The German Shepherd: All You Need To Know About this dog breed

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The German Shepherd is known for its intelligence, strength, courage, devotion, trainability and obedience. It is usually used in areas such as security, search and rescue, military roles, and disability assistance. It is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.

History of the German Shepherd

History of the German Shepherd

According to its name, the German Shepherd originated in Germany back in 1899. It has the appearance of a wolf and was initially developed for herding sheep.  The German shepherd was formerly known as the Alsatian until 1977, when the UK Kennel Club was pressurized to change the breed’s name back to German Shepherd.

During World War 1 (WW1), the Germany Army used the German Shepherd, and it gained its first international recognition after the soldiers who fought at WW1 commended its great performance. During the World War II, the Nazi party also used this breed.

The German shepherd (Deutscher Schaferhund in German) was named by Von Stephanitz, who was known as the first breeder of the dog. The name “German shepherd” was given to the dog because it assists shepherds in protecting and herding sheep.

During the 19th century, there were attempts to standardize dog breeds. In Germany, shepherds bred dogs to preserve traits that were of great help to them in herding and protecting their sheep from being attacked. In 1891, the Phylax Society was created with the aim of designing standardized development plans for German dog breeds.

As a result of internal conflicts regarding which dog traits should be promoted, the society was dissolved after three years. Though the Phylax Society failed to achieve their goal, they move motivated people to standardize dog breeds separately. 

Physical Appearance of the German Shepherd

physical appearance of the German shepherd

The German Shepherd is a very large dog with a double coat: a soft and dense undercoat and a wavy, harsh outer coat. Due to their looks, you can mistake them for wolves. Most times, its hair comes in red and black or tan and black color and sheds throughout the year.

There are other colors, though they are very rare, such as liver, blue, pure-black, panda, sable and pure-white. Most standards accept the sable and all-black varieties, but the liver and blue are seen as serious faults.

It has a long body which ranges between 22 and 26 inches for males and 22 to 24 inches for females. It also has a long muzzle black nose, brown medium-sized eyes, and a domed forehead, with large and erect ears that are open at the front which are always pulled back when moving. Its long neck is lowered during movement and raised when excited. 

German Shepherds also have muscular front legs and shoulders with sturdy and thick thighs. The German Shepherd is a very tall dog, about two feet and two inches. It also has a broad and deep chest.

Personality and Temperament of the German Shepherd

personality and temperament of the German shepherd

The German Shepherd has a great personality which makes it very unique compared to other dog breeds. It is highly intelligent and security conscious; in fact its popularity can be heavily linked to its intelligence.

German shepherds can learn various tasks and are very obedient; most times, they obey the first command given to them. This dog is known for its strength, curiosity, and security consciousness; it can be very protective of its owners and territories, you can always bank on it to protect your children.

It is a very loyal dog and can be trusted. Although it looks very fierce and aggressive because of its wolf-like appearance, it is a very friendly dog; it can be unfriendly to strangers and most times assess strangers very well to know their intentions.

The German Shepherd is very intelligent, strong, assertive, energetic, devoted, calm and confident. When socialized at an early stage, they can make great family dogs and companions. It is a very active dog that loves being in the company of active people; when it is left alone for a long time, it becomes frustrated and bored.

When German Shepherds are trained at a very young age, they can get along with children but they could be unfriendly with children they aren’t familiar with. This dog breed is very smart and trainable. Due to its personality, the German shepherd is considered a guide and detector dog, assistance dog, military dog and search and rescue dog.

Types of German Shepherd

There are different types of German Shepherd, these include:

  • American Bloodlines
  • West German Show lines
  • German Working Bloodlines
  • Czech working lines
  • DDR/East German working lines

American Bloodlines

The American line dog is also known as the Canadian Shepherd. They are mostly seen in the US. They are heavy and large dogs with smaller heads. They don’t have what it takes to be used as working dogs; they are commonly associated with health issues like bloat, skin allergies and hip dysplasia. The clear difference between the American line and the German line is angulation; the American line has more angulation.

