Breeds

German Shepherd Dog

GROUP 5 - WORKING DOGS

History

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) or Deutsche Schäferhund originated from herding breeds in Germany in the late 1800s under the guidance of Captain Max von Stephanitz. It was not long before people realised that this was a dog of extraordinary intelligence suited for working. In 1899, a breed society known as Der Verein für Deutsch Schäferhunde (The Club for German Shepherd Dogs) was formed in Germany. The first registered dog in the studbook was Horand von Grafath.

Early imports of GSDs, known as ‘German sheep dogs’ reached Western Australia around 1904.
Two of these were Freia vom Park and Stephen vom Park. Others were imported to Melbourne around 1925, with other states soon following. In October 1928, the Federal Government banned the importation of GSDs. During the ban, which continued for another 43 years, a number of GSDs were smuggled into the country. The ban was lifted in 1972, with some restrictions remaining until 1976. The breed then enjoyed a surge in popularity, with record numbers of GSDs being shown at national shows during the 1980s. The popularity peaked during the 1990s, when the GSD became the most common breed in Australia in terms of registrations of puppies. Today the breed is still one of the most frequently registered.

In 2011, the GSD standard was amended to include the Long Stock Coat variety, which was previously ungraded in the show ring. From 1 January 2012, Long Stock Coats were separately registered, could be exhibited as such, and compete independently from Stock Coat varieties. The standard for both varieties is identical except for coat description, representing a major change in breed history. 1.

Appearance

The GSD is medium-sized, slightly elongated, strong and well muscled; the bones are dry and the overall construction firm. The length of the body is greater than the height at the withers by about 10 –17 per cent. 2.

The normal coated GSD should carry a thick undercoat and the outer coat should be as dense as possible and be made up of straight, hard, close lying hairs. The correct coat is weatherproof, allowing the dog to work in all conditions.

The colour of the GSD is ideal as camouflage, for working either in the field, or blending into the background at night. Black and tan (gold) with the black saddle pattern and black mask on the face is the most common colour. Sable dogs (red or grey) would be the next most common colour. These dogs have black tipping of the coat in a similar saddle pattern, but it can be more extensive over the body. Black dogs are less commonly seen these days. The undercoat is, except in all-black dogs, usually grey or fawn in colour.

Small white markings on chest as well as a lighter colour on the insides of legs is permissible but not desirable. The nose must be black in all colour types. The colour white is not permitted in the standard. White is a recessive colour that virtually is never seen in the current bloodlines. Early on, white was undesirable as it was too easily seen at night and could not be readily distinguished from the sheep. 3. 

Temperament

The GSD is of well-balanced temperament, steady of nerves, self-assured, absolutely  ‘at  ease’ (except  when  provoked) and good-natured, as well as attentive and easy to train. It possesses instinctive  drive,  resilience and  self-confidence, and is suitable as a companion, watch dog and protection, service and herding dog.

The GSD is recognised for is its excellent character, marked by its courage, intelligence, devotion and nobility. GSDs love human companionship and owners will find that this breed just wants to be with, and please them. GSDs have a distinct personality marked by an intelligence and fearlessness that does not generally tend to make immediate friendships. Although it is normal for these dogs to appear aloof, they should be approachable and never hostile when with their owners. GSDs have a keen sense of humour and enjoy playful games that keep their active minds alert. Once you accept this breed into your family, you will gain an intelligent, loyal pet that will give you a lifetime of love, affection and fulfilment. 4.

Maintenance

The GSD is a relatively easy dog to maintain by brushing each day, however, the Long Stock Coat GSD requires a little more grooming. GSDs are a double-coated breed, with a coarse, water-resistant outer coat and a heavy, woolly undercoat. The outer coat hairs are shed regularly while the inner coat hairs are shed twice a year, more heavily in spring, and may require daily or weekly combing when dropping coat. The breed requires no clipping and only occasional baths. 5.

Suitability

GSDs, particularly bitches, are generally very good with children. Male dogs, unless raised with young children, may not be as forgiving of minor insults or injuries. Adult GSDs will generally tolerate a degree of rough play from young children. Of course, all play should be supervised, particularly when strange children are mixing with the dog’s own family’s children. The GSD requires lots of contact with people, particularly in the early formative stages (up to 20 weeks). With poor socialisation, or a lack of firm and consistent handling, they can become spoilt and unruly. With a GSD, one should be consistent, kind and firm. Adult GSDs are active and will require lots of exercise, puppies on the other hand, should not be over exercised; rather, gradually increase the exercise over time until, as young adult dogs, they are being taken on daily walks. GSDs also need a lot of space, such as a fenced yard or decent sized dog run. As with most working dogs, GSDs can become easily bored and even destructive if not given adequate outlets for their energy. 6.

Health

As with most breeds there are genetic diseases, but responsible breeders do regular health checks before breeding. Please contact the German Shepherd Dog League of NSW Inc for further information.

References

1. Fay Stokes - The German Shepherd Dog League of NSW Inc
2-3. ANKC Breed Standard
4-7. Dr Karen Hedberg BVSc

Image: Thinkstock

In Conclusion

Now you know a little about the German Shepherd Dog and have decided this is the dog for you, or you would like more information, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the German Shepherd Dog and its needs and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.

Breeders

MONSUMBRA

0411 578729 l.maughan@hotmail.co.uk

@dogsqld