German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian)

German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian)

The German Shepherd originates from...

Otherwise known as the Alsatian, this breed is arguably the most popular worldwide. Founded by Captain Max von Stephanitz in 1899, the German Shepherd was primarily bred as a working dog, developed to be fearless and agile in both military and police work. Highly trainable, the German Shepherd established a shining reputation for itself and was widely utilised in the forces. With the onset of WWI, the German Shepherd was the obvious breed choice for the German army and 48,000 were enlisted as supply delivery dogs. Despite the negative association of the enemy, the German Shepherd retained its concrete reputation across Europe and the United States and remains today one of the most highly sought and valued of dog breeds. The Shepherd was officially registered by the American Kennel Club in 1912.

The German Shepherd is characterised by...

Athletically built to change direction at full speed, the appearance of the German Shepherd reflects its versatile working capabilities. With a powerful body and head, triangular, upright ears, a domed forehead, a square-cut muzzle, and a black nose, it is a breed that is easily recognised. Boasting a double coat, which is typically medium length (although long-haired examples are seen), the German Shepherd is commonly seen in black and red, or tan, although some rarer varieties include solid black or white, blue, sable and liver. Retaining its original instincts, the modern German Shepherd is widely seen today as a guide dog for the blind, in drug and arms detection, search and rescue, canine sport and military service. Like the Dalmatian, owners of the German Shepherd have described the breed's natural affinity with horses.

The average German Shepherd...

Contrary to what some might believe, a socialised and well trained German Shepherd won't be aggressive or highly strung. Instead, one will demonstrate a calm and gentle demeanour, be relaxed around children and engage well in active family life. Inherently loyal, able-minded and adaptable, the German Shepherd is a great all-rounder, providing its needs for regular exercise, mental enrichment and companionship are met. In general, a healthy German Shepherd will weigh 30-40 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 10-12 years on average.


The German Shepherd is typically healthy and resilient, although a small percentage of the breed are identified with hip dysplasia, arthritis, optical disorders, skin allergies and epilepsy. More serious conditions include von Willebrand's Disease, a bleeding disorder, as well as Degenerative Myelopathy, a neurological disease that leads to eventual paralysis. As with most large-sized breeds, cases of heart disease and digestive problems are well documented in the German Shepherd, with bloat and gastric tortion being potentially fatal if left untreated for too long.

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Our German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian) owners' thoughts

Added on 10/10/2013
Joined 26/09/2011
From Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

GSDs are adorable. I love them.

I haven't got one but they are my favourite breed of dog :)

I'm really enjoying looking at all the pictures of all these gorgeous dogs!

Added on 18/11/2013
Joined 11/03/2012
From Essex, United Kingdom

Fantastic loyal, brave, loving breed. Paddy is a terrific nutty, playful family pet that will defend his family from any potential threat but will take great care of puppies and injured/unwell dogs I foster. Despite medical problems we have suffered with Paddy, we would not be without him. Outstanding breed of dog.

Added on 19/12/2013
Joined 19/12/2013
From Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

I am lucky to share in the life of Syndie, 6 yrs old, girl GSD. She is very affectionate, loyal, inquisitive & adores children. She is gentle with other animals, lives happily with another dog, 2 cats & a young rabbit. I have never met another dog with such a colourful & eccentric character as Syndie!

Added on 14/07/2014

German Shepherds are the best friends you could ever wish for!
They are there for you 24 hours a day and will follow you anywhere, as long as they are with you, they don't care if you rich or poor - they just want to be with you!!
I have had GSD's as family pets for 38 years and would never be without one!

Added on 16/09/2014
Joined 13/09/2014
From Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom

Fab dogs, we have 5 at the moment! Great company, for working and as family dogs. Truly wonderful dogs!

Added on 26/10/2014
Joined 26/10/2014
From North Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

My 2 furbabies are beautiful GSDs, one black n tan and the other white. Both love cuddles n their walks n we love them to bits xxx

Added on 19/01/2015
Joined 17/11/2012
From Moray, United Kingdom

The German Shepherd is the best friend you could ever want. No matter where I am or what I do.. If I have my boys beside me I'm happy.

Added on 10/03/2015

I have owned 6 German Shepherds and bred a few, worked them in obdience competition. I know get resue ones as there are far to many that get a bad start in life, either people not knowing how to deal with them or give them enough stimulation to keep their minds active, they are a working dog and need plenty of exercise. But I just love their loyalty and gently nature.

