German Shepherd Dog
$500 – $3,000
Short to Long
Available in these colours:
German Shepherds come in a variety of colours, including Liver, Cream, White, Light Sable, Black & Red, Black & Cream, Black and Dark Sable.
Characteristics & Tendencies:
TENDENCY TO DIG52%
About the German Shepherd
Regarded as one of the smartest dog breeds, German Shepherds are intelligent, self-assured and confident. When we think of the breed, we usually think ‘guard dog’ or ‘police dog’, known for their ability to excel at almost anything they’re trained to do: guide and assistance work for the handicapped, police and military service, herding, search and rescue, and drug detection, just to name a few.
Don’t let their large and wolf-like exterior fool you – German Shepherds are generally sweet-natured and good with children, and are protective of their owners. As the third most popular dog breed in Australia according to Australian Geographic, German Shepherds are a great choice for anyone looking for a loyal, loving furry companion.
Top health issues
What are the most common health issues for German Shepherds?
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus
- Degenerative Myelopathy
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
Common German Shepherd diseases & conditions, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment in detail:
Due to their active lifestyles, hip dysplasia is not a rare occurrence in German Shepherds. Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that causes the hip joints to form improperly and is the primary cause of painful hip osteoarthritis in dogs. It generally occurs in large or giant breed dogs, however can also occur in smaller breeds as well. It is usually affected by factors such as excessive growth rate, types of exercise, improper weight and nutrition. Symptoms of hip dysplasia may show in dogs when they are as young as four months of age, whilst for others the disease may develop in conjunction with osteoarthritis as they age. These symptoms may include decreased activity, difficulty or reluctance rising, jumping or running, lameness in the hind end, loss of thigh muscle mass, pain and stiffness.
Hip dysplasia is diagnosed radiographically by the presence of degenerative changes and/or subluxation of the hip joint(s). There are multiple treatment options ranging from lifestyle modifications to surgery. These may include physical therapy, joint supplements or anti-inflammatory medications, or common surgeries such as double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO), femoral head ostectomy (FHO) or total hip replacement (THR).
Elbow dysplasia is the most frequent cause of front leg lameness in canines, and is the term used to describe a variety of conditions which may occur alone or in combination within the elbow. It is an inherited condition that may occur in most dog breeds, but is generally found within large to giant dog breeds. Predisposed breeds include Bernese Mountain Dogs, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. Dogs affected by elbow dysplasia often show symptoms from an early age, developing a front limb lameness that typically worsens over a period of weeks to months. Diagnosis is usually performed with clinical examination and X-rays, which will typically show signs of arthritis. Treatment will depend on the severity of the disease in the elbow, and management will depend on the dog’s age. In most cases, all dogs diagnosed with elbow dysplasia will benefit from physiotherapy to improve their quality of life and overall mobility.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus is a rapidly progressive life-threatening condition in dogs. It is usually associated with large meals and causes the stomach to dilate, due to food and gas, increasing the pressure in the stomach. The consequences of this increased size and pressure may be severe, including prevention of adequate blood return to the heart, rupture of stomach walls, pressure on the diaphragm leading to decreased ability to maintain normal breathing. If the condition worsens and your dog does not receive treatment in time, the condition can become life-threatening. Veterinarians are unsure what causes bloating in dogs, but factors that increase the risk include eating from a raised food bowl, having one large meal a day, eating and drinking too much or even stress. Although any breed can bloat, it is much more common in deep-chested large breeds such as Akitas, Boxers, Basset Hounds and German Shepherds. As this is an emergency, it is imperative your dog receives immediate veterinary intervention. They will treat the shock, and once your dog is stable, take them into surgery to deflate the stomach and tack the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent it from twisting.
Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a disease affecting the spinal cord, eventually leading to hind limb weakness and paralysis over time. It is a non-painful condition, but ultimately has devastating consequences and may be highly distressing for owners. The condition is associated with a genetic abnormality in dogs, most commonly found in German Shepherds and Welsh Corgis. As it has a slow insidious onset, it is not rare for symptoms to progress slowly, plateau and resume again. Signs progress over months leading to an ataxic (i.e. “drunk sailor”) walk on the hind limbs and weakness; your dog may also drag their paws, cross their hind limbs when walking or fall over. As DM is not painful, appropriate physical therapy and nursing care can still ensure your dog can still live an enjoyable life for a significant length of time.