American German Shepherds have longer and more angled body; they are taller and heavier than their German Counterparts.  They cannot be used for military work, search and rescue, and detective work unlike the German bloodlines. They come in black, white, black and tan, sable or bi-colors. 

West German Show Lines

The West German Show Lines are beautiful, bright and large dogs with rich pigment. They are very protective, strong, energetic and sensitive. The female’s weight ranges between 22-32kg while males weigh between 30-40kg. They can be used as working dogs and are larger than the working line dogs. This dog breed needs lots of training, socialization and exercise.

The West German show lines were specifically bred to be beautiful dogs to conform to showing standards. They come mostly in black and red saddles, but sometimes come in bi-colors, tan, black and sable. They do not have extreme angled backs and hindquarters like the American show lines. German Show line dogs are very good companions and have unique personalities. They have lower working drives as compared to the working lines

German Working Bloodlines

The German Working Bloodlines were originally bred to be working dogs. They have been used for search and rescue, detective, assistance and military work. They can also be used as family companions. This dog breed needs to be socialized at a very early stage and needs a lot of exercise to maintain a healthy well being. They are trained to have tolerance for pain; this is one of the reasons it is used for military work.

The working bloodlines are highly aggressive and have higher prey drive; they consider anything that moves with speed as preys. For instance a child running fast, or a jogger running by, the working bloodlines might see them as prey. These bloodlines need a lot of training.

Czech Working Lines

The Czech working lines were originally bred as working dogs and are primarily used for border patrol work and military work. Their origins can be traced to the Czechoslovakian Army’s Pohranicni Straze Kennel. These dogs were bred to display excellent working ability such as patrolling the Czech border, protecting the Czechoslovakian Army and apprehending criminals.

They are very energetic, powerful, intelligent, security conscious, sensitive, dedicated, focused and obedient. They have large blocky heads, thick chests, thick bone structure, straight backs and thick paws. They have dark pigments, usually come in sable/agouti and sometimes come in solid black. They have high working drives and are very agile.

DDR/East German Working Lines

After World War II, the German Working Lines were developed from the war dogs that were left. They were maintained by the East Germany’s government. They are known for their working structure which includes: large heads, large and strong bones and broad shoulders. These dogs do not really have hip dysplasia.

They are very energetic dogs and need sufficient work to stay healthy. The East German working lines are known for their excellent tracking abilities, balanced temperament, intelligence, loyalty, physical structure and natural drive. They are very loyal to their owners, they see themselves as a part of the family and they are very protective of their owners

Health Issues Associated With the German Shepherd

The average life expectancy of the German Shepherd ranges between 10-12 years. All dogs are prone to some genetic health issues, and so is the German Shepherd. Below are some genetic health issues associated with the German Shepherd.

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Urinary Calculi
  • Cancers
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Anal furunculosis
  • Congenital Megaoesophagus
  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Epilepsy
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Panosteitis
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
  • Bloat
  • Pannus
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Canine Pituitary Dwarfism

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a common health issue associated with the German Shepherd. It is an excessive inflammation in the intestines and stomach, which results to chronic vomiting and diarrhea. Apart from being a genetic disease, it could be caused by bacterial overgrowths and food sensitivities.

There are many forms of IBD of which three of the forms can be diagnosed such as Eosinophilic Enteritis, Lymphocytic Plasmacytic and Eosinophilic Colitis and each type can be differentiated with biopsies. Patients that are diagnosed with this are advised to go on long-term hydrolyzed diets.

Urinary Calculi

The German Shepherd can have urinary stones which include Uric acid stones and Silica stones. Animals that have this may have problems with urinating and could develop chronic urinary infections. In some cases, medical dissolution might work while surgery might be required to remove stones in other cases.

In order to prevent Urinary Calculi, dogs should feed on some certain diets and also dogs should take a large quantity of water. Dogs that are commonly associated with this health disease should be monitored with imaging and urinalysis tests so as to detect it on time.

Cancers

The German Shepherd is likely to develop a number of cancers all through their lifetime, of which Hemangiosarcoma is one of them. Hemangiosarcoma is a tumor inside the body which continues to grow to a large size; it might not be detected on time till it has grown so big.

