A German Shepherd is naturally protective, so you need to make sure it knows that a visitor is not a threat to his family. If you are considering a rescue dog, it is prudent to learn how the dog was trained. If I now lived somewhere that a big dog would be practical,  the German Shepherd would be first on my list of dogs to own.



German Shepherd Dogs as Pets

German Shepherd Kissing Young ChildGerman Shepherds are very popular as pets and consistently ranks in the top three most popular breeds along with the Labrador and Golden Retriever.  German Shepherds are highly intelligent and have an undying devotion to their master.

The very first dog I had as a kid was a German Shepherd mix.  When I look at pictures now of that great dog, Lucky, he looks more mixed than a German Shepherd, but he is the reason I have such great affection for this breed. When I started the first grade in school, Lucky would always walk me to the bus stop and would be waiting there for me when I returned. He was always by my side as my best friend and protector.

History of the German Shepherd Dog

The dogs we know as German Shepherd dogs were developed from German working dogs by a German dog breeder Max von Stephanitz (1864 – 1936). Stephanitz set the breed standards, and with his colleague, Arthur Meyer, founded the first German Shepherd dog club, the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde, in 1899.



Stephanitz’s goal was to develop a better and more intelligent working dog for all of Germany. His dog, Horand von Grafrath, was the first breeding stud and is the great-granddaddy of today’s German Shepherd dogs. The dogs were also bred to do more than be shepherds. They were used to deliver messages, do rescues, sentry duties, and guard dogs during the First World War.

Although they wanted a good looking dog, their primary goal was to produce a breed that did its job well. I think they excelled in both areas because the modern German Shepherd is a beautiful dog trained to do just about anything.



Before Getting a German Shepherd

If you think of buying a German Shepherd as a pet and have not previously owned one, talk to experienced owners. The German Shepherd can weigh up to 90 pounds, so it is not a small dog. They are not naturally aggressive but can be trained to be a highly effective attack dog.



German Shepherds need a lot of exercises. A bored, lonely dog can be very destructive and can do a lot of damage to your living room. They can also be vocal, which may upset your neighbors and frighten anyone who rings your doorbell. They shed quite a lot, so expect plenty of dog hairs and be careful you don’t have dog hair in your pasta. Because of shedding, they are not a good choice for anyone who has dog allergies.

German Shepherd Dogs as Working Dogs

German Shepherd Attack TrainingVon Stephanitz’s vision for the German Shepherd was as an intelligent working dog. And they are that. They rank very high in dog intelligence, just behind the Border Collie and Poodle.

They are good herding dogs but are probably better known for their work as a guard, rescue, and attack dogs. And because they also make excellent pets, they are one of the best all-around best dogs in the world (in my opinion).

German Shepherds are excellent scent dogs and help to control the drug traffic. One Mexican German Shepherd, Zuyaqui, captured most Mexican police and military history drugs.

German Shepherd Appearance

Most German Shepherds are either tan and black or red and black. More rare color variations include sable, black, white, and other varieties. These choices may be nice, but the real German Shepherd has to be tan and black for me.

Dogs bred to show standards, such as those recognized by The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom, are in conflict with German Shepherd breed clubs about the issue of soundness. The show-strains have been bred with an extremely sloping top-line back that causes poor gait. Working dogs such as those used as service dogs generally have the traditional straight back. I like the straight back.

German Shepherd Dogs as Entertainers

Strongheart, a German Shepherd, was one of the earliest dog movie stars and starred in his first movie in 1921. This was two years before Rin Tin Tin, the most famous German Shepherd. Both have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

One of the best knows German Shepherds to those of my generation is the famous Rin Tin Tin. This German Shepherd helped the breed overcome the prejudice against the breed because of war.

Bullet, The Wonder Dog, was a character on the television series “The Roy Rogers Show” (1951 – 1957). In real life, the German Shepherd that played Bullet was also a family pet owned by  Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

Connect With Other German Shepherd Lovers

There are AKC Breed Clubs located in every state and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America, formed in 1913, is the AKC Parent Club representing the breed. Those interested in adopting a rescue can browse the list of affiliated rescues on the American German Shepherd Rescue Association’s website.

Dogs Similar to the German Shepherd

BreedStatsCountry of Origin
belgian malinoisBelgian Malinois
Height (Inches): 24 - 26
Weight (Pounds): 60 - 80
Life Expectancy (Years): 14 - 16
Popularity (AKC): 43
Group: Herding
belgian tervurenTervuren
Height (Inches): 24 - 26
Weight (Pounds): 55 - 75
Life Expectancy (Years): 12 -14
Popularity (AKC): 106
Group: Herding
belgian sheepdogBelgian Sheepdog
Height (Inches): 24 - 26
Weight (Pounds): 55 - 75
Life Expectancy (Years): 13 - 14
Popularity (AKC): 125
Group: Herding
bohemian shepherdBohemian Shepherd
Height (Inches) 21-22
Weight (Pounds) 40 - 60
Life Expectancy (Years) 12 -15
Popularity (AKC) Not ranked
Group: Herding
Czech Republic
Belgian Laekenois
Height (Inches) 24 - 26
Weight (Pounds) 55-65
Life Expectancy (Years) 10-12
Popularity (AKC): Not ranked
Group: Herding
German Shepherd
Height (Inches) 22 - 26
Weight (Pounds) 50-90
Life Expectancy (Years) 7-102
Popularity (AKC): 4
Group: Herding