As discussed earlier, German Shepherds come from herding dogs from Germany, that were different in type from area to area, until the late 1800s.
Captain Max von Stephanitz was a German cavalry officer who was besotted with the breed and wanted to create the perfect German herder dog. He, and some other breeders in the area, crossed the DNA of herding dogs from Germany’s north and central districts, which created the German Shepherd Dog that we know of today.
This cavalry officer spent 35 years of his life showing off and refining the breed. He also co-founded the very first German Shepherd club.
German Shepherds exploded in popularity in the U.S in the early part of the 20th century due to the fact that there were two of them that made it in Hollywood in a big way – both Rin-Tin-Tin (who appeared in 27 movies) and Strongheart!
This breed is the 60th breed of the AKC’s, and received its recognition in 1908. They were also used for various purposes in both World Wars.
In general, German Shepherds are very strong, athletic dogs. However, they do, like all dogs, suffer from certain health issues. Certain German Shepherds can develop degenerative myelopathy (which affects the spinal cord, resulting in weakness of the hind limbs and paralysis), as well as hip and elbow dysplasia – a common health issue among medium to large-sized dogs.
These dogs can get bloat, which causes a lot of pain, and should be seen to and treated immediately. As they get older, they will start losing sight in their eyes, however their sense of smell is so strong, that they are able to navigate themselves around even with weakened sight!
German Shepherd puppies must get their shots and deworming at the vet as soon as possible!
These dogs have the kind of hair that sheds a lot. They are not hypoallergenic canines, and if you are going to own them, you’re going to constantly need lint removers (which is possibly the only downside to owning such lovable animals).
They have a double coat that needs brushing every single day, so start doing this when they’re young and adorable pups, but know that their coats shed in exceptional amounts once or twice a year.
It’s important to bathe them every 6 to 8 weeks with a mild shampoo, and keep their nails trimmed. Always wipe their eyes with a wet cotton pad, and the inside of their ears should be cleaned.
German Shepherd should be sent to professional groomers at least every 12 weeks, as they do such a thorough job. Start off doing this when yours is just a little pup, and it will get used to it, as the first time can be quite traumatic!
These pups should be fed 3 to 4 times daily with puppy food, until they reach 4 months of age. After 4 months, you can provide two large meals, in the morning and evening, and that is enough for these sweet canines.
Once they reach 1 year old, they must be moved to an adult dog food diet. It’s important to feed them quality food with a high percentage of protein and healthy fats, and preferably purchase quality food from veterinarians and pet shops. Supermarkets tend to sell the cheap-end of low-quality dog food.
German Shepherds can be quite pricey if you are buying them as purebreds. However, they come from a strong lineage and that is the reason for their price. Other factors that go into their cost are the location and experience of the breeders involved, gender (females tend to be pricier), and whether or not they have already had their shots.
Other things that go into their cost are veterinary bills, food, training (a must), toys and crates.
German Shepherds live all over the world in big cities in apartments. They tend to bark a lot when unattended, so it’s very important to take them for training to attend to this, and always give them lots of attention.
Apartments can be small, so they need a lot of time outside to play and go for walks. It’s also important that your apartment is kept clean, bright and sunny with windows open for fresh air, preferably a view for your German Shepherd to gaze upon, and a working air conditioner for temperatures that may be humid or icy cold – although German Shepherds do handle the cold quite well (however, they mustn’t be kept outside in the cold for too long a period).