The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

The Purebred German Shepherd Dog

Information and Pictures

A large breed tan and black dog with large perk ears, a black nose and dark round eyes sitting down on a hardwood floor

"This is my best friend Crixus. He is 7 months old and weighed 85lbs in this picture. He is a German Shepherd. Crixus is the best dog I have ever had. I can't believe how smart he is."

Other Names
  • Alsatian
  • Deutscher Schaferhund
  • GSD
  • German Shepherd

Ger-man shep-herdSpeaker


The German Shepherd Dog is well proportioned and very strong. The GSD has a sturdy, muscular, slightly elongated body with a light, solid bone structure. The head should be in proportion to its body, and the forehead a little rounded. The nose is most often black, however, blue or liver still do sometimes occur, but are considered a fault and cannot be shown. The teeth meet in a strong scissors bite. The dark eyes are almond-shaped, and never protruding. The ears are wide at the base, pointed, upright and turned forward. The ears of puppies under six months may droop slightly. The bushy tail reaches below the hocks and hangs down when the dog is at rest. The front legs and shoulders are muscular and the thighs are thick and sturdy. The round feet have very hard soles. There are three varieties of the German Shepherd: double coat, plush coat and longhaired coat. The coat most often comes in black with tan, sable or all black, but also can come in white, blue and liver, but those colors are considered a fault according to most standards. The white GSD dogs are recognized as a separate breed by some clubs and are being called the American White Shepherd. A piebald color has also occurred in a single GSD bloodline that is now being called a Panda Shepherd. A Panda is 35% white the remainder of color is black and tan, and has no white German Shepherds in its ancestry.


Often used as working dogs, German Shepherds are courageous, keen, alert and fearless. Cheerful, obedient and eager to learn. Tranquil, confident, serious and clever. GSDs are extremely faithful, and brave. They will not think twice about giving their lives for their human pack. They have a high learning ability. German Shepherds love to be close to their families, but can be wary of strangers. This breed needs his people and should not be left isolated for long periods of time. They only bark when they feel it is necessary. Often used as police dogs, the German Shepherd has a very strong protective instinct, and is extremely loyal to its handler. Socialize this breed well starting at puppyhood. Aggression and attacks on people are due to poor handling and training. Problems arise when an owner allows the dog to believe he is pack leader over humans and/or does not give the dog the mental and physical daily exercise it needs to be stable. This breed needs owners who are naturally authoritative over the dog in a calm, but firm, confident and consistent way. A stable, well-adjusted, and trained dog is for the most part generally good with other pets and excellent with children in the family. They must be firmly trained in obedience from an early age. German Shepherds with passive owners and/or whose instincts are not being met can become timid, skittish and may be prone to fear biting and develop a guarding issue. They should be trained and socialized from an early age. German Shepherds will not listen if they sense that they are stronger minded than their owner, however they will also not respond well to harsh discipline. Owners need to have an air of natural authority to their demeanor. Do not treat this dog as if he were human. Learn canine instincts and treat the dog accordingly. German Shepherds are one of the smartest and most trainable breeds. With this highly skilled working dog comes a drive to have a job and a task in life and a consistent pack leader to show them guidance. They need somewhere to channel their mental and physical energy. This is not a breed that will be happy simply lying around your living room or locked out in the backyard. The breed is so intelligent and learns so readily that it has been used as a sheepdog, guard dog, in police work, as a guide for the blind, in search and rescue service, and in the military. The German Shepherd also excels in many other dog activities including Schutzhund, tracking, obedience, agility, flyball and ring sport. His fine nose can sniff out drugs and intruders, and can alert handlers to the presence of underground mines in time to avoid detonation, or gas leaks in a pipe buried 15 feet underground. The German Shepherd is also a popular show and family companion.

Height, Weight

Height: Males 24 - 26 inches (60 - 65 cm) Females 22 - 24 inches (55 - 60 cm)
Weight: 77 - 85 pounds (35 - 40 kg)

Health Problems

Indiscriminate breeding has led to hereditary diseases such as hip and elbow dysplasia, blood disorders, digestive problems, bloat, epilepsy, chronic eczema, keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), dwarfism and flea allergies. Also prone to splenic tumors (tumors on the spleen), DM (degenerative myelitis), EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency), and perianal fistulas and Von Willebrand's disease.

Living Conditions

The German Shepherd will do okay in an apartment if sufficiently exercised. They are relatively inactive indoors and do best with at least a large yard.


