German Shepherd Breed Origins and Caracteristics

The origin of the German shepherd must be found among the dogs used in Germany to guard and protect herds of sheep against wolves. In 1880, some breeders started the systematic selection and created in Stuttgart, on April 22nd 1899, the association of German shepherd friends (Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde). The objective of this selection was to first find the qualities and not only an improvement of the external aspect. In this way, the German shepherd has become a dog used for multiple purposes. Nowadays, this dog is used especially as a guard, police, blood hound, sanitary and rescue dog to search for missing people in mountain slides, and of course it is one of the most used breeds as guiding dog for blind people. It has a flexible character, this dog is easily trained, it has a lively character but it accepts only one master.

The most common German shepherd has a fur that can be qualified as double coat (1), although there are others with hard or long hair which is equally distributed and in continuous layers all along the body (2). Behind the ears, in the inner part of the rear section of the front legs and in the lumbar section, the hair is long enough on the sides. The German shepherd, with long and hard hair, has less resistance to bad weather as the variety of short-haired dogs, but it does have a wool-like hair layer thick enough, its breeding is authorized. The third kind is the long-haired German shepherd, which in most cases does not have the wool-like hair layer and in this kind of dogs the fur falls like in a saddle roof with a strip on the back. It is not useful for selective breeding.

Size: male 60-66 cm, female 55-61, the weight is not indicated in the standards. The correlation between the height and the length of the body must be 9:10 (the body is not square); the breed characteristics must be clear. Colors: black, steel gray, ashes-like gray, wolf, reddish yellow or reddish brown, one color or with patches that are regularly brown, yellow and whitish gray. The black saddle is accepted. In black dogs, the lower layer is black; in others it is less light than the topcoat. The white small patches on the chest are accepted. The definitive color of puppies cannot be determined until the topcoat has already developed.

In the rear limbs due to an atavism sometimes there is a fifth finger that is called dewclaw (3). It should be removed right after birth because it can very frequently bleed.

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