Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Some things to consider

Legal Liabilities- Many of these larger breeds are being banned in various areas. Often it’s difficult to obtain homeowner insurance for intimidating looking breeds with a guard dog history. You may be more susceptible to lawsuits concerning your dog even if they aren’t in the wrong. Sadly GSDs are one of many dogs society has a prejudice against.

Socialization - Unfamiliar humans and animals may kick their protective instincts into over drive. Like any dog socializing is the key to a well behaved steady tempered personality. They need constant exposure from as early as possible. This is something that should be done throughout their life. If they’re not given this crucial training tool they can become suspicious of others leading to aggressive behavior.

Temperaments -  
Unfortunately with indiscriminate breeding these wonderful dogs have varying temperaments. Bad breeding by people with little to no knowledge on the breed end up destroying the very same dogs they claim to love so much. This can result in a lot of negative traits. Behavior consultants and dog trainers see a lot of this when dealing with German Shepherds. Once known for being stable easy to train dogs they are becoming aggressive, skittish, fearful, among other neurotic behaviors.

If at all possible a German Shepherd’s background and bloodlines should be researched. If you’re not careful you could possibly end up with a personality that you don’t want. These wonderful dogs can vary greatly between one another.

Looking for a companion for your family? Then it’s doubtful that a dog from the high energy working lines would be the right choice. Is a guard dog more what you’re looking for? Show lines are probably not the answer.

Potential animal aggression - With dogs that have a varying temperaments and need a lot of socializing it’s not surprising that some may develop aggression towards other animals. If they’re introduced at a young age they generally get along with the animals within their family. However, many show dominant behaviors towards other dogs of the same sex. If the other dog has the same type of personality this will most likely cause a problem. Sometimes German Shepherds are known to develop a predatory personality towards cats.

Is a German Shepherd Dog right for you?

These strong athletic dogs may not be for everyone. They often need strenuous activity and challenges. If they’re not socialized at a young age and throughout their lives they may not trust humans or animals they don’t know. However, when they do know you they’re loyal faithful companions.

German Shepherd Dogs may be the dog for you if you DON’T mind: 
  • Activities such as Frisbee, fetch, brisk walks.
  • Protective personality.
  • Being a firm consistent leader.
German Shepherd Dogs may NOT be the dog for you if you mind: 

  • Constant heavy shedding.
  • Possible health issues.
  • Public perception of your breed
  • Having that constant possibility of a lawsuit or breed ban. 

Things that you can do to help avoid or minimize negative traits:

  • Carefully choose the right puppy for your lifestyle. 
  • Raise and train these wonderful dogs with positive re-enforcement.
  • Consider choosing an adult dog so that you know what you’re getting. 

German Shepherd Dog

Energetic, fun loving, clever, confident, tranquil, serious, alert, keen, courageous, fearless, cheerful, stable, well adjusted, and the list goes on.

These brave dogs are wary of strangers. They have a strong protective instinct that makes them good guard dogs. Barking is only done if necessary. German Shepherds are a dog that won’t think twice before giving their own lives for their family. Once relationships are established they are loyal and faithful to their pack. They’re quite fond of children and make a good choice for families. These dogs need their humans and shouldn’t be left isolated or out in the backyard.

Eager to learn and please these obedient dogs can be trained quickly. Like any dog it’s important to establish who the pack leader is from the beginning. If this is not done problems can and do occur. Socialization started at puppy hood is also another key component in the relationship with dog and humans. Another important thing to remember is keeping these dogs mentally and physically exercised on a daily schedule. Without taking these things into consideration aggression and attacks can occur. Dogs that are allowed to believe they are boss over other dogs or humans become unstable and unpredictable no matter the breed.

It’s important to have confident owners with a natural authoritative demeanor that can be calm, firm, and consistent. German Shepherds that have passive owners or ones that don’t meet their needs end up timid, skittish, and are more likely to develop biting and guarding issues. They simply won’t comply if they can sense they’re stronger minded then their owner. However, these dogs will not respond positively to harsh discipline. Always remember to treat them as a dog and not a human. Be sure to learn canine instincts and use this knowledge in all aspects of your German Shepherd’s life.  

They’re are one of the smartest and easiest to train dog breeds. These highly skilled dogs excel at their jobs. German Shepherds have been used for a variety of duties - police, guide, service, military, search and rescue to name just a few. Other activities such as show, agility, fly ball, Frisbee, ball, ring, schutzhund, tracking, obedience, sports are common as well.

GSDs have noses that can sniff out narcotics and intruders. They can be trained to alert handlers of underground mines before they detonate. Also they have been known to smell out gas leaks in pipes that are 15ft underground. These dogs need to have jobs and tasks to feel fulfilled and have a sense of purpose. It’s important that they have positive ways to channel their mental and physical energy. It’s unlikely that they’d be happy lying around or isolated from their pack. They are usually inactive indoors so they need a yard to work off their energy.  Don’t be discouraged if you’re in an apartment however. They can do okay if sufficiently exercised.

