German shepherds work as police and rescue dogs, as assistance and therapy dogs, and some of them have been honored as actors: A German shepherd is the world’s most widespread service and working dog and is used everywhere for its cleverness, docility, and willingness to work estimated.
In the ICF breed list, there is a German shepherd dog under the number 166 and is in FCI group 1: herding dogs and cattle dogs, section 1: shepherds.
German Shepherd Dog Breed
- Size: 55-65 cm
- Weight: Males: 30-40 kg, bitches: 22-32 kg
- FCI group: 1: herding dogs and cattle dogs
- Section: 1: Shepherd Dog
- Country of origin: Germany
- Colors: tan-black, black, black-brown, wolf gray
- Life expectancy: 7-12 years
- Suitable as: guard, protection, service, police, rescue, herding, guide companion, and family dog
- Sports: agility, obedience
- Temperament: gentle, intelligent, good-natured, kind, outgoing, agile
- Need for exercise: high
- Drool potential: low
- The thickness of the hair: high
- Maintenance effort: low
- Coat structure: dense, straight, harsh, tightly fitting
- Child-friendly: yes
- Family dog: yes
- Social: rather no
German Shepherd – Origin and Breed History
The history of the German Shepherd Dog goes back to the early Middle Ages. After the time of the Great Migration, the people of the various Germanic tribes settled down again and, when breeding their dogs, they began to attach great importance to the fact that they mated good herding dogs together. In addition, they should be robust and obedient. They needed dogs to guard the house, yard, and herds. However, no further emphasis was placed on the exterior.
It was not until centuries later that the Prussian court riding master Max von Stephanitz took on the breed. His goal was to breed the herding dogs into working dog that was capable and versatile. In 1899, together with some like-minded people, he founded the first association for German Shepherds. “Horand von Grafrath”, one of Max von Stephanitz’s dogs, was the first to be entered in the studbook. The dogs quickly enjoyed great popularity. The motivated dogs were mainly used by the police and the military. Abused at the front in the two world wars, it developed into the world’s most widespread and popular service and working dog in the post-war years.
The Temperament of the German Shepherd Dog
A German Shepherd is loyal and affectionate. He wants to please his mistress or master and likes to work for it. In his family, he is fond of children and gets along with other pets. He is also tolerable towards conspecifics. He is not hostile to strangers as long as he does not see them as a threat. He does not lose his playful temperament even in old age.
He’s smart, docile, and confident. For this reason, he needs a loving but consistent upbringing, because otherwise, he can easily take the lead due to his self-confidence. His will to work and his urge to move must also be used to the full, otherwise, he is often prone to behavioral problems.
What is the German Shepherd?
The German Shepherd temperament is balanced, very strong-willed, and self-confident.
In addition, the shepherd dog character is characterized by its good nature, the pronounced protective instinct as well as its loyalty and attachment.
German Shepherds are very intelligent, alert animals that are easy to handle.
If the dogs are well socialized and raised with a lot of empathy, patience, and loving consistency, then they are able to fully develop their good-natured nature.
The shepherd dog, for example, remains very playful all his life and likes to guard the house and yard. In addition to sufficient exercise, he not only needs physical but also mental exercise.
So what is a typical German shepherd dog?
- Good watchdog
- willing to work
- Can be led well
- Needs a meaningful job or occupation
- strong nerves
- Has a strong protective instinct
- Requires a high level of exercise
- protection and prey drive
- Classic herding dog
Is the German Shepherd a family dog?
A well-trained and socialized German shepherd can be used as a working dog for a wide variety of activities, as well as a family dog in a household with children.
Here they benefit particularly from their strong nerves, obedience and their pronounced protective instinct and also their loyalty and attachment.
As a family dog, however, it should also be sufficiently occupied, such as through joint sporting activities and an appropriate task. An active family would therefore be optimal for the German Shepherd Dog.
But employment alone does not make a good family dog. In addition to a solid and consistent upbringing, early socialization is also important. Ideally, these take place with the breeder and should be continued conscientiously at home. It would be desirable if the shepherd puppy already knew people of all ages and didn’t let even small children upset him.
What do I have to consider if I bring a German Shepherd into the family?
The breed is considered to be strong-willed, loyal and good-natured. In addition, shepherd dogs are good protectors who would always defend their family in an emergency. Good conditions for a great family dog.
However, children should be instructed in handling the dog. Mutual respect is important and following rules. The parents have to take care of that.
For example, these rules could include:
- If the dog is in its resting place, it will not be disturbed.
- When eating, the four-legged friend should not be disturbed either.
- Under no circumstances should the children reach into the food bowl or take a chew/snack away from the dog.
- However, it should be practiced early on that the puppy/dog should definitely allow this.
- Even with toys. For example, children can fill up the food bowl and give a signal when the dog is allowed to eat.
- Explain that it hurts the German Shepherd if someone climbs on it, has its ears pulled, etc.
- The puppy should not be picked up. This can cause injury if you fall. In addition, children tend to pull a puppy up by the legs.
- Everyone takes responsibility and has an age-appropriate task: e.g. feeding, playing ball, training, or grooming.
- The dog should not get anything from the table and possibly not sleep in the beds either.
- Babies or children should never be alone with the German Shepherd. Dangerous situations could unintentionally arise. A toddler who accidentally smacks the dog’s nose or pulls its tail will at best be ignored or given a growl warning. But if it hurts too much, the four-legged friend could certainly snap. The dog’s threatening signals are not yet understood but should be pointed out to the children at an early age.
A shepherd dog has herding and protective instincts. It can therefore happen that he “guards” your children. He needs consistent but loving leadership without harshness. If you are a novice dog and have small children, a German Shepherd is only recommended to a limited extent.
But if you pay attention to a few basic things, choose a reputable breeder and socialize and train the dog well, you will be rewarded with a great family dog that everyone can have fun with and who stands up for his family.
Is a German Shepherd a Family Dog?
If the German Shepherd has been well trained and has a job that keeps him busy or if he is challenged by dog sports and enough exercise, he will become a balanced, friendly dog that will fit in perfectly with the family.
