GERMAN-SHEPHERD-(3).jpg
Breed Group Group 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds
Sub-group 10-B: Large Pastoral Dogs
Origin Country Germany
Weight Males: 66-88 pounds. Females: 48-71 pounds.
Height Males: 23-26 inches. Females: 21-24 inches.
Other Name(s) Alsatian, BerGer Allemand, Deutscher Schaferhund, German Shepherd Dog, Pastor Aleman
Breed Type Pure
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German Shepherd

Breed Group Group 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds
Sub-group 10-B: Large Pastoral Dogs
Origin Country Germany
Weight Males: 66-88 pounds. Females: 48-71 pounds.
Height Males: 23-26 inches. Females: 21-24 inches.
Other Name(s) Alsatian, BerGer Allemand, Deutscher Schaferhund, German Shepherd Dog, Pastor Aleman
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Breed Spotlight

Origins

The German Shepherd was originally a farm dog, guarding its family’s flocks and herds. Unlike most herding breeds, the German Shepherd was not only bred to move the herd, but also to patrol and protect both the herd and the shepherd from outside dangers and predators. Although the breed’s ancestors can be traced back to the earliest of flock and herding dog types, the German Shepherd breed wasn’t organized until the 1800s by Captain Max von Stephanitz, named the Father of the German Shepherd breed.

Von Stephanitz admired Germany’s best all-purpose working dogs, but he was afraid the dogs might disappear as the flocks and farms started becoming smaller. Stephanitz created the official governing body for the breed and then created the Schutzhund trial as the way of determining the dog’s ability to work. The test consisted of basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, and retrieve, and also included a section where the dog had to attack on command. If the dog failed the test, he could not be bred. The results of the Schutzhund trial can be seen in the intelligent and versatile modern-day German Shepherd.

Today, the German Shepherd has proven itself to be a very adaptable breed. It can do nearly anything, including protecting sheep, guarding homes, assisting the disabled, aiding the police in search and rescue missions, and, most importantly, loving and loyally serving its family.

Breed Characteristics

Head: Somewhat mesaticephalic to slightly dolichocephalic skull-type, moderate in size, somewhat long, yet wedge-shaped when viewed from above or in profile. It is in proportion to the rest of the body. The length of the head, from tip of the nose to the occiput, is approximately equal to the length from the occiput to the withers. The topskull is broad, measured in front of the ears; it is as wide as it is long (from occiput to stop). In profile, the forehead is just slightly arched (never domed) from front or in profile. In profile, it may also appear as a straight sloped plane. A furrow extending from the stop and up the center of the topskull may be absent or barely perceptible. The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to open almond in shape, and may be set slightly oblique. They are medium to dark brown in color. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes should never be large and round, or with exposed whites. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Medium in size, firmly erect, thick-leathered, and set high on the skull. When alert, they face forward, in repose or in motion, they may be held back, neutral, or in a relaxed position. The ears are never long, overly large, tipped, drooped, rounded, or broken.
Muzzle: The muzzle is long, full, broad, and deep, never snipy and weak or boxy from pendulous flews. Upper and lower jaws are equal in length, have good bone substance, appearing strong and well-developed, never appearing snipy or weak. The nasal bridge is fairly straight. The muzzle is equal in length to the topskull. The jaws are powerfully developed and strong.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat in non-standard color varieties. The nostrils are well-opened and broad.
Neck: Moderate length allows for proud head carriage, strongly muscled with a slight arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut and without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket is long, pronounced, and extends to the point of the elbows, accounting for 45-50% of the dog’s height at the withers. The forechest is well-developed, yet not overly protrusive.
Body: Strong, deep, of good substance, and powerfully muscled. The body should allow for strength, agility, stamina, and endurance. The body is never light, weedy, racy, rangy, heavy, or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: Set neither high nor low on the croup. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. It is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, often in a downward-neutral position to level with the topline, but never tucked. It is of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints, or lower, when held down. The tail may be straight, gently curved, or with a curve toward the tip.
Movement: The original function of the German Shepherd required that the dog be capable of trotting tirelessly and effortlessly for long distances, as well as allowing for power and agility. Therefore, the German Shepherd must exhibit healthy trotting action. The “flying trot” is an acceptable gait for the German Shepherd breed, however, the over-extended action required by this gait is more fatiguing, and therefore, a standard trot will be favored over the over-extended flying trot. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: The German Shepherd breed is strong-nerved, fearless, self-assured, self-composed, confident, watchful, poised, and alert when necessary. He should never be timid, shy, nervous, anxious, or overly fearful (including fear-aggressive). He is expected to permit neutral and friendly interactions between his family/owner/handler and others, however, he himself is not overly-friendly, and may even be a bit aloof to strangers. The breed is physically capable of speed, power, agility, and endurance, and he is self-aware enough to know his capabilities and limits. This offers him a great deal of confidence. The German Shepherd is an extremely intelligent breed, capable of learning and discerning many tasks and activities. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds

