German Shepherd Dog Breed

Dog Group: Herding Group

Class: Herding


German Shepherd Dog Breed

The German Shepherd dog, also known as the Alsatian, is a very sturdy, muscular dog with strong features. The color of the German Shepherd dog is usually black and tan, and the coat of this breed can come in several variations, which include the long-haired German Shepherd, the long rough-coated German Shepherd, and the rough-haired German Shepherd. The coat is generally straight and dense. This breed has a very intelligent expression, and a handsome, determined face. The ears of this dog are pointed and upright, and the tail distinctively bushy.

The German Shepherd can grow to large proportions, and has a powerful and impressive physique.


The German Shepherd is an enthusiastic and happy dog, and this breed generally shows loyalty and affection combined with confidence, courage and superior intelligence. They are extremely loyal and protective, but providing they have been properly socialized and looked after, do not tend to be aggressive. The German Shepherd is intelligent and eager to learn, so training should be a fruitful and enjoyable experience for you and your dog. The German Shepherd loves the company of his family, and therefore needs a lot attention and interaction with his owners and family. This breed gets on very well with children and also gets on with other pets (when socialized and introduced early in life).

Height and Weight

German Shepherds or Alsatians can grow to large proportions and are very sturdy, strong and powerful dogs. The male German Shepherd grows to around 24-26 inches and can weight between 77-85 pounds. The female German Shepherd grows to around 22-24 inches, and again can reach around 77-85 pounds in weight.

Common Health and Behavioral Problems

One of the health problems to look out for in German Shepherd dogs is hip and elbow dysplasia, which can affect many larger dog breeds and can result in serious mobility problems due to its degenerative nature. The German Shepherd can also be at increased risk from digestive and hematological problems as well as eczema and epilepsy.

Ideal Living Conditions

The German Shepherd is a big dog that needs space to exercise and play. Therefore this breed is more suited to an environment with plenty of room and a garden or yard in which he is more likely to be active. The German Shepherd can be kept in an apartment, but will need to be regularly exercised.

Exercise Requirements

This breed needs access to plenty of regular activity, and loves play and exercise. It is a good idea to include plenty of interactive exercise and play, as this will feed your dog’s need for the company of his family or owner as well as his need to activity.

Diet and Nutrition

The German Shepherd thrives well on a balanced diet, and due to this breeds high energy levels and need for activity, you should ensure that your dog gets plenty of vitamins and minerals in his diet. A complete, dry food can help to keep tooth decay at bay as well as provide the nutrients the German Shepherd required for optimum health, and this can occasionally be supplemented with healthy, home-cooked food. As with all pets, the German Shepherd should always have access to fresh, clean water.

Life Expectancy

As with any breed, the life expectancy of the German Shepherd will often depend on the individual dog’s health, and can be maximized through healthy diet, exercise, and a good, healthy lifestyle. The average lifespan is around twelve or thirteen years.

Grooming Requirements

The German Shepherd is typically a heavy shedder, and therefore needs to be brushed regularly – daily wherever possible. Because they can be prone to eczema regular bathing is best avoided, and instead you can opt for very occasional baths and the use of a suitable dry shampoo as a more regular cleaning/freshening tool.


Originating from Germany, the roots of the German Shepherd (also known as the Alsatian) go back hundreds of years. However, the breed as we know it today was originally modified for military work in the German army. The breed was first registered by the American Kennel Club in 1908.

Secrets to Dog Training Testimonials

"Dear Daniel, Your book was a lifesaver! Our 2 year old black German Shepherd, Jack, came to us from a woman who was not able to cope with him herself. When he came to us at the beginning of the year he was a total handful. He was boisterous, aggressive, skittish and unresponsive – outside the home. At home he was still boisterous and a bit aggressive but would sit or come every time. Our White GSD Charlie was diagnosed with cancer literally 3 weeks after we agreed to take Jack and had been moping since his spleen was removed but he perked up with some young competition so we were feeling good about having them together…until we took them for walks.

We almost never put Charlie on his lead – we just never need to. Jack however couldn’t be let off his lead. He would drag me along behind him and strain against me to get to other dogs or cats or people that he could see and would panic once the door was open – struggling to get out and then trying to run off. It was distressing to say the least.

Jack was born and grew up in the one village so we have gleaned a lot of information from fellow dog walkers who recognised him and have seen our progress with him. We know the woman who gave him up to us loved him but couldn’t cope with him and a toddler so we think he just stopped getting walked. He was such a nightmare we can understand why. In the first month we were at our wits end and when I bought the Secrets to Dog Training books online we were a week from giving him up ourselves. We had the dominance training sorted from day one because we were aware that was going to be an issue otherwise but Jack had serious behavioral issues around food and walks that needed a lot of work. In the months since we got and read the books he has become a different dog! Everyone says so. We have recently been told people suggest us to friends in the area who have dog trouble and we have helped socialise several problem pups with Jack (because its good for him as much as them) all thanks to Daniel and his book giving us that extra knowledge that has really rounded out our own understanding. I recommend it ad nauseum! Jack still pulls on the lead he has good days and bad days but we are working on it (to be honest Charlie – our dream dog – has never been good on leads either). Jack now looks us in the eyes, can be walked off lead. Sits, Stays, Fetches, leaves – he is a great play mate. He sits and waits so quietly for his dinner we have honestly forgotten he is still waiting once or twice and he has come to remind us 5 minutes later! He doesn’t immediately run out if the front door is open and will happily sit outside with us if we are cleaning cars or talking out the front without dashing off. We have taken him from the most difficult, messed up dog – almost deliberately awful – to a great member of our family. He is fun. He is funny. He is a joy and we wouldn’t give him up for anything! And we wouldn’t have gotten this far without the wonderful hints, tips and explanations from Daniel in his online books. The best buy ever!! Bar none!

My other half is very good with dogs and even he was confounded by Jack but having the advice to hand in Secrets to Dog Training just turned it all around. We honestly have had dozens of comments on how good Jack has become. No joke!

Cheers Daniel – I really appreciate all your good work has done for us!"

-- Cara McLean (Cambridge, UK)

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Daniel Stevens is the renowned dog trainer and author of Secrets to Dog Training: STOP Dog Behavior Problems!, one of the leading dog training guides on the market today selling over 25,743 copies (and counting). He currently heads the Kingdom of Pets dog training team.