German Shepherd Dogs love strenuous activity, preferably combined with training of some kind, for these dogs are very intelligent and crave a good challenge. They need to be taken on a daily, brisk, long walk, jog or run alongside you when you bicycle. While out on the walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as in a dog's mind the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human. Most shepherds love to play ball or Frisbee. Ten to fifteen minutes of fetching along with daily pack walks will tire your dog out quite nicely as well as give him a sense of purpose. Whether it is ball chasing, Frisbee catching, obedience training, participation in a canine playgroup or just taking long walks/jogs, you must be willing to provide some form of daily, constructive exercise. The daily exercise must always include daily walks/jogs to satisfy the dog’s migration instinct. If under-exercised and/or mentally challenged, this breed can become restless and destructive. Does best with a job to do.

Life Expectancy

Around 13 years.

Litter Size

About 6 to 10 puppies


This breed sheds bits of hair constantly and is a seasonally heavy shedder. They should be brushed daily or you will have hair all over your home. Bathe only when necessary; over bathing can cause skin irritation from oil depletion. Check ears and trim claws regularly.


In Karlsruhe, Germany, Captian Max von Stephanitz and other dedicated breeders produced a responsive, obedient and handsome German Shepherd using longhaired, shorthaired and wire-haired local herding and farm dogs from Wurtemberg, Thurginia and Bavaria. The dogs were presented at Hanover in 1882, and the shorthaired variety was first presented in Berlin in 1889. In April 1899, von Stephanitz registered a dog named Horan as the first Deutsche Schäferhunde, which means “German Shepherd Dog” in English. Until 1915, both longhaired and wire-haired varieties were shown. Today, in most countries, only the short coat is recognized for show purposes. The first GSD was shown in America in 1907 and the breed was recognized by the AKC in 1908. The German Shepherd Dogs used in movies Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart brought a lot of attention to the breed, making it very popular.


Herding, AKC Herding

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • GSDCA = German Shepherd Dog Club of America
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
  • UKC = United Kennel Club
Three German Shepherd dogs lined up in a row out in grass in front of blooming azalea bushes. A black German Shepherd is in the middle of two black and tan dogs

"These are my German Shepherds. Noah (black and tan) 1 1/2 years, Dax (solid black) 6 years, and Hannah (my golden girl) 1 1/2 years, are pure German Shepherds. They are all balanced dogs, because I am a confident pack leader!! : ) They all respect their pack leader. They all enjoy watching me do all the yard work on 3 acres. Dax and Noah love to play ball and swim. Hannah loves to run alongside them as they get the ball. I am always watching for new tips from Cesar. He is a natural!"

A black and tan German Shepherd puppy is sitting in grass

Max the German Shepherd as a puppy at 3 months old from Pakistan—"I got him from my friend when he was only one week old"

A black and tan German Shepherd puppy is sitting in front of a blue wall with an orange soccer ball and an orange upside-down bowl in front of it.

Max the German Shepherd as a puppy at 3 months old from Pakistan with his ball

A black German Shepherd is trotting through and covered in snow.

Smokey aka "Blue Sapphire's Touch of Gray" the blue German Shepherd Dog at 4 years old—"Smokey is a solid blue German Shepherd. His sire, VA-1, SG, Kreislauf Zidane SCH I, Kkl1a (a) fast normal hips, normal elbows was an import from Finland. The couple that bought him was so excited and when they bred him to their solid black female they were shocked when two of the pups were an odd gray color. So off to the internet they went and, since I built BlueDogs back in 1999 as an educational reference on the blue and liver color genes in the GSD breed, a search normally brings up my site at the top of the list. That's when I get an e-mail from someone who has never even heard of blue or liver in the GSD breed before. Being a solid blue (I suspect he is dominant K self color) often means very yellow and bright wolf like eyes. For this reason not only has he, but most of our other dogs have been mistaken for wolf hybrids. One of our neighbors actually went and bought a puppy from a nearby breeder for his son. When we asked him why he didn't come to us he looked genuinely confused and stated, "I didn't know you bred German Shepherds. I thought you had wolf hybrids." When we explained that no, we have no hybrids here, just AKC GSDs, he actually had to point several out and ask, "Are you telling me THAT is a purebred Shepherd?" I'm still not quite certain he is sure about that. The black and tan familiar saddle marking seems to be the only color and pattern that people not in the breed, associate as a GSD. Any other color or pattern (sables for example) is viewed as being a mixed breed by the general public. Even long coats are accused of being Collie mixes. I laugh about it and try to educate when I can, and that is if the information is even wanted. I adore all of my dogs, even if the color of their nose leather is considered a DQ!"

