Updated on April 24, 2019
German Shepherds are one of the most common and popular dogs in the world.
These working dogs make great family pets but also play a big role in our society.
They serve a purpose as police dogs, service animals, guard dogs and have a long decorated history in the military.
German Shepherds are courageous, intelligent, loyal and versatile – all features which has only increased their popularity.
They are classed as herding dogs given their origins were helping their owners to look after livestock.
These dogs can range in size. They are classed as medium-to-large dogs.
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Brief history of the German Shepherd
The German Shepherd, as the name suggests, was founded in Germany in the late 1890s.
Former German military captain Max von Stephanitz was looking to create the perfect dog for his needs.
Von Stephanitz started the breed with a canine called Hektor after his encounter with the working dog at a dog show in Germany.
The breed’s official name in German is Deutscher Schäferhund, which literally translates to German Shepherd dog.
Hektor, who was renamed Horand von Grafrath, was the founding member of Von Stephanitz’s Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (Society for the German Shepherd Dog).
German Shepherd size
German Shepherds are described as medium-to-large sized dogs.
The American Kennel Club list the standard for the breed on their website to provide an insight into their size:
“The first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life.”
The AKC go on to say that German Shepherds should be longer rather than tall, while possessing “smooth, graceful curves rather than angles”.
Naturally the male and the female differ in size.
The male usually grows to a size of 60–65 cm (24–26 in) in height and can end up weighing once fully ground between 70 and 90 pounds (25 and 40 kg).
The females are unsurprisingly a little smaller than their male counterparts. They tend to grow to a height of around 55–60 cm (22–24 in) and will weigh between 55 and 70 pounds (25and 31 kg).
It should be noted that the AKC standard does not set a weight range for German Shepherds.
Their weight will differ depending on each German Shepherd and the condition of their body. They tend to be slimmer than most medium-to-large sized dogs.
How big should a German Shepherd be?
While height and weight are vital when it comes to breed standards for other types of dogs, it is more important that a GSD is the right ratio.
To find this out, German Shepherds need to be measured from the front of their chests to the base of their tail.
If you’re measuring their height, it should be taken from the withers (the ridge between the shoulder blades of an animal).
The ideal length:weight ratio for a German Shepherd is 10:8.5. As mentioned above, a GSD should be long rather than tall.
German Shepherd appearance
These dogs have some key characteristics that make them standout against other breeds.
German Shepherds have a wide head which is a notable feature and adds to their intelligent appearance.
Their domed head is complemented by a square muzzle to present a powerful looking dog.
Their ears are pointed to make them look alert. These dogs have a reputation for being great guard dogs due to their ability to hear sounds and loyalty to their owners.
They have medium-sized brown eyes – you will probably have come across a number of GSD-Husky mixes that have bi-colour or parti-colour eyes.
German Shepherds have relatively long necks to emphasize their curved appearance. Their elongated necks can help to follow scents on the ground or track animals.
How long does German Shephard remain a puppy?
A German Shepherd puppy should start to crawl around the age of one week.
Their eyes and ears will start to open around 10 days after their birth before they fully open at the two-week mark.
At two weeks, these fluffy little pups will start to show early signs of their first set of teeth.
They will also start walking at around 14 days old as these working dogs take their first steps in the world.
Their mother will start to teach them vital social skills which will have an impact on their adult lives.
They will usually start to play with their litter mates, mother and humans between three to four weeks.
At six weeks, these little GSD dogs will start to learn behaviours such as mounting and sniffing tails.
Once the puppy turns seven to eight weeks old, they should have all their teeth and their ears will start to stand up.
Most reputable breeders will not allow owners to collect their pups until the eight-week mark.
At this stage, they should have had their first round of shots before being collected from the breeder.
Once they have reached 12 weeks, you can start to socialise your GSD pup with other dogs. Although you should check that other dogs have all the necessary and up to date vaccinations.
Experts suggest socialising your German Shepherd at an early age to ensure they grow into balanced, friendly and well-rounded dogs.
It is also a good idea to introduce them to other people to reduce aloofness and shyness around strangers.
At four months old, a German Shepherd will start to develop its set of adult teeth. You may notice the baby teeth start to fall out.
They will start to mature sexually at around 6 months and this process can continue for up to 16 months.
Other milestones at the six-month mark include having all their adult teeth, while females can start to have their heat cycles.
Some German Shepherds can take up to 16 months to fully mature into an adult.
According to German Shepherd Lore, some people do not consider a GSD an adult until the male is 2 1/2 or 3 years old and the female is 2 or more years old.
How long do German Shepherds live?
Healthy members of the breed can live past 13.
Working dogs vs Show dogs
There is a difference between working German Shepherds and German Shepherds used for dog shows.
A show dog will tend to have shorter rear legs, so it gives an appear of a sloping body.
This formation can led to elbow and hip issues, as well as issues with their gait.