The body that establishes standards of dog breeds in the United States is the American Kennel Club (AKC). The American Kennel Club decides what qualities make a dog a show quality German Shepherd. German Shepherds in dog shows are judged against these standards, and the dog that comes the closest to matching all the standards of the breed wins the dog show. German Shepherds that win certain prizes in American Kennel Club dog shows can earn the rank of American Kennel Club champion, a designation that appears on a dog's pedigree.
The categories that make up the standard of the German Shepherd breed include: appearance, temperament, size and proportion, coat and color and gait, the way the dog moves. A German Shepherd who meets the appearance standard of the breed gives the impression of a strong animal, alert and full of life. A good German Shepherd looks substantial and muscular, with an expression of nobility and quality breeding. The standard of the German Shepherd breed calls for a confident personality, slow to make friends. German Shepherds are alert and eager, ready to be report for duty as guide dogs, guard dogs, police dogs, herding dogs or loyal family companions.
The standards require that German Shepherd males should be twenty four to twenty six inches tall at the shoulder; females should be twenty two to twenty four inches tall. The German Shepherd head is noble, strong, and in proportion to the body. Males should look masculine, and females should look feminine. The face includes dark eyes, moderately pointed ears and a long, strong muzzle. A dog with cropped or hanging ears will be disqualified from competition, as will a dog with a nose that is not predominantly black. The neck should be strong, muscular and relatively long, carrying the head high and forward. The body should be deep with long ribs, a firmly held abdomen and a high, bushy tail. The forequarters are well muscled, with short, compact feet. The upper thigh should run parallel to the shoulder blade. The hindquarters are broad, with dewclaws removed from the hind legs.
The German Shepherd standard of the breed calls for a short, double coat with an extremely dense outer coat on the main body and a short coat on the head, legs and paws. German Shepherds with soft, silky, wooly and curly coats are disqualified. Variations in color are permissible, although a white dog must always be disqualified. Rich colors are preferred, and a tan face with black body is a commonly accepted color combination. A good German Shepherd, according to the American Kennel Club, trots without effort while smoothly covering territory with minimal effort. Faults of the gait are serious and can lead to disqualification.
These are the American Kennel Club standards of the German Shepherd breed against which show dogs are judged. Many of these traits have no bearing whatsoever on what kind of pet a German Shepherd will make. Usually, German Shepherds who don't meet American Kennel Club standards make excellent pets and working dogs.
American Kennel Club standards encourage breeders to use best practices that produce healthy, robust German Shepherd puppies. German Shepherd breeders strive to maintain the qualities that make the breed so special. Having good German Shepherd information about these standards is vital to keeping the breed unique.
When anyone says the word dog, the image that pops up in most people's mind is that of the German Shepherd. Also known as Alsatians (from the province in France where the breed was developed), the German Shepherd is one of the most popular dogs in the world. With their distinctive look, incredible intelligence and remarkable personalities, you would think the German Shepherd would be the perfect dog.
But a German Shepherd is not the dog for everyone. Their large size, their exuberant nature, their coats and sometimes health problems leave many thousands of German Shepherd Dogs to be abandoned every year. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that a quarter of all strays are purebreds, including purebred German Shepherds. Knowing basic German Shepherd information can help teach you what to expect from them as pets will help you decide if a German Shepherd is right for you and your family.
The incredible popularity of the German Shepherd has led to it being over bred. To keep up with the market for German Shepherd puppies, some breeders and puppy mills breed to death any German Shepherd they can find, no matter what it's health. Responsible breeders and caring dog lovers are trying to stop this indiscriminate breeding and only breed healthy dogs. But German Shepherd can often seem to develop more health problems than other breeds.
The most common problem is hip dysplasia, which makes the hind legs crippled. This is a treatable condition that often involves X-rays and surgery. Many German Shepherds are abandoned just because the owners were not willing to pay the vet bills. You must be committed to caring for the dog's health over luxuries for yourself. Many older German Shepherds also become blind, but dogs deal with blindness a lot better than people. The companionship of a German Shepherd should not have a price tag placed upon it.
German Shepherd dogs are highly trainable, providing they get regular exercise and aren't overfed. Too much food for a German Shepherd is like giving too much sugar and caffeine to a child – they can't help being a bit hyper afterwards. They are also more trainable and calmer is you have them spayed or neutered. This also cuts down in incidences of wandering, aggression and cancers of the reproductive organs. Leave the breeding of German Shepherds to the experts.
Another point not usually touted in German Shepherd information from the AKC is that they often have health problems. The German Shepherd Rescue of North Carolina has estimated that care of a German Shepherd Dog costs about three thousand dollars per year, and German Shepherds live into their teens. If you take on a German Shepherd be committed to taking care of them financially as well as with affection, proper grooming, diligent training and proper nutrition.
Many people love collecting anything and everything having to do with German Shepherd dogs. Writing a book on dog care for newbies, including a large section on German Shepherd information could sell a million copies.
The personality of the German Shepherd (or Alsatian) is one of the biggest reasons why they are so popular – for the right reasons and the wrong reasons. Since they make great police and military dogs, some people rush to get a German Shepherd thinking it will make a vicious guard dog. The German Shepherd is so eager to please, that it can be easily taught to attack. But the German Shepherd is not a vicious dog by nature – they are just doing what they've been taught to do.
People who get German Shepherd dogs for the right reasons also keep the German Shepherd's personality in mind. They are serious, active, highly intelligent dogs that need a job to do in order to stay calm and healthy. If they are trained to do anything (good or bad) and are rewarded for learning this, they will keep on doing the behavior. However, if you are patient and persistent, German Shepherds are intelligent enough to unlearn a behavior.
German Shepherd dogs worship the human beings they either live with or are ordered to protect. They would rather hang out with their people than with other dogs. The approval and affection of their people is vital to their sense of well-being. These are not dogs that like to be alone, chained out in the yard. Any German Shepherd left to this fate will overcompensate with hyperactivity in order to get his people's attention. Since they are such large and powerful dogs, even playful boisterousness can possibly hurt someone.
German Shepherds excel when given specific jobs to do. This is why they are often one of the first breeds of choice for police dogs, search and rescue dogs, assistance dogs and for working in entertainment. Throughout the centuries, they have also played the roles of sheepherders and draft animals as well as their more familiar roles as guard dogs and military dogs.
A German Shepherd dog needs regular exercise, attention and grooming. Getting them spayed or neutered will also not only lengthen their life span, but also make them more willing to pay attention to you. German Shepherds really are not suitable for apartment life, unless they get a lot of outdoor exercise. They learn to leash train very well (and can often be voice trained), whether their owners are walking, jogging, riding a bike or riding a horse.
Hopefully, armed with this German Shepherd information about their basic personality, you will know if a German Shepherd dog is right for your home and lifestyle. There are variations in each dog's individual personality, as there are with each dog's physical traits. Some are more timid than others. Some are more serious than others. Some seem more psychic than others. But they need a lot of activity and attention in order to really become a member of your family.
It takes a special person to adopt a German Shepherd and do a lot of research about the breed to ensure proper care. Libraries and the Internet are the best places to find the latest in German Shepherd information.