Is a German Shepherd Right For You?

Shedding 

German Shepherds do tend to shed their coat consistently all year long and generally twice a year will blow out their undercoat requiring some extra grooming. According to the German Shepherd Breed Standard, the Shepherd is normally a dog with a double coat (fluffy undercoat and coarse outer coat), the amount of undercoat may vary with the season of the year and the proportion of the time the dog spends out of doors. It should, however, always be present to a sufficient degree to keep out water, to insulate against temperature extremes, and as a protection against insects. The outer coat should be as dense as possible, hair straight, harsh and lying close to the body. A slightly wavy outer coat, often of wiry texture, is equally permissible.  Faults in coat include complete lack of any undercoat (often seen in long coated Shepherds), soft, silky or too long outer coat and curly or open coat. 

Grooming

Whether you choose a long haired or short haired  German Shepherd weekly grooming is always a good idea.  Not only will this reduce the amount of hair being shed but it will also make your dog more comfortable and help to keep him free of skin problems.  

Size

The German Shepherd Breed standard sets an ideal height and weight for the both males and females, these standards take into consideration the optimum weight and size in relation to the skeletal and muscular structure required to maintain functionality of the breed. In the case of German Shepherds, bigger is not better.

The ideal height for dogs is 25 inches (64 cm), and for bitches, 23 inches (58 cm) at the shoulder. This height is established by taking a perpendicular line from the top of the shoulder blade to the ground with the coat parted or so pushed down that this measurement will show the only actual height of the frame or structure of the dog. The breed standard goes on to say that the working value of dogs above or below the indicated height is proportionately lessened, although variations of an inch (3 cm) above or below the ideal height are acceptable, while greater variations must be considered as faults. Weights of dogs of desirable size in proper flesh and condition average between 75 and 85 lb. (34 and 39 kg); and of bitches, between 60 and 70 lb. (27 and 32 kg).

Life Expectancy

German Shepherds if they are kept active, and provided with regular veterinary care will live on average between 11 and 13 years. German Shepherds have been known to surpass 14 years but this is uncommon and somewhat unpredictable.  Knowing your dogs lineage/pedigree and the longevity of his or her ancestors can help to give you an idea of what to expect as your dog reaches its senior years.

Exercise and Activity Level

(More to come!)

GSD and Children

(More to come!)

Introduction to Your Puppy

This section is intended to provide information on growth related issues in the German Shepherd. These conditions can include ligament (hocks and pasterns), bone and joint conditions (elbows, backs), panoestitis, and, less commonly these days, hip dysplasia. Due to the greater angulation of German Shepherds compared to other breeds, there is often a  perception that there is a problem when in fact this can be a normal part of puppy growth particularly during periods when your puppy is growing very rapidly. 

Loose Ligamentation

German Shepherds tend to be more angulated than most breeds, and for this reason, they can appear to be having serious problems when in many cases they are going through fairly normal stages of development.

 Common problems are:

  1. Excessive looseness of hocks, can be secondary to excessive depth of hindquarter angulation or increasing length of hock.

  2. Down in pasterns (often seen with 1 above).

  3. Flat feet (can be with both 1 and 2).

  4. Roached backs – (often associated with 1 above).

  5. Lameness – both perception of and real

 

symptoms can include soreness with roached backs, very loose in the hocks and/or down in pastern. The age they present can be as young as 12-14 weeks, however, more commonly at around 5-7 months of age. As some of these puppies can appear to be rather loose and or sore, many veterinarians will immediately assume the worst (HD etc) when it can be a relatively easily corrected problem in many cases.

The vast majority of the problems listed above are diet and weight associated, acerbated by (in some cases) the perception of excessive angulation. Most conditions arise following excessive rate of weight gain, usually secondary to the over use of high energy, high density dry foods. Breeders are generally more aware of feeding protocols, and are more likely to keep weights within desirable levels. New owners (ie. the general public) are far more likely to over feed. 

Source: Dr. K.Hedberg 2010, www.gsdcv.org.au

Ears

It can take a while for puppies to acquire that signature pointy-eared look. With few exceptions, German Shepherds should have their ears up strong by 6 months of age.  If the ears of your German Shepherd are not erect after his fifth month, and this is the look you desire, you may want to contact your veterinarian or breeder. Between the 5th and 7th month the ear cartilage is still soft enough to encourage the ear into an upright position. By the 8th month, the ears will usually take on their adult form. Ears do have a tendency to go up and down during teething. If you’ve seen the ears go up on their own for any amount of time during that first five months, you can be pretty sure that they will stand permanently when the teething period is over. 

Growing Pains (Panosteitis)

Often just referred to as "Pano", panosteitis is a spontaneously occurring lameness that tends to occur very suddenly, usually without a history of trauma or excessive exercise. In most cases one or the other front leg is affected first and then the problem tends to move around, making it appear that the lameness is shifting from leg to leg. There are often periods of improvement and worsening of the symptoms in a cyclic manner. This condition is self limiting, meaning that it will eventually go away, with or without treatment.  

Studies show there are varying causes for bone inflammation. The lameness that your dog can exhibit can be caused by the following:  

  • Increasing pressure inside of the bone

  • Stimulation of pain receptors in the soft tissue lining of the diseased bone

  • Stress 

  • Lesions

  • Autoimmune components 

  • Rapid growth

  • High-protein, high-calcium diet

  • Infection

  • Change in bone density 


This condition affects many large breeds, it normally starts between 6-15 months, during large growth spurts.  It can be diagnosed by leg x-rays at your veterinarian.  Puppies always outgrow this condition.  Pain control, anti-inflammatory medication and restricted exercise are often used to make your puppy more comfortable.

Teething

A puppy's baby teeth, or milk teeth, come in at four weeks of age and commonly start to fall out between weeks 14 and 30, to make room for the 42 large adult teeth that will grow in their place. Puppies begin teething around 14 to 16 weeks, and are close to having most of their adult teeth by 6-7 months of age.  While teething, their gums will get very sore and swollen.  There are lots of toys on the market that are made especially for chewing.  Frozen treats are also a good choice.  Remember to provide chew toys during this time, because puppies in general are notorious for chewing anything available  to them.

Exercise for Puppies how much is too much?

(More to come!)

Puppy or Adult

(More to come!)

Why Purebred? 

 

One advantage of purebred dogs is that the qualities of each generation (size, coat, temperament) are passed on to the next. 

Purebred dogs are sold through various channels but the only source we recommend is from a knowledgeable breeder who specializes in your breed of choice. Visit a number of breeders and compare the dogs, the facilities and the breeders. Make your final purchase from someone you are comfortable with and who you feel you can trust beyond the day of purchase to be as concerned about your puppy's future as you are.

 

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