The German Shepherd Dog or Alsatian (see Breed names), is a breed of dog. German Shepherds are highly intelligent, agile and well-suited to active working environments. They are often deployed in various roles such as police work, guarding, search and rescue, therapy and in the military. They can also be found working as guide dogs for the blind. Despite their suitability for such work, German Shepherds can also make loyal and loving pets inside the home. They enjoy being around people and other animals. German Shepherds are well-suited to obedience, with advanced & prestigious titles available to test both the handler and dog in various schutzhund trials.
The German Shepherd Dog is a large and strong dog. The fur is a double-coat and can be either short or long haired. Although the black and tan saddle  may be most recognizable, German Shepherds come in a variety of colors and patterns though not all are accepted by the various breed clubs or FCI. Two toned German Shepherds can be black and tan, black and red, black and brown, black and silver, black and cream, blue and tan, or liver and tan. Solid colors may be black and solid white or any of the dilutes (liver, blue, or cream).
Dogs with coats that have tricolored hair (black and white with either brown or red) are called sable or agouti. Sables can come in a variety of mixtures as well including black and silver, black and red, black and cream, and black and tan. Some various markings are referred to as 'striping' (black stripe markings on the legs found in some sables), 'pencilling' (also often found on the sable as black lines on the top of the dog's toes), 'tar heels' (black that runs down the back of the dog's legs), and the bitch stripe (grey hairs along the back of a female or a neutered male.)
Different kennel clubs have different standards for the breed according to size, weight, coat color, and structure. German Shepherds that compete in dog shows, must have an appearance that conforms with the guidelines of the individual kennel club. Some common disqualifying faults include ears that are not completely erect, or a muzzle that is not predominantly black. Ear faults can be caused by weak cartilage in the ears which allow them to flop (also called "friendly-tipped"). It is often possible for a veterinarian to correct this problem by taping up the ears.
In 2005, Dr. Brady Barr of the National Geographic measured the bite forces of many different animals, including domestic dogs for the documentary Dangerous Encounters: Bite Force. A German Shepherd named Ike was measured at having a bite of 130-238 pounds.
There are a number of different types or lines of German Shepherd in which the behavior, abilities, and appearance of each is quite different. The major lines are the international working line, the international show line, and the North American show line
Dogs from FCI - recognized international working lines are bred primarily for traits involving their working ability rather than appearance, so their appearance can be somewhat varied.
The FCI-recognized international show lines differ in that more emphasis is placed on the dog's appearance when breeding, so that show quality traits are retained.
The North American show lines have also been bred primarily for their looks, but have a markedly different appearance from the international show line shepherd, featuring a more noticeably sloped back and sharper angles of the hock joint. There is a current debate over whether the American show line still represents the original German Shepherd Dog, or if the line has diverged enough over the years to be considered a separate breed. Critics of the American line argue that the working ability of these dogs has been diminished, and that the angled back is detrimental to the health of the animal. Proponents of the line believe that the altered bone structure of the American line improves the dog's herding ability.
In the former East Germany, German Shepherds adhered more closely to the old prewar standard, marked by a straighter back, a longer and denser coat, and a darker color. These dogs are now praised for their working ability. There are current attempts to preserve this distinct line and raise it to the status of an officially recognized breed ("East German Shepherd Dog").
Variant sizes and coats
Some groups or breeders have focused on variants of the breed that are not recognized by most kennel clubs as standard show German Shepherds. White Shepherds or Berger Blanc Suisse are recognized as a separate breed.
