Breed Information Centre

German Shepherd Dog


Illustration of German Shepherd Dog

Arguably the most popular breed worldwide, the Shepherd, as he is known to most people, provokes fiercer loyalties in enthusiasts’ hearts than virtually any other breed. The German Shepherd as we know it today was founded at the very end of the 1800s and a German cavalry captain, Max von Stephanitz, has been credited with its development. A group of people led by him promoted the Shepherd for 35 years to bring it to a position of respect. As demand for German Shepherds as herding dogs diminished, Stephanitz encouraged their use by police and the military, and in the First World War alone, 48,000 were enlisted in the German army.

It is difficult to talk about German Shepherds without being drawn into the discussion on type; the style of the dog varies tremendously even if the wording of the standards throughout the world is based on that of the country of origin. The appearance of the animal may vary according to the attitude of the fancier, but one thing will be agreed by all: a genuine German Shepherd must be possessed of a truly steady temperament, greeting all he meets with a calm firmness. He ranks with any breed in his trainability for a veritable plethora of purposes. From his original work as a shepherd, acting as both herder and flock guard, he has become by far the most widely used military and police dog for forces all over the globe. He rates with the best as a guide dog for the blind; he is a tracker of great quality; and his devotees consider him the ultimate as an obedience worker. In short, temperament is deemed the most important single attribute, but conscientious breeders strive also for physical perfection.

In spite of his thick double coat, he is not a difficult dog to keep groomed, provided his owner is vigorous and determined. In truth, determination may well need to be an important facet in an owner’s make-up, as a Shepherd needs a firm, consistent hand. He is a highly intelligent creature and, like many highly intelligent creatures, he needs to be kept occupied if he is not to become bored and, in turn, mischievous.

Breed Group
Vulnerable Native Breed
How much exercise?
More than 2 hours per day
Length of coat
How much grooming?
More than once a week
Supposedly sheds? *
Town or Country
Type of home
Large House
Minimum Garden Size
Over 10 Years

* If you are asthmatic or have an allergy, you should consult your medical advisor before considering obtaining a dog. More information can also be found on the Kennel Club website.

The Pastoral Breed Group

The Pastoral Group consists of herding dogs that are associated with working cattle, sheep, reindeer and other cloven footed animals.

Usually this type of dog has a weatherproof double coat to protect it from the elements when working in severe conditions. Breeds such as the Collie family, Old English Sheepdogs and Samoyeds who have been herding reindeer for centuries are but a few included in this group.

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