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Subject: rec.pets.dogs: German Shepherd Dogs Breed-FAQ
This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:22:29 GMT
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 19 May 1997
There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete
listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article
is posted bimonthly in rec.pets.dogs, and is available via anonymous ftp
to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list, via
the Web at http://www.zmall.com/pet_talk/dog-faqs/lists/faq-list.html, or
via email by sending your message to firstname.lastname@example.org with
in the body of the message.
This article is Copyright 1996 by the Author(s) listed below.
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed.
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s).
This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other
documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is"
without express or implied warranty.
German Shepherd Dogs
Created: 2 Oct 1994
Modified: 13 May 1997
Previous: 13 Apr 1997
This FAQ was developed by Holly (email@example.com) (hs) with the
assistance of (alphabetical by last name though last names have been
omitted to protect the privacy of the contributor):
* Marianne (firstname.lastname@example.org) (mc)
* Katharine (email@example.com) (kc)
* Mary (also kc)
* Gareth (firstname.lastname@example.org) (gd)
* Amy (email@example.com) (ah)
* Victoria (firstname.lastname@example.org) (vj)
* Craig (email@example.com) (cm)
* Jan (firstname.lastname@example.org) (jm)
* Lily (email@example.com) (lm)
* Robin (firstname.lastname@example.org) (rn)
* Dori (email@example.com) (dp)
The initials of contributors are included in each section, though the
contributions may have undergone editing. They have my gratitude.
Thanks also to Cindy for her invaluable help.
If you have a suggestion, submission or comment regarding this FAQ,
please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Standard Disclaimer: I have done the best and most complete job I
could in this FAQ. I admit a bias to AKC and American standards since
that's what I'm most familiar with. I do not profess to be
all-knowledgeable wrt to GSDs (or anything else for that matter! :-).
Your mileage may vary. No warranty is expressed or implied. -Holly
Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 by Holly Lee Stowe
Sections Copyright (c) 1995 by OFA (please contact Robin Nuttall for
This article may be freely distributed in its entirety provided that
copyright notice is not removed with the exception of the section on
OFA which is copyrighted by the OFA. It may not be sold for profit nor
incorporated in whole or in part in any other document without the
author's written permission.
Explicit permission is hereby granted to all humane shelters, animal
shelters, city pounds and rescue organizations placing animals to
redistribute the material under the conditions above.
Those sites wishing to reference this document through the web or
other means via the internet must set references to point to the
original copy at _http://www.cluebus.com/holly/gsdfaq.html_ unless
given explicit written permission by the author and copyright holder.
In memory of and dedicated to:
Heidi (13 Aug 1957 - 17 Nov 1970)
Bompsey (the Bomps, "Sweep of Birch Point") (19 May 1971 - 2 Feb 1980)
Amanda ("Holly's Eager Beaver Amanda") (24 Mar 1980 - 14 Dec 1993)
Sebastian ("Holly's Bashful Sebastian") (6 Apr 1980 - 13 Sep 1993)
Winter ("Winterabend vom Erste Freund") (24 Nov 1993 - )
Yuno ("Yuno Who von Erste Freund") (9 Jul 1994 - )
and our "honorary" German Shepherds:
Abbie (Irish Setter) and Chloe (20 Aug 1993 - ) (Chow-ador-atian)
Table of Contents
+ Do German Shepherds make good family pets?
+ What traits are inherent in German Shepherds?
+ What should I look for in a German Shepherd puppy?
+ Can my breeder guarantee my puppy will not have hip problems?
+ Should I get a male or female puppy?
+ How old should my puppy be when it goes home?
+ How big will my German Shepherd be?
+ What is "socializing" and why is it important?
+ When will my puppy's ears stand?
+ What precautions should I take with my puppy?
+ When should I switch my puppy to adult food?
+ How often should I feed my puppy and how much?
+ What is bloat (gastric torsion)?
+ What is the life expectancy of a German Shepherd?
+ Should I get American or German bloodlines?
+ Do German Shepherds shed a lot?
+ What about long-coated Germans Shepherds?
+ Are German Shepherds smart and easy to train?
+ My adolescent German Shepherd is limping! What should I do?
+ What is a "gay tail"?
+ What do German Shepherds have a reputation of being vicious?
+ Why is a white German Shepherd disqualified from the show
+ What is an average size litter?
+ What is the difference between a German Shepherd and an
+ Why is the word "dog" used in the breed name?
+ What is Schutzhund?
+ Is there a club for German Shepherds?
+ Is there a mailing list for German Shepherds?
* Finding Your New GSD
* What Questions Should I Ask a Breeder?/What if I Want to Breed My
(currently in a separate document)
* Your New GSD Puppy at Home
* History of the German Shepherd Dog
* German Pedigrees, Working Titles and Certifications
* Health Concerns
+ Brief Explanations of Various Disorders
+ More Detail on Common Disorders
o Degenerative Myleopathy
o Elbow Dysplasia
o Hip Dysplasia
o Peripheral Vestibular Disease
o Soft Ears
o Von Willebrand's Disease
+ OFA Information and Statistics on GSD Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
* Color and Heredity
* GSD Standards - AKC and British Comparisons
o German Shepherd Dog Club of America
o United Schutzhund Clubs of America
o Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde
o German Shepherd Dog Club of Canada
+ GSD Mailing Lists
+ Rescue (updated 14 Dec 1995)
+ Breeders (under construction)
+ Other Resources (under construction)
"The most striking features of the correctly bred German Shepherd
are firmness of nerves, attentiveness, unshockability,
tractability, watchfulness, reliability and incorruptibility
together with courage, fighting tenacity and hardness."
- Max von Stephanitz, Father of the German Shepherd Dog
The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is a versatile working-dog, capable of
being trained to perform a wide variety of tasks. GSDs are family
pets, police dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, bomb and drug
detection dogs, sheep and cattle herders, hunting companions, guard
dogs, obedience champions, avalanche dogs, assistance dogs, show dogs,
Regardless of their particular role, GSDs are excellent companions
provided they receive the attention, training, and exercise they need
and feel useful. On the other hand, a neglected GSD will use those
same wonderful traits to devise ways to amuse himself, much to the
chagrin of his owner.
Go to Table of Contents
_Do GSDs make good family pets?_
Yes! GSDs are naturally protective of their "pack". Young children
should never be left unattended with a puppy, however, if the
children learn to respect the puppy as a living being, the puppy
will be a wonderful companion for the children as they all grow up
together. Your dog's ranking in the "pack" should always be
established as the bottom (Omega) member below humans.
_What traits are inherent in GSDs generally?_
GSDs are natural herding dogs. Your GSD will try to "herd" you and
your family. Often they will "follow ahead", walking in front of
you and looking back to make sure you're going where you should.