The Appearance of the German Shepherd Dog
The German Shepherd Dog belongs to medium to large-sized dogs. Bitches have a shoulder height of 55 to 60 centimeters, males are 60 to 65 centimeters tall. Bitches weigh between 22 and 35 kilograms, males between 30 and 40 kilograms. The body of the German Shepherd is strong and muscular. But it is by no means cumbersome, but agile. His body is longer than it is tall.
For a long time, it was bred with a sloping backline. However, German shepherds increasingly suffered from joint diseases. The sloping backline is now considered torture breeding and serious breeders are breeding towards a straight backline again.
The head of the German Shepherd is wedge-shaped, the nose is always black. The ears are triangular and erect, the eyes almond-shaped and slightly slanted with an alert expression. Short hair with a dense undercoat was the standard until 2008, and the long hair variant was also included in the FCI standard in 2008. Long-haired German Shepherds have very hairy, mane-like necks. The legs, ears, and tail are also very hairy and have so-called trousers and so-called flags. Both the thick undercoat and the thick long hair protect the dog from the cold, rain, and even from snow.
The most famous color variant is brown with a black saddle. But there are also black dogs with brown, gray, or beige markings, gray with beige markings, or monochrome black or wolf gray. White German Shepherd puppies are occasionally born, but the FCI calls them a false color. Only the Canadian Kennel Club still accepts white German Shepherds in its studbook. These dogs are not to be confused with the White Swiss Shepherd, which has been listed as an independent breed in the FCI’s list since 2011.
Upbringing and Keeping the German Shepherd Dog: This Must Be Taken Into Account
A German Shepherd can become a good-natured, friendly dog, but to do this it must be lovingly but consistently trained. He is not a beginner dog. He needs clear guidance from the start, otherwise, the self-confident dog will take the lead himself. It is also important to educate him with positive reinforcement and not with punishment. The German Shepherd Dog will otherwise become slightly aggressive or otherwise have behavioral problems. Basically, the German Shepherd Dog is willing to learn and wants to please.
If he is challenged enough and given enough exercise, he will become a balanced family member. Attending a dog school can be of great service here and promote cohesion between dog and owner. Life in a house with a garden is ideal for a German Shepherd. In any case, it should be ensured that he gets enough exercise.
How Much Does a German Shepherd Dog Cost?
German Shepherds cost between $1000.00 and $1,400.00 to purchase. There are regular costs for dog taxes, insurance, food, and visits to the vet.
Diet of the German Shepherd Dog
The German Shepherd’s diet depends very much on how active he is. A dog that works as a police service dog or a rescue dog has higher nutritional needs than a family dog that just takes long walks or does dog sports with people once or twice a week.
Basically, however, it must be ensured that he consumes enough protein, minerals, and vitamins. The most important food for him should be meat. About 70 percent of his diet should consist of meat. The remaining 30 percent should consist of fruit and vegetables. Grains and sugar shouldn’t be included in the diet. With ready-made feed, you should therefore pay close attention to the ingredients. Another option is to put the food together yourself. Too many fats and foods that are too nutritious should, however, be avoided in any case.
When a puppy is new to moving in, it is best to also talk to the breeder about nutrition so that the small dog can get the usual food, at least for the time being.
How Big Does a German Shepherd Get?
Males are between 60 centimeters and 65 centimeters tall, bitches are between 55 centimeters and 60 centimeters.
Healthy – Life Expectancy & Common Diseases
Like many large dogs, German Shepherds are prone to dysplasia and other joint diseases. On the one hand, this is due to breeding, on the other hand, you can also contribute a lot to the healthy development of the young dog with the right diet. It is also important not to overtax the dog when it is a puppy. For example, climbing stairs should be avoided in the first few months.
Some German Shepherds were bred with a sloping backline, also known as torture breeding. In connection with this, many dogs of this breed increasingly suffered from joint diseases.
With good care and regular checks by the vet, a German Shepherd can live to be 10 to 13 years old.
German Shepherd Diet
German Shepherds eat a wide variety of foods, but because of their size and strength, they require certain standards of nutrition that you should follow. You should feed your German Shepherd a high-quality, protein-rich diet that contains essential vitamins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and fatty acids, thus providing your German Shepherd with the daily need for energy.
The optimal amount of protein in a German Shepherd is between 18% and 22%, with a daily calorie content of between 1,200 and 2,100 per day (depending on the dog’s activity, age, health, etc.). For more information on the specific nutritional needs of German Shepherds, see the following sections.
The German Shepherd is a muscular working dog with a high energy level and a hearty appetite. To prevent obesity and to avoid some of the hereditary health problems that occur in the breed, give your dog plenty of exercises and feed them a good quality diet. Look for ingredients that help maintain a healthy coat and are easy to digest. This will help prevent gastrointestinal upset and ensure that your German Shepherd is properly metabolizing the vitamins and minerals in the food.
A German Shepherd’s daily amount of calories
German Shepherds are large dogs, typically weighing between 60 and 90 kilograms. The National Research Council of National Academies says that inactive or elderly dogs in this weight range need between 1,272 and 1,540 calories per day, while active dogs need between 1,740 and 2,100 calories per day. Feed your high-energy German Shepherd Dog according to the calorie requirements of an active dog. German Shepherds, who become less active due to arthritis or hereditary conditions like hip dysplasia, benefit from a calorie-restricted diet that keeps the dog’s weight down to avoid pressure on painful joints.
Protein strengthens growth
Commercial dog foods such as Purina Pro Plan Savor Lamb or Purina Beyond Simply 9 Ranch Raised Lamb, which are labeled as conforming to the standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials, meet the basic nutritional requirements of your German Shepherd. These foods contain at least 18 percent protein and 5 percent fat for adult dogs, or 22 percent protein and 8 percent fat for growing puppies or nursing mothers.
In contrast to most other dog breeds, which receive puppy-specific dog food up to the age of 1 year, German Shepherds often only receive a puppy diet in the first 6 months. Switching to an adult diet early in large breeds of dogs is done to prevent overgrowth that can lead to bone and joint problems. However, puppy foods that are specifically labeled for large breeds have been formulated to address these issues.
