The German shepherd dog, which is also called an Alsatian, is a breed of German origin. They were originally employed for herding sheep, protecting the flocks from predators, and thus it were the shepherds who were instrumental in developing the breed. They bred dogs that they felt had intelligence, strength, and a keen sense of smell. However, this resulted in dogs that were well equipped to do the job, but with great variation in their appearance. Many years later, in 1899, a man named Max von Stephanitz founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (Society for the German shepherd Dog) with a dog named Horand von Grafrath, which was declared as the first of the species. The temperament of this breed is such that it makes a good family dog, and also slips well into roles of a guard dog, police dog, and herding dog.
Attitude and Behavior
This breed is the world's leading police, guard, and military dog. However, contrary to their appearance, they are not hostile, but are confident, self assured, and ever so slightly aloof. These fearless dogs are very affectionate towards those they consider family members, but may not seem personable to strangers, for they are unlikely to make the first move. However, when approached by a stranger who they find acceptable, they will respond with affection. The attitude is one of quite confidence, with the lack of exuberance. An adult can almost be termed as 'mature'. They are very loyal, forming strong bonds with family members. They have been known to defend owners against large animals such as bears. However, the negative aspect of this can often be a dog that is overprotective towards family members.
As they were bred for their intelligence, this trait is a trademark of the breed. They are very easy to train, and it is said that they pick up simple tasks after only five repetitions. Most of the time, they will respond to the first command. These qualities, along with their strength and ability, make them perfectly suited for police duties, guarding, and search and rescue operations. They also fit very well into roles of companions, blind leaders, herding dogs, and guardians.
If you want to peacefully coexist with your German shepherd, you need to firmly establish your pack leader status. As mentioned before, these dogs are easily trainable, and both you and your dog will benefit from providing him/her a little bit of training. They are active and agile and need regular exercise. They are mostly sedentary indoors, and will enjoy playing in a large lawn. Ensure you include some activities that provide the dog mental stimulation, for they benefit from having a sense of purpose. The temperament is such that they enjoy being around their master, so ensure that you spend a sufficient amount of time with your pet. Most of them have a thick coat, and they shed constantly. They are seasonally heavy shedders, and should be brushed everyday to minimize the hair scattered all over your home. They must be bathed only when required, and one needs to regularly check their ears and clip their nails.
Due to heavy inbreeding while the breed was being developed, the breed is riddled with several illnesses. A very common problem is hip and elbow dysplasia, which can be painful in the latter stages of the dog's life, when it may also lead to the development of arthritis. Other problems include spinal stenosis. They are also prone to ear infections and bloat. The qualities of fearlessness and loyalty make German Shepherds outstanding pets. If you plan to bring home one, you are sure to be amazed by his/her intelligence.