Although the GSD is not used as frequently for herding in present
time, there are many breed lines still known for their herding. The
breed is naturally loyal, intelligent and protective (which makes
it good for police work). The GSD has an excellent nose, making it
good for tracking and search and rescue work. They are calm and
have a steady temperament when well-bred which is why they have
been used as "Seeing Eye" dogs. A GSD thrives on regular exercise,
mental stimulation and a well-balanced diet.
These traits make a GSD an absolute pleasure to own when
well-trained, but in the hands of a novice, unconcerned,
uncommitted owner, their intelligence and drive can become
difficult to manage.
Breeding plays an important role in the temperament of GSDs, so
selecting a reputable breeder concerned with both physical health
and the personality of their puppies is of utmost importance.
Different bloodlines exhibit traits differently, so question
breeders about the strong and weak traits of their bloodlines. See
the question on German versus American bloodlines about specific
_What should I look for in a GSD puppy?_
Obviously, many factors affect the selection of the puppy,
including the personality and lifestyle of the prospective owner.
Avoid puppies that appear too shy or nervous. Puppies at an age
where they can be sent home with their new owners should be
inquisitive and curious. GSD pups generally lengthen along the back
and loin rather than get shorter. Look for balance in angulation,
especially in the hind quarters as an imbalanced pup may never grow
into the correct angulation. Meet both sire and dam if possible
since character is very important. The puppies' parents should be
OFA certified (preferably "Good" or "Excellent") (US dogs), OVC
certified (Canadian dogs) or certified "a-normal" (German dogs).
Make sure you see the parents' certifications. Hip problems can be
The OFA is the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. When potential
breeding stock reaches the age of 2, the breeder should have a set
of x-rays taken and submit them to the OFA for certification. OFA
will return a certification (Excellent, Good, or Fair) along with a
certification number for the dog. (Dysplastic dogs will not be
given a certification number.) (German certification is done over 1
year of age.) For information on German certifications, see the
section on German Pedigrees, Working Titles and Certifications.
More information on OFA can be found in the health and medical FAQs
in rec.pets.dogs.info. Statistics regarding the GSD and OFA
information can be found in the section on OFA Information and
Statistics. Watch as the puppies move about. If you are
inexperienced with GSDs, do not pick the "bully" of the litter.
Watch the puppies interact with each other in the litter as well as
with you and your family members. Watch the puppies you are
considering interact with you without the rest of the litter
present. Look for a friendly puppy who is not afraid, but also
allows you to handle it without a lot of struggle. Bloodlines will
make a difference in the working drive of the dog. German lines
tend to be more dominant than American lines as discussed a few
Ask to look through the puppy's pedigree. Look for obedience
titles, conformation titles, hip certifications and make sure that
common ancestors are at least 3 generations back. If you don't
understand something, ask the breeder! Most of all, select a puppy
that feels comfortable with your family. Reputable breeders will
also make suggestions to insure their puppies go to happy,
You can also ask if the puppies have been temperament tested and
look at the results. "The Art of Raising a Puppy" by the Monks of
New Skete (see Bibliography) details temperament testing and puppy
Elbow certifications as well as hip certifications are becoming
more common. As with hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia can only be
diagnosed by radiograph.
Also check out the breeding information found at
http://www.cluebus.com/holly/breeder.html about specific questions
to ask (and to be asked).
_Can my breeder guarantee my puppy will not have hip problems?_
NO! Hip dysplasia is considered to be polygenic. That means that
it's caused by a combination of genes that may not show up in any
litter previously. No matter the certifications in the pedigree it
is possible that your puppy could be predisposed to hip dysplasia.
That's why preliminary hip x-rays after 6 months are a good idea.
Treatments (both surgical and drug) can be done early to alleviate
problems down the line. If in doubt, find an orthopedic specialist.
Be wary of a breeder that says their puppies will definitely not
have hip problems.
But, a responsible breeder _will_ guarantee their puppies for life.
The guarantee may vary. Some breeders will require you to return
the puppy for a replacement; some will refund all or part of your
money; some will not require you to return the puppy, but still
offer a replacement or refund. Do not be dismayed at a requirement
for a return of a puppy. A puppy may be in severe pain and an owner
may not be emotionally prepared to put a puppy down who really
should be put down. A responsible breeder will want what's best for
_Should I get a male or female?_
This is an age-old question and almost strictly a matter of
preference. Some people will say that males are more "location"
protective while females are more "pack" protective. Males are
generally more territorial, so unless training steps are
consistent, marking could be a problem. (Neutering may help
alleviate this problem. Any dog not intended for a breeding program
should be neutered or spayed. Besides eliminating the possibility
of unwanted puppies and reducing some undesireable behaviors, it's
considerably healthier for your dog since it eliminates or severely
reduces the chance of testicular or mammary cancers. Breeding
should *never* be taken lightly.)
_How old should my puppy be before I take it home?_
Puppies are weaned from their mothers by about 6 weeks of age, but
the period following weaning is very important in terms of learning
"pack" behavior. Although 8 weeks is old enough and a common age
for leaving the litter, 10 weeks is probably optimum for a GSD.
However, better to take the puppy at 8 weeks if the rest of the
litter have already gone to their homes. Puppies up to 12 weeks old
should pose no additional concerns. After 12 weeks old, make sure
the breeder has taken special care to socialize the puppy (puppies)
with other dogs and people.
_How big will my GSD be?_
The full adult size of your GSD will depend in large part on the
genetic background of its parents. The AKC Standard states that
adult males should range between 24-26" at the shoulder blade,
females from 22-24". Males within the standard may weigh anywhere
from 65-90 lbs. depending on their bloodlines. Females may weigh
anywhere from 55-80 lbs. (Again, much depends on the genetics and
bloodlines. The above are only a rough idea.) Although your pup
will reach close to adult height by 10-18 months, s/he will
continue to fill out until up to 3 years old.
Be wary of breeders who emphasize "oversize", "huge", "big-boned"
breeding stock or puppies. Bigger is _not_ better in German
Shepherds. The German Shepherd is not built to have a skeletal and
muscular structure of an oversize breed. An inch or so out of
standard may be acceptable providing the general line is not
consistently out of standard. A responsible breeder will offset an
oversize dog by breeding with a line that is a bit smaller in order
to maintain the standards as closely as possible.
_What is "socializing" and why is it so important?_
Socializing refers to exposing your puppy to a variety of
experiences, including meeting lots of people of various ages,
races, sizes and both sexes as well as teaching them how to
acceptably interact with other dogs. Puppy kindergarten classes
provide an excellent opportunity for socialization in a controlled
Socializing is important because it helps strengthen your dog's
confidence and reduces the chance that your dog will become shy or
fearful. Fearful dogs can become fear aggressive or fear biters.