Which ingredients should be included?
The main ingredient in your dog’s food should be a whole meat protein such as poultry, fish, or beef. Ingredients in dog food are listed in descending order by weight, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The first ingredients listed should be sources of protein, followed by carbohydrates, grains, fats, and vegetables. Barley, rice, and oatmeal are easily digestible sources of grains and carbohydrates, while corn, wheat, and soy are less digestible. Foods that contain vegetable and fish oils contain healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your German Shepherd’s coat shiny. Carbohydrates and fats provide the energy this active breed needs.
Natural preservatives like vitamin E or vitamin C may be preferable to synthetic food preservatives like butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene, and ethoxyquin. These synthetic preservatives are controversial and could cause health problems, according to the FDA.
With adequate exercise, your German Shepherd should stay fit. Dogs that are overfed or not getting the exercise they need can become obese and experience so many physical problems. If you cannot feel your dog’s ribs, the dog is overweight. Ask your veterinarian about the best diet to manage your dog’s weight. German shepherds are prone to conditions such as arthritis, elbow dysplasia, and hip dysplasia. These conditions can worsen if the dog is allowed to become overweight. Being overweight puts pressure on a dog’s joints and reduces mobility. To reduce your dog’s calorie intake without making the dog feel hungry, add healthy vegetables like carrots, green beans, or sweet potatoes to a reduced portion of your dog’s normal food. Vegetables are lower in calories than other foods and provide extra fiber to keep the dog feeling full.
German Shepherds are known to have deep chests, making them prone to “gastric dilatation-volvulus”. This disease usually occurs as a bloating and disrupting the dog’s digestion. Bloat is a medical emergency that can quickly lead to death if not treated by a veterinarian. The cause of bloating is unknown, but factors include eating quickly and doing strenuous exercise within an hour of eating. When gas occurs, the stomach fills with gas and expands like a balloon. The gas-filled stomach often turns and disrupts digestive circulation.
Divide your German Shepherd’s daily ration into at least two meals a day to avoid bloating. Do not feed the dog from a raised harness. Limit the amount of water your dog can drink immediately after eating, the Michigan Veterinary Specialists recommends. Special raised center bowls available at pet stores can help prevent your dog from swallowing meals quickly and reduce the risk of gas and gas. Avoid exercising your dog an hour before or after a meal.
Some German Shepherds may be at risk of disease resulting from improper absorption of nutrients from their food. These conditions include exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) and small bowel disease which, according to The Merck Veterinary Manual, can cause weight loss even if your dog exhibits an increased appetite. If you find that your German Shepherd has lost weight but appears to be eating normally, contact your veterinarian to see if a health condition such as EPI, small bowel disease, or some other health problem could be the cause.
Part of the treatment for these conditions is a low-fiber, low-fat diet that has a high-quality, unusual protein such as game or lamb as its main ingredient. EPI or small bowel disease diets also contain easily digestible carbohydrates like rice or potatoes. Such diets should be monitored by your veterinarian, who will monitor the results and determine if they are effective for your German Shepherd.
Nutritional Needs of GSD Puppies
When dogs are born, it is of enormous importance right from the start that the puppy is optimally nourished so that it can grow up healthy and happy. Depending on the breed of the animal, the right diet for young dogs is made up of different things. Here we tell you how optimal nutrition enables your puppies to start a long and healthy dog life:
Mom’s milk perks up little puppies
In the first few weeks after the birth, the newly minted mother dog takes care of the nutrition of her puppies. The little ones not only need the bitch’s warmth but above all their milk. This contains the important nutrients that your puppies urgently need in the first few weeks of life. In the first three weeks after the birth, the diet of the little four-legged friend consists exclusively of breast milk. A balanced diet for the mother dog is therefore extremely important so that she can pass on vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients to her cubs through breast milk.
Baby food for puppies
After the first three weeks, the puppies will soon need more food than just breast milk. The little rascals have now grown and their nutritional needs are now changing quickly. However, until it is time for the first solid food, a puppy porridge with nutrient-rich breast milk is sufficient after the first few weeks, which prepares the young dogs for the first solid meals.
Although the puppies stay close to their mother and continue to drink the bitch’s nutritious milk, they need more than just mother’s milk due to the growth of the stomach and the increased energy requirements.
At the beginning of feeding from the 4th week of life, the puppy porridge should contain 70% of the mother’s milk, in which 30% special puppy food is then softened. In this way, the puppies can get used to food with a different consistency for the first time. The puppy is gradually weaned from its mother’s milk so that from the 7th week of life onwards, the puppy porridge consists only of food that is mixed with water to make porridge.
Which food is suitable for young dogs?
In order to meet the special nutritional needs of puppies, there is special puppy food that, thanks to special composition, can meet the needs of young dogs. A high proportion of meat in puppy food provides plenty of energy because puppies are bright animal children who want to discover their world full of energy. The protein, calcium, and the necessary fats contained in the meat provide sufficient energy so that the baby dogs can start their new life healthily.
Only those who feed a high-quality puppy food that contains plenty of protein, phosphorus, and calcium can prevent bone damage in their dog at an early stage and ensure a healthy start to the young dog’s life with the right food.
After moving to the new family
At around 8 weeks old, the puppies are ready to move to their new families. The first point of contact for everything to do with dog nutrition is initially the breeder, who will refer the puppy to the new owner. A reputable dog breeder explains to the freshly baked dog parents what to consider when it comes to nutrition. In addition, in most cases, the breeder already gives the buyers of the animals some food that the puppy was fed with during the breeding period. In the best-case scenario, the dog owner will stick with this food if the puppy has tolerated it well up to now.
If there are any questions after arriving at the new home, the local veterinarian can also provide advice on proper nutrition. In the first few days after moving, the puppy may leave its food lying around for a while. This is due to the excitement because a move from the mother dog to the new home does not always leave the young dogs without a trace.