Most times, this tumor grows in the spleen although it can grow anywhere there are blood vessels and can spread to other organs of the body. The most common symptom is internal bleeding. This cancer affects the spleen and a very good amount of blood can be lost within a very short time and most times, emergency surgery is required to remove the cancerous spleen.

Another common cancer associated with the German Shepherd is Osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma, also known as Osteogenic sarcoma is a bone tumor that results to localized lameness and extreme pain. This cancer spreads very quickly and destroys the bone. Dogs that are diagnosed with this are medically advised to get their limbs amputated and another recommendation given is chemotherapy.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is known to be a congenital disorder where the sockets in the hips are not firm and the femur causes damage. This is a genetic health problem that dogs develop and in some cases an injury in the hip might result to hip dysplasia. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, 19.1 % of German Shepherds are affected by this health condition.

Dogs having this will show signs at a very early stage. At first, the symptoms might not be serious; it might include decreased tolerance for exercise or running in a way that both back legs move together. It is commonly associated with symptoms like limping, rapid weight gain, struggling to stand, favoring one leg, aggression, hesitation on stairs, and hip injury.

If this disorder is not treated, it could get worse as time goes on. Operations are recommended in some cases, while moderate exercise and short walks can also be helpful in developing muscles to help loose joints. There are also pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medication, diets with supplements and also weight loss. According to the Kennel clubs, diagnosed dogs should be monitored in order to reduce genetic tendencies.

Anal Furunculosis

Anal Furunculosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that leads to inflammation and ulceration in the areas around the anus. It is mostly found in the German Shepherd. Dogs that experience this might vocalize and strain when passing out faeces.

The symptoms of this disease include draining sinuses in the perineum, odor from the perineum, extensive ulceration, red and sore skin in the anal area, and anus covered with pus. Anal Furunculosis is a very chronic condition that can cause severe pain and irritation.

This health condition is difficult to treat. Factors contributing to this disease in German Shepherds include the large numbers of sweat glands in the areas surrounding the anus and their densely furred tails. It can be treated through hypoallergenic foods and immunosuppressive medication. This disease can be very stressful for dogs and their owners since treatments don’t really work.

Congenital Megaoesophagus

The oesophagus is a small tube that links from the mouth to the stomach. Megaoesophagus occurs when the oesophagus is abnormally enlarged; congenital megaoesophagus is a health condition in dogs where the oesophagus lacks muscle resulting to the regurgitation of food.

When food is not digested properly, the dog will pass it out exactly the way it came in. Most times, owners see regurgitating as vomiting. The symptoms begin when puppies start eating solid food; dogs with this health condition experience symptoms such as difficulties in swallowing, excessive salivation, fatigue and aspiration pneumonia.

Congenital megaoesophagus is caused by abnormal nerve growth in the oesophagus of dog. This results to inability of the muscles to transport food eaten by dogs from their mouth to the stomach.

There are several ways this disease can be diagnosed which include radiography, contrast imaging, a 3-D CT scan, endoscopy or endocrine function testing and fluoroscopy. Treatment includes providing small quantities of food to dogs, feeding them with liquid diet, positioning dogs to eat in a way that the food gets to their stomach and giving them water in small quantities frequently.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis is a chronic skin disease in dogs caused by allergies. This is a very common skin disease dogs battle with. This allergic skin disease can be caused by harmless substances such as house dust mites, animal dander, grass and other environmental allergic substances.

The symptoms can be seen in dogs between 3 months and 6 years old, and these symptoms get worse over time, although they become more evident during some seasons. The symptoms include rubbing, itching, scratching and licking areas around the underarms, face, and paws.

Several tests such as blood testing or intradermal testing and serologic testing may be conducted to detect what the dog is reacting to. In cases whereby the allergen can be avoided, symptoms can be controlled. In cases where allergens cannot be avoided, antibiotics and anti-itch medicine are prescribed.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy, also known as seizure is a brain disorder identified by repeated seizure activity. They are of two types: idiopathic and symptomatic. The more common is idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy is a disorder that is caused by too much activity of electrons in the brain, thereby resulting to body seizures or convulsions. It is a genetic disease that is commonly associated with the German Shepherd.

