The German Shepherd Dog: A successful model made in Germany .
Hardly any other breed has achieved such great worldwide popularity as the former herding dog from southern Germany. Nowadays, the strong-nerved and robust four-legged friend is a versatile working dog and is used in numerous sectors. But the German Shepherd is not only in demand with the police, rescue services and the military.
Active families also know how to appreciate and love the clever and loyal guard dog as a four-legged family member. However, if you are thinking of buying a German Shepherd, you should carefully examine the needs and characteristics of the breed so that there are no unpleasant surprises later. It is not for nothing that beginners are often advised against the breed. Because it is very demanding and needs meaningful occupation
10 facts about the German Shepherd Dog
1. FCI Standard Number 166, Group 1: Herding Dogs and Cattle Dogs, Section 1: Shepherd Dogs (with working trial)
2. country of origin: Germany
3. Height at withers: male 60-65 cm / bitch 55-60 cm
4. Weight: male 30-40kg / female 22-32 kg
5. The shepherd dog is ideal as a guard, guard, herding and service dog. But is also often kept as a family and companion.
6. Coat variants: stick hair and long stick hair
7. Originally, white was not a false color, but was removed from the standard in 1933. However, white specimens occur from time to time and can hardly be distinguished from the breed of the “White Swiss Shepherd Dogs” (also called “Berger Blanc Suisse”). Since the latter are regarded as a separate breed, white shepherds may not be crossed with the Berger Blanc Suisse or designated as such.
8. The long stick hair variant has been included in the breed standard again since 2008.
9. According to the breeder Stephanitz, the bitch “Mores Plieningen” was a wolf mixed breed.
10. The sloping back, which is still preferred by many breeders, is repeatedly criticized. No wonder: has the German Shepherd achieved notoriety in connection with joint dysplasia and especially HD.
If the German Shepherd is well socialized, he is extremely fond of children and a great family dog.
German Shepherd – History
The German Shepherd’s success story begins, as the name suggests, on German soil. The ancestors of the dog, which is so popular today, were used to herd and drive herds , but also guarded the life and limb and belongings of their owners. The German Shepherd Dog especially comes from the hits from Thuringia and Württemberg. As a herding dog, the clever breed is rarely used today. However, it is very popular worldwide as a service dog and the undisputed number 1.
At the end of the 19th century, such sheepdogs were occasionally crossed with real wolves, presumably to encourage the stick-haired type. However, this practice was soon abandoned as the animals were often too aggressive. One of these mixed wolf breeds was the bitch “Mores Plieningen”, an ancestor of the famous “Horand von Grafrath”.
In 1998 this male came into the possession of the Rittmeister Max von Stephanitz (1864-1936), the founder of the German Shepherd breed as we know it today. Stephanitz was also a co-founder of the “Association for German Shepherds” from 1899 and “Horand von Grafrath” was the first dog to be included in its stud book (number SZ 1). A first standard was drawn up in the same year.
During the two world wars, the German Shepherd Dog was discovered by the military and used at the front. Most of the four-legged friends lost their lives. In the Third Reich, the breed was even used as a propaganda tool and a National Socialist symbol. No wonder that the German Shepherd Dog was not known by its real name abroad for a long time, but simply as ” Alsatian “.
Celebrities with German Shepherds
Certainly the presence of the German Shepherd in films and series has also contributed to its great popularity. Whether as a dangerous and snarling guard dog or a clever colleague at the side of snoopers and police officers: the German Shepherd knows how to put himself in the limelight. Just like some of its prominent owners. Because not a few stars and starlets have come across the (shepherd) dog. Need a choice?
• Chuck Norris (Action Star)
• Burt Reynolds (actor)
• Reese Witherspoon (actress)
• Enrique Iglesias (singer)
• Jake Gyllanhaal (actor)
• Jennifer Lopez (actress / singer)
• Katherine Heigl (actor)
What is typical German Shepherd Dog?
• He hairs all year round. Plan more cleaning effort!
• Consistent parenting is absolutely essential. He must know and accept his place in the hierarchy.
• Not necessarily suitable for beginners.
• Needs a meaningful job and a lot of activity.
• He is observant and very confident. A perfect watchdog.
• As a family dog, the German Shepherd should be particularly well socialized and trained
• He is loyal to his family and develops a very close bond with his caregiver.