The dog has arrived in the new family
The development of the puppy is rapid. The nutritional requirements change continuously until the dog has survived the puppy period.
By the way, nutritional needs differ from breed to breed. While large breeds naturally need more nutrients as they grow over a longer period of time, a small breed of dog must not absorb too many nutrients too quickly, as this can be detrimental to the animal’s health in the long term.
Pay attention to high-quality food that contains a high protein density and does not contain any preservatives or sugar and always pay attention to the information that manufacturers of puppy food give on their packaging. If you are unsure which food is right for your dog, a specialist salesperson in pet supplies can certainly be of help, because the market for puppy food is often unmanageable for the new dog owner.
How often does the puppy have to eat?
In order not to burden the stomach, the puppy should be fed small amounts of food a little four times a day. Before and after feeding, the dog needs rest. Puppies that frolic and frolic after feeding run the risk of life-threatening stomach torsion. Therefore, a walk after feeding should first be taboo. However, loosening after eating is important in toilet training, but then please take it easy and without much play.
Wet food, dry food, or Barps?
The type of food you choose is a matter of taste, and it’s not just about the dog’s taste.
Each type of food has advantages and disadvantages that you should consider when choosing.
Dried animal food
Dry food is easy to portion and does not spoil as quickly. Likewise, dry food is odorless in contrast to wet food, which comes with an odor that takes getting used to.
Helps the animal absorb fluids and can be easily chewed and digested by the puppy. However, it spoils faster if the dog does not eat all of its ration right away.
Many dog owners rely on barf. Barf = Biologically appropriate raw feeding. The puppy can also be barked if the raw meat is of appropriate quality.
The trade now offers barf menus that are tailored to the individual needs of puppies. In this case, offer your dog a varied diet so that the puppy can be supplied with all the important nutrients it needs for healthy growth.
If you have not yet decided on a feeding method, you can also combine the different options and thus take advantage of all the advantages of the respective feeding methods.
How Old Can a German Shepherd Get?
A German Shepherd Dog can live between 10 and 13 years.
German Shepherd Training
The German Shepherd is a lovable, great dog with many good qualities and is still one of the most popular dog breeds. When a German Shepherd puppy moves in with you, a new phase of life is also for you. First and foremost, you have already made a good choice with the German shepherd, because he has a good nature and a balanced character.
With loving, consistent upbringing, patience, and dog understanding, you can turn him into a sporty buddy, a playmate, and also a protector for the house, yard, and family. He is robust, has stamina, and also has a high urge to move. At the same time, however, he is also loyal, affectionate, and remains playful into old age. But he also wants to be challenged and therefore needs a sufficient mental workload.
With the shepherd under one roof
In order to be able to offer the little four-legged friend a nice home, you should make sure that the necessary equipment is available. This includes the following:
- a harness or collar
- a tow or lead line
- a place to sleep (basket, dog sofa, sleeping cave)
- Food and water bowl
- Treats and chews
As soon as the puppy has moved in, you should start training. The first step in upbringing is good socialization, the furry roommate should now get to know everything that is new and that he will encounter later in his environment. But please also remember that every dog that leaves its familiar environment needs a certain amount of time to get used to it.
The little German Shepherd needs a few days to get to know his new home, the other family members, and your daily routine. Talk to him quietly, show him where he sleeps and the bowl. With trust, consistency, understanding, and respect you create a good basis for a stress-free and happy life with your dog.
The upbringing of the German Shepherd
As a rule, the German Shepherd Dog is easy to train because he is obedient to his master without restriction. The prerequisite for this is that the little one always knows who the boss is and makes the decisions because especially with intelligent, large dogs, the ranking is very important so that there are no misunderstandings.
It will certainly take a few repetitions for the German Shepherd to accept and understand your commands. Therefore, you should train in a quiet place (living room or garden) at the beginning so that he is not too distracted. Always make sure that you have the right timing when praising or criticizing. It makes little sense to insult the little one if it was several minutes ago because he can no longer remember it. Even if there are always setbacks in upbringing during puberty because he suddenly forgot commands that he has already mastered, you should always remain calm. Scolding and hitting is no solution here, always stay relaxed and consistent, in the long run, the training will pay off.
First of all, you have to get your dog used to the collar and leash. Here’s a good trick for getting your little one used to the collar and leash. Simply tie his collar around him before he gets food, so he connects the collar with food and is happy about it. You can do the same trick with the leash. Of course, it can happen that the puppy doesn’t move from the spot the first time you go for a walk.
Then encourage him, help him with a toy or a treat. Never pick it up or carry it, it shouldn’t be rewarded. If you are then on the move, always be persistent and always stop when the little one pulls on the leash, otherwise, he will get used to it and never take it off. A German Shepherd puppy must definitely be able to use the commands “place”, “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “off”.
If it is your first dog and you are just starting out when it comes to training, you should definitely go to a suitable dog school with him.
Training and play
Upbringing is not everything, the German shepherd puppy must be employed sensibly and used to capacity, otherwise, he tends to be nervous and can even become aggressive. Boredom is bad for your furry companion, so always make sure he has something to do. A natural rubber ball on the rope is an advantage here for playing, it is buoyant, ensures sufficient movement, and is fun.
A dog activity board can provide mental training. The board game is filled with small treats and by opening and pulling the compartments the little one gets his reward. The Dog Disc provides a great combination of sport and play. It is made of flexible natural rubber, you can try different litter variants and it is ideal for training your puppy.
It is also important that your dog spends time with conspecifics so that he does not feel threatened every time he encounters it and becomes a barker. Sufficient physical activity strengthens breathing, the heart, and the immune system. The mental training ensures that there are no fears and depressions. A big challenge for the puppy is always to learn new tricks. But don’t force him to learn something he doesn’t enjoy.
As a brain teaser for your shepherd, you can also simply hide food in a box, which will keep him busy for some time.
Grooming the German Shepherd Dog
A German Shepherd is quite easy to care for. The short-haired German Shepherds in particular only need to be brushed regularly. German Shepherds with long coats need a little extra grooming. In addition, the eyes and ears should be checked regularly. The claws should also be looked at from time to time. If necessary, they have to be shortened.
