German Shepherd Breed Information

General Appearance:

a German Shepherd should have a noble, proportioned and commanding look.   A slightly convex forehead, long muzzle, pointed ears and almond-shaped eyes that are pleasing with an amiable expression. The first impression is that of a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life. The body is slightly longer than tall, sturdy but lean, well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The Shepherds deep-body presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. The neck slopes down to muscular shoulders and legs, substantial and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility, difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Gender characteristics are obvious and each animal gives a marked impression of masculinity or femininity according to gender.


Normally black and tan, sable or just black, they also come in blue and white. They come in three versions: short haired (sometimes called rough-coated), medium-haired and longhaired. Shepherds do not need to be bathed very often, but they do tend to shed in great quantities.  Brush them daily, outside if possible. Like any large dog, they can handle apartment living quite well but need daily walks and, if possible, vigorous exercise to stay sharp.


Loyalty, protectiveness and eagerness, to name a few—come from careful obedience training and authority. Everyone in the household must be prepared to show “authority” and earn the dog’s respect with a firm but loving touch. German Shepherds do not respond to negativity or anger. Respect must be earned through kindness and firm but gentle consistency in training.

German Shepherds are family-oriented and need constant companionship; they should not be left alone for extended periods. They are very loyal and protective of their “den” and “pack” and are wary of strangers, qualities which make them excellent guard dogs. Socialization at an early age is essential to ensure proper interaction with people and other dogs. Aggression in this breed is usually due to improper breeding or handling. A well-trained and socialized GSD is wonderful with other pets and children in the family. Their temperament is a combination of both inherited characteristics and early nurturing, so finding a reputable breeder and researching the individual dog’s breeding line is just as important as proper socialization during puppyhood.
To be truly happy, the German Shepherd needs a job to do

Our personal experience with German Shepherds has been incredible and heart-warming. A story that is hard to put in print. This quote copied below by another German Shepherd owner reflects our own thoughts quite well:

Dogs that truly understand you:

The breed that I love and will always have as part of my family is the German Shepherd. For me, the eyes say it all. When you look into the eyes of a German Shepherd, you are looking at a peer, a comrade, someone who understands you at your very core. They know who you are capable of being, and they understand when you are not at your best, and they forgive you for it.

Living with a German Shepherd is like living with your best fan, a nanny and someone who would dive into the line of fire for you without a moment’s hesitation. The sun rises and sets on you. The rest of the family will be heading to the park or playing at the neighbor’s or trying to coax your GSD for a walk, and they will be there, at the doorstep, looking and waiting for you. Their world is not complete without you, and so they watch and they wait until they see you, too, are coming. Living with a GSD is like living with your living, breathing shadow. And a shadow whose only goal is to please you, to serve you and to live in YOUR shadow.

If you think the GSD is the breed for you, you need to ask yourself one question: Am I worthy? The GSD needs you to commit yourself to being worthy of their adoration and intelligence. They are willing to do anything for you, if you can help them understand what that is. The fault, if they cannot do what you want them to do, is not theirs. The fault is your inability to communicate clearly what you want. And they really do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. They are far too intelligent to be left to their own devices – every GSD I have owned has been a master at opening anything and everything from freezer doors to tupperware, double-hinged gates to door knobs. And those toys you pay a fortune for called “indestructible”? Gone in 20 minutes, easy peasy.

The GSD is, for me, the King of dogs. They deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and commitment.


In order to understand how the DDR German Shepherd came into existence, we have to go back to World War II and understand a little of the history of Germany.

In 1945, as World War II was coming to an end, the Allies occupied Berlin. The Allied Forces included the United States, France, Great Britain and The Soviet Union. The war, of course, ended in a victory for the Allies and the Soviet Union and the United States subsequently emerged as the world’s superpowers.