Proportions: Somewhat rectangular body proportions, with length of the body, measured from the point of the forechest to the point of the rump, being just slightly greater than the height at the withers. The ideal body-height-to-length ratio is approximately 4:5, or with the body exceeding the height by 10-17 percent. The body is deep, of good substance, and solid in bone. The German Shepherd is always presented in a hard, working condition. Males should appear masculine, being more substantial in size and mass, while females should appear more feminine and slightly less substantial. Neither should lack overall type.

Head

General Appearance: Somewhat mesaticephalic to slightly dolichocephalic skull-type, moderate in size, somewhat long, yet wedge-shaped when viewed from above or in profile. It is in proportion to the rest of the body. The length of the head, from tip of the nose to the occiput, is approximately equal to the length from the occiput to the withers. The topskull is broad, measured in front of the ears; it is as wide as it is long (from occiput to stop). In profile, the forehead is just slightly arched (never domed) from front or in profile. In profile, it may also appear as a straight sloped plane. A furrow extending from the stop and up the center of the topskull may be absent or barely perceptible. The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Expression: Confident, keen, noble, watchful, and anticipating.
Stop: The stop is sloping, yet definite, and never overly pronounced or sharp.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is 1:1, with the topskull being equal in length to the muzzle.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis is parallel, or may be just slightly convergent.
Muzzle: The muzzle is long, full, broad, and deep, never snipy and weak or boxy from pendulous flews. Upper and lower jaws are equal in length, have good bone substance, appearing strong and well-developed, never appearing snipy or weak. The nasal bridge is fairly straight. The muzzle is equal in length to the topskull. The jaws are powerfully developed and strong.
Lips or Flews: Lips are clean and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws, revealing the wedged shape of the strongly defined muzzle. The lips are never loose or pendulous. The lips and flews are well-pigmented.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat in non-standard color varieties. The nostrils are well-opened and broad.
Cheeks: Powerfully muscled, giving substance to the face, but never excessively protrusive. The cheeks should not appear chiseled or coarse.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level, or scissor, or reverse-scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors. Missing or broken teeth as a result of routine work is not to be penalized.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to open almond in shape, and may be set slightly oblique. They are medium to dark brown in color. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes should never be large and round, or with exposed whites. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Medium in size, firmly erect, thick-leathered, and set high on the skull. When alert, they face forward, in repose or in motion, they may be held back, neutral, or in a relaxed position. The ears are never long, overly large, tipped, drooped, rounded, or broken.

