Unlike some dog breeds, German shepherds aren’t exactly ancient. Humans officially recognized the breed in 1899. They’re some of the most intelligent dogs, which makes sense since they were bred to work. They learn new commands quickly and are incredibly obedient.
Initially, German shepherds herded sheep. There are far fewer sheep to herd in the modern world, but German shepherds are still popular working dogs. They save lives as assistance dogs, military dogs, police dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs.
They’re very brave. During the Korean War, the U.S. military employed them as casualty dogs — German shepherds sought out and helped wounded soldiers.
Many people have the impression that German shepherds are especially aggressive dogs. On the contrary, they only appear so often in bite statistics because they are very common pets. These dogs are protective, though. Owners need to socialize them well, so that loyalty doesn’t inspire German shepherds to protect when protection is unnecessary.
German shepherds are curious and bright. A dim-witted dog would never have the independent mind necessary to herd sheep or search for victims in rubble.
German shepherds range from medium to large sizes. They’ve got strong muscles, long snouts, and bushy tails. Most of them are tan and black, though they come in a variety of colors. Their fur includes two coats. The outer coat is water resistant, while the undercoat is thick and warm.
Most German shepherds are healthy, but the breed does have a few common wellness woes. Many have short hind legs, which makes them vulnerable to hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia makes a dog’s hips prone to dislocation. They’re also more likely than other dogs to have hemophilia, which prevents blood clotting.
The most important aspect of raising a German shepherd is proper socialization. Any dog will be anxious and afraid of the outside world if you don’t socialize them.
Puppyhood is the ideal life stage for socialization. To raise an emotionally healthy dog, expose your puppy to a variety of sights, sounds, places, and experiences. Introduce them to all sorts of people — and don’t forget to introduce them to other dogs!
Adult German shepherds also respond to socialization, though not as easily. With a fully-grown dog, you’ll want to be careful. Take them on leashed walks and let them watch you have friendly interactions with others.
These dogs shed a lot. Their owners must brush them regularly to avoid a home full of hair. German shepherds also need a lot of exercise. If you can’t provide regular workouts, this isn’t the dog for you. However, if you’re active and outdoorsy, a German shepherd will delight in joining you.
German shepherds are whip-smart, energetic, and brave. They’re hard workers who also love to play. They’ve claimed their place in history as helpers and heroes. They are one of the most loyal dog breeds.