_When will my GSD puppy's ears stand?_
Although some puppies' ears stand as early as 8-10 weeks, don't be
concerned if your pup's ears don't stand until 6-7 months
(especially pups with large ears) after teething. Some pups ears
never stand. This is known as a "soft ear". Sometimes taping is
successful. "Soft ears" are a genetic trait, and dogs with soft
ears should not be bred even if taping is successful. It is a
disqualification in showing. Some GSDs ears stand but wiggle at the
tips when the dogs run. This is known as "friendly ears". Friendly
ears are not a disqualification but are not a desirable trait.
One method of "taping" ears is to take a pink foam roller and
attach it with eyelash glue to the inside of the ear (the pinna).
Do not block the ear canal. Taping may take up to 2 months. But
again, be cautious about considering breeding a dog whose ears have
had to be taped.
_What precautions should I take with my GSD puppy?_
Other than the normal precautions of immunizations (see the new
puppy FAQ at
beware of a fast-growing puppy. There are studies that show a
correlation between fast growth and hip dysplasia (if your pup is
predisposed to HD). You may want to switch your puppy over to adult
food if it seems to be growing very quickly (see also Your New GSD
Don't pet your puppy's ears backwards before they stand. Although
people often do this by nature, it can damage the cartilege in your
pup's ears which can affect the ear carriage.
When your puppy is about 6 months old, have preliminary x-rays done
of your puppy's hips. If your pup shows signs of dysplasia, there
are treatment alternatives available to younger dogs that are not
available if the dog is older and has arthritic changes. If
detected early, there are things you can do for your dog to give it
a happy, healthy life even with dysplasia. If your pup shows mild
signs, consider having another set of x-rays taken after your dog
turns 2. Orthopedic changes (both positive and negative) can take
place up to this time.
Under NO circumstances should a dog with any sign of hip dysplasia
be bred. Breeding stock should be certified with the Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals before breeding. OFA will certify dogs over
2 years of age. You are _strongly_ urged to not buy a puppy from a
breeder who does not have OFA certificates on their breeding stock.
Do _not_ accept a breeder who says "Oh, my vet checked them and
they're fine." There are many subtleties in dysplasia that a vet
not trained in orthopedics may miss. You can look up a dog in the
OFA database a http://188.8.131.52/ofa/index2.htm to insure that
the dam and sire in question truly are OFAd.
Do take your puppy to puppy kindergarten and obedience training
classes and do your homework for these classes. Behaviors that are
cute in a 15 pound puppy can be dangerous in a 75 pound adult.
Socialize your puppy with people (especially children) and other
dogs frequently (after your puppy has completed its immunization
series sometime after 16 weeks old).
Your puppy may go through a period known as "adolescent shyness"
when it reaches 4-5 months of age. This period can last until the
pup is 12-18 months old. Socializing your puppy from an early age
will help minimize this shyness. Expose your puppy to a variety of
experiences, but do so gently. You don't want to traumatize your
Be careful of heavy physical exertion directly before and after
eating, especially if your GSD is a "gulper". GSDs (and many other
breeds) can suffer from bloat. If your dog's abdomen becomes
distended and rigid and it can not seem to belch or pass gas,
gastric torsion may be the problem. (The stomach twists.) This is
an _immediate_ health concern and you should contact your vet or an
_When should I switch my puppy to adult food?_
Individual puppies and bloodlines will vary. You probably are best
off discussing your puppy's growth and needs with both your vet and
your breeder. Many breeders and dog food manufacturers advise
switching to a high quality adult food at four to six months of
age. As long as you are feeding a high quality food, this has no
ill effect on the puppy and is probably a good idea. Check out the
content of the food closely. A puppy or dog with average activity
should have about 26% protein and 15-18% fat. Look for some kind of
meat to be the first ingredient, not a grain product. Don't
overlook feed stores as a good place to buy dog food. Often prices
are less than at pet supply stores. (Please don't patronize pet
stores that sell puppies. Pet stores are in the business of making
money, not breeding responsibly.)
Offhand, if your puppy is growing very quickly, you might want to
ask your vet about switching to adult food even as early as 12
weeks. Studies have shown that puppies growing quickly may
exacerbate a prediliction to hip dysplasia. Otherwise, you can
consider switching any time after 10-18 months depending on the
Dry food is fine. You don't need to supplement with canned food.
It's expensive and doesn't provide anything a good dry food
doesn't. If your puppy doesn't want to eat the dry food, you can
moisten it slightly with warm water. (This may also reduce the risk
_How often should I feed my puppy and how much?_
Free-feeding versus scheduled feeding is another area in which
people disagree violently. Some breeds don't lend themselves well
to free feeding. German Shepherds, depending on the individual dog,
are often excellent at being free-fed without worry of over-eating
or becoming fat. (But you do need to keep an eye on your
puppy's/dog's weight. You should be able to feel the ribs under the
skin fairly easily.)
However, during housebreaking, it's usually a good idea to keep a
modified free-feed for a puppy so you can anticipate when they will
need to go out to potty. (Usually this is about 15-30 minutes after
eating, but it can be an amazing 4 hours or more with some
puppies.) Feed the puppy as much as it will eat before leaving the
bowl 3 times a day up until the puppy is moderately well
housebroken (4-5 months old). If you will be gone for long hours,
you may want to consider only leaving a small amount in the bowl in
the mornings after that time, but giving free access to food until
about an hour before bedtime until the puppy is completely
reliable. After that, the dog will have learned the family schedule
better and adjust its eating schedule accordingly. (Be aware,
however, that there will be times with every dog, no matter what
kind of feeding schedule, where the dog will need to go out during
the night to potty, or, if you're a late sleeper/worker, at least
by the time it's light out.)
Should you choose to schedule feed (and there's nothing wrong with
this), it's still better to feed at least a small amount of food
before leaving for the day. Often a dog that's hungry will vomit up
yellow bile. A small meal in the morning should keep this from
happening, but shouldn't cause the dog undue distress from needing
to relieve itself during the day. You can feed the dog its main
portion of food in the evening when you're home to walk it. For a
German Shepherd with an average activity level, 1 cup of food in
the morning followed by 3 cups in the evening should be about
right, but keep an eye on your dog's weight and adjust the food
Approximately the same rules apply to water. It won't do a puppy
any harm to have its water source removed about an hour before
bedtime and not have access to water until the morning. Fresh water
should be available with every meal. Once the dog is housebroken,
free access to water unless you will be gone for an extrodinarily
long period of time should not be a problem.
See the next section on bloat.
_What is bloat (gastric torsion)?_
Bloat (otherwise known as "gastric torsion") can be a problem with
any deep-chested breed like German Shepherds. The stomach twists so
nothing can pass through the esophagus to the stomach or through
the stomach to the intestions, causing gas to build up. This is an
_immediate_ health concern where the dog should be taken to the vet
or emergency clinic. Signs of bloat include a distended rigid
abdomen, indications of vomiting with no results and inability to
belch or pass gas.