• Excellent for dog sports, but also for a serious task (avalanche, guide or rescue dog, for example).
What is the life expectancy of a German Shepherd?
The average lifespan of a German Shepherd is 9-13 years . Of course, a number of factors influence the actual life expectancy of your four-legged friend. Obesity, illnesses and genetic diseases, for example, can make the life of the German Shepherd much shorter. Fortunately, as the owner, you can do a lot to give your dog a species-appropriate and hopefully long life:
Tips for a long dog life
• Only buy from reputable breeders to rule out hereditary diseases as far as possible.
• Feed good quality and balanced food .
• Overweight should be avoided at all costs
• Provide plenty of exercise and mental activity, this will keep you physically and mentally fit.
• Get your German Shepherd vaccinated.
• Regular worm and flea cures keep the dog free from parasites .
• Don’t wait long to see a doctor if your German Shepherd shows symptoms.
• The German Shepherd Dog loves their people and needs a caregiver. Establish family connections.
• Care for your four-legged friend regularly and pay attention to physical abnormalities and changes in behavior.
• Educate your dog, this can protect him from dangerous situations in everyday life.
• The shepherd dog must be appropriately secured when being transported by car or other means of transport.
Of course, even the healthiest four-legged friend will get sick at some point or at least be afflicted by some age-related complaints in advanced yea EFs. Adapt everyday life to the dog’s new needs and give him more rest and relaxation.
After a hopefully beautiful and long dog life, your German Shepherd will eventually cross the Rainbow Bridge at some point . It’s nice when you say goodbye to him and want to accompany him on this last journey. Since he was a part of your life, you will certainly want to remember him properly afterwards and maybe even bury him. Nowadays there are many ways to create a creative souvenir of your four-legged friend, which can help children in particular to cope with grief.
Before the puppy moves in with you
If you want to buy a German Shepherd puppy , an exciting time will soon begin with a lot to plan and organize. First of all, a reputable breeder has to be found, because after all you want a German Shepherd puppy that is as healthy as possible and as free from hereditary diseases as possible.
If you have found a good kennel and are visiting the puppies for the first time, do not be blinded by all the cuteness, but carefully examine the mother dog and puppies to get an idea of the health of the animals. Pay attention to the following:
How do I recognize a healthy German Shepherd puppy?
• The dogs are happy to see the breeder and do not appear intimidated or aggressive.
• The pups are lively, active, and playful.
• The coat is clean and well-groomed without bald spots, redness, scales or the like.
• Eyes are clear with no discharge
• Ears are clean and have no strong odor
• The puppies have no bad breath
• You won’t find any adhesions on the hind legs or around the anus region
• No coordination problems, lameness or other impairments of the musculoskeletal system
• The belly should not look round and bloated (worms!)
• The puppies can be touched and also briefly held
• You look forward to visitors, are open-minded and curious
If you have decided on a German Shepherd puppy, the selected candidate will be reserved for you and a deposit will often be made. All you have to do now is wait and prepare your home for the newcomer. After all, the puppies spend the first valuable weeks with their mother and the other dogs in the kennel before they are handed over to their new owners in the 8th week at the earliest.
Until then, you have to make your home or apartment safe for puppies. Move valuable objects out of reach of the dog, as well as poisonous potted and garden plants, medicines, power cables, cleaning supplies and defuse sources of danger such as stairs or balconies. The garden should also be protected against escape and be fenced in sufficiently high.
Most of all, the anticipation increases the extensive shopping for the German Shepherd puppy. Only your budget sets limits when buying the initial equipment. And if you like, you can really let off steam in the pet shop or in the online shop. However, the puppy doesn’t really need much at the beginning. You can also choose accessories that are adjustable and therefore grow with you for a while. The dog bed can also already be adapted to the final size of the German Shepherd Dog, for example. Also, think about a sufficient amount of the usual puppy food for the first few weeks and read through a few specialist books .
Solid upbringing and consistent leadership are a must
Those who would like to buy a German Shepherd often choose a puppy. However, future owners should be aware of the responsibility that comes with the upbringing and socialization of such a furball. The German Shepherd outgrows the puppy age faster than expected and the once clumsy rascal quickly becomes strong and likes to test his limits. If you want a reliable partner for life and a loyal companion, you should be conscientious in training and a good pack leader towards the dog.