General Appearance
These strong dogs have a light solid bone structure. They’re well proportioned with sturdy muscular bodies that are slightly elongated. Dark almond shaped eyes that never protrude are set in a head that is proportionate to their body with a slightly rounded forehead. The teeth meet in a strong scissors bite. Ears are wide at the base pointed upright and turned forward. Until the puppies are about six months old their ears tend to droop. Black is often the most common nose color. Blue and liver can occur as well but it’s considered a fault and can’t be shown. German Shepherd’s bushy tails almost reach their hocks. It hangs down when the dog is at rest. Muscular front legs and shoulders compliment their thick and sturdy thighs and hard soled round feet.

These heavy shedders have three coat varieties. Rough coat, long rough coat, and long haired. The double coat is of medium length and needs daily brushing. Bathe only when it’s needed to prevent skin irritation from oil depletion. The outer coat should be dense, straight, and lying close to the dog’s body. It’s permissible to also have a slightly wavy outer coat with wiry texture. Short hair covers their head, inner car, legs, and paws. It is longer and thicker at the neck. Rear of the forelegs and hind legs have somewhat longer hair extending to the pattern and hock. Soft, silky, too long outer coat, woolly, curly or open coat are all considered faults when showing these dogs.

Though most often black with tan, sable or all black there’s a variety of other colors. Many of them are permissible and strong rich colors are preferred. Blues, livers, and pale washed out colors are considered faults. White is not considered acceptable for German Shepherds. This color is now being recognized as a separate breed, American White Shepherd. Piebald has also occurred in a German Shepherd bloodline. These dogs are called Panda Shepherds. They have 35% white and the remainder is black and tan. There is no white German Shepherd in it’s ancestry.

Cropped or hanging ears.
Noses not predominantly black.
Undershot jaw
Docked tail.
White dogs.
Attempts to bite the judge

During the 1800s in Europe efforts were made to standardize breeds. Dogs were bred to preserve traits that assisted in their job of herding sheep and protecting flocks from predators. In Germany this was being done with local communities. Shepherds were selected and bred that had traits believed to be necessary for herding sheep. Intelligence, speed, strength, keen sense of smell. The end result was dogs able to perform well in their task but significantly differ in ability and appearance through out the area.

1882 - Dogs were presented at Hanover.
1889 - Short haired variety first introduced in Berlin

The Phylax Society was formed in 1891 with the intention of creating standardized dog breeds in Germany. Only three years later it disbanded due to ongoing internal conflicts. Some member believed dogs should be only be bred for working. Others believed they should also be bred for appearance. Though the society was not successful in their mission they did inspire others to independently pursue standardizing dog breeds.

1899 - Max von Stephantiz, ex-cavalry captain and former Berlin Veterinary College student was a former member. He strongly believed that dogs should be bred for working. He was introduced to a dog
named Hektor Linkshein at a dog show. The dog was a product of a few generations of selective breeding. He was exactly what Max had in mind in regards to working dogs. The strength, intelligence, and loyalty impressed him so much he immediately purchased the dog. Hektor was then known as Horand von Grafrath. He then went on to start the Verien fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (Society for the German Shepherd Dog) Horand was then declared as the first German Shepherd Dog and first to be added to the register.

Horand became the center of the breeding program. Other society members that owned dogs displaying desirable traits were bred to him. Horand went on to father many puppies but his most successful was Hektor von Schwaben. Hektor was then inbred with another of Horand’s offspring to produce Beowulf. This dog later fathered 84 puppies. Most were inbred with Hektor’s other offspring.

The original German Shepherd studbook Zuchtbuch fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (SZ). Shows two pages of entries from SZ #41 to SZ#76 there are 4 Wolf Crosses. Beowulf’s offspring were inbred and from these puppies all GSDs draw a genetic link. It’s believed the goal of the society was accomplished mostly due to Max’s strong, uncompromising leadership. For that he’s credited with being the creator of the German Shepherd Dog.

1907 - First GSD was shown in America
1908 - AKC recognized the German Shepherd [herding group]
1915 - Both long and wire haired varieties had be shown until then. Now most countries only recognize short coats for showing.

The popularity of the breed has increased over the years. It’s now become one of the world’s leading police, guard, and military breeds. According to AKC Registration Statistics consistently the German Shepherd is one of the most popular breeds in the United States.

Typically they range from 77-85lbs. Males can reach 24-26 inches in height. Females come in slightly smaller at 22-24 inches. If healthy they can live around 13 years. However, indiscriminate breeding has caused a variety of hereditary problems. Hip and elbow dysplasia, Blood disorders, Digestive problems, Bloat, Epilepsy, Chronic Eczema, Keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), Dwarfism, Flea Allergies

CKC = Continental Kennel Club
FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
AKC = American Kennel Club
UKC = United Kennel Club
KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
NKC = National Kennel Club
NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
GSDCA = German Shepherd Dog Club of America
APRI = American Pet Registry Inc.
ACR = American Canine Registry
DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.

Information compiled from various sources. No copyright infringement intended. No monetary gain was received. Original was created October 5th, 2011 by Carrie McCormick.