Amazing German Shepherd Facts

Find German Shepherd facts, information and learn more about this truly wonderful dog breed. GSDs have been popular for a long time and are among the 3 most popular dog breeds. Smart, loyal and brave, this canine breed can win any heart, and I bet it already did win yours!

The popularity of German Shepherd dogs dates back to the 1920’s when two German Shepherd Hollywood stars, Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin, stole the hearts of their viewers and persuaded a whole generation to adopt this particular breed. Their popularity has only increased since then, not only as pets but also as working dogs.

This breed of dog is characterized for being confident, courageous and smart and it is the second most popular dog breed according to the AKC.

Most people can recognize the most common German Shepherd dogs, but they come in 11 colors: Bi-Color, Black, Black & Cream, Black & Red, Black & Silver, Black & Tan, Blue, Gray, Liver, Sable, White.

German Shepherd Fact 1: Name

  • The German Shepherd Dog or abbreviated GSD is called Deutsche Schäferhund in German, where it was originated from. After WWI, the name Alsatian and Alsatian Wolf Dog was used in the British isles due to the unpopular feeling towards Germany. This name was dropped in 1977. 
  • The name “German Shepherd Dog” derives from the breed origin as a working shepherd dog in Germany.

German Shepherd Fact 2: Origin

  • A strong desire to standardize the German herding dog led Von Stephanitz in 1899 to find a “perfect” standard and through much inbreeding create this breed. The first German Shepherd dog was called Honrad von Grafrath, and was the first added to the Society for the German Shepherd Dog’s breed registry.
  • In 1908 the GSD was officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club.

German Shepherd Fact 3: Colors

  • The most favored GSD color is the classic black and brown/red. Other accepted German Shepherd colors are pure-black and sable.
  • They also exist in pure-white, liver and blue but these are considered to be faults at breed shows.
German Shepherd Facts

German Shepherd Fact 4: Coat

  • This beautiful breed has a double coat. The outer coat sheds throughout the year and the inner coat only twice a year.
  • Brushing your canine friend is necessary to keep the outer coat nice and clean, they are big shedders! The inner coat needs less care, but matting and clumping of the inner coat should be taken care of when it happens to avoid bald patches and skin problems. 
  • There are long and short haired GSDs, and the long coated ones are rarer due to the recessive nature of the gene responsible for it.

GSD Fact 5: Jobs

  • GSDs are smart and full of energy, that is why they are great working dogs too. This breed has been know to work as police and military dogs, search and rescue, Hollywood stars, Research animals, guide dogs, herding dogs, Therapy dogs, Seizure alert dogs and more. This means that your German Shepherd is going to need a lot of exercise, and even better…a job to do! Otherwise he may get into a lot of trouble.

If you are away from your GSD for long periods of time, try these interactive dog toys to keep him busy:

KONG Extreme Dog Toy, Large, Black

Kong toys are some of the best interactive toys out there. They are safe for your dog even when you are not home, they are VERY durable and dogs love them!

Nina Ottosson DogTwister Interactive game

Nina Ottosson has a great selection of clever interactive dog toys that your German Shepherd dog will enjoy. They are challenging and will make your hound think!

  • There has been a widespread belief that to train working dogs, specially for police and military work, only traditional training techniques would work and that using food enrichment reduces their motivation to do the job. This is not true at all. Lots of working dogs are trained with positive methods more often with better results and a study published in 2008, in the Journal of Forensic Science, suggested that, used wisely, food enrichment wouldn’t be detrimental at all. (1)

German Shepherd Fact 6: Temperament

  • This breed is said to be self-assured, have a willingness to learn and be curious. 
  • It it said that they are not fond of strangers, but this statement is not true in well socialized GSDs.

German Shepherd Fact 7: Biting

  • Every single new puppy of any breed should be taught to inhibit its bite. This means to teach the young hound to “bite” with low pressure to avoid harming the human skin. If this is not well taught during puppy-hood the force of a bite can be very painful.
  • More precisely, an adult German Shepherd dog can bite with a 238 pound-force.

German Shepherd Fact 8: Hip dysplasia

  • This is one of the major problems in this breed and most likely due to poor breeding. The original purpose of the German Shepherd dog was to be a working animal. However, dog shows have made this a secondary goal and breeders intentionally look for dogs with a sloping back (back of the dog is lower than the shoulders), which may have contributed to the wide spread of this problem. 
  • Many scientists are working on finding the genes responsible for hip dysplasia in this breed. This information could help prevent the continuation of this trait during breeding.

German Shepherd Fact 9: Growth

An average adult German Shepherd dog can have the following measurements:

Males

Height at the wither 60 cm to 65 cm
Weight 30 kg to 40 kg (66 to 88 lb).

Females

Height at the wither 55 cm to 60 cm
Weight 22 kg - 32 kg (48 to 70 lb)

The Length of the torso exceeds height at the withers by 10 - 17%.

Keep in mind that your German Shepherd may have a different size and still be normal. The German Shepherd growth chart below will help you keep track of your puppy’s development.

German Shepherd Growth Charts

German Shepherd Fact 10: Intelligence

  • German Shepherd dogs are incredibly intelligent and can learn behaviors in only a handful of repetitions. There are no scientific studies showing that this breed is more or less intelligent than others, but personal accounts and anecdotal evidence may place GSDs within the 3 most intelligent hounds. 
  • Intelligence of domesticated dogs may be related to the artificial selection of unique genes that specifically work in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, an area that is linked to complex behaviors and cognitive abilities such as planning, personality and decision making. German Shepherd dogs may show a difference in the expression of these genes when compared to wolves. (2)

I hope these GSD facts help you love your hound even more. Don't forget to share your pictures and stories!

(1) The effect of feeding enrichment upon reported working ability and behavior of kenneled working dogs. Gaines SA1, Rooney NJ, Bradshaw JW. J Forensic Sci. 2008 Nov;53(6):1400-4.

(2) Artificial selection on brain-expressed genes during the domestication of dog.
Li Y1, Vonholdt BM, Reynolds A, Boyko AR, Wayne RK, Wu DD, Zhang YP. Mol Biol Evol. 2013 Aug;30(8):1867-76.


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