German Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD), once known as the Alsatian, is a large breed of dog that is popular worldwide.  Read more about the German Shepherd in our breed profile.

History Of The German Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd Dog is a breed derived from several European dogs and was originally used as a dog for herding and guarding sheep. The German Shepherd Dog was then developed by the German army in the late 1800s for use as a military dog and was used by the Germans in the First World War to find wounded soldiers, as dispatch carriers and silent patrol dogs. The German Shepherd Dog was then introduced into the USA and UK by soldiers returning home but the British gave the dog an alternate name of Alsation derived from a small region in France called Alsace, as the word "German" had a negative association and it was believed it would harm the breed’s popularity.  The UK Kennel Club first accepted registrations for the breed, known as the Alsatian Wolf Dog, in 1919 and two clubs were formed in the UK to support the breed: The Alsatian League and the Alsatian Wolf Dog Club but these united in the early 1920's under the name of the Alsatian League and Club of Great Britain.  The word "Wolf" was later dropped from the name. During the Second World War the Germans and British both utilised the German Shepherd Dog as war dogs due to their high intelligence and trainability and German Shepherd Dogs were also used in Britain as search and rescue dogs to locate victims buried after bombing raids.  In 1977 German Shepherd Dog enthusiasts successfully campaigned to the UK Kennel Club to allow the breed to be registered as German Shepherd Dog and the recognised breed name was changed from Alsatian (GSD), to German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian) with "(Alsatian)" being dropped from the breed name altogether in 2010. 

Characteristics Of The German Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd Dog has a broad head and sharp muzzle with the ears held erect. The body of the German Shepherd Dog is muscular with a broad straight back and deep chest with a slightly curved tail which hangs down. The coat has a thick undercoat and flat outer coat. German Shepherd Dogs can be short or long coated. The usual colouring is black with tan but white German Shepherd Dogs are also known.

Height Of TheGerman Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd Dog stands 22 to 26 inches from the ground to the top of the shoulder.

Temperament Of The German Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd Dog is full of life, strong, intelligent, agile, fearless, confident, loyal, protective and reliable. Unfortunately mass breeding has resulted in some of bad temperament or nervousness so buying from a reputable breeder is important. A well bred German Shepherd Dog is friendly, confident and enjoys human companionship. Due to their high intelligence German Shepherd Dogs are exceptionally trainable and early and thorough training is vital to ensure they fit well into the family household. As well as a good family pet German Shepherd Dogs do well in agility and obedience and are a breed used by the police, search and rescue teams, and as Guide Dogs for the Blind. German Shepherd Dogs also make good guard dogs, being very territorial.

Requirements Of The German Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd Dog requires plenty of exercise and regular grooming. They respond well to training and this is best carried out early.

Health Of The German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dogs can be prone to hip dysplasia, skin disease, congenital heart disease and Panosteitis, a serious inflammation of the long bones.

Lifespan Of The German Shepherd Dog

The average lifespan of the German Shepherd Dog is 12 to 13 years.