German Shepherd

German Shepherd At-a-Glance

Originating from Germany in 1899, German Shepherds are the number two most popular dog breed in the United States, just behind the first-place Labrador Retriever. They are superbly intelligent and excel at nearly everything for which they are trained.

They are widely used as seeing eye dogs, search and rescue dogs, policy K9 dogs, as well as various jobs in the military. German Shepherds can do it all. In addition, they make wonderful and incredibly protective family dogs.

Weight (pounds)
Male: 65-90
Female: 50-70
Height (inches)
Male: 24-26
Female: 22-24
Lifespan (years)

Dog Breed Group

Characteristics Ratings

We rate 19 characteristics for each breed, divided into three categories:
Highest Rated – Characteristics for which this breed is rated 4 or 5 stars (on a 5 star scale).
Neutral Rated – Characteristics that rated 3 stars.
Lowest Rated – Characteristics that rated only 1 or 2 stars.

Highest Rated

  • Good Family Dog
  • Kid Friendly
  • Low Drooling
  • Likes to Play
  • Handle Change Easily
  • Protective Nature
  • Easy to Train
  • High Energy Level
  • Tolerates Cold Climate
  • Good General Health
  • High Intelligence

Neutral Rated

  • Good With Other Dogs
  • Friendly to Strangers
  • Low Amount of Barking
  • Suitable for Small Yards/Apartments
  • Tolerates Hot Climate

Lowest Rated

  • Low Shedding
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Tolerates Being Left Alone

General Overview

Few, if any, dogs are as protective of their families as German Shepherds. They thrive on human companionship and possess unbreakable loyalty and affection for their family members, particularly the children.

Their highly protective nature means they are cautious around strangers and other dogs. However, they are not naturally hostile and with proper training, they will easily learn when it’s appropriate to show aggression and when it’s not.

Early socialization with other people and dogs will help to further refine their inbred protective instincts. They will always be alert and vocal whenever anyone approaches their home, but training and socialization will help them distinguish between intruders and guests.

While they are heavy shedders, German Shepherds are very light droolers, so dog hair is the main thing you’ll be cleaning up. Another plus is that, like Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds do not have a doggy odor.

But they are natural chewers and will chew anything they can get their mouth around. Early training is needed to correct this behavior.

Even with their strength and courage, they do not do well when left alone for long periods. They have strong bonds with their families and can get depressed and destructive if left on their own too often.

German Shepherds are extremely active dogs and need a great deal of attention and exercise. You’ll need to give them 30-minute walks twice a day, combined with tasks they have been trained to do.

They love outdoor sports and perform at a high level in agility and performance competitions.

For these reasons, they are not a good choice for small yards or apartments, and their need for activity and tasks makes them a poor choice for first-time dog owners. This is not the breed for people who simply want a dog and aren’t willing to put in the effort to train and assign it tasks.

German Shepherds are crazy smart. If you’re doing crate training, you’ll need to get a crate made specifically for this breed, as they can let themselves out of regular dog crates!

Their high intelligence means they are very easy to train. They are one of the few breeds that can learn new commands with just a few repetitions. It also helps that they enjoy pleasing their owners and willingly learn new commands and new tasks.

From a health standpoint, German Shepherds enjoy excellent overall good health. Like all large breeds, they are susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia, and they are one of the breeds that can experience the life-threatening condition known as bloat.

Their double coat gives them good protection in cold climates and they enjoy playing in the snow. But in hot climates, you’ll need to watch that they don’t overheat themselves.

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