High activity directly before or after eating can exacerbate
bloating. Keeping the dog quiet at least one hour before and after
eating can help reduce the chances of bloat. Pre-moistening the
dog's food with water can also reduce the chances, however, without
the teeth-cleaning help of crunching food, you will want to take
especially good care of your dog's teeth by weekly tooth-brushing
and hard biscuits to help remove tartar. (Be sure to include any
treats you give in the balance of food intake. Too many treats may
cause your dog to gain weight, and treats only may not give the dog
the nutrition it needs.) Smaller meals can also reduce the risk of
bloat if you do not free-feed. (Free-fed dogs just need to have
their activity level watched, but do not usually eat enough at any
one sitting to cause problems. Bloat is more of a problem with a
dog that "gulps" its food which a free-fed dog won't usually do.
Don't leave pre-moistened food down for a free-fed dog too long as
it can breed bacteria. Instead, leave them smaller portions, but
refill more frequently.)
_What is the life expectancy of a GSD?_
Most lines of GSDs will live to between 10-13 years of age. 11-12
years is probably a very reasonable expectation. A GSD becomes
"middle-aged" between 5-7 years old, and is generally considered
"geriatric" at about 10. Their food intake and exercise and
nutrition needs may change over this period of time. They may begin
to develop stiffness in their joints (much like people do as they
get older). Healthy teeth are important as bacteria from decaying
teeth can affect the health of the dog.
_I talk to some breeders who tell me to not look at GSDs from
American bloodlines. I talk to some who tell me that I shouldn't look
at GSDs from German bloodlines. Who's right and who's wrong?_
Both and neither. There are some fairly distinct general
differences between the two lines, and there are some breeders
trying to breed for "the best of both worlds" by crossing American
lines with German. The best thing you can do is determine what you
want from your German Shepherd Dog and want to do with him/her, and
find a line and breeder that breeds for those traits in a
German Shepherds from American lines are typically longer and
leaner than GSDs from German lines. Often GSDs from American
bloodlines are taller as well.
American GSD lines tend to have sharp angulation in the hind
quarters, more so than any other breed. This angulation allows them
to move seemingly without touching the ground. American lines tend
to be bred for elegance and nobility. A well-bred GSD from American
lines is calm, discriminating and intelligent: never fearful. They
are often less active and less dominant than their German
counterparts which can make them better pets for the potential
owner looking solely for a good companion, especially novice
To the negative side of GSDs from American lines, many lines lack
working ability or drive. If you're interested in any kind of work
or sport activity with your dog, look for a breeder who tests
working aptitude in their breeding stock. (Aptitude can be tested
separately from actually taking the dog to trials and competing in
events.) The AKC does not require breeding dogs be able to work or
have any titles.
Bad examples of German Shepherd type may appear spindly and
unbalanced when they move. Such poor movers can have trouble with
jumps and tight turns required in various sports. Some GSDs of this
type are nervous and spooky.
German line GSDs are generally stockier than their American
counterparts and more moderate in both structure and movement
without the severe angulation found in American lines. They may not
appear as graceful and dignified but instead have an air of
muscular agility. German lines typically produce high-energy,
German breeding stock is required to pass minimum standards for
both conformation and working ability, so dogs from German lines
rarely lacking intelligence. However, the dogs from some bloodlines
pass working tests by being aggressive and "sharp" without
discrimination which does not lead them to be good working dogs.
A poor-quality German-line German Shepherd may be too heavily built
for real agility and/or may have a temperament that isn't suitable
for any but the most experienced owner. Dominant aggression is more
likely to be found in these lines than fear aggression. Some
breeders breed for size and aggression rather than a well-rounded,
Hip certification in Germany follows different rules and guidelines
than that of the OFA. Dogs are x-rayed at one year of age rather
than two years, and hips are rated "A-normal", "fast normal" or
"noch zugelassen". Hips rated NZ may not pass OFA certification.
Good examples of either German or American lines should be highly
intelligent, trainable and extremely loyal to their families. All
German Shepherds, regardless of their ancestry, should be bred for
good health and stable temperaments.
Both German and American lines have their passionate advocates, but
the decision of what bloodlines to purchase is ultimately a matter
of taste, need and expectations.
You will find fans of the American lines who will tell you that all
German dogs are ugly and brutally aggressive, and some lovers of
German lines would have you believe that American dogs are unsound,
stupid, and cowardly. Both of these extremes are exaggerated:
Healthy, mentally sound dogs can be found in either bloodline. The
most important thing is to find a good breeder whom you trust and
whose breeding stock (both the chosen sire and dam) fits your
lifestyle, regardless of style or registry.
If you are interested in showing your dog in the AKC conformation
ring with the intention of getting a championship, you are probably
better off looking at American lines. It will be difficult if not
impossible to win with a German Shepherd from German lines.
American (AKC) GSDs from responsible breeders are bred with an eye
to what the AKC breed standard demands and what AKC conformation
judges reward. A German line GSD may be beautiful but still won't
be right for the AKC show ring.
If you are more interested in competing in Schutzhund, training for
protection work, herding, or other working discipline, you may be
better getting a GSD from German lines. There are American dogs who
have the courage and drive, but their ancestors may not have
competed for the last 6 or 8 generations. All of the German dog's
ancestors have been selected for working ability, so you have a
greater chance of finding a suitable puppy without having to test
litter after litter. Also, since a breeder of German lines is more
likely to be involved in working disciplines, you will know someone
who can mentor you.
Given the above generalizations, choose the type more suitable to
your needs, lifestyle and abilities. If you do your "homework" in
researching breeders to find someone who is responsibly selecting
and testing their breeding stock to produce healthy, well-tempered
German Shepherds, you are far more likely to end up with a puppy
who fits your expectations more comfortably. Be totally open and
honest with your breeder in your desires so s/he can help you
select the right puppy for you. Any GSD physically and mentally
capable of the work should be able to be trained and compete
successfully in obedience, agility, tracking, herding and other
disciplines, and any well-bred GSD should make an excellent
_Do German Shepherds shed a lot?_
Yes. The GSD is a "double-coated" dog with an undercoat and guard
hairs. The guard hairs will be shed all year. The undercoat is
"blown" twice a year.
_What about long-coated GSDs?_
"The correct GSD coat is relatively short with an obvious
undercoat. As such it is quite waterproof. Some dogs are born with
long coats which usually, though not always, are devoid of
undercoat. Such coats are less useful and more difficult to groom,
but many pet owners seem to like the long-coated version. Thus
there is not strong selection against it, though very few breeders
would deliberately breed from long-coated stock. The normal coat is
dominant to the long version, so there are three kinds of dog:
normal, normal but carrying the long coat gene, and long. About 10%
of the pups are born long-coated." (1)
This being said, if you don't intend to show your dog in
conformation, there's no reason to avoid the long-coated GSD.
