German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds in the world. They have been used since ancient times for hunting and guarding livestock. Today they are recognized as working dogs, but they were originally bred for their athletic ability. Their size makes them ideal for these tasks and because of this they have become very popular with owners looking to add some athleticism into their family life.
Germans shepherds come in many sizes from tiny pups weighing only a few pounds to giants standing over six feet tall. Each breed varies greatly in size and shape, so it’s hard to generalize about any particular dog’s physical characteristics. However, there are certain traits that all German Shepherds share:
They’re small dogs; they weigh between 25 and 35 lbs (11-17 kg).
Their heads are usually smaller than those of other breeds.
The ears are large and round, not pointed like those of Great Danes or flat like those of Bull Terriers.
The eyes are set high above the head, rather than slanted down as in other breeds.
They tend to be taller than other breeds, although some have reached heights approaching seven feet (2 m) in length.
They have a long tail that curls up over the back or hangs down.
They have a double coat; the outer coat is thick and rough while the undercoat is soft and wooly.
The color of their coats can be black, black and tan, red, or even blue. Most common is a gray called “wolf gray.”
Their paws are covered with hair, as are their lower legs.
The ears are covered in short fur.
They have a strong muzzle and a black nose.
The neck is strong and arched.
The chest is wide and deep.
They have a muscular body.
Their back is straight and their loins are strong.
Their hind legs are muscular and longer than their front legs, which are shorter than those of other breeds.
Their feet are tough and covered with hair.
Most breeds of dogs grow very rapidly when they are young and then slow down after their growth plates fuse. It is thought that this occurs somewhere between five and seven months for most breeds. However, some giant breeds do not experience this until much later in life – most Great Danes, for example, do not have fused growth plates until they are at least a year old.
Giant breeds often experience a second growth spurt between one and two years of age, although this can be anywhere between one and three years depending on the breed. During this period they gain a lot of weight very quickly and their bones, joints, muscles, and hearts have a difficult time keeping up. In fact, the strain on their hearts is so great that many giant breeds are unable to reach adulthood.
This phenomenon is known as “big dog disease” or “adult-onset growth syndrome.”
Fortunately, German Shepherds are relatively small dogs and do not experience such problems. In fact, their rapid growth is over by the time they are six months old. After this time they will experience a steady rate of growth until they reach adulthood at one to two years.
German Shepherd males are usually adult at 18 months and females at 24 months.
Height And Weight
How big do German Shepherds get?
The American Kennel Club breed standard states that the height of a German Shepherd Dog should be between 22 and 24 inches (56 and 61 cm) for males and 21.5 and 23.5 inches (55 and 60 cm) for females. The weight should be between 50 and 80 lbs (23 and 36 kg) for males and 45 and 70 lbs (20.4 and 31.8 kg) for females.
The German SV standard is less specific, giving a range of heights from 21 to 25 inches (53 to 63.5 cm) for males and from 19 to 23.5 inches (48.3 to 60.3 cm) for females, with the weights being from 40 to 60 kg (88 to 132 lbs) for males and 30 to 50 kg (66 to 110 lbs) for females.
So what do you do if you have a giant puppy that may grow to be twice the size of your neighbors’ dogs?
German Shepherds can vary greatly in size, with some individuals only growing to around 70 to 80% of the maximum height and weight. If you have a very large puppy, it may simply be “only” a very large German Shepherd rather than an absolute giant.
Feeding your puppy a growing diet can also help him to grow into his frame without becoming too heavy.
Exercise is also very important. Large, active dogs are less likely to suffer from obesity and joint problems than smaller, sedentary ones.
Common Health Problems
Unfortunately, as the breed has grown in size, so have some of its health problems. Despite popular belief, no breed is free from health issues and the German Shepherd is no exception. The following are some of the conditions you should be aware of.
This is a genetic condition that affects the ball and socket joint of the hip, causing a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Some dogs show no signs of discomfort or lameness, but others will have difficulty climbing stairs or getting up after lying down. Some individuals will actually suffer pain and a lack of mobility.
While there is no cure, there are various treatments and surgeries that can alleviate the symptoms or in some cases correct the condition entirely. This would involve the dog undergoing a procedure known as a FHO or Femoro-Oxepin-Implanation. This is where a plastic ball is implanted into the femur to replace the faulty hip joint.
While this is a very successful procedure, it does have the drawback of causing early arthritis in the leg and hip.
Other health issues
Other health concerns for the German Shepherd Dog include Allergies, Heart Problems, Blindness and Deafness.
Living With A German Shepherd
German Shepherds have a reputation as being one of the most intelligent and easy to train dog breeds. As a working dog breed, they require a fair amount of exercise and mental stimulation on a daily basis. Without this, they can become bored, which they will relieve by barking or chewing your stuff.
