German Shepherd Dog Breed Info


German Shepherds are a medium sized dog which generally are between 55 and 65 centimetres (22 and 26 in) at the withers and weigh between 22 and 40 kilograms (49 and 88 lb).The ideal height is 63 centimetres (25 in), according to Kennel Club standards.They have a domed forehead, a long square-cut muzzle and a black nose. The jaws are strong, with a scissor-like bite. The eyes are medium-sized and brown with a lively, intelligent, and self-assured look. The ears are large and stand erect, open at the front and parallel, but they often are pulled back during movement. They have a long neck, which is raised when excited and lowered when moving at a fast pace. The tail is bushy and reaches to the hock.[German Shepherds are a medium sized dog which generally are between 55 and 65 centimetres (22 and 26 in) at the withers and weigh between 22 and 40 kilograms (49 and 88 lb).The ideal height is 63 centimetres (25 in), according to Kennel Club standards.They have a domed forehead, a long square-cut muzzle and a black nose. The jaws are strong, with a scissor-like bite. The eyes are medium-sized and brown with a lively, intelligent, and self-assured look. The ears are large and stand erect, open at the front and parallel, but they often are pulled back during movement. They have a long neck, which is raised when excited and lowered when moving at a fast pace. The tail is bushy and reaches to the hock.

German Shepherds can be a variety of colours, the most common of which are the tan/black and red/black varieties. Both varieties have black masks and black body markings which can range from a classic "saddle" to an over-all "blanket." Rarer colour variations include the sable, all-black, all-white, liver, and blue varieties. The all-black and sable varieties are acceptable according to most standards; however, the blue and liver are considered to be serious faults and the all-white is grounds for instant disqualification in some standards.This is because the white coat is more visible, making the dog a poor guard dog, and harder to see in conditions such as snow or when herding sheep.

German Shepherds sport a double coat. The outer coat, which is shed all year round, is close and dense with a thick undercoat. The coat is accepted in two variants; medium and long. The long-hair gene is recessive, making the long-hair variety rarer. Treatment of the long-hair variation differs across standards; they are accepted under the German and UK Kennel Clubs but are considered a fault in the American Kennel Club.

Intelligence

German Shepherds were bred specifically for their intelligence,a trait for which they are now renowned.They are considered to be the third most intelligent breed of dog, behind Border Collies and Poodles.In the book The Intelligence of Dogs, author Stanley Coren ranked the breed third for intelligence. He found that they had the ability to learn simple tasks after only five repetitions and obeyed the first command given 95% of the time.Coupled with their strength, this trait makes the breed desirable as police, guard, and search and rescue dogs, as they are able to quickly learn various tasks and interpret instructions better than other large breeds.

Aggression and biting

German Shepherd Dogs have a reputation among some individuals for biting and have been banned in some jurisdictions as a result.However, German Shepherd Dogs are among the top five most popular dogs in the United States according to American Kennel Club statistics and well-trained and socialized German Shepherd Dogs have a reputation among many as being very safe (see Temperament section below). In the United States, one source suggests that German Shepherd Dogs are responsible for more reported bitings than any other breed, and suggest a tendency to attack smaller breeds of dogs.An Australian report from 1999 provides statistics showing that German Shepherd Dogs are the third breed most likely to attack a person in some Australian locales.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advises on dog bite prevention and related matters, states "There is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill."Similarly, the American Veterinary Medical Association through its Task Force on Canine Aggression and Canine-Human Interactions reports, "There are several reasons why it is not possible to calculate a bite rate for a breed or to compare rates between breeds. First, the breed of the biting dog may not be accurately recorded, and mixed-breed dogs are commonly described as if they were purebreds. Second, the actual number of bites that occur in a community is not known, especially if they did not result in serious injury. Third, the number of dogs of a particular breed or combination of breeds in a community is not known, because it is rare for all dogs in a community to be licensed, and existing licensing data is then incomplete." Moreover, studies rely on 'reported' bites, leading the National Geographic Channel television show, The Dog Whisperer to conclude that small dog breeds are likely responsible for more bites than large dog breeds, but often go unreported.In addition, according to the National Geographic Channel television show, Dangerous Encounters, the bite of a German Shepherd Dog has a force of over 238-450 pounds (compared with that of a Rottweiler, over 300 pounds of force, a Pitbull, 235 pounds of force, a Labrador Retriever, of approximately 125 pounds of force, or a human, of approximately 170 pounds of force), which means it is important to note the impact that 'reported' bites and serious injury have on any dog bite studies and to distinguish a dog attack from 'aggression'.Regardless, one source indicates that fatalities have been attributed to over 30 breeds since 1975, including small breeds, such as the Pomeranian.