There is no evident cause of idiopathic epilepsy according to research. This disease cannot be treated, but can be controlled and prevented with constant medication. It is not easy to identify affected animals as no genetic test can be conducted to identify them.

Dogs who suffer from idiopathic epilepsy experience seizure between their first year and fourth year, although a six month old dog or six years old dog might experience seizures in some cases.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy is a chronic spinal cord disease in dogs which results in gradual loss of movement. Carriers become paralyzed in the hind and fore limbs. This disease is not curable and can lead to complete paralysis over time. The symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy includes dragging nails, difficulty in standing, stumbling, muscle loss in the rear legs, weakness of the hind limbs, difficulty in defecating or urinating and knuckling of the toes.

In Degenerative Myelopathy, there exists a gradual degeneration of the spinal cord’s outer layer tissue. The symptoms are not evident in dogs at a very young age; the first symptoms become apparent when the dogs age between 8 and 9 years of age. The hind limb becomes weak over time which causes them to have difficulty in standing.

Affected dogs do not experience pain but can become stressed due to their inability to move. In order to identify carriers and animals that are likely to develop the disease, a DNA test can be conducted.

Panosteitis

Panosteitis is a health disease commonly associated with the German shepherd; it is an inflammation of the fatty bone marrow characterized by severe pains in the bone and lameness. It can be found in any bone that has a good amount of bone marrow. At first, the lameness affects one leg and then goes on to affect the other. Carriers may have increased temperature, become lethargic and loose appetite. These symptoms occur within a few days to weeks, disappear and then reappear.

There are medications that can be given to carriers in order to relieve them of the pain, but these medications have side effects i.e. intestinal irritation. Carriers may suffer bouts from their fifth month of birth while the disease regresses once sexual maturity is attained between 5-15 months. No study has been carried out on the genetics of panosteitis, and the genes causing this condition are yet to be identified. It is advisable that carriers of panosteitis be tested for Von Willebrand’s disease, as the condition can occur at the same time.

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is characterized by a degenerative disease of the pancreas. The two functions of the pancreas include blood glucose regulation via secretion of glucagon and insulin, and secretion of substances into the intestine.

The major cause of this disease in German shepherds is pancreatic acinar atrophy (a gradual destruction of the pancreas’ acinar cells). These pancreas’ acinar cells, are responsible for the production of chemicals, fluids, and enzymes. The destruction of these cells leads to the production of insufficient pancreatic juice required for digestion.

Dogs that suffer from Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency can experience severe malnutrition, indigestion, deficiency of vitamins, weight loss, diarrhea, intestinal borborygmi, vomiting, increased drinking, weakness of the muscle, bacterial overgrowth in the gut and poor greasy coats. These symptoms only occur when the pancreas is destroyed.

It can be treated with frequent intake of vitamin B12 and oral supply of pancreatic enzymes. Most times, carriers appear to be extremely hungry and sometimes experience abdominal discomfort. When carriers are not treated on time, they can become weaker and weaker as their body system fails and they eventually die of starvation.

Bloat

Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-Volvulus is a very painful disease which is life threatening to dogs. Dogs that suffer from this health condition require instant veterinary care. The condition is most often treated by surgical operation. According to recent studies, the risk increases as the dog gets older. Studies found out that some specific bloodlines within particular breeds may be more prone to bloating than the others.

Symptoms of bloating include weakness, depression, salivation, and gradual abdominal distension. Bloat is not necessarily associated with dietary problem. However, feeding management can help to prevent problems associated with bloating. There are suggestions on how bloats can be prevented; this includes feeding dogs in a quiet place, reducing dietary changes, and avoiding rigorous activities before and after feeding.

Pannus

Pannus is a health condition caused by inflammation of the cornea of dogs. This condition becomes worse with time and has effects on both eyes. In severe cases, the eye is turned black due to blood vessels and scar tissue that affects the cornea of the eye. According to experts, it is caused by an unknown immune reaction that increases when exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light. It occurs mostly in middle-aged German Shepherds.