The pancreas is an organ responsible for producing insulin, which regulates the body’s blood sugar levels and digestive enzymes, which assist the digestion of fats, starches and proteins in an animal’s diets. Where the pancreas begins to produce inadequate amounts of these digestive enzymes, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) develops as a result. Dogs with EPI generally have a history and clinical signs of small bowel diarrhoea with voluminous, yellowish or grey feces, extreme weight loss and dermatological problems such as poor coat. Some dogs may also experience vomiting, or appear nervous, aggressive or irritable due to abdominal discomfort. Whilst EPI can affect any breed, German Shepherds are usually overrepresented. If symptoms are present, a number of pancreatic function tests can be done. Once EPI has been diagnosed, treatment usually involves supplementing your dog’s diet with a pancreatic enzyme replacement. It is also recommended to avoid high-fat and high-fiber diets, which are more difficult to digest.
There are a number of allergies in dogs. The main types of allergies include skin allergies, food allergies and environmental allergies, which all pose challenges for dogs and their owners. It is important to note that symptoms for different allergies can overlap as well.
Skin allergies are the most common type of allergic reactions, and are primarily caused by flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies or environmental allergens. Food allergies may range in symptoms from skin conditions (hives, facial swelling, itchiness), gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and/or diarrhoea) or a combination of both. Perhaps the most alarming of all types of canine allergies is an acute allergic reaction. Dogs, like people, may go into anaphylactic shock if they have a severe reaction to an allergen.
The best way to treat an allergy is avoidance of the cause and allergen. In addition to any necessary lifestyle modifications, your veterinarian may prescribe medication for your dog to help control the signs associated with the allergic reaction.
How much does a German Shepherd eat?
A German Shepherd Dog diet should be formulated for a large-sized breed with high energy and exercise needs. You should consult your veterinarian or professional nutritionist for advice on what to feed your German Shepherd and the correct portion sizes. Their dietary needs will change as they grow from puppyhood to adulthood and senior age. Stay on top of these nutritional requirements. You’ll need to take special care with feeding and exercising a German Shepherd puppy, however.
German Shepherds grow very rapidly between the age of four and seven months, making them susceptible to bone disorders. They do well on a high-quality, low-calorie diet that keeps them from growing too fast. And don’t let your German puppy run, jump, or play on hard surfaces like pavement until they’re at least two years old and their joints are fully formed. It’s fine for puppies to play on grass, though, and puppy agility, with its inch-high jumps, is okay. Overfeeding your German Shepherd and letting them pack on the pounds can cause joint problems, as well as other health conditions. Limit treats, keep them active, and serve them regular meals rather than leaving food available at all times.
How often does the fur fall off?
These dogs shed, shed, shed! In fact, their nickname is the “German shedder.” Brush your German Shepherd several times a week and buy a good vacuum. You’ll need it. The breed sheds year-round, and generally “blows” – sheds a lot of hair at once, like a snowstorm – twice a year. If you want a German Shepherd, be prepared for hair on your black pants, on your white couch, and pretty much all over the house. There’s no magic solution to shedding, and we just have to accept it.
The coat should be weatherproof. A beautiful appearance is desirable but this is secondary to his usefulness as a working dog.
The German Shepherd Dog requires regular care and grooming. Ideally, you should groom your dog’s coat at least weekly with a good quality brush or comb. Failure to do so can cause a build-up of dead hair, dirt and dust particles and skin scales which in turn can lead to skin irritations and infections such as dermatitis.
Are German Shepherds high maintenance?
The German Shepherd Dog has a medium-length, double coat consisting of a dense, harsh, and close-lying outer coat with a softer undercoat. The breed is easy to maintain, usually requiring just a quick brushing every few days or so to help remove loose hairs, but they do shed more profusely once or twice a year. During these periods, more frequent brushing will help control the amount of hair that ends up around the house and on the furniture. Therefore, regular brushing two to three times a week will help more of their hair come out in a brush, rather than on your furnishings. And a sturdy vacuum cleaner doesn’t hurt either.