Long-coated GSDs can and do compete in obedience and other working
disciplines. You should be aware, however, that the longer coat
does require more attention when grooming.
_Are GSDs smart and easy to train?_
Yes and no to both. Most GSDs are eager and willing to learn and
enjoy training sessions (don't overdo with a young pup - they just
don't have the attention span). If you start young and teach your
puppy its order in your "pack", problems with training will be
minimized. However, GSDs tend to have more dominant personalities
than some breeds and can be stubborn, so some care in training is
recommended. Classes are extremely beneficial. A GSD that thinks
it's the Alpha member of the pack can be a big handful.
_My adolescent GSD is limping! What should I do?_
Don't panic. You probably *do* want to take your pup into a vet
certified in orthopedic problems and reading x-rays just to make
sure you can eliminate hip and elbow dysplasia from the cause of
the problem. (Of course, that's true of all GSD puppies since early
diagnosis/treatment of dysplasia is important to your puppy's
healthy life even if you don't plan on breeding.) But... most
likely the vet will confirm that your pup has panosteitis, an
inflammation of the long bones in the legs of adolescent pups. It's
fairly common in GSDs. It's also known as "long bone disease",
"shifting leg lameness" and "growing pains". "Pano" can be detected
and diagnosed by x-ray.
Onset can be from 5-12 months (occasionally later) and last until
18 months or more. Though it is uncomfortable for the puppy, it
almost always grows out of it. The lameness need not be limited to
one leg. Pano is generally considered to be a polygenic trait with
limited heretibility (1).
_What is a "gay tail"?_
A GSD that carries its tail naturally higher than its body is said
to have a "gay tail". Many Northern breeds such as Samoyeds are
bred to carry their tails high. It is a fault in GSDs.
_Why do GSDs have a reputation of being vicious?_
In the 1950s, GSDs became the most popular dog in the AKC registry.
As a result, many breedings were made without regard to pedigree
history and inbreeding caused many personality problems. Reputable
breeders will usually not allow inbreeding at least 3 generations
back in the puppy's pedigree.
Inbreeding and linebreeding can be beneficial in a breeding program
if a breeder practices them carefully. Desireable traits can be
strengthened, but undesireable traits and faults may be brought
forth as well. If you notice inbreeding or linebreeding in the
pedigree, question the breeder as to why and what the perceived
advantages were. Breeders practicing these breedings should be able
to give reasonably educated answers as to why.
_Why is a white GSD disqualified from the show ring in many clubs?_
The GSD was bred and developed as a herding dog. A pure white coat
is not readily visible on snowy hillsides and sheep seem to respond
better to colored dogs. As a guard dog, white is too visible. Also,
top breeders have bred against a white color for a lengthy amount
of time, so the gene pool of white GSDs is very limited and
inbreeding can be a problem.
_What is an average size litter?_
An average size litter for a GSD is seven to eight puppies.
_What is the difference between a GSD and an Alsatian?_
There is no difference. After each of the World Wars, anything
German fell out of popular favor. To avoid the use of the word
German, "Alsatian" (from the Alsace-Lorraine area) was used. In
some countries, GSDs are still known as Alsations. The name in
Germany is Deustche Schaferhund which means "German Shepherd Dog".
The word "Dog" is part of the name.
_Why is the word "dog" used in the breed name for GSDs and not for
The name in Germany is Deustche Schaferhund which means "German
Shepherd Dog". The word "Dog" is actually part of the breed's name
unlike other breeds.
_What is Schutzhund?_
Schutzhund is German for "protection dog", but it also refers to a
training discipline and dog sport involving 3 phases; obedience,
tracking and protection. It is supposed to be a fun experience for
both the dog and the handler. If it isn't for one or the other,
don't consider it. Find another activity. Schutzhund is not the be
all and end all of training. See the section on Schutzhund (often
notated as SchH) for more information. (Also, as of this writing, a
Schutzhund FAQ is being worked on by some of the subscribers to the
GSD-L mailing list. See the Resources for information on GSD-L.)
_Is there a club for GSDs in the US or in my area?_
Yes. You can get a packet of information on GSDs, information about
the United States national club and information on a local club (if
applicable) can be had by writing to the German Shepherd Dog Club
of America (address in Resources below). You may be able to find
out if there's a club in your country from this organization as
You can also contact the United Schutzhund Club of America (USA)
(address in Resources below) to get information on GSDs in general,
about Schutzhund, about conformation shows and Schutzhund trials,
the Breed Registry and to find a Schutzhund club near you.
Canadians can contact the German Shepherd Dog Club of Canada.
_Is there a mailing list for GSDs?_
Yes! See the Resources section below.
If you have other questions you feel should be answered in this FAQ,
please write to email@example.com (but note that sometimes responses
take a while due to time constraints)
Go to Table of Contents
_Finding Your New GSD (mc/hs)_
You should seek out a reputable breeder when looking for a GSD pup
because of the health concerns noted above as well as problems in
temperament brought out in ill-bred GSDs. Poorly-bred GSDs can also be
aggressive, fearful, or shy-sharp (a fearful dog that becomes
aggressive when frightened). It is for these reasons that a reputable
breeder is more likely to have sound pups, guarantee their health,
help you select the puppy most suited to your lifestyle and goals, and
be able to guide you as the pup grows. Review the information on
breeding at Breeding Your Dog FAQ at
http://www.zmall.com/pet_talk/dog-faqs/breeding.html to learn the
kinds of things a responsible breeder will do.
There are numerous resources to finding a reputable breeder. You can
contact the GSD Club of America (address in the Resources section),
your local GSD Club, United Schutzhund Club of America, GSD Club of
Canada, local obedience schools or even by attending dogs shows and
talking to people. (Note: Wait until the dog and handler have competed
to approach them. Nerves and focus may interfere with your impression
of both the dog and breeder otherwise and distractions before
competing are unfair to the handler.)
Don't overlook the possibility that a GSD is waiting to be adopted
from a local shelter or rescue organization. There may also be sound
GSDs that need homes because of changing family circumstances. When
adopting a GSD from one of these sources, find out as much as you can
about the dog's habits and any commands he understands. Taking the
time to learn about the dog up front greatly improve the chance of
making a good match between owner and dog, and with a dog that has
already been displaced, it's important to find a match that will last
a lifetime. Remember, though, that a GSD that has already been part of
a family may take up to a few months to adjust completely to his new
family and bond to his new humans. In return, you may find a dog who
is already housebroken and at least partly trained to help smooth the
transition into your home. You can find if there is a rescue
organization in your area by contacting the national rescue chair
whose address is located in the Resources section of this FAQ.