Do not put the education of the German Shepherd Dog on the back burner, but start training as soon as you move in. Establish clear rules and make no exceptions to them. Your dog will notice very quickly if you are not consistent enough and will learn to skillfully exploit your weak points. If such small power struggles or bad habits have crept in, they are difficult to train again later.
If the German Shepherd is your first dog at all, you shouldn’t leave upbringing to chance, but get professional guidance from a dog school . This can avoid much later grief and frustration. Here you will learn the important basics of dog ownership, such as basic commands, keeping a leash and many other important basics. The protective instinct should also be steered in the right direction . Fortunately, the German Shepherd Dog is very willing to learn and often happily works with you.
Of course, the puppy should also learn to be house trained, must know its name and should stay relaxed if it has to be left alone every now and then. Be patient and work with a lot of praise and positive reinforcement. In addition, conscientiously continued the familiarization and socialization that had already begun with the breeder and made the puppies familiar with children in particular. Especially if it is to be kept as a family dog.
Why is German Shepherd Training so important?
• Clear rules make it easier for humans and animals to live together
• The dog knows its place in the hierarchy
• A reliable, consistent and level headed pack leader is gladly accepted as such
• A trained dog knows how to behave and is welcome everywhere as a guest
• 40 kg pulling on the leash is no picnic
• Shepherds that bark at the slightest noise or freak out at dog encounters are annoying and sometimes even dangerous
• The dog develops trust in you and your abilities
• Basic commands can protect the German Shepherd from danger if they are followed reliably.
• A well-trained German Shepherd can enjoy more freedom, such as running without a leash, contact with fellow dogs or the privilege of being able to go anywhere.
Meaningful German Shepherd employment
The German Shepherd Dog is a power pack , very persistent, willing to learn and intelligent. He is not a dog for couch potatoes and couch potatoes, but only suitable for active people who have a lot of time and desire to deal with the German Shepherd and his needs, want to occupy him in a species-appropriate manner and repeatedly challenge him according to his nature.
Nice, long and varied walks several times a day are only the basis. In addition, regular training, games and other activities are necessary. In order to promote his intellect, mental challenges should also be on the daily schedule.
You will find an optimal combination of mental and physical activity in dog sports . Brisk agility or calm obedience are ideal for the utilization of the German Shepherd. Or you can try Frisbee, dog dance or pull dog sport for even more fun.
If the fun alone is not enough for you, you can compete with others at dog sports tournaments, but you should first pass the companion dog test with your German Shepherd. It is compulsory for most sports. The very ambitious can also complete training with their German Shepherd. The therapy dog work is very demanding and there are also many challenges to master in a rescue dog team . The main thing is that you give the German Shepherd a task, no matter what type of occupation you choose. Because without meaningful work, the breed cannot be happy in the long run.
Very important: When you are a puppy or young dog, avoid movements that put a lot of stress on the joints and bones. These include, for example, jumps, rapid changes of direction and abrupt braking. Otherwise it can lead to premature wear and tear and further problems with the musculoskeletal system.
Basic rules for working with your German Shepherd
• Motivate your dog! Treats should be as low in calories as possible and only used sparingly. Caresses, extensive praise or a favorite toy do the same
• Don’t force yourself if your German Shepherd doesn’t feel like it or doesn’t immediately understand a task.
• Avoid training sessions and games after eating, in extreme heat, or when the German Shepherd is not otherwise alert and motivated.
• Try something new every now and then to discover your dog’s likes and talents.
• Shepherds learn quickly, but they should not be overwhelmed. Be patient and slowly increase the difficulty of a task
• Supervise the German Shepherd when it comes to new activities and initially only give new toys under supervision.
• You declare a game or training session over, not the dog. So you’d better stop when your Vierbeier is still busy and is not already listlessly looking for other interesting things.
How do I recognize a good German Shepherd breeder?
Since the German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds at all, it is not surprising that there are an enormous number of puppy offers and “breeders” of this breed. Not all of them are serious and whoever has the choice is well known to be in agony.
How you can make a good breeder out of the flood of advertisements and offers, we will tell you here:
• Advice to new owners before and long after the purchase
• There are not many dogs or several different breeds in the kennel.
