In this dog breed spotlight, I want to highlight my favorite breed of dog: the German shepherd. As you may have guessed, I have a German shepherd myself that my husband and I adopted from the local animal shelter. Never had I known such a loyal, protective, intelligent dog until we added her to our little family. They are the world’s top working dogs, working as K-9 police officers, military members and guard dogs. However, they’re also very loving family companions. Below are just a few of the things that make German shepherds so special.
The breed first originated in Germany in 1899. Captain Max von Stephanitz bred the German shepherd from old breeds of herding dogs and farm dogs. The first shepherd didn’t make an appearance in America until 1907 at an exhibition and was recognized as a breed in the herding group by the AKC in 1908.
German shepherds are incredibly energetic dogs. They typically get along well with children, as they are loyal family pets and exceptional guard dogs. My husband and I feared that when our son came along two years ago that it would make our German shepherd, still a (large) puppy at the time, more rambunctious than she already was. The opposite happened, actually. She seemed to mature very quickly into her role as friend and protector to our son. They are keen, alert and courageous. At the same time, they are friendly, cheerful and obedient if trained from a young age.
German shepherds are well-proportioned dogs and, as working dogs, they are very strong and muscular. The nose is usually black, but some have noses that are blue and silver. The blue and silver variants are considered faults, so dogs with this feature cannot be shown. German shepherds have strong teeth. In fact, as puppies, their teeth are extremely sharp. Unfortunately, they typically go through a chewing phase at this time. German shepherds have one of three coat types: double coat, plush coat or longhaired coat. The most common color variation is black and tan, but sable, white, blue and liver variations are possible, too.
German shepherds have a tendency to be wary of strangers. This is true of our own dog, so socializing them from a young age is of the utmost importance. German shepherds need to be with their families, so they should not be left alone for long periods, nor do they make good outside dogs. It is important to establish authority over the dog in a calm and confident manner. Otherwise, these dogs may see themselves as the leader of the pack, even when their “pack” is the human family. Without training, they may develop guarding issues and become skittish around strangers.