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Everything You Need to Know About German Shepherds

If you work regularly with dogs, you understand how valuable it is to find a loyal, intelligent, and robust dog.

Dogs are often bred for specific characteristics or physical traits; sometimes, they are not as versatile as their owners would like.

At Infinity Pups, we believe that one of the ultimate dogs for training, agility, and human companionship is the German Shepherd!

Second only to the Labrador Retriever in popularity, the German Shepherd is one of the most loyal, intelligent, and hardest-working dog breeds in the world.

Are you ready to learn if a German Shepherd would make a good companion for you?

Let's get started!


The history of a German shepherd dog

The first German Shepherds came from Germany.

During the Agricultural Revolution, many European farmers used herding dogs to protect their animals from predators and herd livestock.

However, there were very few purebred herding dogs, and a German named Captain Max von Stephanitz wanted to create a new breed. His goal was to develop a purebred dog that would be recognizable as a German herd dog.

In 1899 Stephanitz saw a dog that looked similar to a wolf. He bought the dog, named Hektor Linksrhein, and began the German Shepherd breed through careful breeding, note-taking, and watching for defective traits.

In the early 1900s, the German economy moved from farming to industrialization, and Stephanitz recognized that herding dogs were no longer necessary. However, even as they ceased to be needed as herd dogs, the police and military began to buy Stephanitz's dogs because of their high intelligence and bravery.

And how did German Shepherds become popular in the United States?

During WWI, an American soldier, Corporal Lee Duncan, found a German Shepherd puppy in a destroyed French building.

He brought the puppy, Rin Tin Tin, back to L.A. and trained it well. Rin Tin Tin eventually starred in several Hollywood movies. The American public fell in love with this new breed, and German Shepherds became popular.

During WWII and the time following, many dog lovers from America and England wanted a different name for the breed to avoid the negative stigma associated with the word "German." For a time, the breed was called the "Shepherd Dog" or "Alsatian."

During the mid-1900s, American breeders focused on the German Shepherd's looks, while in Europe, German breeders continued to breed for their intelligence and herding abilities.

This looks-based approach resulted in American German Shepherds developing health issues. The U.S. police and military began importing their German Shepherds to avoid these concerns surrounding the American breed. While there are still differences between American and European German Shepherds, many of the health and intelligence concerns are no longer an issue.

General Information

The official AKC name for the German Shepherd is actually the "German Shepherd Dog." It also goes by the abbreviation GSD.

German Shepherds usually stand around 22-24 inches tall at the shoulder. Adult German Shepherds weigh between 75 and 95 pounds and can reasonably be expected to live for about 10-14 years.

Unlike many retriever breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd crossbreeds are not very popular. Instead, many breeders continue to focus on making the German Shepherd Dog a vibrant, healthy, pure breed.

Personality Strong Points

German shepherd personality

When people think of a German Shepherd, different images come to mind. Some think of a tough police dog, some think of a family pet, and some may think of a scary, dangerous dog.

In reality, lots of people misunderstand German Shepherds. Instead of thinking about the breed's original herding and farming traits, many people think only of their protecting and guarding instincts. That can bring up some negative connotations.

However, as the second-most favorite dog in the United States, German Shepherds must have some attractive traits!

Here are a few of the German Shepherd's most-loved characteristics.


The German Shepherd is bred for hard work. Whether herding sheep or cattle, going on search-and-rescue missions, being used by the military and police, or merely running around the backyard, the German Shepherd loves to be actively working.

German Shepherds are not afraid of long days or doing complicated tasks. They thrive on it.


German Shepherds quickly bond with their owners and handlers.

Whether it is a family, a farmer, or a policeman, a German Shepherd knows who its master is and will remain wholly loyal and attached to that person.


German Shepherds are intelligent and versatile, which is why many security institutions, such as police K-9 units, use German Shepherds as working dogs.

German shepherd K9 unit

Like many other breeds, training a German Shepherd when young is easiest. However, their ability to learn more than the average breed sets the German Shepherd apart.

You can quickly train a German Shepherd to do almost any task. Along with their fabulous work ethic, this quick intelligence is one of the main reasons they are the default breed for search-and-rescue and security purposes.


