double coat. The desired situation is for a weatherproof, low maintainence coat "outer coat should be as dense as possible, hair straight, harsh and lying close to the body...". Long haired individuals occur in the breed, as does the occasional woolley and curley coat. These are not as weatherproof and detract from the vigor of a sturdy working animal. Dogs with atypical coats are often offered for sale as pets.
- Temperament: The German Shepherd is one of the breeds where temperament is one of the most important variables attended to by dedicated breeders striving to preserve the breed as a working animal. The character of the ideal GSD is loyal, courageous, confident and highly trainable. They should not be timid, nervous or gun shy. Neither should they be vicious. An individual dog, once bonded to its owner, will bond for life. For this reason alone, one should not lightly contemplate acquiring a GSD.
- Special Requirements:A knowledgable and dedicated owner able to provide adequate exercise and activities for the dog.
- Typical Competitive Activities for this Breed: Obedience, herding, tracking, agility, schutzhund, protection work , guide dog for the blind, handicapped helper dog. You name it and someone will have trained a German Shepherd Dog to do it!
- Breed Pluses: A good German Shepherd is the essence of the working and companion dog. The friend and protector to the owner. The coat type and ear carriage provide for easy care. They are active and highly trainable. Although German Shepherds are not my main breed I have owned several. One thing that especially stands out was the impression that I had when going through basic obedience with Charm, my first shephed, that she must have read the book as I don't ever recall actually having to teach her anything.
- Breed Minuses: Unfortunately the GSD is a breed in which a lot of poorly thought out breeding, including breeding for exaggeration in the show ring, exaggeration in size and breeding purely for profit, has resulted in the production of a lot of animals of marginal physical, mental and genetic soundness combined with the entry into the fancy of a lot of breeders of marginal ethical fitness.
As with most popular breeds the prospective buyer must be very careful to screen the seller for honesty and the seller's stock for health and vigor. In my experience the best breeders rarely advertise (they don't have to) and you will find them by searching out the breeder of a German Shepherd which impressed you. Be prepared to wait for your puppy. Most reputable breeders actually have enough demand that they may have reservations on litters for a year in advance. When you see the breeder's kennel the dogs should sell you, not the hype!
The popularity of GSD's combined with the health problems in the breed mean that a breeder who does a fair amount of careful breeding is more likely to have genetically healthy puppies than is a breeder who breeds only one litter every 10 years. This is not a breed for the genetically ignorant to breed.
Despite the common impression that "anyone who breeds dogs for a living must be a puppy mill", excellent German Shepherd Dogs are frequently bred by people who make their living from dog training and breeding. The way you can tell that this establishment is not a 'puppy mill' is simple. The level of professionalism will be obvious. The dogs are bred with an emphasis on the trained adult as the desired product. The adult dogs are highly trained. The breeder is also an active trainer. Temperament testing is part of the evaluation process. The kennels are clean and spacious and all the German Shepherds are well maintained. Generally these people do not have to advertise their pups for sale. They usually can sell all that they choose to produce to their high standards by word of mouth and through their training classes. They generally provide good warrenties and health assurances in writing.
Shepherds are quite active and trying to leave a young one for long days, cooped up in a small space, can result in a very unfortunate dog owning experience.
Shepherds are not 'plug and play dogs'. They are intelligent, loyal, active working dogs that need training and work to realize their maximum potential. The owner needs to be in charge. Owned by too timid a person, an outgoing shepherd can become the boss. It is their desire to be your companion for life.
- Genetic problems commonly encountered in this breed: Unfortunately this quickly becomes a listing of the genetic problems of domestic dogs:
- Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and other joint and skeletal problems
- Toxic Gut, bloat and numerous other gastro-intesital maladies
- Congenital problems such as cardiac anomalies, megesophagous..
- Who should own this breed? People looking for a capable, dedicated companion who will become their devoted partner for the dog's life.
- Who should not own this breed? People who lack the willingness and strength of character to train an active, reasonably high energy dog. People who lack devotion to the long term task of owning an intelligent, individually bonding animal.
- Breed disqualifications These are cosmetic defects which make animals ineligible for the show ring. Under no circumstances should serious fanciers deliberatly breed dogs with these defects. However most of these have no effect on health so a person searching for a pet should not pass a healthy dog by because of these deficiencies. In fact a healthy dog with one of these deficiencies is a much better bet as a pet than a cosmetically perfect dog with some underlying health problem.
- Cropped or hanging ears
- Undershot jaw
- Docked tail
- White colored dog
- Dogs with noses not predominantly black (this refers to the color of the nose leather).
- Any dog that attempts to bite the judge (this dog is not a good choice as a pet, obviously!)
- Esthetic Defiencies These are legitimate reasons for a dog to be sold at a pet price on a 'neuter contract'. These should not detract from the health of the dog or its suitability as a pet.
- Color Pale washed out color, blue and/or liver colored.
- Color White markings on muzzle, legs. Lack of black mask.
- Tail The proper tail carriage is low and saber shaped. High tail carriage, especially curled over tha back as in a spitz breed.
- Eyes Light, staring eyes.
- Ears Floppy ears; ears turned over at the tips.
- Dentition Missing teeth, wry incisor occlusion, overshot or undershot.
- Do not buy a puppy that is 'sold as a pet because it' is/has:
- It is excessively fearful or excessively aggressive.
- It has a really peculiar posture - front feet flat on the ground to the stop pad, hind feet flat on the ground.
- Chronic lameness is a 2 to 5 month old puppy.
- The unhealthy scrawny pup in the litter. This pup may have any one of a number of life treatening congenital illnesses such as a major heart anomaly, pancreatitus, severe food sensitivities.
- An extremely large puppy for its age with very large, tender or hot to the touch "growth knobs" at the wrists and ankles. Very rapidly growing puppies are much more likely to have joint problems later in life. This is in part a management problem. These dogs can be feed to rich a diet as pups and pushed to grow too rapidly. Too rapid growth is generally an error made by novice owners and breeders.
- This is not a breed in which you want to take on a marginal pup, your are, more likely than not, going to get your heart broken. There are too many odd genes common in the breed.
- A pup from an excessively inbred litter. German Shepherds are, in my opinion, often excessively inbred on purpose. If a typical German Shepherd breeder thinks the litter is too inbred then it probably has only three ancestors after the first 4 generations. (You think I exaggerate?)
- Author (ie person to flame if you take exception to this breed description) - Bonnie Dalzell
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