The German lines of the German Shepherd tend to be larger dogs with a broader head and darker coat. With the "Americanization" of the German Shepherd, many of the dogs have become smaller with less sloping to their hips. These lines can also show more of the silver and black coat coloring as opposed to the black and tan/brown coat of the German lines
Main article: Berger Blanc Suisse
DNA coding for white coats has been part of the German Shepherd Dog line from the very founding of the breed in 1899. The maternal grandfather of Horand von Grafrath, the first entry "SZ 1" in the SV Stud Book, was a white-coated German shepherding dog named Greif von Sparwasser. White was designated a disqualifying fault by the Nazi-controlled SV (German Shepherd Club of Germany) in the mid-1930's and by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA) in the mid-1960's. Following the GSDCA's disqualification, the American Kennel Club (AKC) then disqualified white-coated German Shepherd Dogs from the conformation show ring in 1969. It is important to note that the Nazis took the SV (German Shepherd Club of Germany) breeding program away from Max von Stephanitz (1899 founder and president of the SV until 1935) and then outlawed the white coat color. In his 1921 book, Stephanitz stated, "The coloring of the dog has no significance whatsoever for service." The prime directive of Stephanitz breeding mandate was that the German Shepherd Dog breed must embody all the qualities of a working herding dog. He maintained that the beauty is in the working abilities of the dog; muscle, bone, joint, proud look and bearing, intelligence, stamina and work ethic were the primary strengths sought in the breed. The white shepherd has been recognized as a separate breed by the International (FCI) F?妻?姅ation Cynologique Internationale since 2002, and by the United Kennel club for several years.
Reputable breeders selectively breed White Shepherds for sound temperament and physical structure, striving for a Shepherd that closely resembles the original dog, i.e., less angular than today's AKC German Shepherd breed standards. See the American White Shepherd Association for more detail on the standards for the white shepherd or for white German Shepherd dogs see:WGSDCA The White German Shepherd Dog has been recognized by some organizations under the name Berger Blanc Suisse (or White Shepherd Dog).
The so-called "long-haired German Shepherd" is considered a "fault" of the German Shepherd Dog breed according to American Kennel Club standards, as well as those of the International (FCI). However, there is also a 'long-stock-haired German Shephard'; stock hair isn't registered directly as a fault, hence such dogs are eligible to participate. Long-haired German Shepherds are however, actively bred, registered, and shown in some countries  such as Germany and the United Kingdom . The long hair gene is recessive. Dogs with this coat look somewhat like the Tervueren type of Belgian Shepherd Dog. Popular myth holds that long-haired GSDs ("fuzzies") are more affectionate, but there is little evidence for this. Long coats usually have no or little undercoat, thus they can be rather sensitive to extreme weather.
Giant shepherd & Shiloh Shepherd
The Shiloh Shepherd is not just a "larger version" of a German Shepherd. The Original breeder of the Shiloh Shepherd wanted to breed a dog that embodied what the German Shepherd originally and legendarily embodied in spirit and temperament, as the present shepherds were being bred to be more aggressive and less reliable with children and other animals.The King Shepherd is a larger variation of the German Shepherd but is not accepted in the AKC ring. When shepherds are bred this large, their size prevents them from fitting the AKC's breed standard description of "Size, Proportion, Substance".
German Shepherds are powerful dogs with a high level of intelligence and trainability, but like many dogs can become dangerous or destructuve if raised improperly. With their uncommon strength, agility and strong sense of loyalty, they can be trained to attack and release on command. Poorly bred GSDs can be fearful, overly aggressive, or both. GSDs, along with Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans, are often perceived as inherently dangerous, and are the target of Breed Specific Legislation in several countries. If a GSD is violent or aggressive, it is often due to the combination of poor breeding and the owner's lack of control, training, and socialization. GSDs are often used as guard, seeing eye, and police dogs and more specifically search and rescue, narcotics dogs, and bomb scenting dogs which further contributes to the perception of their being a dangerous breed. However, many GSDs function perfectly well as search dogs and family pets - roles where aggressive behavior is unsuitable.
As is common of many large breeds, German Shepherds are prone to elbow and hip dysplasia. Other health problems sometimes occurring in the breed are von Willebrand's disease and skin allergies. It is also prudent to check the eye and ear health as GSD tend to have problems with these as well. German Shepherds, like all large bodied dogs, are also prone to bloat. They have an average lifespan of 10-14 years.
Working German Shepherd Dogs
German Shepherds often compete and excel in obedience trials and Schutzhund competitions. German Shepherds are also often trained as police dogs, due to their trainability, size, work drive, and general appearance which commands respect.