• The interior looks well-kept, as do the animals
• You are not only allowed to see the puppies, but also the bitch and, if possible, the stud dog (if he comes from the same kennel)
• The breeder won’t talk you into a puppy
• He will help you choose the right dog and advise you on the puppy’s personality
• The submission age is adhered to (not before the 8th week of life!)
• All dogs receive high-quality food, are vaccinated and dewormed, have a microchip and have been health checked
• Only dogs that have passed the breeding suitability test are used for breeding
• Health certificates certify harmlessness with regard to hereditary diseases
• The German Shepherd has completed and passed a character test at the ZTP
• The delivery of the puppy always takes place with the purchase contract
• Sometimes you get a starter package with the usual food, a little puppy guide, a toy or something similar
• The breeder attaches great importance to initial socialization and habituation
• You will be asked questions about dog experience, intended use of the puppy, housing and much more. The breeder does NOT care where his protégés go.
The well-being of his animals is very important to a reputable German shepherd breeder . He will not breed according to a modern ideal of beauty (e.g. steeply sloping back), but pay attention to the health and strength of his breeding dogs. He prefers to advise a prospective customer against a purchase if he considers it unsuitable, instead of quickly giving his puppies to the first person to come.
Shepherd dog breeders who belong to an association are also subject to certain conditions, controls and obligations and have undergone training.
What requirements do I have to meet before buying a German Shepherd?
A dog’s attitude is often seen through rose-colored glasses. The German Shepherd Dog in particular can often be seen in film and television, and this can quickly lead to wrong ideas and expectations of the dog. If you are seriously considering buying a German Shepherd, you should think carefully about whether you really want to take responsibility for a demanding living being for 9-13 years and whether you can do justice to your four-legged friend at all.
Am i ready for a German Shepherd?
Before you buy a German Shepherd, you should meet a few requirements:
• You can not only afford the purchase price of the German Shepherd, but also all regular running costs.
• There is a financial cushion for unexpected expenses, such as expensive surgery
• Keeping a dog is permitted in your apartment or house (e.g. if you live for rent)
• Everyone agrees with the purchase of the German Shepherd or there are actually legitimate doubts / objections
• Everyone is ready to work and train the dog
• There are no animal hair allergies and nobody is afraid of dogs
• Do you have enough time for the dog? Upbringing, training, dog school, walks, employment or even care are not done on the side.
• Is your lifestyle and your professional situation compatible with keeping a German Shepherd?
• Who will take care of the dog if you should be seriously ill or if the four-legged friend cannot go on vacation?
• Where do you live? Is the environment suitable for a German Shepherd?
• Puppies sometimes go into the apartment and the remains have to be disposed of on walks. Does it disturb you?
It’s nice when you meet all the requirements. However, this does not mean at the same time that your personality and your expectations are actually compatible with keeping a dog. Unfortunately, the shepherd dog’s urge to move is often underestimated, the amount of work and time involved in keeping a dog or the financial expenses.
The German Shepherd needs a lot of exercise and activity. This is what you should think about before you buy a German Shepherd!
Disadvantages of keeping a dog:
• The German Shepherd needs a meaningful occupation and task. Are you willing to take sufficient care of his needs and meet his nature?
• The breed is willing to learn and willing to cooperate, but of course does not educate itself
• Insufficiently educated dogs or four-legged friends that are underutilized tend to behave in an undesired manner or, in the worst case, to be aggressive
• The watchful and protective instincts must be guided in controlled paths
• The breed sheds all year round, but particularly heavily in spring and autumn. This will be noticeable in your apartment or on your clothes.
• It is due to the popularity of the dog and dubious breeders that the breed is increasingly afflicted by some hereditary diseases
• Raising puppies is not child’s play. Prepare for piles in the apartment, destroyed objects, howling and barking (if the dog has to stay alone) and other surprises
• Older dogs need more attention and sometimes become incontinent
• Spontaneity and elaborate hobbies can fall by the wayside
• Leisure and vacations are planned around the dog’s needs
• From now on there is no more sleep. Several times a day you have to go outside the door with the dog regardless of the weather.
• High running costs
All these disadvantages of keeping a German shepherd just make you smile? Are you well aware of your responsibility and would you like to give your life a new job on four paws? Then many great advantages are waiting for you.
