Some dog breeds have a firm and lasting hold on the public’s heart and consistently place in the top 10 of the ranking of most popular dogs. The strong and noble German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is one of these lasting favorites. In fact, for the past ten years the German Shepherd has been the number two most popular dog in the United States, and it’s been in the top 10 for decades. And for good reason. Dating back to 1899, the breed (known as Deutsche Schaferhunde in German) was established in Germany by Captain Max von Stephanitz and other breeders. Using only the very best dogs, they developed a breed known for confidence, intelligence, loyalty, and courage. Plus, there’s no mistaking the GSD’s characteristic appearance with the pointed ears and muscular physique. Every German Shepherd owner knows the special bond shared with this dog. What else can you expect from such an incredible breed. They’ll also tell you the following 10 things are absolutely true:
1. German Shepherds will explore everything with their noses
You’ll find evidence of their very thorough sniffing everywhere – walls, doors, windows, and more. All dogs have a better sense of smell than humans – 10,000 to 100,000 times better in fact thanks to having millions more scent receptors. But compared to other breeds, the GSD ranks near the top in scenting ability. It’s no wonder they make such great police and detection dogs. Among many other jobs, GSDs are known for their bomb and drug sniffing work, tracking, and Search and Rescue.
2. GSDs are incredibly smart
If you’re a German Shepherd owner, you have a strong suspicion your dog might actually be smarter than you are. After all, what can’t your dog do? These dogs are known for their intelligence and many can learn a new behavior in only a few repetitions. In addition, they have a legendary desire to cooperate and work with us, a trait many see as a wish to please their humans. No wonder this breed excels at so many activities and is a top Obedience competitor. Because German Shepherds are one of the brightest breeds, be sure to be consistent, use positive reinforcement-based methods, provide plenty of mentally stimulating toys, and play brain-challenging games.
3. German Shepherd Dogs are protective of their loved ones
They are known for being fearless and self-confident. GSDs will assertively stand their ground and are suited to be either watchdog or guardian, whichever the situation demands. They can be aloof with strangers yet are not hostile. This natural protective instinct is reassuring to the German Shepherd owner. But it also comes with a certain responsibility. You should be committed to spending time socializing and training your dog to ensure your companion feels comfortable around strangers and other dogs. If you do, you will benefit from all this dog has to offer.
4. GSDs provide constant companionship
In truth, German Shepherd owners are never lonely because their loyal canines are always by their side. Although GSDs are sometimes slow to warm to strangers, they are gentle and loving with their families. Their affectionate and dedicated personalities are a bonus of the breed, and they can be particularly fond of children. This means your GSD wants to spend time with you rather than being left alone all day, every day. Allowing your German Shepherd to be with you as much as possible will bring out the best in your dog.
5. German Shepherds are known as a mouthy breed
They tend to use their mouths as a hand thanks to that herding heritage. It’s even right there in their name, ShepHERD. This mouthing behavior is natural, so expect your GSD to mouth you and chew anything that will fit inside your pet’s mouth. However, that doesn’t mean you should let it go. What might be cute in your small puppy will get harder and stronger as your dog grows up. Training your dog not to chew your hand or the furniture is essential with this breed. Teach your German Shepherd to channel those instincts safely and appropriately.
6. German Shepherds shed
All GSD owners know that dog hair is a way of life. You find it on the furniture, the floor, and on every outfit you wear. According to the breed standard, the ideal GSD has a double coat of medium length with an outer coat that’s as dense as possible. That makes for a lot of fur! Not only do these dogs shed continuously, they also blow their coat (lose all their undercoat) twice a year, in the spring and fall. To help with shedding, brush your dog regularly. You’ll still have fur balls flying about, but just consider them a GSD-owner’s badge of honor.
7. German Shepherd Dogs are known for their versatility
If you need any job done, just ask your dog. GSD owners understand their dogs were developed as working dogs and can do almost anything. In fact, the ideal German Shepherd has a body and gait suited to the hard work that is considered its primary purpose. This means your dog can excel at almost anything. From dog sports like rally, agility, or scent work to therapy work to guide dog work, German Shepherds can do it all. The only thing holding your dog back is the time and energy you can commit to training. It’s no wonder people always think your dog is a service or police dog.
8. GSDs are super active
Therefore, so are you. Thinking of lounging on the couch? No way! German Shepherd owners know that won’t happen until you’ve walked your dog, gone to the park, or provided some sort of exercise. This breed only thrives with enough regular exercise to burn off all that excess energy. If you don’t give your GSD daily workouts, watch out. Your dog will get that energy out somehow, and most likely in ways you don’t want. To be sure your German Shepherd is happy and a pleasure to live with, you will definitely get all the exercise you need too.
9. German Shepherds are members of the Herding Group
So, if you own this breed, you’re no stranger to a nose nudging you. Whether it’s a nose in the back, a nose on your leg, or even a nose in your face, your dog is just doing what comes naturally. Although this breed isn’t often used to herd anymore, that herding heritage remains. So, along with the herding traits of independent thinking and intelligence, it’s perfectly normal for your GSD to herd human family members. Your dog might also show “following ahead” behavior – walking in front of you while looking back to ensure you’re walking in the right direction.
10. GSDs are loving companions
These are very social dogs who want to spend time with their humans. The more time your dog gets to spend with you, the happier your companion will be. They may exhibit aloofness with strangers rather than immediately adoring everyone they see, but that only makes their love even more special. Plus, these loyal and dedicated guardians and gentle family pets are willing to put their life on the line to protect their loved ones. And you can’t ask for a more loving best friend than that.