Cunning. Curious. Courageous. German Shepherds are fantastic companion dogs for an active family that has some room to spare. They are devoted, loving dogs that are very protective of their human carers.
With boundless energy and an outgoing temperament, they are the perfect pet for an adventurous child or lively adult.
Where I'm From
German Shepherds are working dogs that derived their name from their origins as sheep herders in Germany. Under the watchful eye of a German army captain, Max von Stephanitz, German Shepherd dogs were first bred to work specifically with police and army officers in the late 1800s. Their popularity increased in the 1910s, 20s and 30s due to the Hollywood film exploits of canine movie star Rin Tin Tin. Today German Shepherds are lauded for their use as police, army and search-and-rescue dogs.
German Shepherds first made their way to Australia in the early 20th Century, with an increase in popularity in the 1970s after a 43-year import ban. German Shepherds remain one of Australia's most popular dog breeds.
What I Look Like
German Shepherds are a distinctive large dog breed that can reach a hefty 45 kilograms. The German Shepherd coat is most often a tan and black colour, but can also be found in red and black, all black or sable varieties. With an athletic build, long snout and black nose, German Shepherds are among the best looking dogs of the canine world.
How I Act
German Shepherds can be fantastic, energetic and loyal family pets. They love to run and play therefore are not a good fit for inactive owners.
The German Shepherd breed is known for their extreme intelligence and ability to be trained to work alongside human handlers. German Shepherds require firm, consistent training from a young age in order to become manageable pets and/or useful working dogs. There also must be a commanding voice in the household that can act as pack leader. German Shepherds respect authority.
German Shepherds are also compatible with other household pets, including cats, which they consider part of the family unit.
Looking After Me
The German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia runs a breed improvement program to ensure only healthy and stable German Shepherd pups are bred in Australia. German Shepherds that have not passed these strict breeding guidelines can suffer from aggression issues or hip and elbow dysplasia. German Shepherds may also suffer from allergies or bloat, a treatable yet sometimes life-threatening condition and a range of other ailments.
It is advisable to check the temperament and medical history of a puppy's parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog. Be very wary of uncertified backyard breeders.
Life expectancy is 10-13 years, which is about average for a large dog breed.
German Shepherds need to be fed a healthy and nutritious meal once or twice per day and love a high protein diet. A weekly pig's ear treat might win you some extra doggie points.
To look their best, a daily dry brush is recommended to reduce dead hair build up along with regular nail trimmings and a good bath as required. Due to their double fur coat, with a thick textured overcoat and protective undercoat, they shed a lot. Brushing them down everyday will significantly reduce the amount of dog hair left on the couch.
Am I the pet for you?
German Shepherds are fantastic family pets if you have the space and time to look after them correctly.
- German Shepherds are excellent guard dogs that are very loyal towards their adoptive families, considering family members part of their personal posse.
- A German Shepherd will be sure to let the entire household know when a new visitor arrives before they have even reached the front door. Intruders beware!
- Active and intelligent this dog loves playing with kids and is the perfect pet for a happy family. As with all dogs, children must be supervised when in the company of German Shepherds. Just make sure you have a large backyard and enjoy heading outdoors accompanied by a bounding bundle of energy.
- German Shepherds can become destructive if left too long to their own devices or if they do not receive the correct training from a young age.
- Boisterous barking comes with the territory of being a great guard dog.
- German Shepherds have a double fur coat and shed a lot of hair, especially during seasonal changes. They require daily dry brushing to keep their shedding at bay.
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Hi Dr BrownI have a problem, well my gorgeous GSD does, that has my Vet (and her colleagues) baffled to find a solution for.Her name is Brisca and she's 5 years old from a reputable breeder, with good breeding lines and has had all the genetic and bone tests as a puppy. I noticed that she seemed to be shaking her head a lot about 6 months ago. I check her over at least every 2 days or so and there was no dirt, wax build up, nothing I could see in her ears, nothing around her head that could be bothering her, no skin irritation, no unusual smell from anywhere...nothing. I noticed that when I touched her around her right ear, she would lean into my hand like she felt good having a scratch but only on that ear.I took her to my Vet, who's seen her since I got her at 8 weeks. She checked both ears and couldn't see anything in them, no grass seed, hair or anything else foreign. She did a swab and found a very (very) small amount of yeast bacteria so I agreed to a course of anti-biotics to at least rule that out as a cause. After 2 weeks on those and then another 2 weeks to monitor, she was doing the same thing (the dog, not the Vet) ;o)I had her go under a general so the Vet could completely check and flush her ears out and do a skull X-Ray. Nothing found in her ears and the X-Ray showed everything as normal.It's been many months now and she's still doing the same thing. She's not scratching at her ear or rubbing it against anything and she does it completely at random - with the exception when she gets a pat around that ear. She's doing it on average about once every hour and only when she's active. If she's just laying around with me, I haven't noticed her doing it. She's an indoor dog with access to a large yard through a doggy door. I've not put in any new plants and there is still no irritation. Her food hasn't changed and is on a diet of raw meat and bones and a homemade mix of rice, meat and veg (many various recipes...she eats better than I do).The Vet can only come up with an explanation that it could be behavioural but I'm not buying it. She's clearly annoyed by it and reacts when I pat her. I occasional rub just the top of the inside of her ear and she groans and pushes her head into my hand like it's the best thing ever.She's had anxiety issues since she was attacked twice at the local dog park and after much training and a specialist appointment, she's been on Prozac (2 x 20mg capsules once per day). She's not had any problems on it but after some research, it's the only thing that I could think of that may be causing an issue as one of the rare side-effects can be shaking.The Vet suggested further MRI and Ultrasound scans but we'd have to go to Sydney to a specialist centre to do it and she estimated the cost into the thousands which is a bit out of reach for me at the moment.I have 2 major concerns, the first being that there is something seriously wrong either physically or neurologically and that she seems really uncomfortable and that her enjoyment and quality of life is being affected.Is there anything you could suggest that may help?Thanks Dr Brown!
I have a friend who has a father and son cavalier. She had the son first for 6months then got the father. They have only recently started fighting over what seems to be anything and everything. She has tried medication to calm them down, a collar and jacket but nothing seems to be helping. They are both very loving boys but are both very protective and connected to her. She has separated them but when she does they howl for her.Apart from re-homing what can she do