Advantages of keeping a dog:
• You are fulfilling a dream
• It is a lot of work but also wonderful to watch the German Shepherd puppies grow up
• You can train the dog according to your own ideas
• Together you can celebrate learning successes and master new challenges
• You get a loyal companion
• Your German Shepherd will surely make a good watchdog and protector
• With good socialization, your children will have a loyal friend
• Your life gets a breath of fresh air
• Working with your four-legged friend simply puts you in a good mood
• You will be outside a lot more and move around more than before
• Complete an apprenticeship or face challenges in dog sports
• Play, cuddle and a tail wagging greeting every time you come home – wonderful!
Shepherds in need hope for a new home
The German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. A circumstance that unfortunately also leads to the fact that accordingly many specimens are innocently homeless and without rulers, end up in the animal shelter or are simply abandoned heartlessly. The reasons for a German Shepherd in need are varied:
How does a German Shepherd get into trouble?
• He was suspended (during the holiday season)
• Financial costs or the time required were underestimated
• The professional situation is no longer compatible with keeping a dog (e.g. unemployment)
• Keeping a dog is (no longer) allowed / changed living situation
• Its owner has passed away
• Suddenly occurring animal hair allergies
• The German Shepherd had to go because offspring was announced
• In terms of health, the owner is no longer able to do justice to the German Shepherd
• After a divorce / separation nobody wants to have the dog
• Its owners emigrate
Often it is actually the overwhelming demands of its owner that is to blame for the dog’s misery. A German Shepherd was bought with wrong ideas and expectations, without first having thoroughly dealt with the specifics and needs of the breed. But it’s nice if you decide to give a German Shepherd in need a second chance. You make an important contribution to animal welfare and give a battered soul a new and hopefully permanent home.
Be aware, however, that something is not always known about the history of a German Shepherd in distress. As with abandoned dogs or four-legged friends from abroad. Dogs from animal welfare are also not infrequently traumatized, have diseases or are infested with parasites or show behaviors that are more than undesirable. Such shepherds are often nothing for beginners. You need a lot of patience, experience and consistency to get a grip on aggression and other bad habits with the right training.
But of course such emergencies are not always problem cases at the same time. Some sheepdogs may just have been unlucky, are well behaved and eagerly await their new owners.
Why should I choose a registered and certified stud dog?
When breeding German Shepherds, particular care and caution is required. Because breeding does not just mean mating two dogs and selling the puppies for a profit, but rather the quality of the breed should be maintained or continuously improved. This also includes the ambition to reduce hereditary diseases within the breed to a minimum and to produce stable offspring.
To ensure this, a stud dog must first pass a breeding suitability test (ZTP). Here, not only is his appearance carefully examined in terms of breed standard, but a character test is also carried out in which aggressive or nervous dogs are rigorously sorted out.
In order to be approved for the ZTP at all, the breeder must also have health certificates present his dog’s , which clearly prove that the stud dog is not genetically predisposed to certain diseases, such as HD or ED.
So what makes a good German Shepherd stud dog?
• Health certificates are compulsory for stud dogs approved by an association
• Pedigree available
• Appearance corresponds to the breed standard
• Character test was passed
• The stud dog was found to be suitable for breeding
• Perhaps the offspring of the stud dog can even be examined
• Males that are particularly valuable for breeding can receive a licensing certificate
The stud fee for a stud dog is based on various criteria, such as the male’s experience, his awards, whether he has been licensed, how successfully his offspring was rated and more. In the vast majority of cases, however, the final price is a matter of negotiation .
The German Shepherd Mix: Do you fancy a surprise?
Shepherd mixed breeds can occasionally emerge from unwanted matings and are seen in this way as “accidents” that were not wanted by their owners. Sometimes, however, with the targeted crossing of two different breeds, a very specific mix (hybrid dog) should be created that combines the advantages of both mating partners.
These can be traits or external attributes such as size, coat texture, coat color or the like. If one of the original breeds is very burdened with hereditary diseases, crossing it with a particularly robust and healthy breed should sometimes eliminate such deficits.
However, it should be clear that this does not always work out. Especially if the two original breeds are very different in terms of character or appearance. If the German Shepherd is a crossbreed partner, this can often be seen in the puppies. At least visually.
Nevertheless, buyers of a German Shepherd mix should be aware that it is usually only with the young dog that it becomes clear how big it will one day, which traits it will show and what the final appearance will be. There is also no guarantee of the puppy’s actual state of health. If you study both original breeds in detail before buying, you can get a good idea of the possibilities.
