German Shepherds - Popular Dogs
German shepherds, or Alsatians as they are commonly known, were first registered as a distinct breed in 1899 but were shown in various countries prior to this. The breed was developed from local Shepherd dogs in Germany with the purpose of producing an intelligent, obedient and responsive dog that could be used to herd large numbers of sheep.
Since then German shepherds have always been used as working dogs and today they are used in a variety of positions including as police dogs, guide dogs for the visually impaired, security guard dogs and as drug-control dogs to name a few.
Their intelligence is outstanding and so they can be trained to a very high degree. They are also incredibly loyal to their owners and will guard anything or anyone that they associate with their owner. These qualities make the German shepherd a wonderful family pet.
The German shepherd loves to be close to humans, especially a family and will show an incredible amount of affection for anyone who cares for them. Although the breed was originally bred as a working dog, today’s German shepherds are people-dogs and crave human attention. A neglected dog can show aggressive tendencies. They are very wary of strangers and may show hostility towards people who display a threatening nature but if they are approached with a kind hand they will be your friend and protector for life.
German shepherds, because of their size and nature need to be firmly trained from an early age. Puppy training classes are recommended in order to fully integrate the dog with other animals and so reduce the risk of confrontation in adult life. A firm but loving hand is needed to train these dogs. Coercive and angry training techniques are not effective ways to train German shepherds as their intelligence causes them to rebel and become increasingly disobedient.
The German shepherd, although a large dog, is suitable for any kind of living quarters as they are quiet, inactive dogs when indoors. However if they are living in an apartment without a yard they will need to be exercised regularly as pent-up energy can cause a tendency to show destructive behaviour, especially chewing. German shepherds thrive on strenuous activity and love nothing better than a race around the park with a stick or a ball.
A well cared for German shepherd will live for around 12-14 years. A balanced diet and plenty of exercise will ensure that the ailments common to the breed are avoided. The coat should be brushed daily as they do shed all year round and quite heavily during spring. However bathing should only occur once or twice a year as the natural oil on the skin helps to stop eczema and flea allergies.