Males stand 24 to 26 inches; females stand 22 to 24 inches. Weight ranges from 75 to 95 pounds.
The German Shepherd personality is aloof but not usually aggressive. They’re reserved dogs; they don’t make friends immediately, but once they do, they’re extremely loyal. With their family, they’re easy-going and approachable, but when threatened, they can be strong and protective, making them excellent watchdogs.
This highly intelligent and trainable breed thrives on having a job to do—any job. The German Shepherd Puppy can be trained to do almost anything, from alerting a deaf person to a doorbell ring to sniffing out an avalanche victim.
One thing they’re not good at is being alone for long periods of time. Without the companionship they need—as well as exercise and the chance to put their intelligence to work—they become bored and frustrated. A German Shepherd who’s under-exercised and ignored by their family is likely to express pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking and chewing.
Like every dog, the German Shepherd needs early socialization—exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences—when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your German Shepherd puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
German Shepherds are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all German Shepherds will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dyplasia is a heritable condition in which the femur doesn’t fit snugly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint. Hip dysplasia can exist with or without clinical signs. Some dogs exhibit pain and lameness on one or both rear legs. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred.
- Elbow Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs. It’s thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog’s elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem, or medication to control the pain.
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: Commonly called bloat, this is a life-threatening condition that affects large, deep-chested dogs like Golden Retrievers, especially if they are fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, drink large volumes of water after eating, and exercise vigorously after eating. Bloat occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists. The dog is unable to belch or vomit to get rid the excess air in their stomach, and the normal return of blood to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen, is salivating excessively and retching without throwing up. They also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak with a rapid heart rate. It’s important to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
- Degenerative Myelopathy: Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord, specifically the part of the cord that communicates information to the brain regarding the hind legs. Dogs with DM act as though they don’t know where their back legs are, and cannot move them properly. The disease progresses to the point the dog cannot walk. Most of the time, there is no treatment and the dog is put to sleep. However, in a few rare cases, the condition is related to a lack of vitamin-12 or vitamin E. If this is the case, vitamin supplements might stabilize the condition.
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency: EPI is a genetic disease of the pancreas in which the cells that produce digestive enzymes are destroyed. As a result, the dog can no longer digest and absorb food. The first signs of the condition are gas, loss of appetite, weight loss, and change in stools. The dog becomes very thin, and very hungry. EPI is diagnosed with a simple blood test, and treatment is simple, too: pancreatic enzymes are added to the dog’s food. With proper medication supervision, most dogs recover.
- Allergies: Some German Shepherds suffer from a variety of allergies, ranging from contact allergies to food allergies. Allergy symptoms in dogs are similar to those in people. If your German Shepherd is scratching, licking at their paws or rubbing their face a great deal, suspect that they have an allergy and have them checked by your vet.
Originally bred to herd flocks all day, German Shepherds are built for action. This means they’ve got lots of energy that they need to burn off with daily exercise.
If you leave them alone for long periods of time without exercise, expect trouble. Boredom and inactivity lead to behavior problems—chewing, digging, and barking. The German Shepherd desperately needs to exercise both their body (jogging, a romp at the dog park) and their mind (training exercises like agility or obedience competitions).
Like many herding breeds, German Shepherds are barkers. Barking isn’t necessarily a problem, but it can be if the dog is bored. Learning the “Quiet” command should be part of every German Shepherd’s obedience training.
German Shepherds like to chew, and their powerful jaws can destroy most materials. If they pick the wrong thing to gnaw on, they can damage their teeth, swallow something that makes them sick, or even choke. Save your dog, and your belongings, by giving them safe chew toys and bones so they can entertain themselves when you’re not playing with them.
A German Shepherd Dog diet should be formulated for a large-sized breed with high energy and exercise needs. You should consult your veterinarian or professional nutritionist for advice on what to feed your German Shepherd Dog and the correct portion sizes. Their dietary needs will change as they grow from puppyhood to adulthood and senior age. Stay on top of these nutritional requirements.
You’ll need to take special care with feeding and exercising a German Shepherd puppy, however. German Shepherds grow very rapidly between the age of four and seven months, making them susceptible to bone disorders. They do well on a high-quality, low-calorie diet that keeps them from growing too fast.
And don’t let your German puppy run, jump, or play on hard surfaces like pavement until they’re at least two years old and their joints are fully formed. It’s fine for puppies to play on grass, though, and puppy agility, with its inch-high jumps, is okay.
Overfeeding your German Shepherd and letting them pack on the pounds can cause joint problems, as well as other health conditions. Limit treats, keep them active, and serve them regular meals rather than leaving food available at all times.
Children And Other Pets
If they’re well-trained and have had plenty of exposure to kids, especially as a puppy, a German Shepherd is a great companion for children. In fact, some say they’re a cross between a babysitter and a cop, both gentle with, and protective of, the children in their family. German Shepherd Puppies for adoption as pet.
This is a big dog, though, capable of mistakenly bumping a toddler or small child. True to their reserved nature, they’re not tail-wagging friendly with kids they don’t know, but they’re generally trustworthy.
The German Shepherd can also live peacefully with other dogs and pets, as long as they’re taught to do so from puppyhood. Introducing an adult German Shepherd to a household with other pets can be more difficult if the dog isn’t used to getting along with other dogs or cats. You may need to hire a professional trainer to help, or get advice from the rescue organization if that’s where you acquired the adult German Shepherd.
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