The symptoms include excessive weeping, black cornea, blood-shot eyes, cloudiness of the eye and a film covering the eyes. In order to detect affected dogs, a complete eye examination should be carried out which includes Schirmer Tear Test, microscopic examination of the cornea and intraocular pressure testing. Sadly, pannus cannot be cured, the disease can be stopped from progressing, and there are some therapies that can help reverse the blood vessels from invading the cornea.

Small intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

For digestion and absorption of nutrients to take place, certain bacteria are required in the gut; if there is an overgrowth of the bacteria, then there are problems. Small intestinal Bacterial overgrowth affects dogs, and diarrhea and gas are known to be the major symptoms. This health condition occurs in dogs due to some reasons which include Ileus, malnutrition or immunodeficiency of nutrients.

There are two forms of small intestinal Bacterial overgrowth which are the secondary SIBO and idiopathic SIBO. Young dogs are mostly affected by idiopathic SIBO, while secondary SIBO can have an effect on any dog. This disease can be diagnosed using X-rays, endoscopy, and serial fecal examination. One of the dog breeds that suffer from SIBO is the German Shepherd. No cure has been discovered for idiopathic SIBO, although there are antibiotics that can help in managing the symptoms. For secondary SIBO, the best way is to treat the underlying causes.

Canine Pituitary Dwarfism

Canine Pituitary Dwarfism is a deficiency in the growth hormone, which is an autosomal genetic disorder in shepherd dogs. It is a serious health condition that causes dwarfism, and clinical symptoms are not restricted to the physical appearance of the dog. 

The pituitary gland secretes hormones such as prolactin, follicle stimulating hormone, endorphins, oxytocin, thyroid, growth hormone, antidiuretic, luteinizing and Adrenocorticotropic hormone. This health condition can be caused by tumors, hereditary, infections, lack of development and cysts.

The most evident sign of defects in the pituitary gland is the small stature. Carriers always suffer from conditions like under development of the kidneys and liver, leading to cardiovascular problems, inactive thyroid glands resulting to slow intelligence. This health condition can become evident in dogs within 2-3 months old, and when it is left untreated, the lifespan of the carrier is shortened.

The symptoms include bulging eyes, abnormal head, swollen joints, abnormal short legs, abnormal body size, swollen abdomen, abnormal growth rate, loss of hair, difficulty in breathing, unusual panting, snoring, darkened skin and dullness.

Caring For The German Shepherd

Caring for the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is known to be an intelligent, loyal and active dog. German shepherds create intimacy with their owners and serve as good family companions. It is therefore very important that owners provide them with training, work, games, exercises and leadership required for survival.

German shepherds love staying around active people because they are energetic dogs, they tend to be frustrated when they aren’t able to exercise their qualities. Below are the different ways German Shepherds can be cared for:

  • Socialization with other dogs and people
  • Regular exercise to help them keep fit
  • Proper training
  • Keep them busy

Socialization with other dogs and people

The German Shepherd needs to be socialized at a very young age. It is a very sociable dog that loves being in the company of other dogs and people. Young German shepherds should be kept in different settings. They shouldn’t be kept at home all through because they need to experience the larger world so as to become very familiar with outdoor activities.

These dog breeds are not positioned for only indoor activities. When they are not properly socialized at an early stage, they can display anxiety and fear when they are around strangers. They require lots of exercise, jobs to do, and instructions to carry out in order to thrive. One of the best ways you can socialize German shepherds is by enrolling them in training classes or dog clubs.

Regular Exercise to help them Keep Fit

German Shepherd exercise

To keep thriving and fit, the German Shepherd needs regular exercise. They were originally bred for herding sheep; this is why your German Shepherd needs plenty of exercise to maintain physical fitness.

German shepherds are hyper active dogs that need about 3 hours of exercise daily. They are very energetic and thus partake in all kinds of canine sports, such as swimming, walking, agility training and jogging. Agility training is very ideal for German Shepherds in order to keep them mentally fit. The Kennel Club advised that dogs undergo agility training in order to keep fit. 

