Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > German Shepherd Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

German Shepherd Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is one of the most popular breeds in the United States and the rest of the world. It’s an extremely versatile breed that makes a good family pet, as well as a watchdog, herding dog, guide dog, and even search and rescue dog. In addition, law enforcement agencies worldwide use the German Shepherd to detect drugs and bombs. It’s also popular among presidents.

Breed Overview


22–26 inches


49–88 pounds


9–13 years


Black, tan, red, silver

Suitable for

All families, homes with a yard


Alert, intelligent, loyal, obedient

Both Franklin Roosevelt and Joe Biden brought German Shepherds to the White House. If you are thinking about getting a German Shepherd for your home and want to know more about it, keep reading while we discuss diet, exercise requirements, grooming, and more to help you make an informed purchase.

German Shepherd Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.


German Shepherd Puppies

German Shepherd Puppy
Image Credit: GSDLover, Pixabay

Before you have a German Shepherd, take into account that finding one might not be so easy. Since law enforcement and the military frequently use these dogs, there can be a long waiting line with high-quality breeders. If you want to breed these dogs, you will need to purchase breeding rights or most likely need to get the dog spayed or neutered.

German Shepherds make great pets for all types of families. They are intelligent dogs, which makes them highly trainable.

Temperament & Intelligence of the German Shepherd

German Shepherd_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

Your German Shepherd is extremely courageous and stays calm under pressure, which is why it makes a good military and police dog. It’s extremely protective of its master and will fearlessly defend you against all threats. It’s loyal and follows orders well, but it can develop a dominant attitude that is difficult to break if you don’t train it properly, so this dog is better suited to experienced owners. Dogs bred for show will have a softer temperament than working dogs, so important to enquire from the breeder what type you are purchasing.

The German Shepherd is extremely intelligent and capable of learning complex tasks that allow it to be useful to law enforcement and military operations.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Yes. The German Shepherd makes a fantastic family pet. It forms a strong bond with all family members and enjoys playing with children, which will help it get its exercise. It makes an excellent watchdog, so your home will be safer, and it even makes a great companion for athletic owners because it enjoys running, hiking and other sports as well as going on adventures.

The only downside to keeping the German Shepherd as a family pet is that its herding instinct can cause it to nip at people, which can scare and hurt children.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Yes. The German Shepherd gets along well with other animals, especially if properly socialized as a puppy. It is usually more excited to see other dogs than feel threatened by them, so it’s easy to take them for walks where other dogs are present.

Unfortunately, herding instincts can make your German Shepherd very unpopular with cats. Your dog is also likely to chase squirrels and rabbits that enter your yard.divider-paw

Things to Know When Owning a German Shepherd

German Shepherds_Yama Zsuzsanna Márkus, Pixabay
Image Credit: Yama Zsuzsanna Márkus, Pixabay

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The German Shepherd is an active breed that requires a diet rich in protein to provide the necessary energy and provide the building blocks for strong muscle. Brands that contain omega fats and probiotics can also help balance the digestive system, reduce inflammation, and produce a strong and healthy coat. To choose a good brand, look at the ingredients and choose one with chicken, turkey, or other meat listed first.

Exercise 🐕

Your German Shepherd is an active dog that expects to be herding sheep all day, so most experts suggest these dogs are better suited to a home with a large they can run in. You will also need to set aside 45–60 minutes each day to help your dog burn off excess energy. This activity will help your dog sleep at night, and it will be better behaved. The best reason to keep your dog active is to prevent the onset of obesity, leading to several health risks, including heart disease and diabetes. Having a large family can make it a lot easier to make sure your dog gets enough attention.

Training 🎾

Your German Shepherd is extremely easy to train, and it will be eager to learn. Holding short 5- to 10-minute training sessions at the same time each day can help get your pet into a routine that will make it much easier to keep your dog focused and ready to learn. Positive reinforcement in the form of praise and treats will have your dog learning new tricks in no time. Even smart dogs like the German Shepherd can take a few weeks to learn a new trick, so you must never get frustrated with your pet if it seems to be taking too long.

german shepherd_Africa Studio, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

Your German Shepherd is not difficult to groom for most of the year, and it will only require weekly brushing. However, your pet will shed heavily during the spring and fall and will require daily brushing to manage the fur. Many owners choose to have the dog professionally groomed because there is so much fur.

We also recommend manually brushing the dog’s teeth to help slow the progression of dental disease, and if you hear its nails clicking on the floor, you will need to trim them.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Minor Conditions
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is common in many dog breeds, including the German Shepherd. It’s the result of the hip joint forming incorrectly, so the leg bone doesn’t move smoothly in the joint. As the dog ages, the joint will wear out quickly, affecting your pet’s ability to put weight on it. Large dogs and active dogs will wear down the joint faster. Weight management, medication, and even surgery can help your dog stay healthy longer.
Serious Conditions
  • Degenerative Myelopathy: Degenerative myelopathy is a condition that affects the spinal cord of your pet. It slowly causes the back limbs to go numb and become paralyzed and is similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease in humans. Early signs resemble hip dysplasia, but as the disease progresses, it will cause wobbling and stumbling, which is not present in hip dysplasia. Other signs include walking on its knuckles and scraping the ground as it walks. Unfortunately, there is currently no treatment for Degenerative myelopathy.


Male vs Female

The male German Shepherd can be considerably larger than the female has more masculine features. However, there is no difference in temperament or behavior.


3 Little-Known Facts About the German Shepherd

1. German Shepherds Are Presidential

Both President Franklin Roosevelt and President Joe Biden had a German Shepherd named Major in the White House.

2. This Breed Was One of the First to Assist People With Disabilities

A German Shepherd named Buddy became the world’s first seeing eye dog in 1928.

3. German Shepherds Are Heroic

German Shepherds were essential for finding survivors in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, with one dog named Appollo receiving the AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence.

german shepherd dog looks at a piece of bread in owner's hand
Image Credit: SerPhoto, Shutterstock



The German Shepherd makes a fantastic pet and is versatile enough to use as a working dog, and is capable of excelling at several tasks, including guide dogs, rescue, drug and bomb-sniffing, and much more. It’s a great watchdog but can tell the difference between strangers and friends and isn’t overly barky. It’s also great to have around, and they can help it stay more active.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over our look into this popular dog breed, and it has helped answer your questions. If we have helped convince you to get one of these dogs for your home, please share this guide to the German Shepherd with your friends on social media.

Looking for other German breeds? We have all the German Dog Breeds you could ask for!

Related read:

Featured Image Credit: Osetrik, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets