The German Shepherd (Deutscher Schäferhund) is a breed of medium to large-sized working dog that originated in Germany. The breed’s officially recognized name is German Shepherd Dog in the English language (sometimes abbreviated as GSD). The breed was once known as the Alsatian in Britain and Ireland.
The German Shepherd is a relatively new breed of dog, with their origin dating to 1899. As part of the Herding Group, German Shepherds are working dogs developed originally for herding sheep. Since that time however, because of their strength, intelligence, trainability, and obedience, German Shepherds around the world are often the preferred breed for many types of work, including disability assistance, search-and-rescue, police and military roles, and even acting. The German Shepherd is the second-most registered breed by the American Kennel Club and seventh-most registered breed by The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom.
German Shepherds were bred specifically for their intelligence, a trait for which they are now famous. In the book The Intelligence of Dogs, author Stanley Coren ranked the breed third for intelligence, behind Border Collies and Poodles. He found that they had the ability to learn simple tasks after only five repetitions and obeyed the first command given 95% of the time. Coupled with their strength, this trait makes the breed desirable as police, guard and search and rescue dogs, as they are able to quickly learn various tasks and interpret instructions better than other breeds.
German Shepherds are moderately active dogs and are described in breed standards as self-assured. The breed is marked by a willingness to learn and an eagerness to have a purpose. They are curious, which makes them excellent guard dogs and suitable for search missions. They can become over-protective of their family and territory, especially if not socialized correctly. They are not inclined to become immediate friends with strangers.German Shepherds are highly intelligent and obedient, as well as being protective of their owners.
While an Australian report from 1999 provides statistics showing that German Shepherds are the breed third most likely to attack a person in some Australian locales, once their popularity is taken into account, the percentages of GSD attacks drops to 38th. According to the National Geographic Channel television show Dangerous Encounters, the bite of a German Shepherd has a force of over 1,060 newtons (238 lbf) (compared with that of a Rottweiler, over 1,180–1,460 newtons (265–328 lbf), a Pit bull, 1,050 newtons (235 lbf), a Labrador Retriever, of approximately 1,000 newtons (230 lbf), or a human, of approximately 380 newtons.
- Weight: 60 – 85 pounds (27.22 – 38.56 kg)
- Height: 23 – 25 inches (58.42 – 63.50 cm)
German Shepherd Dogs (or GSD, as they’re sometimes known!) have a noble, proportioned and commanding look. A typical GSD’s body—slightly longer than tall—is sturdy but lean. He has a slightly convex forehead, long muzzle, pointed ears and almond-shaped eyes that are set (as opposed to protruding) with an amiable expression. The neck slopes down to muscular shoulders and legs. The back legs are solid and the tail bushy. Normally black and tan, sable or just black, they also come in blue and white. They come in three versions: shorthaired (sometimes called rough-coated), medium-haired and longhaired.