Added on 30/06/2015

we lost our old GSD Cisco in 2010 , He was an exceptionally amazing dog and left a massive void in our lives and some very big paws to fill, 4 weeks ago we brought home skye , shes completely nuts and so much fun , shes now 12 weeks old and growing rapidly , she mastered potty training in just 4 days we have an intelligent but so laid back girl , we start puppy classes this week and we know shes going to love it , we're all so excited shes made the whole in hearts complete shes beautiful and brought the fun back into all our lives will never be without a GSD ever again . Love this beautiful gorgeous baby girl to bits shes so very similar to Cisco in so many ways its uncanny ;-D

Added on 26/08/2015
Joined 23/08/2013
From Northumberland, United Kingdom

We have had GSD's now in our lives since 1995 they are our kids & each & every one has been such a joy to have & they have all been different & unique. Simba, Nala & Ben are now our guardian angels watching over us & not a day go's by we don't miss them & we have our new baby boy Nevis who is now 6mths old & growing up so fast. They are the most loyal, intelligent fun loving & friendly dogs you could ever have. They thrive on routine & initially as pups you do have to put in some hard work with their training but because they learn so fast it becomes a joy to see them grow & learn & you end up with a friend for life who is always there for you & is your doggy shadow. All our dogs have been pups except Ben whom we got as a retired Police dog & have to say he was the most gentlest giant ever, trained to perfection friends with everyone & all he wanted in life was to be with you & play & go for nice walks. GSD's are brilliant..... :0)

Added on 21/01/2016
Joined 08/04/2014
From Warwickshire, United Kingdom

We have kept shepherd's for 20 years, our latest addition is Rudy who is now six years old. She is very quirky, loyal and lovable , we wouldn't be without her.

Added on 10/03/2016
Joined 12/01/2016
From Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

I have owned GSD's for over 35 years .. I couldnt imagine ever not having one .. they are great family dogs .. the breed has stolen my heart ..and my lad Dudley is my doggy soulmate ..he is the love of my life ..just dont tell the hubby lol

Added on 20/06/2016
Joined 29/07/2012
From Kent, United Kingdom

GSDs have been a part of my life since I can remember. They were like fluffy siblings when I was growing up and very much family members. Don't overlook rescue or olders GSDs either - I've experienced both and never had any issues. They have a massive heart, are very loyal and incredibly smart. My experience is that they need a leader who they will trust implicitly and firm boundaries - they also like routine. No breed alas is without their inherent traits - namely hip displaysia / arthritis - but the correct nourishment, exercise and oodles of love and you'll have the best, most loving and loyal friend you'll ever know. I love my GSD, he's my buddy and I'd be lost without him!

Added on 10/07/2017
Joined 28/02/2012
From Norfolk, United Kingdom

My parents had shepherds, as did my brother and I have had them as soon as I got married, and have never been without all my life. At times we had two generally a dog and a bitch together. I became so involved with them that I became a BAGSD qualified trainer and enjoyed helping others enjoy what this breed gives you. By the way we have also had Yorkshire Terriers as well

Added on 18/07/2017
Joined 01/08/2016
From Kent, United Kingdom

We have a 14 year old long-haired (rescue) and a one-year-old GS cross. Both loving, gentle, loyal, obedient, although the young one is yet to get used to being around cats - only had him a few days so early days yet. Also have an Alaskan Shepherd (Alaskan Malamute/GS) with, thankfully, enough GS in her to make it easier to teach her commands. You can always rely on a German Shepherd. Wouldn't be without one.

Added on 16/11/2017
Joined 04/09/2014
From Bedfordshire, United Kingdom

I have had the privilege of having gsd,s in my life for some 50 years. Everyone has been a joy and privilege

