Coming in at #10 in our Top Dog Series, the German Shepherd has been a popular family dog for years, and for good reason. They are intelligent, loyal and easy to train, but are they the breed for you?

Overview

The German Shepherd is an incredibly intelligent, loyal dog, making them a great family pet but also fit for a working life too. Due to their advanced scenting skills, stamina, loyalty and trainability, German Shepherds are often used in police forces, the army and were actually the very first breed used as a guide dog (move over Labrador Retrievers...)

Due to their stamina and intelligence, German Shepherds need lots of exercise and mental stimulation in order for them to be happy, manageable animals. Therefore they are not an obvious choice for apartment living or full time workers. Of course, you can always enlist the help of a Tailster carer if you can't be around to provide the exercise and company your German Shepherd will require!

Good to know

Average height: Females 55 - 60 cm, Males 60 - 65 cm

Average weight: Females 22 - 32 kg, Males 30 - 40 kg

Life span: 9-13 years

Rank drive: If this breed is allowed to display dominant behaviours, they will quickly take on the role of alpha in the house as they have an extremely high rank drive. A clear 'pack leader' is necessary with this breed.

Colours: There are over 25 different colour variations from black and gold to sable to liver. Whilst some of the rarer colours appeal to many, it's worth researching these colours, such as blue and pure white, to ensure you aren't taking on a health risk.

Pros

Very intelligent: This breed is often used as working dogs due to their intelligence and loyalty.

Quick learners: The German Shepherd is very easy to train in the right hands.

Loyal: This breed is naturally loyal and will favour familiar faces over strangers.

Family dogs: German Shepherd's are generally considered to be very tolerant and patient around children which makes them a great choice for a family pet.

Affectionate: German Shepherd's thrive on human company.

All weather dogs: They have a double coat which means they can tolerate rain or shine.

Cons

Not for first time owners: Due to the German Shepherd's intelligence and high rank drive, this breed is generally better suited to a more experienced dog owner who can handle the dog's quirks.

Big shedders: Not an obvious choice for those with allergies.

Need a LOT of exercise: Not an apartment dweller or a full time worker's dog.

Negative perception: German Shepherd's have been used as guard dogs, police dogs and army dogs. Sadly this has caused people to be irrationally fearful of them.

Rough play: Not ideal with very young children. That's not to say a German Shepherd is not good with children. They are very tolerant when socialised, but a young German Shepherd may not know their own strength around children.

Big barkers: If you want a quiet dog, you may want to look into other breeds. Due to their history of being used as guard dogs, they are naturally going to alert you to any potential intruder. You can try acclimatising them to those triggers by following our step by step guide here.

Large number of health issues: This includes allergies, osteosarcoma, hemangioma, degenerative myelopathy, which was once called 'German shepherd neuropathy', hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia.

Want to walk a German Shepherd?

We have over 4000 German Shepherds on Tailster so why not apply to be a carer? Check out some of our Tailster German Shepherds below...

Fun facts

The breed was named Deutscher Schäferhund, literally translating to 'German Shepherd Dog' hence the common abbreviation to GSD.

There is no difference, despite what some may tell you, between an Alsatian and a German Shepherd. The German Shepherd was used to fight during the war, the British forces didn’t want to call their dogs German so they decided on the name Alsatian (after Alsace in France). Post war, the British changed the name back to German Shepherd and the American Kennel Club followed suit.

Strongheart, the German Shepherd, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Work full time but still want a German Shepherd? Or maybe you've got a holiday coming up and no one to help with your new German Shepherd? Click here to find out how Tailster can put you in contact with hundreds of pet carers in your local area, meaning that you can rest in the knowledge that your pets are being well looked after.