Close Up - The head of a black and tan German Shepherd in the woods. Its mouth is open and its tongue is out

"This is Lewis, our five-year-old German Shepherd Dog. He is the most faithful and loving dog you could ever wish for. He loves long walks in the hills where we live in Scotland, but when at home is totally undemanding. If in the house he will watch with interest any task being undertaken, if out in the garden he quite happily watches us build our house—while occasionally being distracted by the resident martins and swallows, or bees!! When young, he had nervous aggression problems and we were advised to have him destroyed. Obviously we had no intention of that happening and we persevered with his training. He can now be handled without problem when at the vet, but is also a good guard dog around our garden and home. We are very proud of him for both the progress he has made with his temperament and because he is such a handsome boy. We used various training techniques, but feel we gained such invaluable advice into dog behaviour from Cesar Millan. A big thank you from us both, we have a gorgeous dog and love him to bits."

A longer haired black and tan German Shepherd is laying in the woods with leaves all around it and looking to the left with its tongue hanging out.

Lewis the German Shepherd Dog at 5 years old laying down in the woods

Close Up - A black and tan German Shepherd is laying in a field with dried fallen leaves around him and looking back at the camera. Its mouth is open

"Maximus is an 8-year-old purebred longhaired German Shepherd Dog. Max picked my husband and me to be his parents when we met him at 8 weeks of age and it has been love ever since. Max is very well trained and has wonderful manners. Max loves to go on car rides and has gone on several vacations with us over the years. His favorite toy is his tennis ball. It is very rare that you ever find him without one. He even puts a tennis ball (sometimes there are up to 3) in his food bowl or he can't eat. Max unfortunately started having skin and allergy problems when he turned 3 years old. With the help of our vet, we figured out he was allergic to his food. He now eats a food that has no artificial colors, soy, corn or wheat. He has had a lot of success with this and his thick, long coat is beautiful again. He also has very bad hips which is terrible because he still thinks he is a pup and wants to run and play all day but then he is in pain at night and has trouble standing. He takes medicine for his pain. Max is the love of our life and we could not picture life without him. He is a very special dog who loves life."

Three sitting German Shepherd dogs - A black German Shepherd is sitting in between two black and tan German Shepherds in front of a body of water with palm trees behind them.

"My purebred German Shepherds Hannah (my golden girl) 1 1/2 years, Dax (solid black) 6 years and Noah (black and tan) 1 1/2 years."

A black German Shepherd is standing in a field in front of a chain link fence. Its mouth is open and its tongue is out

"This is Blixem, my black 5-year-old, 35-kg (77 pounds) German Shepherd from RSA KZN, a working police dog. He is trained in obedience and aggression used in the tracking of fleeing suspects on foot. He has been awarded the best dog during his training in terms of obedience, aggression and tracking. He is sociable and loves to be pampered. His motivation is my personal attention and time dedicated to him which has contributed to the close bond we have. His understanding in our communication is amazing."

A black German Shepherd is sitting in grass with its mouth open and tongue out. There is a chain link fence behind it

Blixem, a working German Shepherd police dog at 5 years old

A black and tan German Shepherd is standing on the back of a boat. There is a person next to it

Adult working rescue German Shepherd Dog at 1 year old

A man is sleeping on the back of a black and tan German Shepherd that is laying on a chair

Sir Icarus Ace Von Trooper with his owner Cory—"We lost our beloved 7 1/2 year old GSD Ace very suddenly. To make a long story short, the end result was that he had a very large (nearly cantalope size) splenic tumor which ruptured ultimatley causing his untimely passing. Ace was a vibrant, smart, healthy dog who showed NO OBVIOUS SIGNS of anything wrong at all. He was playing and being his usual self at 8 in the morning and not even 12 hours later, he took his last breath. Splenic tumors (tumors on the spleen) are VERY common in middle aged German Shepherds. This came from our vet. As soon as Ace began to mope around we called our vet right away. They told us to bring him in right then, which we did and they got right down to business. He weighed his usual 90 pounds and had no hight temperature, but was breathing hard and would not move. Our vet examined him and said he was in a very grave state. His gums and tongue were fading in color so much so that she called the emergency vet and alerted them to our impending arrival. We took him there and they too, were on the ball. They did an ultrasound and it confirmed our vet's suspicions. He passed away before the ultrasound was even complete. These tumors grow very rapidly and 9 times out of 10 they are cancerous. We never had the first clue. Our hearts are broken, and we miss him terribly, but if this at least helps raise awareness, then our Ace's loss was not all in vain. GSDs are awesome animals and our Ace (aka Amazing Ace) was no different."

A black and tan German Shepherd is laying in front of a person sitting in a lawn chair in a house that looks to be under construction.

Sir Icarus Ace Von Trooper with his owner Cory

A black and tan German Shepherd is being posed by a person kneeling behind it

"This is my purebred female German Shepherd dog named Wolfy at 3 years and 8 months old. She  is 28 inches in height, with a bulky body and double-coat hair. She has a good temper, and is friendly to anyone. She also has a good food appetite."