Added on 06/12/2017
Joined 13/07/2016
From Dorset, United Kingdom

I got my German Shepherd Dog from a rescue centre solely specialising in this breed only from Spain & Romania.The moment I set eyes on Dodger from his Web page I fell in Love wiv him. His sad story of his beginning life made me cry n I knew I had to give him his Forever Loving Home. He was 18 months living in the wild, wen he came to me he was 2 yrs old.
My life changed forever wen I took him on, this boy is so fun loving n makes me laugh so much. Wen I cry he licks my tears away, he's cheeky wen the biscuit box is out he sticks his nose on it then looks at me,looks back at the box then back at me, as if to say Daddy wheres my shortbread bicky .
I'd Never have any other breed , German Shepherd Dogs are Very Special, Loyal, protective,fun n just gorgeous all round. Forget your tiny handbag dogs, they're rats on a lead, wen u have a German Shepherd you know you've got a REAL dog.
Dodger loves cuddly toys, wen I buy him one from a charity shop n come home his nose is straight into the bag n he pulls it out. His ears go back, his tail wags as if to say look wot daddy got me.
Dodger is mad for cuddles, if I say Snoozyville time he jumps on my bed n we cuddle up together. Wot more can u ask for.
Life wud be so Dull n Horrible without Dodger. He is my world, my soul mate n Best Buddy.

Added on 28/01/2018
Joined 27/01/2018
From Cornwall, United Kingdom

I have had German Shepherds for 31 years and now have my 6th. I always have a GSD and a Border Collie because I find they have similar intelligence and exercise requirements. At one time I had 2 Shepherds and 2 Collies and never had any problems with them at all.....wonderful breed, loving, loyal, always there when needed (they are nick named the velcro breed)!!! A very kind gentle breed with so much to offer but they must be trained when young and this training continues throughout their lives to a certain degree, because of their intelligence and willingness to constantly learn. Can't see myself being without one of these beautiful dogs in my life!!!

Added on 26/03/2018
Joined 09/08/2015
From Hampshire, United Kingdom

Sasha is eleven this year and very much still a pup at heart. She is as mad as a box of frogs but the most loyal and trustworthy of dogs. She can't abide other dogs which is weird when we got her from a home with 7 other dogs living with her! She's great with people though and loves the children who live nearby and play with her. She is my second GSD my first being Christie who lived 'til she was 16 and a half! She was absolutely my soul mate and I still miss her desperately, but focus is now on Sasha who is a much loved member of the family who happens to wear a fur coat. GSD's are the best of dogs and I would recommend one to anyone wanting a loyal and affectionate dog. They must be educated well though! And lastly, remember they are hairy, only moult once a year but it lasts for 365 days.....

Added on 07/04/2018
Joined 07/04/2018
From United Kingdom

I’ve always had shepherds very loyal dogs especially if u train them correctly..Tia is a big softy and a lot of people frown upon her ignorance against breed I say ....definitely would recommend if u have time and patience to train

Added on 03/05/2018
Joined 05/04/2018
From North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

I've been brought up around dogs, my father always had them - various breeds from Rottweilers to springer spaniels. I love big dogs and I have to say mine is a gentle giant. He's actually a GSD/Japanese Akita crossbreed, but I have to say he's more like Scooby Doo. He's scared of his own shadow!

Best memory of this dufus is he jumped on my bed and my pillow toppled forward and hit him on his front paws. He actually yelped! Yeah, big, strong and brave? You must be joking! Love him to pieces though and wouldn't swap him for a million pounds!

Added on 14/06/2018
Joined 04/10/2016
From Somerset, United Kingdom

Our German Shepherd is Lilah she is our 5th shepherd, over the years we've loved four bitches and one dog, they have all been fabulous pets, absolutely loyal and loving, fine with children and other dogs, all in all brilliant companions.

Added on 15/06/2018
Joined 16/02/2017
From Shropshire, United Kingdom

I love my black Belgium shepherd.. hardest work ever .
my first German shepherd was brilliant..hard work too.. we did agility and she used to help the police with drug searches and finding bodies.. it was a day out jolly for her so easy to train
my black shepherd I swear is dyslexic and I've had to train her differently.. I have to talk to her in sentences.. she doesn't understand quick commands ..
but 11 years of being shop dog.. she is loved by all customers..and me especially.. great with kids and my 2 year old godson
I just love shepherds...

Added on 04/12/2018
Joined 04/12/2018
From Cheshire, United Kingdom

I adopted Elsa 15 months ago from a rescue. It's been an interesting 15 months I have to say as it took a while for her to 'adopt' me. She loves training or otherwise having things to do, and despite initially being apprehensive, she's a real water baby now. She's into water, whenever and wherever she can find it. When in wide open spaces she can run like the wind and as her her recall is excellent, I let her. She's a great companion and as they say ' you never pee alone if you've got a GS!'