The German Shepherd dog is one of the most widely used breeds in a wide variety of scent work roles. These include search and rescue dog, cadaver dog, narcotics detection dog, explosive detection dog, accelerant detection dog, mine detection dog, and others.
The original purpose for the German Shepherd Dog was to herd sheep, cattle, or other animals that might require the assistance of a shepherd. As the breed multiplied and society became more industrialized, opportunities to work with livestock became more scarce. The breed organization in Germany decided to look for other useful outlets for these dogs' talents, and soon they were working for law enforcement and the military. The German Shepherd club in Germany incorporated various facets of "work" into their breeding program, requiring all dogs to pass working examinations before being allowed to produce offspring. Now the GSD is more often found working as a guard dog, police dog, detection dog, search and rescue dog, or companion pet than in the field working sheep.
The German Shepherd dog lacks the "eye" that Border Collies or other similar breeds possess. They are trained to follow their instinct, which for the GSD is to "work the furrow," meaning that they will patrol a boundary all day and restrict the animals being herded from entering or leaving the designated area ( ). It is this instinct that has made the breed superb guard dogs, protecting their flock (or family).
A German Shepherd Dog's instinct to herd might manifest itself by the dog's closely watching or even nipping at members of its family while on walks. The dog might attempt to lead people to what it perceives is the correct location, even going so far as to gently take a hand in his teeth to lead the person. With some training, this can become a trick, sometimes known as "walk the human."
Movie and television work
Rin-Tin-Tin, a German Shepherd dog, was considered to be one of Hollywood's top stars during the 1920's and 30's. At the peak of his career, Rin-Tin-Tin received as many as 10,000 fan letters a week.
Kommissar Rex, (English Inspector Rex) an Austrian television show featuring a resourceful German Shepherd police dog. The two dogs who played Rex were Reginald von Ravenhorst (aka Santo vom Haus Zieglmayer), followed by Rhett Butler. Both were trained by Teresa Ann Miller. Rhett Butler played Rex as a puppy in Baby Rex.
The Littlest Hobo was a live-action popular television series in the 1980's airing on CTV in Canada. It featured a German Shepherd that travelled from place to place, performing some good deed, and then moving on.
Chips the War Dog was a beautiful German Shepherd that had problems training, but overcame these problems with his master and went on to become a hero in World War II.
A group of six German Shepherd Dogs was featured in the 2006 film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby as they formed a pyramid for Gregory Girard (Andy Richter), Jean Girard's (Sacha Baron Cohen) husband.
The proper English name for the breed is German Shepherd Dog (a literal translation from the German Deutsche Sch?口erhund) but they are usually informally referred to as GSDs or (incorrectly) as "German Shepherds". In addition, the sobriquet police dog is used in many countries where the GSD is the predominant or exclusive breed used by the police force.
The name Alsatian (from Alsace, an area of France bordering Germany) is also commonly used in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and the Commonwealth. After World War I, a few dogs were taken to Britain and the United States. In 1919, the English Kennel Club gave the breed a separate register. At that time, the British owners renamed the dog as the Alsatian Shepherd; it was feared that the German Shepherd Dog name could be an impediment owing to anti-German feelings still present after the war. Only in 1977 did the British Kennel Club authorize the breed to be known again as the German Shepherd Dog.
Popularity in the U.S.
Based on 2006 American Kennel Club statistics, German Shepherd Dogs are the third most popular breed in the United States with 43,575 registrations . This ranking is up one place from 2005, where GSDs were the fourth most popular breed .
- List of famous dogs
- List of historical dogs
- List of fictional dogs
- White German Shepherd
- Shiloh Shepherd
- The Littlest Hobo
- ^ http://www.justshepherds.com/colors.htm
- ^ http://www.brightstargsd.org/mainpages/coatandcolors.html
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7jhrxy0HKs
- ^ Langhaar-Schaeferhunde-Verband
- ^ 
- ^ http://www.rintintin.com/story.htm
- ^ http://www.germanshepherds.com/thegsd/history/
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