May 21, 2019

Breed Profile: German Shepherd

by Lauren R. Tharp

The fourth most popular breed in the United States, the German Shepherd has long been known for its heroic exploits and loyalty as a family pet.  First recognized by the AKC in 1908, the German Shepherd is the leading police, military, and guard dog breed in the world…and is also known for being a wonderful pet!

Physical Traits

Size & Weight:  Medium to large dogs (with the males of the breed being larger).  They’re usually 22-26 inches in height and weigh 75-90 pounds.

Coat & Color:  German Shepherds have a double-coat of short to medium length.  Their outer coat is extremely dense, while their inner coat is more on the plush side.  The most common color is black with tan, but sable, solid black, and solid white are also available.

Other:  Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd!  As were Batman’s dog, Ace; Bolt in the computer-animated movie of the same name; and Charlie Barkin in All Dogs Go to Heaven.

Life Expectancy:  10-13 years.


The German Shepherd in one word: Dependable.  These dogs are muscular, intelligent (rated the 3rd most intelligent dog breed in the world!), and highly active.  They are protective and obedient although early and thorough training is required early on.  They do not bond quickly, but once they do bond, it’s for life.


  • Is incredibly obedient, quick to learn, and eager to please.
  • A loyal and loving family pet if socialized early on.
  • An excellent guard dog—as stated above, the German Shepherd is the leading breed of guard dog in the world!


  • Early socialization and obedience training is a must.  German Shepherds can become very territorial, overly protective, and stubborn if not taught “right” from “wrong” at a young age.  If not, they can be hard to control and sometimes dangerous.  (Note: With proper training, you couldn’t wish for a better pet!  Put in the effort and you’ll get the reward).
  • Regular grooming is required, and even with regular grooming, German Shepherds shed a lot.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise.  The German Shepherd is always on the go!—and you will be too if you own one!

Looking for a German Shepherd? Please contact the German Shepherd Rescue of New England to learn more about their adoptable dogs.

A special thanks to Dog Mountain for use of this featured image of the German Shepherd.

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