Added on 22/05/2019
Joined 07/10/2010
From Hampshire, United Kingdom

I love German Shepherds,
They are hard work, very intelligent, loving as well, they are not a lap dog, need exercise as most dogs do also learns very quickly but loves to learn new things all the time, not a dog to leave for very long times, they are all different to train, just like humans got there own personatilly loyal, fun, I have Hugo who's 8 yrs old now, got him at 14months, he was hard work but the love and time given to him has made him great fantastic, and now he understands to much and talks alot as well, but you do need the time with them.

Added on 24/08/2019
Joined 13/08/2010
From West Sussex, United Kingdom

I have owned GSDs for nearly 40 years, I currently have a GSD and a GDS x Collie. They are fantastic dogs but need proper training otherwise they will think that they're in charge! Very intelligent and loyal. They don't like the household 'pack' to be split up and so are happiest when everyone is together. They don't do well in kennels, they do love their comforts. Can be noisy!

Added on 02/09/2019
Joined 02/09/2019
From Cheshire , United Kingdom

Lexi is our 5 year old fur baby. She is super intelligent, a good listener and extremely placid - it’s been said that she would hold the torch for the burglar! She learns quickly, loves playing and would walk all day. She sheds hair 365 days of the year, gives great kisses and her best friend is a one year old Shitzu called Rolo.
I would recommend German Shepherds - there is no such thing as a bad dog, only a bad owner!

Added on 26/10/2019
Joined 22/06/2017
From United Kingdom

I have owned German Shepherd Dogs for almost 30yrs, I bought my first when I got married and had my own property.
My wife had never had a GSD before, when I brought him (Prince) home her words were take him back we aren't going to have one of those!
Needless to say I didn't and of course he gained the heart of my wife to the state of getting another as a playmate for him.
Since then we have had numerous GSD's including rescue dogs and would not be without them.
We currently have 3 Simba 8, Kai 7 and Izzy 4 (rescue).
GSD's can be hard work at first but it pays off in the end loyal, affectionate and friendly.
They are immature and will be boisterous until about 3yrs but it's worth the wait.

Added on 20/11/2019
Joined 17/11/2019
From Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom

We have two German Shepherds one black make Oscar he loves the sound of his own voice and loves a cuddle and a roll around the floor, who has a temperamental tummy and gets colitis has hip problems and sebacious cysts I am hoping his new feed is going to help him as his vet fees go through the roof but we love him to bits. We have Zara his litter sister and she is sable who had pannus she is very nervy but very loving and is completely different to oscar she is very gentle and hates a cuddle you have to wait to be asked lol. They are 6 in December and it does not feel like we have had them that long they have brought us nothing but joy. double trouble in every sense of the word

Added on 19/12/2019
Joined 24/11/2013
From Hampshire, United Kingdom

I have two Belgian shepherds and have adopted an GSDxMalinois. She is a mature lady whose owner recently passed away. She’s friendly but boisterous and does try to guard me so even at ten years of age she needs a firm hand. Belgians and Germans are pretty much the same, very intelligent, pushing their owners to the limit with their scheming, one needs a firm hand and definitely not be out at work all day, then you will have problems and very unhappy dogs.

Added on 18/02/2022
Joined 17/02/2022
From Kent, United Kingdom

Our Molly is 9 years old, very loverble, loyal, loves our grandson from a baby best of friends, Molly looks after him and protects him.
She is friendly to people not nasty like the reputation they unfairly have, but hurt us then she would not be so nice.
Molly I'm sad to say has been a poorly dog since a young age. She now has arthritis, DM And now IBD. Bless her. We have nearly lost her twice with illnesses but she is a fighter and wants to live which has so far cost us a few thousand pounds but she is so worth it.
They are loyal and loving dogs. Train and treat them right you have one of the dogs /best friend ever x

Added on 18/03/2022
Joined 30/04/2008
From East Sussex, United Kingdom

I have had German Sheps for 30 years. They need firm boundaries and training but in return give you loyalty, love and are amazing family pets. They should be socially intigrated at the earliest point, meeting lots of people and other dogs. I have brought up a family with my Sheps and they became natural child minders. Degerative mylopathy is a cruel disease that can affect the breed causing paralysis of the back legs and progressively the front legs.