Body and Tail

General Description: Strong, deep, of good substance, and powerfully muscled. The body should allow for strength, agility, stamina, and endurance. The body is never light, weedy, racy, rangy, heavy, or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Neck: Moderate length allows for proud head carriage, strongly muscled with a slight arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut and without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket is long, pronounced, and extends to the point of the elbows, accounting for 45-50% of the dog’s height at the withers. The forechest is well-developed, yet not overly protrusive.
Topline: Straight and level from slightly prominent withers to loin. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut, and may be flat and level (preferred), or just slightly sloped, yet supportive. The back is never swayed, roached, hunched, steeply inclined, “banana back,” or any variation other than straight. The “ski-slope” and German “high-rise” toplines are a type-extreme fad, are incorrect, and are not conducive in a functional working dog, therefore, this topline should be discouraged in dog breeding and in the show ring.
Croup: Broad and long. May be somewhat flat and level with the back, or just slightly and gently sloped, no more than 23 degrees to the horizontal.
Underline: May be slightly tucked-up present, or level to the horizon. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, oval-shaped, never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set neither high nor low on the croup. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. It is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, often in a downward-neutral position to level with the topline, but never tucked. It is of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints, or lower, when held down. The tail may be straight, gently curved, or with a curve toward the tip.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are approximately equal in length to the upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The distance from the withers to the brisket may be equal to, or just greater than, the distance from the elbows to the ground.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle, of solid bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are equal in length, strong, sturdy, of solid bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one to two paw-lengths behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
NOTE: Extreme types that include the over-angulated pelvis and hindquarters that contribute to the “ski-slope” or German “high-rise” topline are incorrect. A true-to-standard dog is well-angulated without being over-angulated or “extreme” in any part. An unexaggerated German Shepherd dog should be capable of standing in a traditional stack used for any other working breed, with both rear pasterns set naturally under the dog, parallel to one another. (As opposed to the “German Shepherd Dog” or GSD stack, in which one hind leg is pulled forward and level with the front edge of the croup (or sheath in males). Preference is given to dogs capable of stacking naturally in a traditional stack (as opposed to the GSD stack). Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump, or within one paw-length behind the point of the rump, with both rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: The German Shepherd comes in two coat varieties: the standard smooth coat and the long coat.
Smooth-coat variety: Very dense, harsh, close fitting outer coat. Soft, dense undercoat. Short on the head, face, ears, and front of the legs, paws, and toes. Hair is slightly longer backside of legs, forming moderate "trousers," and, on neck, forming a slight ruff.
Long-coat variety: Dense, soft, long guard hairs, forming fringe on ears, tail, and legs forming bushy trousers on backside of haunches. Short on head, face, front side of legs, paws, and toes. Longer on coat, nearly forming a mane.
Coat Color or Pattern: CKC recognizes three color varieties of the German Shepherd breed: the standard color, the nonstandard color, and white.
Standard coat color variety: Solid black, black saddle with tan, black with tan points, black with running or creeping tan, all shades of agouti, wolf-sable, all shades of sable, fawn, all with or without (reserved) black mask.
Non-standard coat color variety: Liver, blue, brindle, brindled tan, brindled tan points, fawn with liver or blue mask.
Any of the standard or non-standard varieties with or without white markings (Panda).
White: Solid white with black points.

Movement

The original function of the German Shepherd required that the dog be capable of trotting tirelessly and effortlessly for long distances, as well as allowing for power and agility. Therefore, the German Shepherd must exhibit healthy trotting action. The “flying trot” is an acceptable gait for the German Shepherd breed, however, the over-extended action required by this gait is more fatiguing, and therefore, a standard trot will be favored over the over-extended flying trot. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

The German Shepherd breed is strong-nerved, fearless, self-assured, self-composed, confident, watchful, poised, and alert when necessary. He should never be timid, shy, nervous, anxious, or overly fearful (including fear-aggressive). He is expected to permit neutral and friendly interactions between his family/owner/handler and others, however, he himself is not overly-friendly, and may even be a bit aloof to strangers. The breed is physically capable of speed, power, agility, and endurance, and he is self-aware enough to know his capabilities and limits. This offers him a great deal of confidence. The German Shepherd is an extremely intelligent breed, capable of learning and discerning many tasks and activities. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.