a German Shepherd should have a noble, proportioned and commanding look. A slightly convex forehead, long muzzle, pointed ears and almond-shaped eyes that are pleasing with an amiable expression. The first impression is that of a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life. The body is slightly longer than tall, sturdy but lean, well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The Shepherds deep-body presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. The neck slopes down to muscular shoulders and legs, substantial and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility, difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Gender characteristics are obvious and each animal gives a marked impression of masculinity or femininity according to gender.
Normally black and tan, sable or just black, they also come in blue and white. They come in three versions: shorthaired (sometimes called rough-coated), medium-haired and longhaired. Shepherds do not need to be bathed very often, but they do tend to shed in great quantities. Brush them daily, outside if possible. Like any large dog, they can handle apartment living quite well but need daily walks and, if possible, vigorous exercise to stay sharp.
Loyalty, protectiveness and eagerness, to name a few—come from careful obedience training and authority. Everyone in the household must be prepared to show “authority” and earn the dog’s respect with a firm but loving touch. German Shepherds do not respond to negativity or anger. Respect must be earned through kindness and firm but gentle consistency in training.
German Shepherds are family-oriented and need consistent companionship; they should not be left alone for extended periods. They are very loyal and protective of their “den” and “pack” and are wary of strangers, qualities which make them excellent guard dogs. Socialization at an early age is essential to ensure proper interaction with people and other dogs. Aggression in this breed is usually due to improper breeding or handling. A well-trained and socialized GSD is wonderful with other pets and children in the family. Their temperament is a combination of both inherited characteristics and early nurturing, so finding a reputable breeder and researching the individual dog’s breeding line is just as important as proper socialization during puppyhood.
To be truly happy, the German Shepherd needs a job to do
Our personal experience with German Shepherds has been incredible and heart-touching. A story that is hard to put in print but this quote copied below by another German Shepehrd owner reflects our own thoughts quite well:
Dogs that truly understand you:
The breed that I love and will always have as part of my family is the German Shepherd. For me, the eyes say it all. When you look into the eyes of a German Shepherd, you are looking at a peer, a comrade, someone who understands you at your very core. They know who you are capable of being, and they understand when you are not at your best, and they forgive you for it.
Living with a German Shepherd is like living with your best fan, a nanny and someone who would dive into the line of fire for you without a moment's hesitation. The sun rises and sets on you. The rest of the family will be heading to the park or playing at the neighbor's or trying to coax your GSD for a walk, and they will be there, at the doorstep, looking and waiting for you. Their world is not complete without you, and so they watch and they wait until they see you, too, are coming. Living with a GSD is like living with your living, breathing shadow. And a shadow whose only goal is to please you, to serve you and to live in YOUR shadow.
If you think the GSD is the breed for you, you need to ask yourself one question: Am I worthy? The GSD needs you to commit yourself to being worthy of their adoration and intelligence. They are willing to do anything for you, if you can help them understand what that is. The fault, if they cannot do what you want them to do, is not theirs. The fault is your inability to communicate clearly what you want. They can be trained with praise alone - your happiness is enough for them (but bacon is always welcome...). Harshness and physical punishment are not the way for this breed. And they really do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. They are far too intelligent to be left to their own devices - every GSD I have owned has been a master at opening anything and everything from freezer doors to tupperware, double-hinged gates to door knobs. And those toys you pay a fortune for called "indestructible"? Gone in 20 minutes, easy peasy.
The GSD is, for me, the King of dogs. They deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and commitment.
~Lisa, owner of a German Shepherd - dogster.com