A trait we often overlook in German Shepherds is their companionship to humans.

They are loyal to their owners and handlers, and German Shepherds also desire to be with humans they know. If they go for too long without human interaction, they can become moody and depressed.


German Shepherds are one of the most athletic dog breeds. To reach their full potential, it is vital that you keep them in good health and do not let them become overweight.

They have tremendous stamina for running and hard work, and their body shape and mass are ideal for performing other physical tasks like jumping, quick turns, and navigating treacherous terrain.

Are German Shepherds aggressive?

Like any animal, the exact characteristics of a German Shepherd vary based on the puppy you choose, the environment where it is raised, and the regular attention and care you give it.

Regular training and care impact German Shepherds more than a lot of dog breeds.

What impact do training and care have?

Some people fear German Shepherds because they may have experienced or heard a story about an aggressive German Shepherd that was dangerous to people.

If a German Shepherd shows aggressive tendencies, it is often due to one of the following reasons:

  • Their owner or handler was being threatened.
  • They were confined in a small area and possibly neglected.
  • They were trained to be aggressive.

Many German Shepherd's aggressiveness comes from being kept in a small area or neglected. And sadly, some people do train German Shepherds to be aggressive.

Why does a small area or neglect encourage aggression in a German Shepherd?

Neglect can lead to aggressiveness

Because of their high-energy nature and desire for human companionship, a confined German Shepherd may become full of confined energy and become frustrated and restless.

If they are confined too long, this frustration gets bottled up. Then when a stranger approaches, the German Shepherd may release this frustration as aggression.

German shepherds should have freedom to roam and exercise

Neglected German Shepherds also bark a lot and chew on things around them. This is due to the frustration from their pent-up energy.

How can a German shepherd be trained to avoid aggressive actions?


So how can you prevent aggression in your German Shepherd?

  • Train them positively when they are young.
  • Give them daily companionship with their owner, family, or handler.
  • Give them an area in which to run daily and release energy.
  • Give them a purpose and make sure they feel loved.

If a German Shepherd is trained and cared for correctly, aggression is not a problem, and you can spend years with your loyal, well-trained companion!


The German Shepherd is known to be a high shedder and is sometimes lovingly referred to as the "German Shedder."

To avoid excessive shedding and loose hair, groom your German Shepherd regularly. We recommend grooming German Shepherds at least several times a week, but daily grooming is the best. Not only does regular grooming remove loose hair, but it also keeps the coat clean and free from knots.

One of the keys to grooming your German Shepherd is to start when they are a puppy. If you perform regular care and grooming from the start, your dog will become used to it and won't fight it when they are older. Your puppy will soon learn that grooming means quality time with his owner!

What are some of the best grooming practices?

German Shepherds should be brushed daily to keep the tangles out of their coats and remove loose hair. Make sure you use a brush made for coarser hair.

They are relatively clean dogs and don't need regular baths due to the oils in their skin. However, if your German Shepherd is dirty due to mud or grime, you should bathe them.

Your German Shepherd will also need basic routine dog care such as tooth brushing and nail trimming.


The health of your German Shepherd is a critical factor in your dog's quality of life and how long it will live.

The German Shepherd is subject to many common disorders and illnesses of all dog breeds, but a few are more specific to German Shepherds.

What is your first line of defense?

Watch for health issues with your German Shepherd

The best time to look for health issues in your German Shepherd is during regular grooming. When you groom your German Shepherd, looking for sores, rashes, unusual skin or hair color, or other issues will give you a jumpstart on any problems.

One of the more common issues found in all dog breeds is hip and elbow dysplasia.

This occurs when a joint in the dog's leg or hip becomes weakened or malformed. This can result in arthritis or even lameness if it goes untreated.

One way to prevent this is to keep your German Shepherd from running on hard surfaces. This is most important in young dogs while their bodies are growing and developing, but it can negatively affect adult dogs too.

Thankfully, dogs can be tested for dysplasia since it is a genetic disorder. Ask your breeder if they have any dysplasia testing or health records on your puppy's parents. If your puppy shows any negative signs, it is a good idea to take them to your vet.

Which health problems are more specific to the German Shepherd?

