History of the Breed
The German Shepherd dog was originally bred to herd and protect sheep and was highly valued as the shepherd’s constant, and frequently only, companion. These sturdy intelligent herding dogs drew the attention of a military officer in the German cavalry who thought, that if refined through breeding, these dogs might make an ideal military dog. After his selective breeding program to intensify their best characteristics, the end result was a versatile highly intelligent herding dog with a stable, affable, personality. These dogs were also notable for forming intense loyalty to their handlers. In 1899 the German Shepherd Dog Club was formed in Germany.
During the 1950’s the television show, Rin Tin Tin boosted the breeds popularity in North America where owners discovered that there’s a little of Rin Tin Tin, in every Shepherd. This amazingly versatile dog has proven ideal as an assistance dog, a home companion, a seeing eye dog, a dog who fetches and carries for the physically challenged, hearing dogs for the deaf and, of course, a family pet and watch dog for everyone, At the same time, this same breed has a high profile with the military and police for everything from tracking and search and rescue to guarding and police protection. German Shepherds are the third most popular dog in Canada and have been in the top ten in the USA since 1948, for good reason.
They are intelligent and learn quickly with a stable and sensible personality. Physically they are tough dogs. Hardy, strong and agile they were bred with the endurance to trot all day long and yet they can also sit quietly in your home all day. As shepherds they are naturally protective of their owners and families and excellent with children if raised properly.
The breed has a distinct personality marked by a directness and fearlessness, but not hostile or aggressive nature. Shepherds are self-confident but with a certain aloofness to strangers, that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. They are not a breed to fawn over everyone they meets.
Given the remarkable versatility of the breed it is natural that certain groups, locations, and countries would selectively breed for their own preferred traits and today there are many subsets of German Shepherd bloodlines that emphasize particular traits. The simplest summary is to say there are working dog lines preferred by the police and military and no doubt actual shepherds and “pet” lines preferred by families because they typically have lower energy levels and more laid back personalities. That said, the basic breed traits are ingrained and most Shepherds will perform most tasks if trained.
The ideal height for adult males is 25 in (64 cm) at the shoulder and weight ranges from 75-80 lb (34-36 kg). Females will be somewhat smaller. The ideal German Shepherd Dog can be many colours, black, black and tan, black and red or sable.
Health & Care
This is a hardy dog that can withstand most weather conditions with moderate shelter. However, German shepherds require regular substantial exercise both physically and mentally. They need an environment with space to move and some interesting things happening. That could mean regular walks, and or a space to run free on walks with you, or a fenced garden where birds and squirrels can be managed (chased) and there is a property to guard. Without this, they will make their own entertainment digging, chewing, barking…
Just as important as regular physical exercise, is mental exercise. These are smart dogs who prefer a role and/or job. While there primary job will be protecting you and yours at all times, they also will need your attention and should be taught obedience. However, the rewards of owning a well behaved shepherd far outweigh the effort. With regular attention and affection, which most people find a pleasure , and regular exercise, which is good for us all you will have a remarkable companion.