German Shepherd Dog illustration
Pastoral

German Shepherd Dog

Versatile worker and service dog noted for bravery and intelligence

Breed characteristics

Size
Large
Exercise
More than 2 hours per day
Size of home
Large house
Grooming
More than once a week
Coat length
Short
Sheds
Yes
Lifespan
Over 10 years
Vulnerable native breed
No
Town or country
Either
Size of garden
Large garden

About this breed

The first breed club was formed in 1881 after Max von Stephanitz and his followers developed and promoted the breed as a herding dog, and later as a working dog used by the police and the armed forces. From the First World War the bravery and temperament of the German Shepherd has gained the breed worldwide recognition and praise and he has shown his worth in other disciplines too:- as a guide dog for the blind, as a tracking dog, and in obedience.

The evolution of the breed and its changed appearance in the last fifty years has provoked fierce debate: the German Shepherd has a marked division of breed “type”.

In recent years the long haired variety, once frowned upon in its native country has been officially recognised in the breed standard.

Read the breed standard

Images for this breed

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.

Breed standard colours

Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.

Breed standard colours in this breed include:

  • Bi-Colour
  • Black
  • Black & Gold
  • Black & Tan
  • Dark Sable
  • Gold Sable
  • Grey
  • Grey Sable
  • Sable

Non-breed-standard colours

Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour, it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.

Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog. Health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.

Non-breed-standard colours in this breed include:

  • White (NBS)
  • Blue (NBS)
  • Blue & Gold (NBS)
  • Blue & Tan (NBS)
  • Blue Sable (NBS)
  • Isabella (NBS)
  • Isabella & Tan (NBS)
  • Liver (NBS)
  • Liver & Tan (NBS)
  • Liver Sable (NBS)

Other colour/s

'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed-standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registration process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.

Health

Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.

More about health

Priority health schemes and tests

The Kennel Club's Assured Breeders must use the following schemes, tests and advice. All other breeders are strongly advised to also use these.

Important health schemes and tests

We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following schemes, tests and advice.

Other health schemes and tests available

*CombiBreed - simple to use and easy to organise all-in-one DNA tests for breeders

The DNA tests listed above marked with an * are included in our CombiBreed health test package. This includes:

  • DM (Degenerative myelopathy) (partner lab)
  • FVIIID (Haemophilia)
  • MDR1 (Multidrug resistance gene 1) (partner lab)

As part of this package, all three of these tests are carried out from a single swab for a total of £135 (incl. VAT). Assured breeders receive a 10% discount (£121.50 incl. VAT).

Find out more about our CombiBreed health packages.

Find out about a particular dog's results

Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.

You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.

Have any questions about health in your breed?

If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.

Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.

Contact the breed health co-ordinator for the German Shepherd Dog.

Breed watch

Category 3

Particular points of concern for individual breeds may include features not specifically highlighted in the breed standard including current issues. In some breeds, features may be listed which, if exaggerated, might potentially affect the breed in the future.

Read more

Breeding restrictions

There are a number of The Kennel Club's rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.

More about breeding

There are not currently any additional breed specific restrictions in place for this breed.

More information

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