What Are Common German Shepherd Mixed Breeds?
• German Shepherd – Labrador – mixed breed
• German Shepherd Dog – Bernese Mountain Dog – mixed breed
• German Shepherd – Golden Retriever – mixed breed
• German Shepherd Dog – Border Collie – mixed breed
• German Shepherd Dog – Australian Shepherd – mixed breed
• German Shepherd Dog – Siberian Husky – mixed breed
• German Shepherd Dog – Rhodesian Ridgeback – mixed breed
Everyday diseases and genetic diseases
Hip dysplasia is very often associated with the German Shepherd Dog. While the breed does indeed struggle with this disease, it is not limited to the German Shepherd alone. Almost all large breeds of dogs can get it. However, HD is not only genetically determined, but can also be caused or exacerbated by environmental factors (e.g. improper diet).
However, since the German Shepherd is still one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide, it is not surprising that there are actually some diseases that are more prevalent within the breed. This is often the case when amateur breeders are at work or even multipliers who do not value genetics and care when mating. Incorrect breeder ambition can also favor hereditary diseases in the German Shepherd, for example if more emphasis is placed on appearance than on health.
Typical diseases in the German Shepherd
• Hip dysplasia (HD)
• Elbow dysplasia (ED)
• Congenital Vestibular Syndrome / Deafness
• Enlargement of the heart
• Pancreatic insufficiency
• Degenerative myelopathy
In addition to diseases typical of the breed, the German Shepherd can of course be afflicted by a whole range of other ailments. Some of them can be safely watched at home for a while, others require immediate help from a veterinarian. In the case of mild diarrhoea or vomiting in the German Shepherd, for example, you can quietly observe for 1-2 days and try to help with tried and tested home remedies such as a day of fasting, light food, etc.
When do I have to see a doctor with my German shepherd?
But you should never wait too long. If you are unsure, it is better to visit the veterinary practice once too much than once too little. An appointment is always advisable for:
• Unknown symptoms
• Foreign bodies
• Acute pain
• Lameness or other movement disorders
• Changed eating and / or drinking behavior
• Larger wounds
• Strong bad breath
• Bad smelling ears with dark deposits (mites)
• Fur problems of all kinds
• Noticeable changes in behavior (listlessness, aggressiveness, sensitive to touch, etc.)
• Poisoning (suspected or confirmed)
• Sticky eyes / eye discharge
• Persistent vomiting or severe diarrhoea
• Choking and coughing
• Injured balls / torn claws
• Head tilt / head shaking
• Frequent scratching or licking of fur or paws
• Parastite infestation
Of course, the German Shepherd should also go to the vet at his check-up appointments. For example, for his quarterly flea or worming treatments. Attending a senior consultation cannot do any harm to an old dog either. Age-related complaints are counteracted at an early stage and the vet pays attention to the first signs of diseases typical of the breed. So that your German Shepherd stays healthy for a long time.
Why should I have my German Shepherd vaccinated?
Opinions often differ when it comes to vaccinations. Not only in the human, but also in the dog world. Unfortunately, this has had the effect that many dangerous dog diseases are on the rise again. Lack of information, uncertainty or false fears have led to vaccination fatigue, which can be particularly dangerous for those four-legged friends who are still too young for a vaccination (puppies) or who cannot receive an injection for other reasons (immunocompromised / sick dogs).
Anyone who has their German Shepherd vaccinated not only protects them from sometimes fatal and very painful diseases, but also makes an important contribution to the health of all four-legged friends. Of course, your dog does not have to be vaccinated against everything that is available on the market. The Vet. Standing Vaccination Commission, on the other hand, issues guidelines as to which vaccine serums should be given to every four-legged friend and which are only considered sensible according to certain risk criteria.
What are the most important vaccinations?
The most important vaccinations include:
An annual vaccination has long since been abandoned. Depending on the vaccine and manufacturer, most serums are only given every 1-5 years. This avoids unnecessary stress on the dog.
It is best to discuss with a veterinarian whether your German shepherd should receive any vaccinations in addition to the above-mentioned vaccinations. He will ask you according to certain criteria and, depending on the keeping conditions (kennel), environmental influences (tick area, contact with wild animals) and use of the dog (breeding, rescue dog) may consider further vaccinations to be useful.