As a precaution, you should make an appointment with a veterinarian once a year. There the dog also gets the necessary vaccinations and wormer cures.
German Shepherd Activities and Training
German Shepherds are generally available for any activity. They just need to feel challenged and may strain their heads too. Long walks or bike rides are not enough in the long run. Dog sports are more her case. Companion dog sport is what young dogs learn in the dog school and forms the basic training, so to speak. After that, it doesn’t matter whether it’s dog dancing or agility. Here it is worth trying out different dog sports to find out which sport is particularly fun for dog and owner and which one they harmonize best with.
Another kind of challenge is mantrailing, the search for missing people. In rescue dog sports and working dog sports, too, the dogs playfully learn what service dogs do as a profession. With good training, these dogs can volunteer with their owners in rescue operations.
Good to Know: Special Features of the German Shepherd Dog
There is hardly a breed of dog in the world that is used in so many different areas. German shepherds can sniff out drugs and weapons at customs and the police, and the police also use them to search for people. They also look for people as rescue dogs in the event of natural disasters and avalanche accidents. And as assistance dogs, they help blind people. There are now even German Shepherds who are indispensable helpers for people with diabetes because they notice when their human is hypoglycemic. And dogs are also used more and more often as therapy dogs, for example in psychotherapy, speech and speech therapy, curative education, or physiotherapy.
Another profession of the German Shepherd Dog is that of an actor. In German-speaking countries, the best-known series dog is probably Commissioner Rex from the television series of the same name. Three different German Shepherds have played the role of Rex so far. The first ten seasons play in Vienna, from the eleventh season the location changes to Rome. An adaptation under the name “Hudson and Rex” was broadcast on Canadian television from 2019.
But other German Shepherds also made careers as actors. Two of them, Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin, even received their own star on the Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, an honor that is otherwise almost only given to famous actors and stars from the music scene.
But other German Shepherds also received awards for their service. For example, the rescue dog Appollo was one of the first dogs to help search for people buried after the attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001. He was awarded the Dickin Medal on behalf of all rescue dogs. This medal is the highest award for animals that have achieved extraordinary things in war operations.
When Does a German Shepherd Become Fully Grown?
The German Shepherd Dog is fully grown at around 12 months.
Disadvantages of the German Shepherd Dog
The disadvantages of a German Shepherd Dog only come to light if they are not brought up confidently and consistently. If the person is inconsistent and insecure, the dog will feel obliged to take responsibility. This can also manifest itself in too pronounced protection. Other errors in upbringing also quickly lead to behavioral problems.
German shepherds are also prone to diseases of the joints. It is therefore particularly important to only buy the puppy from a reputable breeder who refrains from torture breeding and breeds dogs with straight backs.
Does the German Shepherd Good for Me?
German Shepherds need one thing above all: people who are willing to do something with them, to work with them, to be active, and to challenge them. A couch potato doesn’t suit them any more than a small apartment in the city, where he may still have to climb stairs.
They need people who like to spend a lot of time with them. Do you have this time Are you ready for long walks and dog sports or other busy activities for your German Shepherd? Do you live in a house, preferably with a garden? Will your German Shepherd still feel comfortable with you in old age if, like old people, he often has problems with his joints and can only live in the rooms on the ground floor? Do you have enough money for food, dog taxes, and veterinary costs? For visits to the vet in particular, there are often high costs. Are you ready to pay them? And can you take your dog with you when you want to go on vacation? Do you already have experience with dogs and know how to raise a dog to be a loyal companion?
If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then a German Shepherd may be the right dog for you.
What Does a German Shepherd Need?
A German Shepherd Dog needs consistent training and enough exercise. In addition, the smart dog should also be promoted spiritually.
German Shepherd Food Guide
German shepherd diet – is my German shepherd prone to overweight?
A German Shepherd is an extremely agile and agile animal and generally does not tend to be overweight.
However, since the owners often tend to humanize the German Shepherd and even share the food with him, it often happens that the motionless German Shepherd becomes too strong.
This, in turn, can have considerable health consequences for the animal, since fat that has once been grown is difficult to lose again with a diet.
A healthy diet and good food can have a major impact on the life expectancy of your German Shepherd. Therefore, the right choice of feed is very important.
Which is better: dry or wet food?
Opinions are divided when it comes to the diet of the German Shepherd. Some clearly favor wet food, others are supporters of dry food chunks. In addition, the selection in the pet shops is simply overwhelming. How are you supposed to decide?
Many puppies prefer to eat what they have already received from the breeder. You can keep feeding this for a while and later switch to adult food (possibly the same brand). Otherwise, you have to try out what is good for the German Shepherd and what he likes. What you ultimately decide on, of course, also depends on your budget.
If you want, you can combine both types of feeding in order to combine the advantages of both variants. The dog will be happy when he has a little variety in his bowl. However, there is still the alternative of barfing your four-legged friend.
Advantages of dry food
- Is often the cheaper feed variant
- It has a long shelf life and can be stored well in advance
- Low odor
- Dry food contains more energy than a comparable amount of wet food
- The dog needs smaller portions to be satisfied
- Scattered remains around the feeding place can be picked up quickly
- Hard chunks of food support the dog’s teeth cleaning (but only if the dog does not swallow them whole)
- Easily portionable (suitable for on the go / when traveling)
- Can be used as a reward for training
- Environmentally friendly, as less packaging material is used than for cans, bowls or food bags
Disadvantages of dry food
- Little taste of its own, which is why flavor enhancers are often used
- The need for fluids increases after eating. This is disadvantageous for dogs who are lazy to drink.
- Hard chunks are not suitable for all dogs, e.g. seniors
- Often contains preservatives
- The chunks of food swell up in the stomach. The dog does not notice its satiety until later, which is why it may eat more than necessary.
- Some varieties are high in grains and other nutrient-poor fillers
- The dog sheds a lot of feces due to non-usable ingredients
- Inaccurate labeling of various ingredients is possible.
Which dry food for my German Shepherd?
