German Shepherds are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and persevering traits. The German Shepherd is known as a working dog whether it be in herding and protecting flock, working in the armed forces, competing in protection sports, or just being a loving family member.
This breed is a special part of every family that it belongs to and is the perfect choice for families who strive for loyalty, love, and an active best friend.
History of German Shepherds
The German Shepherd was not always a common household pet. Many people in Germany believed that dogs were owned solely for working purposes and so were bred for special characteristics. Due to the qualities of what is now known as the German Shepherd, such as their sense of smell, intelligence, speed, and protective nature they were originally bred to herd and protect flocks of sheep.
The German Shepherd breed does in fact come from Germany and obtained its official name in the mid to late 1800s. It wasn’t until May of 1899 that it officially became a recognized breed during which the German Shepherd Club was developed. The breed gained recognition toward the end of World War One when soldiers spoke of their intelligence and strength. However, they believed that the name “German” would hurt the breed due to anti-German sentiment at the time and was then renamed “Alsatian Wolf Dog”. This name was not changed until 1977 when the UK Kennel Club re-registered the breed name as German Shepherd.
Today, the German Shepherd is not only a common working dog in military or police forces, but also a common household pet. They are an incredibly versatile breed able to do many different jobs. German Shepherds are commonly used for scent work to prevent hazards or even to find missing persons and due to their loyalty and drive excel in service work such as a seeing eye dog or aiding someone with PTSD.
Lifespan of German Shepherds
German Shepherds are usually very healthy dogs and will live a long life. However, they are prone to specific issues that are commonly found in the breed's history.
These include some of the most common:
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a common inherited condition where a joint deformity occurs during the growth and development of the dog. Some signs of hip dysplasia are balance issues, pain, and limping.
- Elbow Dysplasia: Another common inherited condition is elbow dysplasia, this condition is caused by the humerus, the radius, and the ulna not sitting perfectly in the joint socket. This causes wear and tear over years and can be recognized by lameness in the front legs of the dog.
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: Commonly known as “bloat”, is a life threatening condition and while not genetic, is more common in larger breeds such as the German Shepherd. This condition is caused by the stomach becoming stretched due to gas and then twisting. Some common symptoms are distress, swollen stomach, excessive drooling and pain. These symptoms should be addressed right away.
- Degenerative Myelopathy: Also known as “DM” is an inherited illness commonly found in German Shepherds. This disease is caused by deterioration of white matter in the spinal cord and results in the loss of control of the hind legs. The symptoms present similar to osteoarthritis such as loss of balance, excessive weakness, and pain.
German Shepherds Care
Due to their high drive, loyalty, and working capability, they make awesome dogs for those in active families, those in need of a service dog, and those who are interested in pursuing sports.
As puppies German Shepherds are still incredibly high-drive. If the high-drive needs are not met they cause many behavioral problems such as destruction, biting, and loudness. It is important for a German Shepherd puppy to be constantly stimulated whether it be physical or mental. Physical stimulation can be anything between running, playing fetch, and playdates. Mental stimulation can be seen in obedience training, games involving scent, and trick training. It is also incredibly important to build a foundation by socializing a German Shepherd puppy, without socialization at a young age, behavioral issues such as dog and human reactivity can become present. Socialization can be seen in forms of puppy playdates, group training classes, and interacting with all ages of people.
As adults, the energy doesn’t go away. It is important to maintain physical and mental stimulation through consistent training, joining a sport, or exercise. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight in German Shepherds as they are more prone to physical issues like degenerative myelopathy, osteoarthritis, and other joint issues. Being overweight can cause these problems to get worse in a shorter time period, or if the dog already has these issues, a normal body weight can help reduce pain and stress on the dog. Overall, the German Shepherd is a human's best friend and will never let you down.
Size and Weight of German Shepherds
Male German Shepherds average at about 24-26 inches in height with an average of 75-90 pounds. Females average at a height of 22-24 inches and an average weight of 55-70 pounds.
How to Remember German Shepherds After They Pass
German Shepherd’s are a human's best friend, their loyalty goes a long way in their connection with their owners. However, German Shepherd’s have a life expectancy of around 9-13 years, this means that there may be a few goodbyes in your lifetime.
It’s never easy to say goodbye and difficult to continue on without them by your side. The pains of loss should never be avoided, but they can be memorialized in a way that best fits what they enjoyed most in life.
There are many ways to celebrate the life of your best friend in memorial. A few of these may be using a collar, a favorite toy, a favorite comfort item. Other popular ideas for how to remember the life of your German Shepherd is to do a special memorial and use a unique urn with your beloved pet's ashes.
The German Shepherd Living Urn
With this special pet urn, you can grow a tree or shrub memorial in your German Shepherd’s favorite place in the yard, at a park, or at another special place. Choose from over twenty beautiful tree and shrub options available in your area and have the entire biodegradable urn, tree planting kit, and a 2-4’ tree delivered directly to your doorstep. You can have their name, date of birth and passing, and a sentiment engraved next to a German Shepherd portrait. You can involve family and friends in the planting process and also grow a living memory of your beloved four-legged family member!