Proper Training to Reduce Aggressive Behavior

Naturally, German Shepherds are self-assured and even-tempered. The German shepherd’s aggressive behavior is one of the reasons the American Kennel Club disqualifies the German Shepherd from the show ring. In some European countries like Germany, German Shepherds undergo temperament testing before they are qualified for breeding.

Aggression in the German Shepherd is as a result of improper socialization, poor breeding and abusive training that has taught them to defend themselves first.  German Shepherds were originally bred to be guard dogs, therefore, training them not to be aggressive can be very tasking. If you want to stop your German shepherd’s aggressive behavior, you have to teach him to obey some specific commands. 

Keep Them Busy

Keeping your German Shepherd busy

German Shepherds can become frustrated when they are bored and as a result of this, they can look for ways to amuse themselves which may turn out to be unacceptable by their owners. There are various factors that contribute to their anxiety and fear.

When German shepherds are anxious, they exercise abnormal behaviors such as hiding, licking, chewing, and panting. They love chewing a lot, and if care is not taken, they can cause a lot of destruction in the home with their powerful jaws and their jaws could also be damaged as a result of chewing harmful objects. To avoid this, you can get safe chew toys and bones to keep them busy.

Going for a daily walk with your dog can help prevent separation anxiety. German Shepherd owners should try and identify the cause of their pet’s fears. When German Shepherds feel lonely, they can become destructive; owners are therefore advised to allow their dog engage in activities such as going on hikes, swimming and playing Frisbee that will help relieve their anxiety and fear.

Grooming The German Shepherd

German Shepherds need regular care and grooming, most especially for their double coats. Grooming is a very good experience and it is advisable you start grooming your dogs at an early stage.

When grooming your dog, you can check for any skin sores, bumps and lumps. When you fail to take good care of your dog’s teeth, cat, hair and other parts of the body, there is a high probability that your dog will fall ill.

Bathing

You don’t need to bathe your German Shepherd regularly because they are known to be clean dogs. Washing dogs regularly removes the natural oils present in their coats, which might cause skin problems. There are dog shampoos that can be used for bathing dogs. When rinsing, make sure you rinse the shampoo thoroughly and avoid contact with your dog’s eyes.

Trimming and cutting

When grooming, it is necessary you trim your dog’s toenails. Make nail clipping a routine for your German Shepherd, because when you leave the toenails to grow long, they can be harmful to you and your dog. If your dog is not used to this, then you need to start gradually so that it gets used to it. Nail cutting can be done every week, while trimming can be every two weeks.

Brushing

 German Shepherds have double coats, a thick under coat and a shiny overcoat. They are known to be heavy shedders, so it is advisable you brush them regularly to avoid too much hair shed in the house. Brushing helps to remove dead hair and enhance the beauty of the coat. A pin brush is suitable for brushing the thick undercoat, and a wide-toothed comb can be used to remove loose hairs that are shed from their coats.

Cleaning

The German Shepherd’s teeth need to be cleaned frequently with the use of a brush. A small amount of pet toothpaste would be enough to clean your dog’s gums and teeth. Avoid brushing your dog’s teeth harshly. In order to keep the German Shepherd’s gums and teeth healthy, you can feed them with kibbles or hard cookies. Another part of the German Shepherd that needs cleaning is the ears; if the ears are not cleaned regularly, your dog might develop debris and excess wax in the ear.

Training Your German Shepherd to Become Guard Dogs

Training your German Shepherd to become guard dogs

The German shepherd is known to be naturally aggressive. Its bark is enough to raise an alarm that something unusual is happening. You do not need to teach your dog to be aggressive before they can protect you. One of the unique qualities of the German Shepherd is their loyalty, they can be friendly when they receive proper training at a very early stage.