German Shepherds can be prone to degenerative myelopathy. This is a slow paralysis in the back, which can eventually paralyze the dog. Watch for signs of gradual pain and discomfort in your German Shepherd, especially when they are walking. If you see them beginning to limp or favor one side, you should have your vet look at your dog.

German shepherd dogs

Another important thing to monitor with German Shepherds is their food intake. Obese German Shepherds will have more health issues and are more prone to joint problems.

The best way to keep your dog at a healthy weight is to measure regular feedings and perform the "hands-on test." Place your hands on your German Shepherd's back with your thumbs on the spine and your fingers on the sides. Gently press your fingers together, and you should feel the ribs. If you cannot feel the ribs, your dog has an unnecessary layer of fat and may be overweight.

Your dog is underweight if you can see your German Shepherd's ribs through its coat without touching it.

Allergy Concerns

A potential problem for some people with German Shepherds is allergies they may create.

German Shepherds can indeed cause allergy problems in humans. However, there are measures you can take to reduce these problems.

What causes people to be allergic to dogs in the first place?

allergic reactions to the German shepherd dog

The simple answer is dander. Dander is caused by dead skin cells that dogs and other animals, including humans, shed.

Because they tend to shed, German Shepherds create and shed more dander than some breeds of dogs, and you should consider this if someone in your family has concerns with pet allergens.

Proper and regular grooming and cleaning of a German Shepherd reduces the number of allergens it releases.

Choosing Your Dog

Choosing your German shepherd puppy

When it comes to choosing a dog, you have several options.

You can purchase from a previous owner, adopt from a shelter, or buy them as a puppy.

What are some pros and cons of the three places you can get your dog?

Buying from a Previous Owner

The first 16 weeks of a puppy's life are critical stages of its development. When buying a German Shepherd several years old, those early stages of development are past. That means much of the training and development has already happened, whether good or bad!

A well-trained dog will save you a lot of time and energy on training, but it may be a lot of work to break the bad habits of a poorly trained dog.

Because of their intense loyalty, it can also take longer to bond with an older German Shepherd that had a previous owner. However, loving and consistent with an older German Shepherd will develop a new bond between you and your dog.

You should also ask for any veterinarian records on your dog. This will allow you to keep up-to-date records on your dog's health and help you and your veterinarian know that your dog is current on all recommended vaccinations.

Adopting from a shelter

Adopting from a shelter will provide a loving home to a dog in need, and the results can be beautiful.

Animal shelters are continually looking for good homes and families to adopt homeless pets, and this provides a way to give back to your local community and humane society.

If you choose to adopt from a shelter, you want to be aware that it might require additional TLC, patience, and training. Much of this depends on your dog's condition when it arrives at the animal shelter and the environment it came from.

Sometimes animal shelters know little about the dog's background, so spending time with the German Shepherds in person will help you learn more about its personality.

Buying as a Puppy

Many people like to buy their German Shepherds as puppies, especially if they want a strong bond for the dog's lifetime.

Buying a puppy provides a pet that will live a long, full life. It also allows you to provide quality training during the critical stages of development.

One of the most significant benefits of buying your German Shepherd as a puppy is that you maximize the amount of time you can spend with it.

Bonus: Read our blog post on how to choose a puppy!

Why is this important?

If you can bond with your German Shepherd right away as a puppy, this will establish a strong bond between the puppy and your family.

When you purchase a dog as a puppy, you can provide it with a quality environment from day one. You can avoid issues resulting from a poor background, negligence, or lack of training.

One negative in purchasing a puppy is that you are responsible for all the training. You can do all the training yourself or enroll your puppy in a local obedience school.


If you are looking for a loyal dog with sharp intelligence and a desire for hard work, then a German Shepherd might be for you! If you decide to bring a German Shepherd home, we hope you love every minute of dog ownership!

If you are ready to add a German Shepherd to your family, check out our available German Shepherd puppies for sale. All puppies listed with Infinity Pups are guaranteed not to be from puppy mills and have a 1-year health guarantee.

If a German Shepherd isn't quite what you are looking for, you could read up on a few of our other breeds:







And if you want a puppy but don't think a German Shepherd is right for you, take a look at our other breeds for sale.

We hope you enjoy your new puppy!