The German Shepherd only needs an occasional bath. Bathing your German Shepherd too often strips his coat of oils that keep it healthy, so start running the bathwater only if he really needs it. It shouldn’t be that often – despite their notoriety as a shedder, the German Shepherd tends to be fairly clean and odourless. It is important to trim or grind his nails every month if they are not worn down naturally, as overly long nails can cause pain and structural issues. Also make sure you check your dog’s ears once a week for dirt, redness, or any bad odour that may indicate an infection. Wipe them out weekly with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to prevent problems. German Shepherds love to chew, and this habit helps keep their teeth clean. Give them sturdy, safe dental chew toys or bones, and they’ll be fighting tartar buildup as they gnaw, especially on their back molars. Brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and doggy toothpaste also helps keep gums and teeth in good shape.
How much exercise does a German Shepherd need?
Originally bred to herd flocks all day, the German Shepherd is a high-energy dog who needs a lot of activity and exercise. Without it, they’re likely to express their boredom and frustration in ways you may not like, such as barking and chewing. Daily exercise, both physical (such as jogging and frisbee) and mental (such as training sessions) is a must.
With a puppy, you can start with short daily walks, as well as play sessions in a safely fenced area. Remember to not let the dog off-leash, as even the best-trained dog can become distracted and not follow every command. Participating in canine activities such as agility, herding, tracking, and dock diving provides excellent physical and mental exercise and is fun and rewarding for both dog and owner.
How often should a German Shepherd visit the vet?
Like all large dog breeds and some smaller breeds, the German Shepherd commonly suffers from hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a genetic disorder found in many of the larger and heavy-boned breeds and by definition means an ill-fitting hip. Various environmental factors such as weight, rate of growth, dietary aspects and amount of exercise can all affect the severity and the age at which this condition is seen.
All breeding stock over the age of 12 months are X-rayed prior to breeding and given a grading as to their soundness in this area. Without a pass in this scheme, the animal in question should not be bred with.
As well as this, ensure you monitor your dog’s weight and address any overweight issues early. Obesity will shorten your dog’s life. Discuss nutritional needs with your veterinarian to get recommendations for feeding schedules and dog food types throughout your dog’s life.
Are German Shepherds kid-friendly and sociable with humans?
The German Shepherd personality is aloof but not usually aggressive. They’re reserved dogs; they don’t make friends immediately, but once they do, they’re extremely loyal. With their family, they’re easy-going and approachable, but when threatened, they can be strong and protective, making them excellent watchdogs.
German Shepherds are usually extremely bonded to his people, so he is happiest when he is living with his family. He should be raised in the household and exposed to the family’s activities.
Loyal, confident, courageous, and steady, the German Shepherd is truly a dog lover’s delight.
Are German Shepherds difficult to train?
Their intelligence, obedience and trainability have led the German Shepherd to become one of the most adaptable and versatile dog breeds in the world, and are often employed in military, search & rescue and police roles. They’re amazingly versatile, excelling at most anything they’re trained to do: guide and assistance work for the handicapped, police and military service, herding, search and rescue, drug detection, competitive obedience, and – last but not least – being a faithful companion. Consistency and positive, reward-based training will yield excellent results.
Compatibility with other pets
Do German Shepherds get along with other dogs or cats?
The German Shepherd can also live peacefully with other dogs and pets, as long as they’re taught to do so from puppyhood. Introducing an adult German Shepherd to a household with other pets may be more difficult if the dog isn’t used to getting along with other dogs or cats. You may need to hire a professional trainer to help or get advice from the rescue organisation if that’s where you acquired the adult German Shepherd.
Need for company
How often do they need to be around humans?
The German Shepherd isn’t the breed for you if you’re away from home frequently or for long periods of time. When left alone, they can become anxious or bored and are likely to express their worry in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. A German Shepherd who is under-exercised and ignored by their family is likely to express pent-up energy in undesirable ways.
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