Worms, fleas and other vermin: Parasites in the German Shepherd Dog
They are small, disgusting, and almost every dog comes into contact with them at some point in their life: parasites. Infection is very easy and possible on any walk. Even you as the owner can carry the pests into the house with your shoes or clothes.
If an infestation remains undetected or untreated, this not only affects the well-being of the German Shepherd, but can even make him seriously ill. The symptoms range from terrible itching, tilted head postures, coat problems to starvation and organ damage.
Dog owners are most angry about ticks . They are probably the most common sub-tenants that the four-legged friend brings home. It is advisable to search the dog for the small arachnids after every walk or at least once a day and remove the tick with special tongs or a hook if necessary. If you are lucky, you will catch the tick before it has even started its blood meal.
But there are even more parasites in the German Shepherd that make themselves comfortable in their fur. Mites, for example, or fleas . The latter are often a bit stubborn and can only be completely eliminated if, in addition to a spot-on for the dog, the environment (i.e. the household) is also treated. A flea cure kills all fleas on the dog, but these also colonize sleeping places and other places in the immediate vicinity of the four-legged friend, so that infection is quickly possible again.
A worm infestation in the German Shepherd is easier to treat . A worming cure cannot be administered preventively, but it reliably destroys all unwanted stomach and intestinal dwellers within a very short time.
Regular worm and flea cures should be particularly important if babies and children live in the household, old people or people with immunodeficiency. Because especially with strong infestations, parasites like to settle on humans as hosts. Washing hands after contact with a dog is always mandatory and hygiene in the household should also be observed.
Healthy nutrition and food for a long dog life
You are what you eat. This applies to humans as well as to four-legged friends. A wrong or unhealthy diet can therefore lead to deficiency symptoms or even an oversupply of certain nutrients. Both are not beneficial to health. Neither is being overweight.
Normally, the active and active German Shepherd does not actually tend to extra pounds, but some owners simply mean it too well and feed too much, give too many snacks and treats or even feed food from the table. All of this should be avoided at all costs. Obesity in German Shepherds can significantly reduce their life expectancy.
But how do you recognize good dog food and what does species-appropriate nutrition mean for the German Shepherd? Most importantly, the dog is getting all the essential nutrients it needs. The easiest way to ensure this is through commercial feed, such as canned feed or dry feed in large bags. Both the dry and the wet feed variants have their advantages. If you like, you can combine both and give the German Shepherd a bit of variety.
Important here: Pay attention to the list of ingredients. It should have meat as the main ingredient, as well as plenty of crunchy fruit and tasty vegetables. If the table of contents is short and sweet, this usually speaks for high quality food . This is not the case with imprecise information, confusing names or very long ingredients. Make sure that it contains few fillers (e.g. grain). Colors, preservatives and artificial flavors are also not optimal, as is sugar.
Anyone who has a dog that is prone to allergies or who simply wants a real alternative to industrial food should read up on the subject of BARF . This is pure raw feeding of all ingredients . Not only tender muscle meat is fed, but all innards, bones, blood and more. A good book on this diet is recommended so that the German Shepherd is supplied with all the important nutrients while BARFING.
Also, keep in mind that puppies need a completely different food than adult German Shepherds or old seniors. A neutered dog also needs less calorie-rich food if his urge to move has significantly decreased after the operation. If you want to offer your German Shepherd dog a different type of feeding (e.g. switch from dry food to BARF), you should always proceed step by step so as not to burden the digestive system too much. This is because some dogs are prone to diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal complaints when they switch rapidly.
Grooming the German Shepherd: A Hairy Affair
The German Shepherd Dog has a robust and weather-resistant coat . They are very easy to care for and require far fewer beauty rituals than many other breeds. However, attention and care are also important for him to keep him healthy and for a well-groomed and beautiful appearance.
Occasional brushing or grooming once or twice a week is usually sufficient. However, owners should be aware that the German Shepherd Dog sheds all year round and is particularly strong during the change of coat in spring and autumn. In English-speaking countries, the “German Shepherd” is sometimes jokingly called the “German Shedder” (from “shed” = to lose / to hair). However, thorough brushing can help reduce the amount of hair flying around the home. As well as daily vacuuming.
