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German Shepherd dog breed profile

Everything you need to know about one of the most versatile dog breeds.

Whether your dog is 100% German Shepherd or a German Shepherd mix, learning about their breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health.

Here’s everything you need to know before adding a German Shepherd to your family.  

How big are German Shepherds? 

Get ready for a big dog — German Shepherds typically grow between 22 to 26 inches tall and can weigh anywhere between 50 and 90 pounds. You can expect male German Shepherds to typically grow larger than females. 

What are German Shepherds’ personalities like? 

German Shepherds are energetic and eager to please. They’re very trainable if properly socialized, making them perfect working dogs. You may commonly see this breed helping the military and police. 

“German shepherds are intelligent, obedient dogs who require much socialization as puppies to prevent aggressive behavior,” Dr. Grace Kelly, DVM, a veterinarian in Arizona, says. “When trained and socialized properly, German Shepherds make great family dogs who are very loyal to their owners, as well as fantastic working dogs who thrive when given jobs or tasks.”

Dr. Kelly points out that if German Shepherd puppies are not adequately trained and socialized, they can become overprotective of their owner, family and/or home, which can lead to aggression toward other people and animals. So if you’re considering adding a German Shepherd to your family, be sure you have the time and budget to dedicate to training and daily stimulation. 

RELATED: Mutt or mixed-breed dog profile

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What are German Shepherds’ coats like? 

German Shepherds can be both long-haired and medium-haired, but the medium-haired variety is considered the breed standard. Coat colors vary from the popular black and tan to black and red, black, white and even blue. 

“German Shepherds have long fur that requires frequent brushing to prevent excessive shedding,” Dr. Kelly says. “This long coat makes them better suited for cooler environments and can lead to overheating in hot weather. Overall, they tend to be low maintenance when it comes to grooming.” 

What are common health issues for German Shepherds? 

Unfortunately, German Shepherds frequently inherit a variety of health problems, so it’s important to take your dog to the vet for regular checkups. 

“Most common of these inherited problems is hip dysplasia, which is a painful disease that can severely affect dogs’ quality of life,” Dr. Kelly says. “Common clinical signs include a ‘bunny hopping’ gait in the hind legs, a resistance to exercise or climbing stairs and hind limb lameness.” 

German Shepherds are also prone to degenerative myelopathy, an autoimmune disease that causes spinal cord degeneration. And like many other deep-chested dogs, such as poodles, German Shepherds are at risk for developing bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition in which the stomach flips and needs immediate medical attention. 

Adopting a German Shepherd 

Are you interested in adopting a German Shepherd, German Shepherd mix or any pet at all? Check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend. 

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.

Photo by Alexander Naglestad on Unsplash

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