The German shepherds were originally bred to be working dogs. The way you train your dog reflects who you are. Most times, dogs operate on instincts and instructions. Below are some training tips for your German Shepherd:

Socialize your dog at an early stage

socializing your German Shepherd

Socialize your dog at a very early stage. Dogs need to understand the difference between what is wrong and charitable, so they will easily identify what a genuine threat is. You need to take your German shepherd to places, let them interact with people and animals. If dogs are not given proper socialization, they tend to be fearful and aggressive.

Enroll your dog in obedience classes

Another way you can train your German shepherd is enrolling him in an obedience class. One of the great qualities possessed by the German Shepherd is obedience. Dogs should be trained to carry out instructions given. Endeavor to reward your German shepherd with nice treats each time they carry out instructions correctly rather than yelling or punishing them when they do the wrong thing. With this, they will be inspired to follow your commands.

Address the issue of food aggression

You need to address the issue of food aggression.  Most times, dogs are very aggressive while feeding. Try and feed your dog by hand, and with time your dog gains confidence that people are not a threat to their food. Let your dog be assured that you bring more food to the food bowl and you are not going to threaten them with it.

Train your dog to stop barking on command

Train your dog to stop barking on command. When dogs learn this, they stop barking at anything and stop seeing everything as threats. Allow your dog to get familiar with your territory and build its alertness. Do not allow your dog bark at anyone for no reason, but encourage it to bark when it sees strangers in your house.

Be consistent with your commands

Be consistent with the commands you use when training your German Shepherd. For instance, changing the verbal commands from “sit” to “sit down there,” could be confusing for your dog so be consistent with your commands. Patience is required when teaching basic commands; communication is made easier when your dog understands basic commands.

Control your dog

Learn how to control your German Shepherd if you want him to be a guard dog. Control is very important, it shows that you are a leader and this can only happen when spending time with your dog. An uncontrollable dog can cause serious harm and this will definitely be a liability rather than an asset. Do not train your dog to be aggressive towards people, because when you do so, you are at great risk.

5 Best Dog Food For German Shepherds

Food is very necessary for the survival of all dogs and the German Shepherd is not left out. They need high-quality foods, lots of exercise and veterinary care to live a healthy long life. This is why it is very important that owners feed their German Shepherds with nutritious meals that will help them stay healthy and strong. Although German Shepherds are very strong and energetic in nature, they still require the right proportion of nutrients in their meals. Below are the best dog foods you can feed your German Shepherd:

Our Best Choice of the German Shepherd Dog Food

High Prairie Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Meat Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food

For different reasons, the High Prairie Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Meat Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food still remains the favorite as the best dog food for your German Shepherd. First, it has the right calorie content to meet the needs of your German Shepherd. Second, it makes use of some novel proteins like lamb and buffalo meat, and as a tertiary ingredient, relies on the protein-rich chicken. Third, there are other novel proteins present such as roasted bison, ocean fish meal and roasted venison to stock this food with meaty flavors.

Fourth is the presence of a unique blend of antioxidants, gut-friendly microorganisms and molecules that help in the healthy skin and coat of your dog, and nutrients that boosts your dog’s immune system. Fifth, ingredients that could cause owners to worry like corn, filler, wheat, colors, artificial flavors and preservatives are absent from this formulation.  

Pros:

This grain free dog food provides a highly digestible energy, good taste sensation, and antioxidants that maintain a healthy immune system. It contains no harmful ingredients that can make dog owners worry and has lots of nutritional benefits.

Cons:

Your German Shepherd might gulp the food instead of chewing it, due to the small size of the kibble which is wrong. According to some dog owners, their pet’s teeth didn’t stay clean after they fed their dogs with this food.

Other Great Choices of German Shepherd Dog Foods

Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food By Royal Canin

This Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food by Royal Canin one dog food that must be included in your pet’s food. This is a very nutritious meal for your less-active German Shepherd due to its low-calorie content compared to other dog foods in this list.

However, you must remember that brewer’s rice is the first ingredient of this dog food. It also includes corn gluten meal and wheat gluten. However, if you’re comfortable with these allergenic grains, then this dog food by Royal Canin is a very good choice. It also includes glucosamine, DHA, Chondroitin and EPA, which does well to enhance your dog’s physiological processes.