So that the skin can breathe and good air circulation is guaranteed, it is also advisable to comb out the dead undercoat with an undercoat rake or a furminator at regular intervals. However, anyone who believes that the occasional bathing of the shepherd dog is part of grooming is wrong. The breed should only be bathed and shampooed in an emergency . Such care products can actually do more harm than good. They attack the natural protective layer of the skin and cause itching and other problems.
There is more to the holistic care of the German Shepherd Dog than just a beautiful coat. For example, the eyes and ears should be checked briefly every day and cleaned if necessary. Paws and claws also need your attention and should not be forgotten, especially in winter. During the cold season, pads can be dry and cracked quickly, and road salt often causes skin irritation that can be painful when walking.
Daily dental care for German Shepherds is very important and unfortunately often neglected . Keeping teeth healthy is extremely important because inflammation in the mouth can spread to the whole dog and dental plaque can cause heart problems and other organ damage. So it’s better to brush daily or use good dental care toys and chewing items for cleaning your teeth. Incidentally, it helps a lot to get the puppy used to these and other grooming rituals.
Basic equipment for German Shepherd grooming
• Harrow or brush
• Tick tweezers
• Flea comb
• Under wool rake
• Claw pliers
• Toothbrush and dog toothpaste
• Alternatively: chews or dental care toys
• Dog shampoo
• Lint-free wipes for cleaning the nose, ears and eyes
• Bale care cream or fat cream (milking fat, Vaseline or similar)
Important : Anyone who also pays attention to changes and abnormalities in his dog during grooming (e.g. injuries, a lot of ear wax, torn claws, etc.) makes an important contribution to keeping his dog healthy.
Unforgettable holidays with the German Shepherd
It’s not just the family who enjoy spending time together when they go on vacation. The German Shepherd is also happy about the undivided attention of his two-legged friends. In addition, it is simply unthinkable for many dog lovers not to take their dog with them on vacation. Accordingly, most owners are willing to make compromises when planning their vacation and to take the needs of their four-legged friend into consideration.
This also includes easy travel for master and dog . Many choose the car as their means of transport or have discovered camping for themselves. Of course, it is important to transport the German Shepherd safely. The best thing to do is to buckle it in the back seat or to take it with you in the separate trunk. However, the safest place for everyone involved is to stay in a stable and permanently installed transport box , to which the dog should be used to long before the holiday. To make it easier for the dog to get into the car, it is also worth purchasing a dog ramp .
Traveling in a transport box is also necessary if you want to take the German Shepherd on a plane trip. However, this should be carefully considered. The dog is only allowed to fly in the hold, which can be frightening and sometimes dangerous for your four-legged friend. If possible, only fly short distances or make sure to choose a non-stop flight for more distant destinations. Bringing the German Shepherd with you is only recommended if you are planning a long-term stay abroad or if you are even emigrating. Otherwise the dog is better off with friends or in a boarding house.
On the other hand, train journeys with the German Shepherd Dog are less problematic. Think of a muzzle and a stable leash, both are mandatory at DB. Arriving in your own compartment or sleeping car is particularly convenient. Make sure that your four-legged friend is already familiar with public transport so that everyone’s vacation is relaxed.
What do I have to consider when planning a vacation?
• Make sure your vacation destination is dog-friendly
• Find an accommodation where four-legged friends are welcome
• Inquire about entry requirements in good time
• Get the German Shepherd vaccinated early (rabies often compulsory)
• What obligations do dog owners have at the holiday destination (leash, muzzle, dogs allowed on the beach)?
• What should be packed for the dog? What can you possibly not get at the holiday destination (medication, usual food)?
• Is there a veterinarian nearby you can communicate with?
• What goes in the first-aid kit for the dog?
• Which documents are necessary (tickets for train / flight, vaccination card)?
Photos, videos, forum: even more fun and information for German Shepherd friends
Do you own a German Shepherd and need help or do you have questions before buying such a breed specimen? How about a visit to a German Shepherd forum ? Here you will meet many like-minded people, you can make new contacts or exchange ideas with other owners and benefit from their wealth of experience. Even fun is not neglected here and there are always suggestions and tips about posture, occupation, care or illnesses.
Lovers and fans of the German Shepherd Dog will also look forward to our picture gallery, in which there are many beautiful breed representatives to admire. If this is not enough for you, you should take a look at the video section. In addition to compact information about the breed, there is also plenty of curios, cute and funny things to discover about what is perhaps the most popular dog in the world.