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German Shepherd

Highly intelligent, loyal, strong, and beautiful to boot — the German Shepherd has it all. Originally bred in Germany during the late 1800s to guard and herd sheep, German Shepherds are now most commonly used as police and military dogs. Though Labrador Retrievers currently comprise a majority of service dogs, the first seeing eye dog was actually a German Shepherd. 

German Shepherds are ranked the third most intelligent dog breed after the Border Collie and the Poodle. Their intelligence serves them well when assisting police and military officers, but German Shepherds also make excellent family dogs. German Shepherds are very loyal to their humans but are often suspicious of other people, making them good guard dogs. Like many other larger pure breeds, German Shepherds are prone to a variety of health issues, so routine vet examinations are important.


Herding and guarding sheep


Germany, Late 1800s

About German Shepherds

It’s hard to miss a German Shepherd if you pass one on the street. German Shepherds are longer than they are tall and their large, commanding frame is accentuated by a beautiful, double-thick coat. German Shepherds’ coats come in eleven different colors including fawn, sable, and black. Daily brushing is recommended to maintain a German Shepherd’s luscious coat and to prevent excessive shedding. Special shampoo and a de-shedding brush can also be used to keep shedding at a minimum, though periods of heavy shedding are inevitable given a German Shepherd’s double coat.

German Shepherds were bred to be highly intelligent, so they are easy to train and enjoy learning new skills. As a result they are used as police, military, and guard dogs, as well as scent-detecting dogs that identify narcotics, explosives, and cadavers. Over the years, multiple German Shepherds have been given awards to honor their bravery during military conflicts. 

In order to keep these dogs both physically and mentally fit, it’s important for German Shepherds to get about 60 minutes of physical exercise a day. Though they can be trained to be aggressive, they make excellent family dogs and often get along with other furry family members if they are socialized as puppies. Training and socializing German Shepherds at a young age is especially important if they will be around small children and other animals.  

German Shepherd Health

German Shepherds can live long, healthy lives but they are prone to some serious health issues. Elbow dysplasia, canine hip dysplasia, and cardiomyopathy (a disease that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body) are some of the more serious and debilitating health problems that plague German Shepherds. This breed is also susceptible to various minor health issues, including cataracts and skin allergies.  

Major German Shepherd Health Concerns

  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Canine hip dysplasia
  • Cardiomyopathy

Minor German Shepherd Health Concerns

  • Cataracts
  • Skin allergies
  • Hemophilia


  1. Females: 22 – 24 inches
  2. Males: 24 – 26 inches


  1. Females: 50 – 70 pounds
  2. Males: 65 – 90 pounds


  1. Approximately 2.5 to 3 cups of food per day

Activity Level

  1. Moderately active

Pet Insurance for German Shepherds

German Shepherds have a lifespan of approximately 10 to 12 years. Like many other larger purebreds German Shepherds are unfortunately prone to a variety of major and minor health issues, so regular visits to the vet are a must.  Pet insurance for German Shepherds is generally slightly more expensive than pet insurance for mixed breed dogs. 

Since this breed is likely  to have hereditary issues at some point, it is important to get pet insurance for German Shepherds within the first 1-2 years.

German Shepherd Breeders

Here are some of the top German Shepherd breeders in the country:

German Shepherd Rescues

Looking to rescue a German Shepherd? Here are some of the top German Shepherd rescues in the country:

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Famous German Shepherds

Strongheart, one of the first canine film stars

Rin Tin Tin, international motion picture star in the late 1920s-early 1930s

Abbey, Will Smith’s co-star in the movie, I Am Legend 

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