Many dog owners give dry food as complete food, but it is not necessarily healthier than wet food (from a can) but it can be easily portioned.
But there are clear differences in quality in the individual dry food types and not every advertisement that advertises healthy and happy dogs actually keeps what it promises. The shepherd belongs to the predators and is a pure carnivore, additives such as grain or wheat in dry food are unsuitable because they put unnecessary strain on the stomach and can lead to obesity if fed too often.
Therefore, if the German Shepherd is fed dry food, a grain-free product is recommended. The ingredients list shows exactly which by-products are contained in the dry food.
Cereal flakes are also potential allergens, and German shepherds often suffer from food allergies when such food is given.
Grain-free foods are also suitable for dogs with allergies and are gladly taken.
How much does a German Shepherd eat?
Many factors play a role in the amount the German Shepherd is fed. Exact numbers of grams or general recommendations can therefore not be given.
The feeding amount depends, for example, on:
- What is the German Shepherd fed? Dry food, wet food, BARF, home-cooked food, mixed forms. The possibilities are many.
- How old is the German Shepherd? Puppies need a full bowl more often but need smaller amounts. Adult, old, or neutered dogs also have different requirements.
- How active is your dog? Is he “by profession” a dog, for example. Rescue or police dog?
- Do you do dog sports with him, is he a jogging partner or are you on the move a lot?
- Does the four-legged friend move less because of their age or an illness? This also affects the amount of feed.
- Diseases can make special feed or another change in diet necessary. In the case of joint problems, for example, it is essential to keep slimline, as being overweight can exacerbate the problem.
- The starting weight of the four-legged friend. Does your German Shepherd have to gain weight or lose weight?
- Breeding bitches need high-quality, nutritious food during pregnancy and subsequent suckling of the litter because they need more calories.
- Neutered dogs often have a reduced need for exercise while their appetite remains the same. Here the portions have to be adjusted.
- How many training bites and/or treats does the dog get in between? The amount should definitely be subtracted from the total ration for the day.
Wet food contains a lot of water and is less energetic. Here a four-legged friend can often reach for itself without the figure being damaged immediately. Not so with dry food. Much smaller amounts are often sufficient here to meet the nutritional requirements.
In the case of finished products, make sure to pay attention to the feeding recommendations on the packaging and initially orient yourself at the lower end of the scale. You can always adjust the amount should your German Shepherd lose weight. Regular weighing can help to keep an overview.
BARF meals, on the other hand, are not always the same and the composition of the individual meals can vary greatly. Here, too, weight checks are recommended so that you do not become overweight or underweight unintentionally.
Perhaps you have found high-quality dog food for your German Shepherd? One that contains all the important nutrients and that your four-legged friend eats with enthusiasm? Excellent! Still, it’s a little monotonous and boring to eat the same thing every day, isn’t it? After all, we don’t want to be served our favorite dish three times a day. At least not 7 days a week.
So it would be nice to pamper the German shepherd with a little variety every now and then. If the German Shepherd is used to this diet, he will not react with diarrhea or other digestive disorders. If you want to bring a breath of fresh air to the previously monotonous menu, adjust it slowly.
How about, for example, the following delicacies in the dog bowl?
- Lean meat (e.g. chicken breast)
- Fleshy bones (act like a natural toothbrush)
- Raw eggs
- Uncooked / uncooked bones
- Raw fish (remove bones from large fish
- Cottage cheese / paneer
- Cooked potatoes
Oils and egg yolks make for a beautiful, shiny dog coat. For example, you can use salmon oil. This also contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which strengthen the immune system.
By the way, it doesn’t always have to be something fresh or cooked. You can spice up your dog’s meals a bit by switching between dry and canned food.
If you have a varied diet for your dog, you avoid deficiency symptoms. This is especially true if compromises have to be made with dog food (e.g. for financial reasons).
Important: Your German shepherd could start avoiding his usual diet. For example, it would be possible for him to leave dry food standing in the future and wait for his fresh meat or canned food. There are also some candidates who do not tolerate a mixed diet particularly well. The motto here is: try it out and carefully approach it.
Is it allowed to feed a German Shepherd dog on a vegetarian basis?
Those who prefer a vegetarian or vegan diet often ask themselves whether it is possible to feed their four-legged friend as well. The answer is yes.
There are ready-made products to buy in specialist shops, which consist of purely herbal ingredients and provide good care for your four-legged friend. So if you have a conflict of conscience to avoid animal products yourself, but feed your dog with meat, you can use such products or feed the German Shepherd with fresh food, which, however, requires a lot of planning and knowledge. You can’t just get started here. It would also be advisable to consult a veterinarian or a dog nutritionist.
A purely vegetarian diet can be a good solution for dogs with allergies or protein intolerances.
If, on the other hand, you want to avoid cheap meat in finished products and understandably do not want to support factory farming, you can purchase animal products from a trusted butcher. Here you can ask specifically where the meat comes from and get an idea of the keeping and transport conditions.
The dog’s digestive system is perfectly designed for a meaty diet. Nevertheless, shepherds and the like are not pure carnivores (meat-eaters), but meat omnivores, so-called carni omnivores. Meat makes up a large part of their diet, but they also eat plant-based food. If there is no meat as a source of food, dogs (unlike cats, for example) can also survive on a purely plant-based diet.
What should I watch out for when feeding my German Shepherd?
The German Shepherd is man’s best friend but does not share his lifestyle in all areas.
Table waste, cooked food, or snacks such as spiced sausage (salami, meat sausage, etc.) are unsuitable for sheepdogs.
Even if the dog is happy about extraordinary delicacies, it is not proof of love when they are fed.
Should there be a reward for the animal, special dog snacks, chewing bones, or raw meat, which is unseasoned and suitable for shepherds, are suitable.
What does a well-fed German Shepherd look like?
The breed standard gives a good indication of the range in which the weight should be.
- Males weigh approx. 30-40 kg with a size of 60-65 cm.
- Females are slightly smaller at 55-60 cm and weigh around 22-32 kg.