Go to Table of Contents
_Your New GSD Puppy at Home (hs)_
Commit yourself (and your family) to training your puppy. Use the
resources of formal class training beginning from about 12 weeks of
age with a puppy kindergarten class for socialization and early
training. Move on to more formally structured classes when the pup is
six months old. Do your homework. Being intelligent and motivated, an
untrained or ill-trained GSD can prove to be an unacceptable family
member. Work on subordination and relaxation exercises every day.
Be wary of asking too much physically from a young GSD pup, such as
jumping, long runs, etc. While your pup is growing, you can damage the
growth plates or exacerbate a tendency to hip dysplasia. Your puppy
should be 12-18 months old before any heavy physical demands are
placed on it.
By 10 weeks of age, your GSD puppy will weigh somewhere around 13-20
pounds (depending on sex and bloodlines). A GSD will continue to fill
out until 24-36 months old, but should reach close to full adult
height by 12 months.
Your new GSD puppy will require a great deal of attention and
socialization. Between 4-12 months, GSDs can be prone to "adolescent
shyness". If the dog is well-socialized during prior to this point,
you can minimize many of the worries that are associated with a shy
dog. Puppy Kindergarten and obedience classes are highly recommended
for all dogs, but especially for larger breeds such as the GSD. Expose
your puppy to as many different experiences as possible, but do not
allow your puppy to be traumatized.
Although it is very tempting to pet your GSD puppies ears backwards
away from the nose, it is preferable to not do so until the
musculature in the ear is fully developed and the ear standing erect.
Be content with scratching the ear at the base where it meets the
skull. Your puppy will probably find this very enjoyable anyway.
And don't forget how important puppy immunizations are!
Go to Table of Contents
_History of the GSD (hs(2))_
The GSD is a fairly recent breed in the breeding history of dogs,
having been developed almost entirely in the 1900s. In the late
1880s-early 1890s the first GSD Club, called the Phylax Society, was
formed in Germany. The club survived for only a short time. On April
3, 1899, Max von Stephanitz and Artur Meyer attended one of the
earliest dog shows for all breeds ever held in Germany. On that day,
von Stephanitz purchased a herding dog he observed at the show, and he
and Meyer decided to form the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde, S.V.
Von Stephanitz was named the organization's first president and
remained so until his death in 1936. The dog he purchased that day,
Horand von Grafrath (previously Hektor Linksrhein) was designated
S.Z.1, the first GSD to be registered with the Verein. The Verein
became a driving force in the canine world and the largest specialty
club with 50,000 members and over 600 affiliated clubs.
The Verein started to keep a stud book immediately (marked by an S.Z.
number) and began to circulate a semi-monthly newsletter. It held
annual "Sieger" shows at which one dog and bitch were selected as
Sieger and Siegerin. The Verein and von Stephanitz held a tight rein
on GSD breeding throughout Germany, holding jurisdiction on which dogs
and bitches could be used for breeding, which could be bred to one
another, the number of puppies that could be kept and raised from each
litter and age limitations on breeding stock. The von Stephanitz motto
"utility and intelligence" was key.
Though herding was the GSDs original purpose, von Stephanitz
recognized the importance of expanding the breed's usefulness in other
directions and persuaded the government (amid some amusement) to use
the GSD in police and military work. GSDs went on to become the first
dogs used as Guide Dogs for the blind.
The GSD lost popularity in the United States during each of the World
Wars, but recovered directly after, mostly attributed to soldiers
returning from Europe with GSDs. Rin Tin Tin was actually a dog that
was brought to America after World War I by a soldier named Larry
Baker. In Germany, the dog was used as a military dog during each of
The first German Shepherd registered with the AKC was Queen of
Switzerland, registered in 1908.
Go to Table of Contents
_German Pedigrees, Working Degrees and Ratings (mc/cm/jm/dp)_
In Germany, there is much more emphasis on the working abilities of
the GSD, in keeping with Max von Stephanitz's vision of developing a
dog with "a highly developed sense of smell, enormous courage,
intrepidness, agility and, despite its aggressiveness, great
Before the turn of the century, there were many informal training
contests in Europe. Max von Stephanitz formalized the competitions
under the auspices of the SV - Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (GSD
Club of Germany) and included tests of performance in tracking,
obedience, and protection. These tests are what we know today as
Schutzhund. (See the section on Schutzhund for more information.)
Unlike the AKC which simply registers all dogs born of AKC registered
parents, for a litter in Germany to be officially registered both its
parents must have working titles and at least a "G" (Good)
conformation rating. The SV will register litters from parents it
doesn't consider "suitable for breeding" if the above requirements are
met. For an adult dog to compete in conformation shows or be
recommended for breeding, it must first have a working title (@).
(Most have Schutzhund titles.) The exception to this is that an adult
dog may compete once in a lifetime in the non-titled adult dog class.
Adolescents and puppies do not need working titles to compete in
(@) The work done to achieve the titles must include tracking,
obedience and protection, and must be accepted by the VDH (Verein fur
Deutsche Hundeswessen). These include SchH and IPO. PH, DH, DPO and
German Narcotics and Bomb dogs are accepted, but the dog is a real
working dog or must actually have done the work for a year. Tending
style herding (for which the dogs were originally bred) is also
accepted (HGH) is also included, though it does not have a tracking
segment. It does have a protection segment. The dog must perform a
courage test. No AKC titles are accepted as they do not include a
courage test. The SV standard calls for the desire to protect. French
Ring is not accepted by the VDH.
For an adult GSD to compete in the annual Sieger show (the premier
German show), the dog must be free of hip dysplasia (*) and have
earned a Schutzhund I, II, or III title. The dogs are first judged in
two categories: conformation and courage; those that pass move on to
compete for the Sieger (dog) and Siegerin (bitch) titles. The dogs are
judged by physical characteristics, temperament, and movement, and
their pedigrees are examined.
(*) Dogs are x-rayed at one year of age and are given certifications
of "a-normal", "fast-normal" or "noch-zugelassen", designating
"normal", "nearly normal" and "mild hip dysplasia, still permissable
to breed". (This lowest certification is generally not seen in show
and breeding dogs.) Although there are no verifiable statistics, it is
generally accepted that "a-normal" dogs will OFA at "Good" or better,
"fast-normal" will generally, but not always OFA, and
"noch-zugelassen" dogs will OFA only occasionally.
German pedigrees have an "a-stamp" (literally a stamp) in the lowest
right corner of the pedigree and the actual hip rating for that
individual is hand-written on that stamp, so it is easy to verify the
actual hip rating of the dog whose pedigree you have in front of you.
Unfortunately, all the other ancestors only have the anonymous
designation of an "a" ZUERKANNT, which only indicates that the
ancestor was x-rayed and falls within the SV standard of "acceptable
for breeding". It does not, therefore, indicate what the specific hip
rating of the ancestor is/was, either normal, fast-normal or
noch-zugelassen. Unfortunately, many people seem to think the "a"
ZUERKANNT designation implies a hip rating of normal when in truth, it
may signify any of the levels.
