The German Shepherd originated in Germany at the tail end of the nineteenth century. In spite of being a relatively newer dog breed, these dogs are famed throughout the world as competent work and guard dogs. As highly trainable and intelligent dogs, German shepherds have been used by military and police forces to perform a wide variety of tasks. Although these dogs are revered for their ability to work, they are also popularly owned as pets in many parts of Europe and North America.
The German Shepherd was developed as a work dog and was selectively bred from shepherd dogs in Germany. Breeders valued strength, intelligence, and trainability as traits to promote in these dogs. Though earlier shepherds were needed to protect sheep, the industrialization of many of Germany’s cities required other kinds of tasks that could be performed by dogs like patrol duties and rescue duties. Historically, the breed has also been called Alsatian Wolf Dogs, but the term German Shepherd eventually replaced the older tag.
German Shepherds are large dogs; males may weigh in at more than eighty-five pounds. These dogs are well known for their athleticism and endurance. German Shepherds boast a wide variety of colors and color combinations. Dogs may be black and tan or red and black. Some may be solid black or simply have a black muzzle. Most German Shepherds feature a short-haired coat, but there are some, due to a recessive trait, that have long-haired coats.
German Shepherds are an active type of dog and are extremely confident. Their self-assured demeanor has made them a favorite type of guard dog. German Shepherds can be good pets and companions, but in some countries like the U.S., statistics have shown them to bite more than most other types of dogs. Often, German Shepherds will bite other animals; however, aggressive dogs can also bite humans.
Unfortunately, some indiscriminate breeding practices have resulted in some hereditary diseases like hip dysplasia for which the breed is known for. Epilepsy, skin conditions, and blood disorders are also known issues for this breed. Even so, German Shepherds remain one of the most popular breeds among entities in need of work dogs. Strong and reliable, the breed is regarded as the third most intelligent among all dog breeds. German Shepherds require socialization and obedience training to instill best behaviors. Adequate exercise and mental stimulation are also essential for this dog–whether a family pet or used for work.