These claims have also been disputed on the statistical basis that German Shepherds represent a higher proportion of the population than other breeds and also because of the use of German Shepherd Dogs as protection dogs, which would require controlling statistical data for "pet" or "companion" use and not military, police or guard use.It is also important to note that German Shepherds are very common in cross-bred canines.[citation needed] And due to their popularity the layman will likely recognize most GSD cross-breeds simply as "German Shepherd," if a report is ever filed.[citation needed]

Temperament

German Shepherds are highly active dogs, and described in breed standards as self-assured.The breed is marked by a willingness to learn and an eagerness to have a purpose. Shepherds have a loyal nature and bond well with people they know. However, they can become over-protective of their family and territory, especially if not socialized correctly. An aloof personality makes them approachable, but not inclined to become immediate friends with strangers.German Shepherds are highly intelligent and obedient and some people think they require a "firm hand", but more recent research into training methods has shown they respond as well, if not better, to reward based training methods.


Health
Many common ailments of the German Shepherds are a result of the inbreeding required early in the breed's life.One such common issue is hip and elbow dysplasia which may lead to the dog experiencing pain in later life, and may cause arthritis.A study by the University of Zurich in police working dogs found that 45% were affected by degenerative spinal stenosis, although the sample studied was small. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals found that 19.1% of German Shepherd are affected by hip dysplasia Chiefly because of Hip and Elbow dysplasia and spinal stenosis, the popularity of the German Shepherd as a working dog is declining with Police Forces and Armies worldwide. Even the German Army is increasingly utilizing the Malinois as a working dog. Due to the large and open nature of their ears, Shepherds are prone to ear infections.German Shepherds, like all large bodied dogs, are prone to bloat.
The average lifespan of a German Shepherd is 7 - 10 years,which is normal for a dog of their size.Degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disease, occurs with enough regularity specifically in the breed to suggest that the breed is predisposed to it. Additionally, German Shepherd Dogs have a higher than normal incidence of Von Willebrand Disease, a common inherited bleeding disorder.


Use as working dogs

German Shepherds are a very popular selection for use as working dogs. They are especially well known for their police work, being used for tracking criminals, patrolling troubled areas, and detection and holding of suspects. Additionally thousands of German Shepherds have been used by the military. Usually trained for scout duty, they are used to warn soldiers to the presence of enemies or of booby traps or other hazards.German Shepherds have been trained by military groups to parachute from aircraft.

The German Shepherd Dog is one of the most widely-used breeds in a wide variety of scent-work roles. These include search and rescue, cadaver searching, narcotics detection, explosives detection, accelerant detection, and mine detection dog, amongst others. They are suited for these lines of work because of their keen sense of smell and their ability to work regardless of distractions.

At one time the German Shepherd Dog was the breed chosen almost exclusively to be used as a guide dog for the visually impaired. In recent years, Labrador and Golden Retrievers have been more widely used for this work, although there are still German Shepherds being trained. A versatile breed, they excel in this field due to their strong sense of duty, their mental abilities, their fearlessness, and their attachment to their owner.

In popular culture

German Shepherds have been featured in a wide range of media. Strongheart  the German Shepherd was one of the earliest canine film stars and was followed by Rin Tin Tin, who is now acclaimed as being the most famous German Shepherd. Both are credited with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Littlest Hobo is a Canadian television series, based upon a stray German Shepherd who wanders from town to town, helping people in need.

German Shepherds have also played central parts in a number of recent films, including K-9 (which featured a real police-dog, Koton), The Hills Have Eyes and I am Legend (which was played by Renee Calvin's "Ben"). Blondi, Adolf Hitler's German Shepherd, has been featured in a number of documentaries and films about the dictator, such as Downfall. The Austrian police drama series Inspector Rex centres around a highly intelligent German Shepherd.
Batman's dog Ace the Bat-Hound appeared in the Batman comic books, initially in 1955, through 1964. Between 1964 and 1977, his appearances were sporadic.

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