German Titles And Ratings
(Note: These titles cover all breeds, not just GSDs. A ranking of 3 is
Used farther back in pedigrees to save room and denotes kkl-l or
Before a dog's name, indicates dog has been surveyed and approved for
"a" stamp indicating the dog's hips have been evaluated and fall
considered acceptable for breeding
Sufficient show or performance rating
Endurance title (test includes a 12-mile run & simple obedience test)
Recommended for breeding
German Companion Dog
Must precede SchH I
Blind guide dog
_BpDH I, II_
Railroad police service dog
Most advanced tracking title awarded by the SV
Good show or performance rating
Border patrol dog
_IPO I, II, III_
Schutzhund III according to the international rules
Especially recommended for breeding
Suitable for breeding
Breed surveyed for lifetime
Faulty show or performance rating
Dispatch Army dog (messenger dog)
Polizei Dienst Hund
Working Police dog
Police protection dog
_SchH I, II, III_
Obedience, tracking, and protection titles
Very Good show or performance rating;
highest rating obtainable by dogs under 2 years old or at USA SchH
the highest rating that can be obtained by an untitled dog
Red Cross dog
Unsatisfactory show or performance rating
Excellent show or performance rating
Excellent Select show rating at Sieger show;
highest award obtainable by a German show dog;
typically awarded to 12-15 dogs and bitches each year
Sufficient show or performance rating
Conformation show rating
_ZH I, II_
Zollhund I, II
Passed a breed survey, recommended for breeding
European International Champion
Working Dog Champion of the Year (Leistungssieger)
World Champion SchH III dog
Herding Dog Champion at German herding dog championship
Working Dog Champion of the Year (Bundesieger)
Sheepherding Champion of the Year
Grand Victor title at the German Sieger show
Highest Sieger bitch title
Dogs are also rated and must achieve an G (good), SG (very good), V
(excellent), or VA (excellent select) rating to be breed, as well as
hip certification and a working degree.
Go to Table of Contents
Schutzhund is a German dog sport. It translates into "protection dog".
The purpose of Schutzhund training is to assess and mold the dog's
natural abilities to track, protect, and teach the dog control through
obedience. It has been considered by some to be a test for breeding in
that during the training the degree to which the dog possesses these
working abilities becomes apparent. There are three degrees of
Schutzhund training: SchH1 or novice; SchH2 or intermediate; and SchH3
To be eligible to do Schutzhund training, it is essential that the dog
have a sound temperament. It cannot be shy, sharp shy, vicious, or
have poor nerves (that is easily rattled). A responsible trainer will
never train a dog with poor temperament in Schutzhund. It is also
important that the trainer know when to back down and when to admit
ignorance in order to keep from ruining a dog.
Good socialization during puppyhood is critical. Poorly socialized
dogs will have problems getting started and will require more ground
The tracking is very similar to the AKC TD and TDX, except the dog is
penalized for quartering (that is sniffing from side to side down the
track). This phase of training can be started when the dog is about
five months old.
The obedience portion is very similar to that of the AKC CDX work
except it is done on a large field as opposed to a small ring. This is
for SchH1. For SchH2 and 3 obedience, the dog has to scale a 6 foot
tall slanted wall to retrieve a dumbell in addition to the SchH1
exercises. The dog is expected to do the work with greater precision
at the more advanced levels. This portion of the training is usually
started in earnest at about 12 months of age. Basic puppy training is
always a good idea.
The protection phase consists of developing the dog's natural
protective instincts, and teaches it control in full drive through
obedience exercises. The protection phase is best started no earlier
than 15 months of age. The dog needs to have developed emotionally as
well as physically and mentally.
Schutzhund training is very time consuming and requires a committment
from the owner. The length of time it takes to attain a SchH1 title
will depend upon the dog's abilities and the time committment made by
the owner. This can range from three months under ideal conditions
(two times tracking/wk; four times/wk of obedience; four times/wk of
protection) to three years if the training is sporadic or of poor
There is a difference between Schutzhund Training and a Schutzhund
Trial. When done properly the training is a good test of the dog. A
strong dog doesn't always do well at trials because they can be a bit
obstinate during the obedience phase. A dog that scores well may not
be a good dog.
In Germany, the two largest Schutzhund organizations are the SV (GSD
Dog Club) and the DVG (German Alliance for Utility Dog Sports). In
1975, the first Schutzhund organization in the US, United Schutzhund
Club of America (USA), was formed. Soon after, an American branch of
the DVG formed. The USA's address and phone numbers are in the
Resources section. (Breeding requirements for the United Schutzhund
Clubs of America include a minimum of an "a" stamp and BH (German
Go to Table of Contents
_Health Concerns (mc/hs/cm/lm/kc)_
Due to the breed's versatility, the GSD has become a very popular pet.
This is a mixed blessing. While many people truly enjoy the pleasure a
well-bred and well-trained GSD adds to their lives, others have been
attracted to the breed primarily to make money. A well-bred GSD is a
remarkable dog, but a GSD from a disreputable breeder, accidental
breeding, or someone trying to recoup their initial investment, can be
a nightmare. Without careful consideration of genetic, temperament,
and physical characteristics, the resulting litter can be plagued with
serious health and temperament problems.
Health disorders (some genetic) seen in GSDs (some are explained in
more detail below):
d = dominant
r = recessive
p = polygenic
% = may not always be genetic
^ = suspected genetic
? = unknown
dilated esophagus; vomiting begins at weaning
fusing of vertebrae in tail (or spine) reducing range of motion
_aubaortic stenosis (?)_
_bilateral cataract (d)_
opague lens form in both eyes, usually after 2 years
_calcium gout (^)_
calcium gout, lumps in skin caused by calcium deposits
_cerebellar hypoplasia (^)_
abnormal gait and loss of control starting at 12 weeks
_chronic pancreatitis (^)_
lack of enzymes that digest fat and protein;
chronic weight loss
_cleft lip and palate (%)_
nonclosure of bones of upper jaw and roof of mouth
_corneal dermoid cyst (^)_
congenital cyst on eye surface
high cystine in urine; prone to stone formation (males only)
_degenerative myelopathy (?)_
spinal degeneration in older dogs
(Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyleopathy - CDRM)
_diabetes mellitus (r)_
onset of insulin deficiency at 2-6 months
extra row of eyelashes irritate eye
optic nerve/retina abnormalities (aka "Collie eye")
_elbow dysplasia (d)_
progressive developmental deformity of elbow joints,
symptomless to crippling
(see ununited anchoneal process)
may be polygenic
_eosinophilic colitis (^)_
chronic bouts of diarrhea
_eosinophilic myositis (?)_
acute, relapsing inflammation of the muscles
recurrent seizures onset between 1-3 years old
_hemophelia a (r)_
(factor VIII deficiency) slowed blood clotting, hemorrhages
_hip dysplasia (p)_
progressive developmental deformity of hip joints,
symptomless to crippling
_intervertebral disc disease (^)_
slipped disc, pain, weakness to paralysis of limbs
_malabsorption syndrome (^)_
inability to absorb digested food leads to starvation
_nictitating membrane eversion (r)_
third eyelid rolls back; treated surgically
_osteochondritis dessicans (^)_
growth disorder of shoulder cartilage; pain, lameness (OCD)
vessels, skin and pigment migrate over eye surface, leading to
acute shifting lameness of growing dogs,
deep bone pain,
_patent ductus arteriosus (p)_
aortal development defect in fetus,
loud heart murmur,
_perianal fistuala (^)_
open draining tracts around anus
_peripheral vestibular disease (?)_
defect of the middle ear causing puppies to circle
_pituitary dwarfism (^)_
normally proportioned dwarf, mentally retarded, usually fatal
_renal cortical hypoplasia (^)_
degeneration of both kidneys, beginning at about 1 year
_retinal atrophy (^)_
retina degenerates causing first night blindness then total blindness
_right aortic arch (p)_
abnormal artery constricts esophagus, vomiting
_soft ears (r)_
weak ear musculature
_spondylosis deformans (^)_
_ununited anchoneal process (d)_
elbow dysplasia; pain and limp in front legs
_von Willebrand's disease (d)_
Detail for some disorders mentioned above...
