Everyone has a different picture that comes to mind when considering the very popular German Shepherd, perhaps a guide dog for the blind or movie star like Rin Tin Tin or Lassie. German Shepherds have always been one of the most popular dog breeds, sought out as companions, protectors and helpers to those with physical disabilities.
German Shepherds, also known as Deutsche Schaferhunde, were originally bred in Karlsruhe Germany in the later 1800's by Captain Max von Stephanitz to be used as shepherding dogs. A great deal of effort went into producing a dog that was ideal for both shepherding and guarding sheep herds. In fact, more time and effort went into the breeding of German Shepherds than any other breed of dog. Special care was taken to produce a dog that had great courage, athleticism and intelligence. Because German Shepherds possess all of these qualities, they have been used for a multitude of purposes, including police dogs, guard dogs, war sentries, assistance dogs, search and rescue dogs and narcotics and bomb sniffing dogs. German Shepherds became wildly popular in the early days of movies and television as a result of the very popular Rin Tin Tin and Lassie. They were known to be an extremely loyal companion and protective of home and family making them a great choice as a family pet.
German Shepherds are one of the most intelligent and easily trainable breeds. They enjoy working and, when given a job, become totally focused on the task at hand. Because of their superior intelligence, German Shepherds require daily mental and physical exercise. If they are not properly exercised they can become restless and destructive.
German Shepherds do not require a great deal of grooming, although they shed heavily. They do well indoors and outdoors. German Shepherds can adapt to apartment living as long as they are frequently and rigorously exercised. They are extremely affectionate, loyal and protective of their families and are often suspicious and vary of strangers. Because of their strong attachment to family, German Shepherds should not be left alone for long periods of time. They need to be well socialized as puppies and training should begin early. German Shepherds tend to be aggressive toward other dogs but are usually very good with other household pets. All in all they make ideal household pets.
As a breed, German Shepherds generally live to be about 13 years. They are relatively healthy dogs, but are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia and skin allergies. German Shepherds also can develop cataracts and are particularly susceptible to Aspergillums, a systemic fungal infection which is often fatal. German Shepherds tolerate both heat and cold fairly well because of their double coat. Male German Shepherds average 24-26 inches in heights while female German Shepherds average 22-24 inches in height. Healthy weight for German Shepherds is 75-95 pounds. With proper breeding, socializing and training, German Shepherds make an ideal addition to any family. Before deciding on this breed, however, make sure you have ample time and energy to provide for their high energy needs.