Of course, the size must be seen in relation to the weight. A small female weighing over 30 kg may be too fat or a handsome male weighing only 30 kg may be too thin. The German Shepherd’s chest is always well developed, but the stomach is flat and sinewy. The dog’s thighs are tight but not covered in fat.
If the ribs or hips protrude, the belly line looks sunken and the fur is dull and shaggy, then your German Shepherd is definitely too thin. It may not be obvious at first glance through the fur, but it becomes obvious when you feel it.
But not only underweight speaks for a poor diet. Allergies, loss of appetite, listlessness, gastrointestinal problems, hair loss, eczema, etc. also indicate a wrong diet. If your German Shepherd has too many pounds on its ribs, this is of course also bad. Here the diet should be completely reconsidered (smaller portions of food / fewer treats) and attention should be paid to exercise and activity. A lack of exercise in combination with plenty of food is the fattening factor par excellence.
However, indications for a healthy diet are:
- Weight is in proportion to the size and is within the breed standard
- The dog has little bad breath and little / no tartar formation
- The fur is grippy and shiny.
- No itching, skin, or coat problems whatsoever.
- Your German Shepherd likes to eat his food and you pay attention to the ingredients.
- A healthy diet supports the immune system and ensures a dog that is less susceptible to disease, but fit and eager to move around.
- Forage that can be easily processed ensures smaller amounts of feces as it contains little filler material (e.g. grain).
How do I feed my German Shepherd puppy well?
A German Shepherd puppy grows continuously during the first 14 months of life, only then is it considered fully grown.
The faster the dog grows, the more stressful the growth is for the bones, it can damage the skeleton and the muscles.
The amount of feed plays a major role in how fast the animal grows; overfeeding always has negative consequences for the animal’s health.
During the entire puppy period, the food should only be changed once if possible, when switching to food for adult dogs.
The ideal time is at the age of six months, no puppy food should be given after that. It is important not to feed too many proteins, as these can lead to accelerated growth.
What makes good German Shepherd dog food?
The composition is the main criterion by which you can tell whether a dog food product is healthy and suitable or whether a different variety should be chosen.
Shepherd dog food should not be selected based on price or advertising, because it is often inconspicuous, little-known brands that have the best possible ingredients for the German Shepherd.
You can recognize good food by the fact that all ingredients are declared by name on the label. However, if there is only vague information, such as “animal by-products”, a lower quality must always be expected.
Serious manufacturers indicate which animal products are contained in the feed, which total proportion makes up the amount of meat, and which other ingredients are included.
Owners should also refrain from types of food that have been colored with dyes and additives or that have had their taste changed. The German shepherd doesn’t give a damn whether its food is red, green, or brown.
Checklist for good feed:
- Contains little or no grain
- exact quantities (how much meat, how much corn, rice, etc.)
- no artificial coloring
- no unnecessary flavorings
- contain no sugar (bad for teeth)
Food for the neutered German Shepherd
If the German Shepherd is neutered, the entire hormonal balance changes, which has an impact on appetite.
Most neutered German Shepherds develop intermittent cravings and would like to eat much more than before due to the change in metabolism after neutering.
But in addition to the dog’s increased appetite, there is a reduced need for energy (approx. 25 percent). If the same amount of feed was continued to be given, the animal would inevitably become overweight, which is why owners must select a correspondingly adapted feed for their animal.
The trade offers special, energy-reduced food for neutered dogs, if the dog is barred, the amount of daily food has to be reduced or the types of meat chosen are correspondingly low in calories.
Exercise can also prevent obesity; the more the dog moves, the higher its daily energy requirement.
An additional walk through the forest after the castration can work wonders and counteract the excess weight.
Does my Old German Shepherd need different food?
Most old dogs have a changed motion of the exercise. Many still like to be active, but get tired faster and need more sleep and rest. If you continue to feed the food in the usual way, you risk extra pounds with your German Shepherd. You should therefore not only adjust the level of activity in your aging German Shepherd, but also the amount of food he is fed. Because less exercise should also mean less calorie intake.
If you want, you can also switch directly to a senior feed. This is usually less caloric, but easily digestible and fiber-fiber. The latter stimulates digestion that can be slightly sluggish for the seniors. Less fat is also good for your old dog, as is a reduced phosphorus content.
Some old dogs have problems with their teeth and can not chew hard things particularly well. So if the senior German Shepherd gets bones, you should do without large and particularly hard bones. This can cause pain when chewing or even damage your teeth. In addition, bones often provide constipation.
If your German shepherd ends up with dry food in the bowl, it can make it easier for him to eat if you moisten the food a little, mix in wet food or switch to canned food entirely.
Always make sure that your senior is drinking enough!
What tastes of man can be poisonous for the dog
Even if the Shepherd dog would like to eat the remains of the human lunch and would be feasible for feeding with residues, it is urgent to remedy, because many products that man can easily use, are poisonous for the shepherd dog.
The following table shows which seemingly harmless foods can lead to real problems with the dog.
- Aubergines and raw potatoes (of the nightshade family) lead to vomiting, irritated mucous membranes, gastrointestinal disorders, and, in the worst case, death in the event of an overdose.
- Raw beans cause severe diarrhea and vomiting.
- Chocolate: the substance theobromine contained in chocolate triggers symptoms of poisoning in dogs such as vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and nausea. The lethal (fatal) dose can be as low as 8 grams of chocolate per kilogram of the dog’s body weight.
- Raisins and grapes: Eating raisins and grapes can lead to kidney failure, which if left untreated can be fatal.
- Garlic and onions: lead to vomiting, diarrhea, lethargic behavior, restlessness, and delirium. Even boiled or fried onions remain toxic to the animal.
- Raw pork: raw pork can be contaminated with the so-called Aujeszky virus. If the dog falls ill, it dies within a few days, and a cure is not possible.
As previously mentioned, there are many unsuitable foods for dogs that can be toxic in appropriate concentrations. Depending on the dose, the effects may be immediate or delayed. Insidious poisoning can also cause damage over years.