By 1941, the Nazi Germany, under Hilter’s leadership had the upper hand, but the tide turned in December 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was then that the United States joined the war and Russia turned to the Allies for support. Because of the invasion their country by Germany, the Soviets joined the Allies, and by late 1944, the United States and Great Britain were closing in on Germany from the West, while the Soviets were closing in from the East. In May 1945, Nazi Germany collapsed when Berlin was taken by Soviet and Polish forces. It is rumored that Hitler committed suicide when it seemed inevitable that the Allies would win.

By September 1945, the German Reich (which lasted only 13 years) and its Axis partners (Italy and Japan) had been defeated. World War II resulted in the destruction of Germany’s political and economic infrastructure and led directly to its division. In the immediate post-war years the German population lived on near starvation levels, and the Allied economic policy was one of de-industrialization in order to prevent any future German war-making capabilities. The U.S. policy began to change at the end of 1946 and by mid 1947, Truman started policies to help stabilize the economy of Germany.

Despite being allies against the Axis powers, the USSR and the United States disagreed about the configuration of the post-war world while occupying most of Europe. A large dispute arose over the boundaries. Because of the different political beliefs between these nations, relationships were strained and thus began the Cold War. The Soviet Union decided to close its borders and this eventually led to the division of Germany into East and West.

The three western occupation zones (U.S., UK, and French zone) would later form the Federal Republic of Germany, commonly known as West Germany. And the Soviet zone became the German Democratic Republic (or Deutsches Demokratische Republik), commonly known as East Germany, both founded in 1949. West Germany was established as a federal democratic republic while East Germany became a Communist State under the influence of the Soviet Union. This fact set the stage for the Cold War which lasted for the next 46 years.

One of the greatest impacts to the German Shepherd breed was, in fact, the onset of the Cold War.

The Cold War resulted in 40 Years of Closed Breeding (1949-1990).

The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. During this period, these countries were virtually cut off from any outside contact. The government made any and all decisions and this happen to include strictly regulating breeding kennels.

The government controlled the German Shepherd pedigree registration and breeding program because they saw the DDR German Shepherd as a military canine. Extremely rigid breeding guidelines were put into practice. Agree with the standards or not, one cannot argue that it did assure that for almost 40 years only the dogs who met strict criteria were allowed to breed. These standards included powerful, deep chested bodies with straight long backs, intimidating presence and supreme intelligence. Strict standards assured that dogs showing signs of hip dysplasia were not used for breeding. Any litter born was examined completely for teeth, ear set, temperament, coat, etc. They examined them as if they were evaluating a piece of military equipment – Did it meet military standards?

These standards included specific working abilities for these dogs – such as, tracking, athleticism, toughness, climbing abilities, hardiness, and the ability to withstand extreme physical conditions and demands. These strict regulations on the breed resulted in the formation of the DDR Shepherd — breeding lines within the border of the Berlin Wall that had no outside influence and were held strictly to government standards.

As mentioned before, these government standards included tracking abilities, athleticism, toughness, survival abilities, etc. Other breeding criteria of DDR dogs stated that they could only be bred if they were completely free of hip dysplasia. Unlike West Germany, dogs that had “fast normal hips or worse could not be bred. Dam’s had to appear with her whole litter for an inspection of teeth, ear set, temperament, coat, total overall appearance. The testing criteria of the East was also much more rigid than that of the West Germans. They were bred for strong bones to handle the great distances they would be expected to patrol. They were constantly exposed to the harshest weather conditions to build stamina, a genetic resistance to disease, and ability to function in the worst of weather conditions.

The dogs had be able to scale a straight wall (instead of an incline wall), walk balance beams, search more blinds, track longer and farther – the test were stricter and more physically demanding. Only the best of the best would be able to reproduce.

The breeding criteria as well as the harshness of their environment shaped the look of the East German DDR Shepherd into one of pure intimidation. They had large heads, broad shoulders, deep chests and dark coats. They were truly an fearsome looking Shepherd — the DDR Shepherd was a sight to behold.

The East German national breeding program, as ruthless as it was at times, succeeded. The DDR GSD ultimately exhibited a distinctive look that became different from the traditional GSD. Just as Nazi Germany had strived to create a “Super Race” with their ideology, so had East Germany strived to accomplish this with their national dog.