German Shepherd Temperament & Traits

The courageous German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds in America. In fact, the German Shepherd ranks #3 on the AKC’s most popular dog list. You may have wondered about German Shepherd temperament and traits.

But first let’s talk briefly about the history of this amazing breed.

History of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd originated from Germany, and in its earliest stages was a sheep herding dog.

These impeccable dogs made quite an impression on a man named Max Emil Friedrich Von Stephanitz.

He began a quest to find breeding stock, and formally standardize the traits of the ideal German Shepherd.

Stephanitz, also created the first German Shepherd club.

German Shepherd temperament
German Shepherd temperament

German Shepherd Temperament and Traits.

The German Shepherd is classified as part of the herding group.

These dogs are extremely loving and loyal to members of their family.

German Shepherds that are well bred, socialized, and trained, are also fond of children.

Although this breed is affectionate with its family, they are generally reserved with strangers due to their protective instincts.

German Shepherds have a high energy level, and need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

This dog is a barker, and will be sure to sound the alert when it notices anything unusual in its environment.

This dog does well in colder climates due to its heavy coat.

German Shepherd temperament

What kind of Grooming does a German Shepherd Need?

German Shepherds do require a moderate amount of grooming.

This is mainly due to their long, coarse coats that benefit from routine upkeep.

This breed does shed profusely, so if you dislike animal hair around your home, you may want to consider a different breed, because with this dog in your house, you will find hair everywhere.

Brushing your German shepherd a few times per week will help reduce shedding, and keep their coats in good condition.

It’s best to bathe your German shepherd only when necessary to avoid drying out your dog’s skin, and coat.

RELATED POST: How to give a dog a bath | A DIY Guide

GSD Training and Socialization

The German Shepherd is highly intelligent, in fact they rank number 3 in Stanley Coren’s book “The intelligence of dogs.

Because of their smarts, this breed is highly trainable, but what makes these dogs truly amazing is their strong desire to work.

Due to the German shepherd’s protective nature they are fantastic guard dogs, but must be trained and socialized at an early age.

Socialization should include humans as well as other animals, especially other dogs.

Related post: “Best dogs for protection”

German Shepherd Health

Are German shepherds a healthy breed?

Yes, this breed is considered to be relatively healthy.

The German Shepherd has an average lifespan of 10-12 years, and that is fairly typical for a breed of its size..

However, like most dogs, they can be prone to a few health conditions.

Some examples include:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Arthritis

Tip: It’s best to purchase your German Shepherd from health tested parents. This won’t guarantee good health, but may minimize risk.

Is the German Shepherd a Good Family Dog?

German Shepherds can be excellent family dogs.

With careful breeding, training, and early socialization, this breed makes a faithful, and loving guardian.

In addition, this breed normally likes children. They are wonderful companions that truly relish spending time with their owners.

Are German Shepherds Aggressive?

The German Shepherd is a naturally protective breed, and as such may be aggressive to strangers.

It’s best to purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder, and meet both parents of your puppy to determine their temperaments.

Even if a Shepherd hasn’t been known to display aggression, this is a powerful dog with strong instincts, and caution around strangers should always be taken.

There is also a significant difference in the temperaments of German Shepherd working lines versus show lines.

Related Post: Questions to ask a dog breeder

Shepherd Working lines vs. Show lines

Working line German Shepherds can be on the smaller side, and in addition they are much more active.

Their structure and endurance allows them to work hard for long hours at a time.

They will require a home that can give them ample opportunity to exert themselves physically.

In other words, they will need a lot of exercise.

The intensity, and drive in higher in the working line German Shepherds than that of the show lines.

Military, Personal protection, and Police Shepherds, are examples of working line dogs.

Show line German Shepherds are often larger, and weigh more.

They tend to have lower energy levels, and have been bred primarily to be shown in conformation. Because of this, they may be a bit more friendly.

Some of the show line German Shepherds have sloped backs due to questionable breeding practices, and this could possibly put the dogs at higher risk for hip dysplasia.

They may lack the drive and stamina of the working line dogs, but may be easier for the average person to live with.

German Shepherd traits

What sports can a German Shepherd do?

German Shepherds are a strong, athletic, and high energy breed, so they will excel at most dog sports.

Here are a few that are an exceptionally good fit for this breed:

  1. Schutzhund
  2. Agility
  3. Dock diving
  4. Herding
  5. Obedience / Rally

Disclaimer: Information in this post consists of generalizations about the German Shepherd breed. They may or may not be true for individual dogs.

Sources: German Shepherd dog history GSD Health issues

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