A black and tan German Shepherd is posed in a street by a person kneeling behind it. The words - My Dog WOLFY GERMAN SHEPHERD - are overlayed

Female German Shepherd dog named Wolfy at 3 years and 8 months old

A black and tan German Shepherd is laying on a tiled floor with yellow walls behind it. Its mouth is open, it looks like it is smiling

"Akela is my female German Shepherd Dog, shown here at 10 months old. She loves exercise. I always tie her to my bike and she runs next to me. She has never shown aggression but usually barks when a stranger knocks at the door. I taught her the commands sit, down, stay and come here. My sister taught her to say "Hi" with her paws."

A black and tan German Shepherd is sitting against a yellow stucco wall. It is looking up and its mouth is open

Akela, my female German Shepherd Dog, shown here at 10 months old

A black German Shepherd is laying on a concrete floor in front of a brick walkway and looking up

"This is Brutus, my black Alsatian who sadly passed away at the age of 10. He lived in South Africa in a city by the sea, which was ironic since he hated water. He was a wonderful, intelligent and kind friend who will be sorely missed. Now he will live through your eyes."

A black and tan German Shepherd is sitting on a red rug and looking up. It is licking its nose

"This is my dog Buddy. He is a two-year-old rescue from a kill shelter. He is the spitting image of what the breed is and what they need. I watch Cesar all the time and I take his advice on structure for a happy, well-balanced dog by walking him four (4) miles a day on the weekends and two (2) during the week. While I walk him I ask him to stay by my side without a leash and other various commands. In return he is very loving and well behaved. You could not ask for a better pet. Also I am diabetic and giving him structure by walking him gives me stability with my disease. What more could I ask from him? He saved my life and he doesn't even know it."

Two wet black and tan German Shepherds are sitting side by side in a field looking up.

Meika (right) and her friend Gwen (left), who is a service dog, playing at the lake

A black and tan German Shepherd is standing in a field. Its mouth is open and its tongue is out. There is a person in red pants behind it.

Photo courtesy of Vom Haus Drage Kennel & Pet Resort

A longhaired tan German Shepherd is standing in grass. Its mouth is open and tongue is hanging out

Lupo the longhaired German Shepherd at 9 months—see Lupo growing-up

Close Up - A black German Shepherd is sitting in front of a doorway. Its mouth is open, it looks like it is smiling

Kaiser the black German Shepherd Dog at 11 months old

Two black and tan German Shepherds are sitting in front of each other. There is a litter of German Shepherd puppies surrounding one of the adult dogs

Pajdo and Linda with their litter of GSD puppies

Action shot - A black and tan German Shepherd is running through a yard with all of its paws off the ground.

Prudy the German Shepherd is about 5 years old in this picture and, as always, chasing a tennis ball.

A black and tan German Shepherd is wearing a backpack sitting on a throw rug at the top of a staircase. Its mouth is open and tongue is out

"Milo is waiting to come in after our 3-hour hike with his new backpack. Milo is a semi-rescued, 3-year-old GSD. I took him from my brother off the Onondaga Nation Reservation in New York and have provided him an apartment setting as opposed to the Rez setting where he was tied up on a 5 ft. run or roaming with the local Rez pack. Milo is a loving, playful, energetic and stubborn GSD whose favorite toy is his "bad cuz" squeak toy. He loves to play chase with me chasing him around the apartment as he proudly prances with his "Mr. Squeakers" in his mouth. He hates the doorbell, loves people and children. He has yet to be an off-leash dog due to his roaming habits of old. Consistent training and exercise have, according to his vet, saved his life . . . he was a red-flagged dog, his vet file marked with red aggression stickers; he is now neutered, exercised and given limitations and boundaries. I have watched Cesar Millan and agree with his structure. I exercise, discipline/challenge and provide love and affection in the order Cesar suggests and Milo appears to be a well-balanced dog."

A black and tan German Shepherd is standing in a field of tall grass with a person holding a leash to its left

Riza, a German Shepherd going for an off-lead walk in an open field

A black and tan German Shepherd is laying next to a black and tan with white Panda Shepherd in front of tall grass. There mouthes are open and tongues are out.

Riza (left) at 1 year and 6 months old and Hitman (right) at 6 months old—Hitman is what is called a Panda Shepherd. It is a color mutation in the purebred German Shepherd Dog occurring in a single bloodline.

A black and tan German Shepherd is laying next to a black and tan with white Panda Shepherd who is wearing a blue, green and yellow bandanna in front of tall grass.

Riza (left) a German Shepherd Dog at 1 year and 6 months old and Hitman (right), a Panda German Shepherd Dog at 6 months old