What Characteristics are German Shepherd Dogs Known for?

german shepherd puppy

German Shepherds are athletic, energetic animals that can be a good choice of pet for people prepared to invest the time and effort involved in training and looking after them. They are very popular dogs because of their personalities; among their positive qualities are intelligence, protectiveness, and loyalty. Without the correct care and training, however, they may be anxious, destructive, and aggressive toward strangers, other pets or even family members. German Shepherds are “high maintenance” pets that require a lot of attention, affection, exercise, and play, as well as good training to ensure acceptable behavior. If looked after correctly, they make excellent pets that form strong and lasting bonds with their owners.

The breed originated in Germany in the late 19th century. They were bred originally as working dogs, particularly for herding flocks of sheep and defending them from attack. This developed qualities of courage, protectiveness, and responsiveness to training. These attributes have led to the breed’s popularity throughout the world. As of 2012, according to the American Kennel Club, German Shepherds are one of the breeds that have remained steadily popular over the last three decades, currently ranking second in popularity behind Labrador Retrievers.

black german shepherd

Physical Attributes

German Shepherds are large dogs that have a well-balanced, muscular appearance and give an impression of strength and agility. They have large, pointed, erect ears, bushy tails, and strong jaws with a powerful bite. The facial expression is normally one of confidence and alertness. In motion, the dogs have a long stride that enables them to cover a lot of ground very quickly. The breed is most commonly black and tan colored, but they come in a variety of colors and combinations, including all black.


Dogs of this breed are very dedicated, extremely loyal to their owners, and completely fearless when it comes to protecting their loved ones. They do not readily befriend strangers, but make lifelong friends for their owners. In turn, these dogs have strong emotional needs and constantly seek human attention. They normally form very strong bonds with family members and practically demand to be included in everyday activities. The dogs are also very playful and easily bored; they need to have plenty of time devoted to activities and games.

Care and Training

German Shepherds are a good choice for people who like to go for long walks and don’t mind the heavy exercise requirements. Ideally, they should live in a home with a large garden or yard; however, some apartment-dwelling owners report that their pets are quite happy and well behaved. The crucial factor seems to be plenty of exercise.

Due to their protective personalities, these dogs also require extensive socializing to avoid aggression towards strangers and excessive barking. They also need to learn early on how to deal with children and other animals. While they make excellent family pets, these lively and active dogs have a natural tendency to nip at everything that moves, so it is important that they learn their limits early on. Spaying or neutering the dog usually makes a big difference, and owners are encouraged to do so as early as possible.

german shepherd

Behavioral Problems

If trained well and socialized from an early age, these dogs make fun-loving, but obedient and well-behaved pets that are unlikely to cause any issues. Without the correct care and training, however, serious behavioral problems may result. They may see strangers as a threat to their family, resulting in barking, snarling, and even biting. Another possible problem is their behavior toward other animals. Instinctively, they tend to chase other, smaller creatures and appropriate training is required to ensure that they are not a menace to neighbors’ pets.

German Shepherds should not be left on their own for long periods, as they quickly become bored and may experience separation anxiety. This can result in destructive behavior: the dog may chew furniture and other objects, and, due to their strength, they may do considerable damage. Barking and howling may also cause problems for neighbors.

Purebred dogs are bred to respond well to training and to learn quickly; however, dogs of doubtful origin may not respond as expected. For this reason, most experts do not recommended that people buy a dog from a “backyard” breeder. Instead, prospective owners should contact the local kennel club or its equivalent. Alternatively, animal shelters may be able to provide a mature dog with the required credentials.

Police Dogs

In many countries, German Shepherds are used by police forces in a variety of roles. They are favored because of their strength, their intelligence, and the fact that they can be easily trained to perform various tasks, including being taught to immobilize criminal suspects without causing injury. Like all dogs, they have an excellent sense of smell and are often used to sniff out illegal drugs and explosives. They are also used as search and rescue dogs and to locate people or bodies in cases where someone has gone missing.

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