Pros:

The Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food helps to meet the nutritional requirements of German Shepherds. It has a combination of Glucosamine and Chondroitin which are good components that aid spine growth.

As said earlier, a very common health disease associated with the German Shepherd is Hip dysplasia; this dog food helps to fight against this disease.This dog food is very rich in vitamins and contains antioxidants which help in maintaining the German Shepherd’s immune system. 

This food also contains Chondroitin, fibers and glucosamine which helps in building stronger bones and joints. It also helps the digestive system, with the combination of specific fibers and digestible proteins, optimal stool quality is enhanced.

Cons:

This dog food seems to be too expensive. Not all dog owners can afford it.

Nutro Ultra the Superfood plate Dry Dog Food with a Trio of Proteins from Chicken, Salmon and Lamb

The Nutro Ultra the Superfood Plate Dry Dog Food contains the right proportion of nutrients required for the growth of your German Shepherd. It also includes proteins from Lamb, salmon and chicken, the number one ingredient that helps in maintaining healthy weight. This dog food contains no Soy, artificial colors, preservatives or flavors, Chicken by-product meal, and Corn. Instead it provides your German Shepherd with wholesome rice and oatmeal which sets the base for a mix of vegetables, fruits and botanicals. It has a mixture of Superfoods like Coconut, Blueberries, Kale, Chia and other quality ingredients. 

Pros:

The combination of three proteins such as chicken, salmon and lamb helps to provide Amino Acids that enhance strong, lean muscles. This dog food contains antioxidants that aid the maintenance of a strong immune system and a healthy mind. The Nutro Ultra the Superfood plate Dry Dog Food contains Sunflower Oil which helps your dog maintain a healthy skin.

Cons:

This dog contains high quality ingredients, which made it quite expensive for some dog owners.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Adult Dry Dog Food

The Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Adult Dry Dog Food provides your active German shepherd with the necessary health requirements. To ensure your German Shepherd lives a fulfilled life, this dog food also includes a combination of natural ingredients like healthy lentils, wholesome veggies and antioxidant-rich fruits. With the presence of real chicken, this recipe is designed to satisfy your dog’s quest for meat. This real chicken dog food maintains and builds lean muscle. This grain free diet consists of healthy carbohydrates such as peas and sweet potatoes that help to enhance your dog’s active life.

This natural dog food is specifically designed for your dog’s well-being and growth. It contains no by-product meals, wheat, corn, soy and preservatives. It contains one 24-lb bag of BLUE Wilderness high protein grain free.

Pros:

This dog food aids proper digestion and helps to maintain healthy skin and coat. It has got a great taste, because most dogs really find it tasty. Part of its ingredients includes DHA; this helps your dog develop retinal function and cognitive learning.

Cons:

Some dog owners complained that their dog did not like the food.

Orijen Original Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free Dry Dog Food

The Orijen Original Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free Dry Dog Food is a grain free recipe that contains dry ingredients like chicken, whole eggs, turkey, Atlantic mackerel, red lentils, dried kelp, and yellowtail flounder, among others, which makes it one of the best dog food for German Shepherds. This dog food contains fruits and vegetables (about 15% of its ingredients). It gives the highest protein content due to its high quality ingredients. In order to prevent obesity, it is necessary that your German Shepherd undergoes frequent exercise and training if you feed him this recipe.

Pros:

With the presence of Zinc in this dog food, the immune system of your dog will be enhanced. It also helps to maintain a healthy skin and coat. It is biologically appropriate for all, both young and old German Shepherd. It also has a very high protein content, which means your dog will be provided with energy and fuel

Cons:

Due to the presence of quality ingredients, the Orijen Dry Dog food is expensive.

Conclusion

German Shepherds are great dogs that serve different purposes. They are mostly used as guard dogs and for other security purposes. They love being a part of the family and suffer from separation anxiety when kept away.

Early socialization as well as training is vital for them as this could cause them to be too aggressive or too fearful when they meet with unfamiliar people. They also require proper care and grooming as well as the best dog food to match their active lifestyle and help them stay healthy and strong

Also read about: The Labrador Retriever

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