Breed Spotlight: German Shepherd
Generally considered dogkind's finest all-purpose worker, the German Shepherd Dog is a large, agile, muscular dog of noble character and high intelligence. Loyal, confident, courageous, and steady, the German Shepherd is truly a dog lover's delight. German Shepherd Dogs can stand as high as 26 inches at the shoulder and, when viewed in outline, presents a picture of smooth, graceful curves rather than angles.
The natural gait is a free-and-easy trot, but they can turn it up a notch or two and reach great speeds. There are many reasons why German Shepherds stand in the front rank of canine royalty, but experts say their defining attribute is character: loyalty, courage, confidence, the ability to learn commands for many tasks, and the willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones.
German Shepherds will be gentle family pets and steadfast guardians, but, the breed standard says, there's a 'certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.'
The German Shepherd Dog has a medium-length, double coat consisting of a dense, harsh, and close-lying outer coat with a softer undercoat. The breed is easy to maintain, usually requiring just a quick brushing every few days or so to help remove loose hairs, but they do shed more profusely once or twice a year. During these periods, more frequent brushing will help control the amount of hair that ends up around the house and on the furniture. The German Shepherd only needs an occasional bath. It is important to trim or grind his nails every month if they are not worn down naturally, as overly long nails can cause pain and structural issues.
A high-quality dog food appropriate for the dog's age (puppy, adult, or senior) will have all the nutrients the breed needs. Table scraps can cause digestive upset, so only give them sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high-fat content. Small pieces of biscuit or the dog's kibble can be used as treats for training. If you are feeding high-quality food, vitamin and mineral supplements should not be necessary, although adding small quantities of yogurt, cooked vegetables, or eggs to the food can be beneficial. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog's weight or diet.
As a very active and athletic breed, the German Shepherd requires lots of exercise for his physical and mental well-being. A dog who is not exercised enough will become frustrated and likely develop undesirable behaviors. With a puppy, you can start with short daily walks, as well as play sessions in a safely fenced area. Remember to not let the dog off-leash, as even the best-trained dog can become distracted and not follow every command. Participating in canine activities such as agility, herding, tracking, and dock diving provides excellent physical and mental exercise and is fun and rewarding for both dog and owner.