German Shepherd

Also known as: GSD, DSH, German Shepherd Dog, Alsatian wolf dog, Alsatian, Berger Allemand, Deutscher Schäferhund, Schäferhund
  • German Shepherd
  • German shepherd

General description

German Shepherds were bred to live outdoors with their owner and family members, especially if these are children. The breed has a great tolerance for cold and hot temperatures and doesn't cause any substantial concerns as it regards health. This type of dog is generally easy to keep clean and doesn't have a particular inclination to gain weight. The German Shepherd loves interacting, exercising and is equipped with great energy levels and strength. Maintenance expenses are within an ideal average.

German Shepherd in short

Aspect and attributes

Characteristics accepts by FCI:

  • Colors: red, grey, black, yellowish
  • Hair: thick, straight, wiry
  • Coats: double coated

The size of the German Shepherd is typical to this breed. You will hardly find other types of dog displaying this unique structure and specific physical features. At first sight, we can notice the distinctive body structure and curve of the spine towards the kidney area. A feature that is very in demand with German Shepherds and which can be reason to be disqualified where not present. The head is quite linear and equipped with a fairly elongated muzzle connected to a neck that is well-balanced with the rest of the body.

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Costs and maintenance

Maintenance cost for the German Shepherd are usually within an ideal average. This breed is capable of consuming large amounts of food however this inclination can easily be managed by a considerate owner over the key moments of the day. Coat care immediately follows and must include targeted and regular attention to avoid having a German Shepherd with a ruined or generally dull fur. Quite an unpleasant feature in this type of dog. Perfectly within range when talking about general health expenses for the German Shepherd.

Maintenance costs within average

Characteristics Summary


Suitability to apartment life

The physical appearance and features of the German Shepherd can't deceive in relation to the possibility of raising it as an apartment dog. Due to its size, reactivity and inclinations the German Shepherd is a breed that prefers life outdoors and needs plenty of space to maintain its high standards. The criteria that must be met in order to share a space such as a unit are those relating to an outdoor space such as a courtyard or park near home.

Moderately suitable for apartment life

Tolerance for solitude

German Shepherds are not so used to a solitary lifestyle. A German Shepherd's everyday life shouldn't be overly lonely and must be mainly shared in the presence of the owner or family members. In this regard, the presence of a person or of the owner in a German Shepherd's life is also essential to facilitate this breed in maintaining a general good health condition. A German Shepherd left to its own too long can develop separation anxiety.

Little tolerance for solitude

Suitable as first pet

There are specific features in this breed that may force owners to interact with their pet in a fairly complex way. Little trust in strangers or a unique, never aggressive but always alert kind of temperament are pretty substantial prerogatives that require monitoring and managing from an experienced owner. This is why the German Shepherd is not recommended as first pet as it is not suitable in this respect.

German Shepherds are not quite suitable as first dogs


Equipped with great emotional strength, the German Shepherd is a breed capable of remaining cold-blooded and enviably self-controlled. These unique features originate from the breed's inclination to carry out a number of rather complex tasks requiring a decent amount of focus. A working breed like the German Shepherd must leave little room for emotional imbalances. A type of disposition that must obviously be assessed by the owner during training.

Quite tolerant from a temperamental perspective

Tolerance for cold temperatures

The physical features of the German Shepherd are quite an indication in this regard. This type of dog is capable of displaying a quite developed tolerance for cold temperatures. A trait that can be considered as typical in working breeds which are required to spend several hours of the day outdoors even in fairly extreme weather conditions. An advantage for those living in fairly chilly environments that can reach rather low peaks on the thermometer during the coldest times of year.

Tolerance for high temperatures

Even when exposed to fairly warm temperatures, the German Shepherd displays all of its physical prowess and a combination of ideal traits that prevent it from suffering too much in this kind of setting even in rather extreme conditions. German Shepherds can maintain a strong ability to carry out a complex variety of tasks even in extreme heat and humidity. Nevertheless, this trait should always be closely assessed by the owner in order to understand when there is a need to regain strengths with water and food.

Moderately tolerant to hot climates

Friendliness and sociability

Affection towards family

As it regards this breed's ability to display affection towards the family, the German Shepherd sits on excellent levels. This type of dog is a perfect guardian of the house and this specific trait also includes typical elements of the domestic lifestyle. Therefore, the relationship of those sharing a daily routine with a German Shepherd can only be defined by the huge amount of affection that this breed is capable of guaranteeing.

Absolute affection towards the family

Friendly towards children

As part of the breed's ability to lavish affection, children can only play a crucial role. German Shepherds tend to develop quite a unique kind of relationship with children which is based on care and affection. In this case, it is always useful that for any moment spent together especially when kids are still quite physically frail there is an adult taking the responsibility to monitor quite closely in order to protect the physical wellbeing of the kid.

Absolute affection towards children

Relationship with strangers

One of the most complex aspects in a German Shepherd relates to its relationship with strangers. Depending on the context, this breed can react in fairly different ways. When your German Shepherd is in the house, it is quite difficult getting it to accept the presence of a stranger. The breed is quite suspicious in this regard. When outdoors it will mainly depend on the owner's ability to keep its dog at a safety range. All concerns that can be adequately corrected through early socialization.

Very tolerant towards strangers

Friendliness towards other dogs

German Shepherds are not very inclined to cooperate or establish friendly relationships with other dogs. This specific trait can also be linked to this breed's tendency to develop a certain sense of protection of its family. A unique quality that makes it perceive another dog as a potential threat to the owner and personal safety of the family members. Normally, this type of inclination tends to be corrected through an early socialization with other dogs starting early on.

