German Shepherds (Alsatians)

The German Shepherd has been with us as a breed since around 1899. As their name suggests, they were originally bred as sheep dogs, with an emphasis on intelligence and trainability. This, coupled with their physical strength and stamina, has made them very popular with services – such as the police, rescue and fire services. They live for around 10 years on average, and it is now the seventh most registered breed of dog by the Kennel Club.

Sizewise, the German Shepherd is considered to be medium to large. The males normally stand around 2ft tall at the withers, with the females couple of inches shorter. They are black nosed, with a long square muzzle with very strong jaws. The ears stand erect, and they have a bushy tail.

While there are long-coated German Shepherds, most have a close, dense fur with a thick undercoat. Their colour is almost always tan and black or reddish and black – with patterning mainly presenting as a saddle. There are rarer colour variations, but mostly that’s your lot. Regardless of colour, it is recommended that their fur be groomed properly at least once a week.

As the German Shepherd was bred as a working dog, we recommend a high quality, protein rich diet – which means food with high meat content. As they are very active dogs, exercise of up to 2 hours a day is recommended, so it’s important to keep up their energy levels.

Without this they can develop conditions such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and anal furunculosis. As ever, talk to a vet about these conditions if they are a cause for concern to you.

For more detailed information we recommend you visit the Kennel Club or the RSPCA websites.