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German Shepherd

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is known by many names, including Alsatian, Berger Allemand, Deutscher Schäferhund, “GSD” or Schäferhund1

As the name suggests, the breed originated in Germany in the late 1800’s. A dog called Horand von Grafrath was declared the first German Shepherd in 18991,2. He and his sons and daughters are the ancestors to German Shepherds today. As “Shepherds” their job was predominantly herding and protecting sheep, however today they’re more commonly used as service dogs due to their intelligence, particularly in the Police Force and with Search and Rescue2.

German Shepherds are a large breed dog. They weigh between 22 to 40 kgs with females smaller than males. They are often black and tan, with black body markings including a “saddle” over the back and facial masks. They may also be all black and sable. Uncommon colours include liver, white, and blue.

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Dog Breed Facts & Characteristics

Origin

Germany, late 1800’s

Bred for

Herding, guarding sheep 

Size 

Large: 55 to 65cm, 22 to 40kgs

Weight Range

22 to 40kgs

Colours

Black and tan, black, sable, white, liver, blue

Life expectancy

8 to 13 years 

Coat

Double coat sheds all year round

Temperament 

Active, alert, intelligent

Exercise requirements

High. Needs at least 40 minutes a day 

Best suited for 

Experienced dog people with active lifestyles 

Apartment Friendly

Not recommended 

Personality 

The German Shepherd dog breed is known for being intelligent, loyal, alert and courageous. It is a good idea to channel your German Shepherd’s intelligence and energy, with the dogs excelling at activities like obedience, agility or tracking

Like all dogs, socialisation with dogs, other pets and people from an early age is very important. This helps to ensure that your German Shepherd grows into a well-adjusted adult. Dogs that aren't socialised may be overprotective with their families as well as fearful and aggressive towards other dogs.

Grooming

The German Shepherd has a thick coat that has two layers (a double coat). They lose fur all year round, so regular brushing is necessary. This is even more important for a long coated German Shepherd. Make sure your German Shepherd is on flea and tick control all year round.

Feeding 

When choosing a food for your German Shepherd, select a premium food appropriate to your dog’s age and life stage. Make sure that you feed a large breed puppy food to your German Shepherd puppy to give them the best start in life. Help your German Shepherd avoid becoming overweight by ensuring that you follow the recommended feeding guides on the food appropriate to your pet's size. A calorie restricted diet could be a good choice if your German Shepherd is overweight. A joint protecting supplement makes a good addition to your regular feeding schedule as German Shepherds are susceptible to developing arthritis. Make sure your dog always has a supply of fresh, clean water available. 

Common health concerns 

German Shepherds are prone to gastrointestinal issues including canine haemorrhagic gastroenteritis, colitis as well as diarrhoea and vomiting. As a large breed dog with a deep chest, German Shepherds are also susceptible to gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). This is a life-threatening condition where the stomach becomes bloated with food and gas. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia are also quite common in German Shepherds. Arthritis is a secondary complication of these conditions. German Shepherds are also prone to various cancers. 

According to PetSure data from 2019, the top reasons for a German Shepherd to visit the Vet include Skin Conditions, Ear Conditions, Arthritis, Gastrointestinal Conditions and cancer. 

Condition

Average cost for a single treatment
(average pet insurance claim amount)

Highest cost for single treatment
(highest pet insurance claim seen for this condition)

Skin Conditions (allergies, infections)

$219

$4,996

Ear Conditions (allergies, infections)

$183

$3,154

Arthritis

$160

$482

Gastrointestinal Conditions

$334

$6,062

Cancer

$475

$9,441

Disclaimer: Reimbursement for these claims would be subject to limits, such as annual benefit limits or sub-limits, benefit percentage, applicable waiting periods and any applicable excess. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider.

Most popular German Shepherd names

According to PetSure data in 2019 the most popular German Shepherd names are:

  1. Luna
  2. Max
  3. Zeus
  4. Bear
  5. Rex
  6. Loki
  7. Harley
  8. Koda
  9. Rocky
  10. Diesel

Most popular female names

  1. Luna
  2. Bella
  3. Lexi
  4. Nala
  5. Roxy
  6. Stella
  7. Sasha
  8. Willow
  9. Frankie
  10. Harley

Most popular male names

  1. Max
  2. Zeus
  3. Bear
  4. Rex
  5. Loki
  6. Rocky
  7. Diesel
  8. Axel
  9. Odin
  10. Ace

Did you know? 

A German Shepherd has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Rin Tin Tin became an international movie star after being rescued from a World War 1 battlefield. He appeared in some 27 Hollywood films. After he passed away in 1932 at the age of 14, his sons and grandsons continued to work in the entertainment industry

German Shepherd FAQs

How long do German Shepherds live?

German Shepherds have a relatively short lifespan and live for 9 to 13 years. As they age, their health slows down and various issues from back pains and arthritis to hip dysplasia can worsen their quality of life and hence, lead their owners into euthanizing their aging German Shepherds.

How much is a German Shepherd?

Pet-quality German Shepherds are priced anywhere between $800 to $1500 while purebred German Shepherds or those with 'champion' blood can be priced at a higher level. Some German Shepherds are also imported directly from breeders in Germany and those can be priced up to $4000.

What do you feed a German Shepherds puppy?

After successfully weaning off a German Shepherd puppy from mother's milk to solid foods, provide them with wet food for puppies and gradually add dry feed for puppies moistened with water when they are about 6 weeks old. At 8 weeks, feed your German Shepherd puppy dry dog food and remove milk from their diet as it causes diarrhea.

Is a German Shepherd a good family dog?

German Shepherds are protective, friendly and sociable dogs. They have high energy levels which fares well with kids during playtime. German Shepherds also have an incredible security instinct, intelligence and stamina - with proper training and development, German Shepherds can truly be an ideal breed for families.

Are German Shepherds indoor or outdoor dogs?

German Shepherds are incredible social dogs, they thrive on affection from their human partners and enjoy spending time with active kids so keeping them indoors is a good choice. However, they also have a high security alert and may prefer sleeping outdoors to guard their owners home and prove their loyalty. 

Where can I get a German Shepherd?

If you’re looking for a German Shepherd, check out your local GSD specific rescue organisation. Also be sure to check your local pet rescue shelters where you might just find your new best friend! 

References 

  1. German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia Inc, Accessed on 13 May 2020 
  2. German Shepherd Rescue Elite “The History and Origins of the German Shepherd Dog, Accessed on 13 May 2020
  3. Wikipedia, “Rin Tin Tin, Accessed on 13 May 2020

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Kylie Mitchell is a veterinarian with over 17 years experience in animal health and welfare, including in the veterinary and pet insurance industries

She has three rescue cats (Noah, Bei Bei and Meeka), four very old cockatiels and a pond-full of fish.

Kylie's pets

Noah
Noah
Bei Bei
Bei Bei
Meeka
Meeka