Moderately friendly towards other dogs

Care and health

Coat care and shedding

Within average throughout the year while it displays quite abundantly in certain times and seasons. The key moments in which a German Shepherd sheds are the typical seasons of spring and autumn. During these times, it is advisable to follow a precise strategy that includes care and more frequent inspections to prevent the German Shepherd from shedding too much in the house in case it is used to living in this kind of environment. A daily brushing is always recommended even to appreciate the glow of this breed's beautiful coat.

Average level moulting

Salivation and drooling restraint level

As for many other dog breeds, salivation and lack of an efficient drooling restraint in a German Shepherd is connected to rare events during this dog's daily routine. During the hottest days of the year, containing dribble can be quite challenging. These are the times in which a German Shepherd tends to display an abundant salivation. Other episodes should be reported in connection to common circumstances such as at meal time or in particularly exciting contexts.

Dribbling restraint within average

Easiness to clean

German Shepherds are used to somewhat of a rural lifestyle, enjoying outdoor spaces for most of the day. This inclination can only be a problem on certain types of terrain following those endless autumn rains and when it is time to return inside the house. These particular circumstances require practical care of a thoughtful owner who should ensure to inspect coat and paws of the German Shepherd as well as doing the same in the typical moments after a meal and a daily walk.

Average ease of cleanliness

Health and diseases

The diseases that can affect a German Shepherd during its life are usually not many. We're talking about quite common issues for any dog breed. Typically, owners should pay attention to any discomfort originating in the musculoskeletal system. In this regard, we refer to diseases such as dysplasia. Other potential diseases may be of the degenerative kind and affecting the spine. All these concerns must be assessed and investigated through specific checkups with an experienced vet.

Good health condition throughout its entire lifespan

Tendency to gain weight

In this sense, there shouldn't be any issues with a German Shepherd. This type of dog is not used to the inactive apartment lifestyle and its fondness for an outdoor routine facilitates maintaining a decent shape. Especially this trait in combination with a specific dietary regime will help keep a decent shape throughout the entire life of a German Shepherd. In this regard, it is always best to consider the possibility that your German Shepherd may have access to other food sources in order to eliminate any risks to its health and fitness.

This breed will stay in shape throughout its entire life span

Learning skills

Intelligence and training

As for almost all working breeds, the German Shepherd is also equipped with a diversified intelligence and an ability to respond efficiently to a variety of contexts through different kind of training techniques. This peculiarity must however be developed through a series of targeted activities set by an experienced trainer who shouldn't limit the range of abilities of the German Shepherd and instead enable it to display all of its talent in different aspects of its daily life.

Great intelligence displayed during training

Loyalty and inclination to escape

German Shepherds are very loyal dogs that rarely tend to stray away from their owner. This inclination will develop in a dog that is raised in a safe environment with a responsible owner who is capable of raising and improving the main qualities of the breed. In this regard, the German Shepherd's inclination to guard is helpful in developing this sense of belonging to the family and enables to further limit any potential disposition to escape in this type of dog.

Very loyal and not so inclined to escape

Inclination to bite

Bites are used by German Shepherds almost exclusively as a defense of family members and itself. Despite any useful technique to tame this specific behavior in the German Shepherd, it is almost impossible to remove this inclination. Nevertheless, the intelligence of the breed is of great help in understanding when this kind of action should be restrained, especially in public, crowded or quite noisy environments.

Great self-control of biting

Hunt drive

Although it is not a typical skill of the German Shepherd, being a breed capable of engaging in a diverse range of work activities can make this a behavioral trait. It also depends on the German Shepherd's curiosity or desire to interact with other animals, maybe even smaller than it. To prevent a behavior that can become a problem in a household with rather small pets, it is best to socialize your German Shepherd with them as soon as possible.

Strong hunting drive

Inclination to bark or howl

As any respectable guard breed, the German Shepherd also displays a certain disposition in this sense. The ability of the breed to bark or howl is therefore connected to its inclination to protect the house and family. This type of activity will occur under particular circumstances such as when the German Shepherd wants to alert the owner of a stranger passing near the house or a dangerous animal in the backyard.

Average disposition to bark or howl

Exercise requirements

Energy level

The energy levels of a German Shepherd are always very high and must be managed through targeted daily activity which includes outdoor walks in wide spaces where this type of dog can move freely, and varied interaction to allow it to effectively release any stress build up while in the house. This habit is required to maintain optimum standards for the German Shepherd's health conditions and, why not, even its shape which is quite envied in the canine world.

Extremely high energy levels


The physical appearance of a German Shepherd clarifies a lot in relation to its strength. The unique position of the rear legs which is given by the spine inclination, allows for a push that doesn't find many equals in the canine world. This trait therefore enables the German Shepherd to develop perfectly aerodynamic energy and power. Walking a German Shepherd that is capable of such strength on a leash will never be an easy task, especially if its curiosity is sparked by other people or pets.

High degree of strength

Exercise requirements

The requirement for exercise in a German Shepherd must be fulfilled daily, and most of all with consistency. It is not only a matter of physical wellbeing but also mental health. A German Shepherd that engages in adequate exercise everyday is a healthy dog capable of responding promptly and intelligently to inputs coming from the master. It is advisable to follow a routine that includes going out at least twice a day for 30-45 minutes each and in open spaces where the German Shepherd can relieve the stress accumulated at home during the day.

Strong need for daily exercise

Tendency to play

As all breeds gifted with intelligence and liveliness, the German Shepherd is also capable of engaging in a rather diverse playful interaction. Obviously, this particular aspect is connected to the German Shepherd's need to interact with the owner, release high levels of daily stress build-up and development of a constant search for new and challenging activities. Try to always be varied when interacting with this type of dog in order to prevent building an overly repetitive relationship in this respect which can cause your German Shepherd to get bored.

Maximum drive to play

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