German Shepherd Dog

Personality:Smart, confident, courageous, and steady; a true dog lover's dog

Coat & Grooming:The GSD's dense, medium-long coat sheds profusely; keep the brush and lint-roller handy

Energy Level:Very Active; These big guys were born to work; they require regular mental and physical exercise

Originally: Germany

Nicknames: GSD; Alsatian (U.K.)

Size: Large

Meet the German Shepherd Dog

Generally considered dogdom's finest all-purpose workers, GSDs are large, agile, muscular dogs of noble spirit and high intelligence. For such deep-chested, solid dogs, they move quickly with great nimbleness afoot. The GSD's natural gait is a free-and-easy trot, but when duty calls they can turn it up a notch or two and reach great speeds. Standing as high as 26 inches at the shoulder and built like a brick doghouse, the GSD when viewed in outline presents a picture of smooth, graceful curves rather than angles.

What's Their Story?

German Shepherd Dogs were developed in the waning years of the 19th century by Captain Max von Stephanitz, a German cavalry officer, through judicious crosses of older farming and herding breeds of Continental Europe. GSDs became popular in the United States in the early 1900s, thanks in part to the adventures of canine movie stars Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart. Since then, the GSD’s versatility, brains, and steady temperament have made it the preferred breed for police and military K-9 units the world over.

What are they Like?

​There are many reasons why GSDs stand in the front rank of canine royalty, but breed experts say their dogs’ most important attribute is character: loyalty, courage, confidence, the ability to learn and retain commands for an amazing number of specialized jobs, and the willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones. Well-bred GSDs of proper training and socialization will be gentle family pets and steadfast guardians eternally devoted to their human flock. But, says the breed’s written standard, there’s a “certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.”

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