German Shepherd / Alsatian
GSD's were bred initially for herding sheep but are now used for police, search and rescue and military roles. They are very willing to learn and like to have a purpose, which makes them perfect as working dogs. They come in range of colours, the most popular being tan and black, red and black, all-black, and all-white.
GSD's are a very intelligent breed and have a great deal of strength. They love to be active and have a very loyal nature. This breed bonds well with a family unit and they make good guard dogs as they are protective of their owners. GSD's respond well to positive rewards when training and are very good at activities such as agility.
- Breed Name:
- German Shepherd / Alsatian
- Coat type:
- Double Coat - They have an outer coat which is dense and thick and a soft thick undercoat
- Male: 30–40kg, Female: 22-32 kg
- Average Lifespan:
- 9–15 years
- Very Active, Loyal, Protective, Obedient, Intelligent
- Favourite Pastimes:
- Running, Long Walks, Playing
- Did you know?
- A white GSD called Daz recorded a bark of 108 decibels, setting a Guinness World Record as the loudest dog in the world!
- Easy to train?
- Easy / Moderate
Walkies of Fame
Rin Tin Tin is the most famous GSD who was adopted from a WWI battlefield and went on to star in not 1 but 23 Hollywood films!
The main cross of German Shepherd is the Shepadoodle, which is a mix of a German Shepherd and a Poodle. Shepadoodles tend to have the fur and facial features of a poodle but the coat colour of a German Shepherd. Labradoodles are often used for breeding with German Shepherds, instead of the standard poodles.
A Golden Shepherd is another German Shepherd mix with a Golden Retriever. The Golden Shepherd has the same general appearance as a GSD but also has the golden tones of the Retriever. They are social dogs, affectionate and still very protective of their family unit.
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
German Shepherds like other large breeds are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, this can be minimised in breeding by hip and elbow scores being carried out by vets. Scores can be done for both of the potential breeding parents and will ensure the pups are less at risk if the scores are good. Hip dysplasia occurs when the femur does not connect properly into the hip socket and so the joint then becomes worn and painful. Lameness can be seen when the dog is walking on one or both rear legs, some will require no treatment but others may need medication, a change in diet/exercise routine or possibly surgery. Elbow dysplasia occurs as the pup grows and the bones develop at different rates. The 3 bones making up the elbow joint do not sit right together and this leads to arthritis and the possible need for surgery.
- Gastric Torsion/Bloat
This condition is a concern in all large (especially deep chested) breeds and happens when the stomach twists and traps the stomach contents and gases. This then leads to rapid swelling of the abdomen. It occurs normally when a dog eats too quickly and gulps down air with the food or if the dog exercises straight after food without resting. If not treated this condition can be fatal so immediate veterinary attention is required. Symptoms of bloat include pacing, whining, panting, pain, distress, agitated, vomiting, retching and a large swollen abdomen.
- Von Willebrands Disease
This disease is passed on genetically in GSD’s and so care should be taken with breeders not to continue on this gene. GSD's with this disease are missing a particular clotting factor, the Von Willebrands Factor, which stops the blood from clotting when they have an injury or accident. Unfortunately GSD's with this disease are unable to control a bleeding wound, which in a normal accident would have been only a minor incident. In extreme cases blood transfusions can be carried out to replace the blood lost. GSD'S with this disease may also have symptoms such as blood in their faeces, nose bleeds and some blood in their urine.
- Progressive Posterior Paresis
This is a genetic disorder that affects GSD's and causes paralysis to one or both hind legs. It has been a genetic disorder that is still around mainly through poor breeding. Genetic tests can be done on parents before breeding to see if either is a carrier. It starts as a gradual paralysis in the hindquarters and signs to look out for include stiffness, weak hind limbs, lethargy and general problems moving around. There is currently no cure for this disease other than exercise and physical therapy such as swimming to ease the pain and slow onset of the symptoms.
- Perianal Fistulas
GSD's make up 80% of all perianal fistula cases, so it is a very common condition known with this breed. Perianal fistulas are abnormal openings around the anal area which become painful and infected. They can be visually seen and the dog may try and lick the affected area, which will be sore and red. It can be very painful and they may cry when passing faeces so care must be taken when lifting the tail to inspect them. Medical and surgical treatments are available for this condition but it can re-occur.
- Canine Degenerative Myelopathy
This disease normally affects older GSD'S and is a progressive disease of the spinal cord normally between 7-14 years old. The disease makes it hard for them to stand up right on their hind limbs. Initial symptoms can be seen with the dog dragging its hind feet and crossing its legs when walking. This disease cannot be cured but physiotherapy may prolong the time the dog can remain mobile on its feet.
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
This disease is also called maldigestion syndrome and is very common in GSD's. It affects the pancreas from being able to successfully break down fats, starches and proteins from the food eaten, so that it would normally be small enough to be absorbed by the intestines. As they can't absorb the nutrients from the food adequately, the dog will have deficiencies even though they are eating lots! Symptoms are easy to notice and include weight loss, poor skin and coat, diarrhoea and undigested food in faeces. They will also be very hungry as the body constantly thinks they are not getting enough food. Treatment is available but will need to be given for life, which can be very expensive.