German Shepherd Breeding Standard

Traits, Personality & Behavior

German Shepherds are smart, active dogs that will do best with smart, active owners able to give them focused attention, exercise, training, and lots of one-on-one time. There are few dog breeds whose fans don’t call them “intelligent,” but in the case of the German Shepherd Dog, that’s probably an understatement. They are extremely intelligent and famously trainable. Their intelligence means they don’t suffer fools – or wimpy owners – gladly, which means consistent training from an early age is not optional. Those brains, if not put to work in constructive ways, will find plenty of destructive alternatives.

German Shepherds can also be way too much dog for even the most well-meaning of people because they were created and bred to work for many generations. Their genes tell them to be a guardian, a police dog, a guide dog, a search and rescue dog – almost anything other than a couch potato. If you aren’t ready for that level of commitment, find another breed.

A few cautions: The German Shepherd Dog sheds, a lot and constantly, so much that even its fans call it a “German shedder.” And while many German Shepherds are raised successfully in kennel situations, these are working dogs that have demanding and interesting tasks to do that give them the needed exercise and mental stimulation. If your Shepherd is a family pet, he needs to live indoors with your family. Otherwise, he’ll be lonely, bored, and destructive.

Many people want a German Shepherd for purposes of protection. But almost no one really needs a trained protection dog — most people or families simply need a watchdog and a deterrent. The German Shepherd’s size, body language, reputation, and instinctive protectiveness are all that’s needed to accomplish those goals, so don’t get a “trained protection dog” that you don’t need and probably can’t handle. A socialized, well-mannered German Shepherd that lives with his family will protect them as part of his nature.

Variations of German Shepherds

It is possible to get a good dog from many different types of breeders – show, obedience, and working dogs, or even just someone breeding Shepherds as companions. It’s also possible, and much more likely, to get a dog completely unsuited to your needs from any of those sources. The situation becomes even more complicated because of all the competing claims being made by the different sub-groups of breeders and fanciers of the German Shepherd, which are impossible for any outsider to evaluate.