They are also gregarious animals and do not do well if left alone for long periods of time. If you work all day, they will require a lot of company and attention when you get home.
Their intelligence means that they learn commands quickly and expect you to obey them too. These are not dogs that you can just let do their own thing. They want you to be an active participant in the relationship and not just their master.
German Shepherds want to be involved in everything you do and will follow you around as you do housework or go for a walk. They have been bred to work and want to be involved in that activity.
Having lots of energy, German Shepherds are not happy just lying around the house or yard all day. They need lots of exercise and activities to stave off boredom. As they have been bred to herd sheep, it doesn’t hurt to get one of these dogs if you live on a farm.
However, even city dwellers can take them for a long walk or jog everyday. This would also help with potential obesity problems.
These dogs are quick learners and are relatively easy to housebreak. They also get along well with children and other animals, although care should be taken around smaller pets that can easily be hurt when the shepherd plays too rough.
It is important that you establish yourself as the alpha in the relationship early on, otherwise your dog will consider itself to be dominant over you. This can lead to a number of behavioural problems.
Possible Co-Existing Disorders
As mentioned above, German Shepherds are very intelligent dogs and as such they can suffer from a number of behavioral issues if not properly trained. The two most common disorders are Separation Anxiety and Destructive Behavior.
German Shepherds are very attached to their owners and like constant companionship. As such, they do not do well if left alone for extended periods of time, which can lead to destructive behavior or hyperactivity as a result of too much energy pent up. If you work all day, then it is recommended that you either get a dog sitter or a new pet that is happy to be left alone such as a cat.
German Shepherds can easily become bored if not provided with enough mental stimulation. This can lead to excessive chewing, barking and howling and in the worst cases, self-mutilation behaviours. Owners need to make sure they provide their dog with plenty of things to do to prevent this from occurring.
Mental stimulation can include obedience training, scavenger hunts, finding objects and teaching the dog to obey basic commands such as “sit” and “stay”.
These are just some of the more common disorders that are found in German Shepherds. On this page we will also discuss some of the minor issues that you may find, as well as the treatments and cures.
Love for People
German Shepherds make great guard dogs thanks to their protective nature and loud barking. However, this same instinct can sometimes lead them to become overprotective of their owners. This can result in a situation known as “hyper-vigilance”.
This is where the dog will always be alert and watching everything you do, including following you around the house or yard. This type of behavior can become tiresome rather quickly and can sometimes even lead to accidents as the dog may get underfoot. If this is a problem, you need to get the dog to relax around you by avoiding it whenever possible and rewarding it when it’s calm.
Like most dogs, German Shepherds like to chew on things. This is especially the case when they’re puppies and have a lot of growing teeth. You need to make sure that you do not leave your dog unattended in a room that has valuable or dangerous items that could be chewed up.
This means that all food should either be removed or put away in cupboards/closets or high up where the dog can’t reach it. Other items such as shoes, remote controls, cell phones and anything else that might be interesting to a dog need to be put away or placed high up where the dog can’t get at them.
Chewing can also be a sign of a health problem, most common of which is teething. All puppies have teeth that grow in at different times, and when one finally decides to break through the gums, it can cause severe pain for the animal. You may notice increased chewing behavior as well as other symptoms such as dribbling or even diarrhea.
If you believe this is the case, contact your veterinarian immediately and take the dog in for a checkup.
Shedding and Grooming
As with most long haired breeds, German Shepherds are going to shed their fur on a regular basis. They will also require regular grooming to make sure their coat does not get matted and keep it looking nice and healthy. As a general rule, most owners are recommended to groom their dog once every two months or so to keep the shedding under control and the hair from becoming matted.
This usually involves hand-stripping and trimming the fur.
Separation anxiety is mostly seen in dogs that were raised in kennels their entire lives and then suddenly brought into a home environment. They get very attached to their new owners and do not like being left alone. As a result they will display varying levels of destructive behavior such as chewing or digging at doors and windows, howling and barking, peeing and pooping everywhere or even scratching at walls in an attempt to “get out”.
The best way to prevent this is to bring the dog into the home slowly. Allow it to become accustomed to its new surroundings and routine before expecting it to stay home alone for the day. Leaving a TV or radio on can also help distract the dog and make it less anxious.
You should also make sure that the dog has been trained properly, especially when it comes to staying off furniture and keeping it’s paws off your belongings. If the dog has an accident in the house, do not scold it in a raised voice as this will make it more anxious and fearful which will then cause it to not want to be left alone.
Another common trait among puppies and younger dogs in general is chewing. They tend to put everything into their mouths and chew on it to see what it is. This is how they explore their world, by testing things with their mouths.
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