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German Shepherd Dog

Tags: herding, Large-sized, Protective guardian, Challenging for first-time owners, Requires firm, dedicated training

Who'd have thought -- in the late 1800s, when Capt. Max von Stephanitz selectively bred several varieties of German sheepdog (and possibly some Collie) from central and southern Germany to make a better working dog -- that the German Shepherd would become one of the most popular breeds worldwide? We did, even as we were building reputations with the armed forces and police work, search-and-rescue, guide dog, guard dog, protector and pal. The AKC admitted the German Shepherd in 1908 into the kennel club's Herding Group. We're very good at that, too.

Rave review

  • Affectionate, devoted family friend
  • Agile and active
  • Always alert
  • Born to run, happy to walk
  • Confident and self-assured
  • Courageous canine
  • Energizer doggie

Report card

  • Independent thinker
  • Intelligent and ready to learn
  • Novice owners might be challenged with this breed
  • Outdoor enthusiast
  • Perfect protector
  • Playful pal
  • Caters to country, tolerates town
  • Ready to romp
  • Socialization and training must start early
  • Steadfast and strong
  • Training must be firm, patient, consistent
  • Willing watchdog

What to expect

I need you to watch reruns of that 50s TV show, "The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin." Note who got more screen time than the soldiers of Fort Apache or the orphan boy Rusty. That's right, it was Rinty -- all the time, everywhere. And that's how much of your life a German Shepherd wants to be. I'll happily do everything with you -- obedience training (where I'll excel), canine sports (beat the pants off those other dogs), and family activities (until you're all worn out). Just don't lock me up and leave me alone too long. Please remember the active body and mind of a German Shepherd -- and provide something to occupy both.

Watch for

Possible hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, panosteitis, hypothyroidism, bloat, epilepsy, tumors, bleeding disorders, congenital heart problems.

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