It is therefore extremely important that you do not give in to the begging at the table. Do not let your dog eat any kitchen or table waste and make sure that the rubbish bin is inaccessible and does not tip over, from which your dog cannot simply help itself.
If the dog has eaten something supposedly poisonous (even if there is only suspicion), you should immediately go to a veterinarian and have your German Shepherd examined. When it comes to poisoning, every minute counts!
Other indigestible and toxic foods
- kitchen and table waste
- raw cabbage varieties
- fruit pits and fruit stones
- Spicy/salty foods
- bitter almonds
- candy / sugar / sweetener
- cooked/cooked/grilled bones (risk of splintering)
- Chili, jalapenos, and hot peppers
- cow’s milk (may cause diarrhea)
What do I have to consider when changing the feed?
If you bring a puppy into the house, you should have his usual food in stock. It makes it easier to get used to the new home if the puppy continues to eat its usual food for a while. Of course, you can switch to a different brand or even a different diet after a while, if you want to. However, you should not change the food in the bowl from one day to the next. This usually doesn’t go well with a puppy and many react with indigestion. Say: diarrhea! Incidentally, the same applies to adult dogs. While some don’t mind the abrupt change, others are upset about it.
So what would be the solution? Just swap out a little bit of the old food for the new food at each meal. This way the transition is gentle and the shepherd slowly gets used to the new taste or texture.
If you want to switch from wet food to dry food, please note that this will also increase the fluid requirement. Adequate hydration is now important. You can also moisten the dry food chunks a little at the beginning. But not all dogs like it. The changeover from wet to dry food can be stretched over a longer period of time, because the digestive tract has to adjust to the extra work. Conversely, changing the food is usually quicker because wet food is easier to digest.
If you are considering BARF as a diet, you might be surprised at first that your dog may initially reject the new food. Compared to dog food, which is often full of flavor enhancers, raw food smells and tastes a bit bland to many at first. But stay on the ball. Sooner or later they all eat up with a lot of appetites. Here, too, the new type of diet should be gradually switched over to.
Does one fasting day per week make sense?
Many owners and breeders are convinced that one fasting day a week is good for the dog and its digestive system. That it would have a purifying effect. It is also often argued that the wolf does not prey every day and therefore has to fast. But of course, the wolf does not starve voluntarily. If he hasn’t killed any prey, he just gets nothing. However, our domesticated dogs have their masters and mistresses who fill the bowl every day. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
In any case, 24 hours of deprivation of feed is far too short for detoxification and cleaning. In order to achieve an effect, you would have to fast for a significantly longer time.
Your German Shepherd should only have to “fast” if this is necessary for a blood test or surgery. In the case of diarrhea and/or vomiting, it can also make sense to withhold the food for 1-2 days. This allows the intestinal tract to calm down a little.
A healthy diet for dogs not only includes high-quality and good food but also clean drinking water around the clock. And in a bowl that is not just refilled again and again, but is properly cleaned at least once a day. Preferably with hot water. This will prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.
Adequate hydration is very important and, depending on the type of feeding, even increased. For example, if you offer chunks of dry food, your dog has to absorb more liquid than a four-legged friend who is bared or receives wet food from a can.
If your German Shepherd is one of the lazy drinkers, you can try a drinking fountain. Many dogs take this very well. A raised bowl (feeding station) invites you to drink.
Why does my dog sometimes nibble on the grass?
This behavior is far less worrying than eating feces (see below). Many dogs do it and mostly the reasons are absolutely harmless. If you notice, for example, that your four-legged friend prefers to nibble on the green in the morning and often vomits shortly afterward, this could be an indication that he is very hungry and that the intervals between meals are too long.
Dogs use the blades of grass to induce nausea. If the stomach is upset or acidic, leaves, grass, or other green parts are often plastered in order to get relief. Often the four-legged friends are completely old again after vomiting the greenery. If this is the case with your dog, you need to worry less. You should definitely mention it the next time you visit the vet. Especially if it happens to your German Shepherd on a regular basis.
Of course, you can also try changing the timing of meals a bit. Instead of two, split the daily amount over three meals a day. Will the grass eating go away?
Why does my German Shepherd eat other animals’ feces?
It’s a gross affair that can drive many owners to despair. The dog eats the excrement of conspecifics or other animals on walks. Sometimes the four-legged friends also target the remains of babies and small children and eat the contents of the diaper or examine the potty.
But why does the dog prefer to eat other people’s excrements? This behavior is known in technical terms as coprophagy. The reasons for this behavioral problem can be completely different.
For puppies, for example, it is quite normal to explore their surroundings with all of their senses. To do this, they take everything in their mouths. So also feces. However, this urge to research disappears by itself after a while, and piles are no longer touched.
The mother bitch, on the other hand, keeps her puppies and surroundings clean and therefore eats the droppings of the litter. This is to prevent predators from being attracted by the scent notes.
Some also suspect that many flavor enhancers and fragrances in dog food ensure that even the excretions seem to smell appealing to the dog’s nose. In addition, great hunger and the associated hardship and despair can force the four-legged friend to eat the feces of other animals.
- Nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamin B1 or vitamin D
- Cravings (in stray, malnourished, or highly parasitic dogs)
- Lack of important enzymes
- Inferior feed
- Diseases of the pancreas
- Inadequate hygiene in the household
- Kennel keeping (too narrow / with accumulations of feces)
- The dog wants its owner’s attention
Since our dogs live closely with us, lying next to us on the sofa, licking our hands when we greet them, or even children playing with them, etc., it is very important to treat coprophagia. For this purpose, abort signals should be practiced. Possibly with the professional help of a dog school or a trainer.
Temporarily it may be necessary to no longer unleash the German Shepherd and/or to allow it to be muzzled. Of course, the two-legged friends should always clean their hands conscientiously after they have had contact with the dog.
The feces eaters can become infected with viruses, bacteria, or parasites through coprophagia and these can also spread to humans under certain circumstances.
That’s why it’s definitely advisable to go to the veterinary practice to rule out diseases, worms, or deficiencies. It can also help to switch to high-quality food and keep your four-legged friend more occupied.