German Shepherd

  • Overview

    German Shepherds are large dogs who stand between 24 and 26 inches tall. Even though they make devoted family companions and are prized for their loyalty and intelligence, they are also often seen as functioning working dogs, who excel at a variety of jobs because of their hard-working instincts, willingness to please and innate intelligence.

    German Shepherds are hard-working dogs who throw their all into everything they do, including becoming an excellent family companion. They bond very closely to their families and make extremely protective, loyal guardians who enjoy living with active families who are willing to devote quite a bit of time and energy to their dog.

  • Personality

    German Shepherds are incredibly protective and loyal. In fact, they're so tied to their territory that they are not often known to run away. In fact, German Shepherds bond so closely to their owners and rely on spending time with them that they can suffer a loss of confidence if they are not around people frequently. German Shepherds are strong, athletic dogs who need to run or play outdoors for at least an hour a day to sufficiently stimulate their bodies and minds. They are excellent fetchers and excel in agility competitions, which give them a strong sense of purpose.

    German Shepherds are down-to-business dogs who are often seen working as police dogs, search and rescue dogs and contraband assistance dogs. They are said to be able to be trained to do almost anything, and they are usually extremely obedient with their owners. German Shepherds do need to be trained consistently as puppies so that they learn respectful manners around other dogs and are taught not to bark or bite around strangers. Their territorial instincts can make them skittish or suspicious around strangers, so socialization is important to help German Shepherds develop a strong temperament.

  • Coat Care

    German Shepherd's thick double coats come in a variety of colors, but they are most often seen in tan and black patterns or red and black patterns. Most German Shepherds have black masks and body markings in saddle or blanket patterns. Some German Shepherds have sable, all-black, liver and blue coats. Blue, liver or white dogs are not accepted in the show ring, but they are not poorly bred and can still make wonderful companion dogs. The coat should be quite dense and fitted close to the body to help German Shepherds stay warm in cold weather. Their heads, legs and paws are covered with shorter, smooth hair.

Brushing

German Shepherds are profuse shedders. They drop hair consistently throughout the year, but they also blow their coats twice a year. To help manage the shedding, brush your German Shepherd at least twice a week to remove dead hair and help distribute oils throughout the coat.

Bathing

German Shepherds should not be bathed more than several times a year, because bathing strips natural oils from the coat.

Hair Clipping

Make sure to check around their ears and paws at least once a week and trim any hair that is uncomfortable for your dog.

Nails

Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Corgis, Alaskan Malamutes, Akitas and Collies have sensitive ears that  need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. If your dog is prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

Teeth

Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.