AKC Standards For The German Shepherd Dog Breed
The German Shepherd dog is currently the second most popular breed of dog in America according to the AKC. The most popular breed is the Labrador retriever which has help number one place for the past 24 years.
The GSD as it is commonly referred to, definitely resembles its ancestor, the wolf, sharing many of the same characteristics, including looks. Originally this dog was bred for its superb herding skills so it was used primarily for herding sheep and also as a guard dog. People tasked with the job of watching cattle and sheep found the presence of a GSD comforting and protective for their own safety.
During both World Wars German Shepherds were used by the military on both sides and it was during this time that Britain renamed the Shepherd to Alsatian. This was merely their way of disassociating everything connected with Germany.
There is no difference between an Alsatian or a GSD, it was simply a renaming of the breed during the war years.
In 1931, the AKC recognized the breed and they were officially became known as German Shepherd dogs. The term Alsatian has been phased out since the mid 1970’s though a few people today may refer to the breed as such.
In recent years the breed lost a bit in popularity, dropping to third most popular breed but it is on the rise once again as people realize it is the ideal choice for family pet.
GSD’s are extremely intelligent, they have good stamina and can adapt to all sorts of living conditions. They adore their family and can become very protective of both their home and its occupants.
Initially the breed can be very wary of strangers and perhaps other animals. They are very gentle and careful around children and other family pets. They can be somewhat aloof when it comes to giving affection compared to more outgoing breeds such as the Labrador but overall they make a great choice of pet.
Their high intelligence makes them easy to train and they are employed in many walks of life with the military, police, search and rescue, tracking and sniffer dogs. They make ideal service dogs too.
German Shepherd Dog General Maintenance and Upkeep
As with any highly intelligent dog they need to keep active. GSD’s need mental stimulation and exercise on a daily basis. Don’t get this breed if you want a couch potato!
These dogs are ready willing and able to learn and perform new tricks daily, good obedience training is a must. They love long walks and a good run daily.
Health Information for GSD’s
There are two major concerns when it comes to the health of a German Shepherd. They are Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) and Elbow dysplasia. These issues are common in many larger breeds of dog.
More minor health concerns for this breed are skin allergies, cataracts, hemangiosarcoma – a highly invasive form of cancer that affects dogs, degenerative myelopathy – a progressive disease of the spinal cord which leads to weakness and loss of movement typically in the hind area.
It is best when selecting your German Shepherd to buy from a reputable breeder. This way you can be assured every care has been taken to minimize the risk of any inherited condition, although there is no guarantee.
With good veterinary care the average lifespan for this breed is 10 to 12 years. Keeping your dog healthy and active will help your German Shepherd lead a long and happy life.
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