German Shepherd

German Shepherd in water

German Shepherd breed standard: VDH, FCI I Size: Medium I Average lifespan: 10+ years I Character: Obedient and loyal I Coat: Short I Origin: Germany.

The German Shepherd is one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. This dog breed has an impressive stature and many other qualities.

The origins of the German Shepherd

An entirely German creation

We must go back to the year 1878 to find the origins of this breed. Back then, Germany had many Shepherd dog breeds that differed depending on the region. This is why dog breeders decided to combine the qualities of the two best breeds to create one. Their goal was to obtain the best guard dog for their herds. This is how the German Shepherd was born, coming from a cross between a Shepherd dog from the center of Germany and a Shepherd dog from the south of Germany. It was not until the arrival of Max Emil Frédéric von Stephanitz that the qualities of this breed were recognized by the entire world.

Increased recognition

It was Max Emil Frédéric von Stephanitz who truly introduced the German Shepherd to us. He admired so many aspects of this breed that he decided to acquire one in 1899 and breed them. In September of the same year, he created a club with this breed’s name. Von Stephanitz did all he could to promote the German Shepherd, even to the point of being very selective when it came to breeding them. The goal of this was still the same, having better dogs to guard sheep. Von Stephanitz stayed at the head of the club for 35 years and organized multiple dog shows to standardize the breed.

Towards an international conquest

In 1910, the German Shepherd was introduced to France. The breed’s popularity in France was spectacular. Georges Barais created a club in honor of the German Shepherd in 1913, introducing the breed for good in France. However, the German Shepherd breed was not officially recognized until 1922.

When it comes to the German Shepherd being brought to other countries, this was done later. For example, Italy was introduced to this breed in 1949.

German Shepherd run outside
This is an athletic and agile dog.

The German Shepherd’s character

This breed’s impressive stature can make them look aggressive. However, this breed is not aggressive at all. On the contrary, they are protective and loving dogs.

The qualities of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd has all of the qualities of a guard dog. They are categorized as being the first utility dog breed worldwide. Their qualities are exceptional. In terms of their character, the German Shepherd is a strong animal that is sure of itself, and above all obedient. These characteristics that make them the best guard dog. We can add to this list o qualities their loyalty and faithfulness towards their owner.

Their robustness and their ability to adapt make them capable of tackling challenges. This is how they were able to make themselves popular in other domains than herding. As the sheep herding profession was becoming more and more rare, their qualities were put to good use by police, the army, as well as assisting blind people, or for humanitarian tasks. Their protectiveness towards children is a wonderful quality for families.

Are there any downsides to having a German Shepherd?

Despite their numerous qualities, there are a few downsides to having a German Shepherd. For example, when it comes to their physique and endurance, these dogs need to use up a lot of energy physically. Also, it is necessary to have a large amount of open space or to go out for walks often with them. Boredom and the lack of physical activity can lead to negative behavior in this dog. They become nervous and unmanageable.

It is also a dog that has a powerful bark and that barks rather frequently. Cohabitation with other dogs can be a bit complicated. Lastly, their attachment with their owners can be a problem, especially if they need to be away from the house regularly. German Shepherds do not handle solitude well, and for this reason, can have a hard time handing the absence of their owner.

German Shepherd sit
The German Shepherd is often recognized for its red and black coat.

The German Shepherd’s physical characteristics


The German Shepherd has a well-proportioned body that reveals their strength and muscularity. It is an athletic and agile dog. Their long and powerful body also shows their effortless endurance. Their body is slightly longer than it is taller.


This breed’s head is proportionate to the rest of the body. It is moderately large between the ears. In general, the head is neither too long nor too heavy. The muzzle is well-defined and strong. When it comes to their ears, they are moderately large and symmetrical with a large base. The ears end with a point and stand up. When it comes to their eyes, they are generally dark. They have an almond shape and are slightly slanted. To meet the breed standard, the eyes must be as dark as possible.


The body is well-proportioned. Their medium size is compensated by the length of their body. The breed’s back line is slightly plunging. This accentuates the sturdiness of their constitution. In keeping with the breed standard, the German Shepherd’s tail must reach to the hock. The coat is longer on the inner area of the tail and the tail hangs down.

German Shepherd outside flower and grass
This dog breed is protective and loving.

Coat, color, and grooming


The German Shepherd is easily recognized for its physical standard (color and coat). But, keep in mind that there are two varieties of this breed.

Short coat: this is the standard of the German Shepherd. As soon as this breed was created, this was the only standard accepted by the FCI. The double topcoat is dense, straight, and tight, while the coat is short around the head, as well as on the inside of the ears and the front of the limbs. The coat is fuller and longer on the neck.

Long coat: The double coat is longer, more flexible, and less tight. We can see fringes around the ears and limbs. The tail is more bushy with fringes pointing towards the bottom. The coat is short on the head, the inside of the ears and the front of the legs. This coat entered the breed standards later, in 2008.


The German Shepherd is often recognized for its red and black coat. It was the beauty standard of the breed. However, this dog can be other colors as well. Regarding the working line standard, the preference was a coat that was primarily gray.

We can also find the breed in gray, uniform or bicolor. The color of their fur does not take anything away from their natural qualities and polyvalence. While the gray German Shepherd has been decreed the standard for the working line, it is because this dog often has a lighter build, which accentuates its athletic abilities.


The German Shepherd does not need a specific type of grooming. To keep their coat clean and shiny, we recommend that you brush it between one to two times a week. However, it is not recommended to give them baths too frequently. This can weaken the waterproof quality of the coat.

In addition, do not forget the to go to the vet once a year. A flea treatment is recommended during the summer period. For deworming treatment, prioritize applying this two times a year.

Did you know?

The German Shepherd has been used a lot in the cinema. Also, did you know that the first German Shepherd to act in Hollywood was named Strongheart? This was during the silent era of cinema in the 1920s.

The German Shepherd Rin Tin Tin had a magnificent history. It all started during the First World War in Lorraine when the American aviator Lee Duncan discovered a female German Shepherd with five puppies. He kept two, Nénette and Rin Tin Tin, while the other dogs were under the care of other soldiers. A few days after he returned to the United States, Nénette passed away.

Rin Tin Tin entered several contests before being spotted by a movie producer. After that, Rin tin tin had a wonderful career as an actor with more than 30 films to his name. After his death, two of his descendants played him in the famous series of the same name.

The German Shepherd at a glance

Size: Males measure around 60 to 65 cm at the withers. Females measure around 55 to 60 cm at the withers.

Weight: The weight of a male varies between 30 and 40 kg (≈ 66.1 and 88.2 lb) and for females, it can vary between 22 and 32 kg (≈ 48.5 and 70.5 lb).

Health: While this dog has a robust appearance and is rarely sick, there are rather recurrent health problems in this breed such as hip dysplasia, skin disorders, or canine degenerative myelopathy.

Average lifespan 10 to 12 years.

Is the German Shepherd good with children? This dog is well-suited to family life and would be very protective with children.

Is the German Shepherd easy to train? This is an obedient and intelligent breed. They are relatively easy to train.