This condition is relatively common among GSDs. It can appear in a
young dog, but generally appears from middle age. The degeneration
occurs over time, beginning with hind limb weakness. Eventually other
weakness can occur, including the lower portion of the esopheogus,
which makes complete swallowing difficult and can lead to recurrent
pneumonias. Although initial signs resemble hip dysplasia, in
actuality, it is the degeneration of the spinal cord rather than hip
Elbow dysplasia is characterized by an onset of severe lameness at
between 4 and 6 months of age. It almost always affects only one of
the elbows but occasionally will affect both. There are three
different types of elbow dysplasia: UAP (ununited anconeal process),
FCP (fractured coronoid process), and OCD (osteochondrosis). OCD more
resembles arthritis in the elbow that may or may not be brought on by
trauma or looseness of ligamentation at the elbow. Final diagnosis can
only be made by radiograph. OFA now certifies elbows as well as hips.
(See OFA Information and Statistics)
This may possibly be genetically transmitted. At the least, the
tendency exists in a few lines. The disorder may not express itself
until the dog is about three to four years old. There is no way of
testing for the disease until the dog has a seizure. (cm)
The hip joint is not constructed properly, usually with a shallow
acetabulum. Dysplastic dogs can vary from minor problems to severe
dislocation of the hips. This condition is generally considered to be
inherited. Breeding stock should be OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for
Animals) certified (look for an OFA number) or given an "A"
certificate if from Germany. (Canada OVC) Current statistics indicate
that over 20% of x-rays sent in for OFA certification fail. (See OFA
Information and Statistics.)
Although HD is thought to have a genetic base, pedigree, diet,
exercise and so forth can play a role in the extent that the dog
exhibits a existing predisposition to HD. Even dogs from long lines of
certified parents can still produce HD puppies. The inheritance factor
of HD is not fully known. This is why it has so far been impossible to
eradicate the condition and why even pups from long lines of certified
parents can still have HD. However, pups from generations of certified
dogs are less likely to have HD.
_There is recent information on HD from Cornell's Animal Health
Newsletter that specifically discusses the latest HD info (as of
March, 1994). Although I have chosen to not include it here (due to
length), HD is a prevalent problem and big issue in GSD breeding.
The more you read about HD, the better. -hs_
(Chronic Superficial Keratitis (inflammation)) Pannus is an eye
condition in which blood vessels grow onto the cornea. It can lead to
blindness if untreated. It is not curable, but is controllable with
medication. Some studies suggest an autoimmune problem. (lm)
(Commonly called "long bone disease," "wandering lameness," or simply
"pano.") Generally seen between 5-12 months of age, it is caused by
excessive bone production on the long bones. Dogs will generally grow
out of the problem, but it is a painful condition. Pano is, for
unknown reasons, common in GSDs. If the dog is x-rayed during a bout
of pano, lesions on the growth plates will be visible. However, pano
leaves no lasting ill affects on a dog. Diet is thought to play a
role. High protein puppy diets may make the puppy grow too fast and
increase the chance of the pup experiencing pano (sometimes described
as "growing pains"). Pano is also called "Shifting Leg Lameness" as it
can show up in any leg and may come and go without warning. Pups
usually completely outgrow Pano by 18 months. Enforced rest is usually
prescribed. Painkillers are contraindicated since the pup will play
more without pain, and may exacerbate the condition.
_Peripheral Vestibular Disease_
A congenital defect of the middle ear. Puppies will generally circle
in an unbalanced way, holding their head back or to one side. Dogs
rarely recover, and as afflicted adults, there will still be some head
Though all GSDs are born with floppy ears, normal ears will begin to
stand erect in the 2nd or 3rd month. Some ears will never develop the
musculature to stand erect. This is an inherited recessive trait.
Though soft ears primarily affects a dog's showability (hanging ears
are a disqualification), soft-eared GSDs are also more prone to ear
_Von Willebrand's Disease_
A blood disease that can include mucosal bleeding. It is an inherited
dominant condition. Requires clinical blood testing to distinguish it
from other conditions. Results of breeding two VWD dogs are lethal.
VWD is autosomal and not sex-linked.
NOTE: Although these disorders are found in GSDs, they are not
necessarily found only in GSDs, nor are they necessarily common.
Though this list may seem a bit intimidating, a good look into any
breed will reveal a substantial list of health problems that may be
common to that breed. This list shouldn't scare you away from GSDs,
rather, it should encourage you to find a reputable breeder who is
aware of/knowledgeable about these conditions and does their best
to keep their breeding program free of these problems.
OFA Information and Statistics on GSD Hip and Elbow Dysplasia (rn*)
The OFA's home page and database (interactive queries) is at
This section is Copyright (c) 1995 by Robin Nuttall and may not be
posted, printed or reproduced in any medium without explicit
written permission of the author. Robin may be reached at
_GSDs are listed as 23rd of 100 breeds having at least 100
evaluations, tested between January 1974 and January 1995.
German Shepherd Dog: 46,089 tested
2.8% tested excellent
20.8% tested dysplastic
GSD whelped 1972-80: 2.5% tested excellent
20.7% tested dysplastic
GSD whelped 1991-92: 4.1% tested excellent
16.8% tested dysplastic
GSDs reduced the frequency of HD by 10-20% between 1974 and 1995. Only
4 breeds increased the frequency of HD: Afgan hound, Flat-coated
Retriever, Kerry Blue Terrier and Komondor.
_OFA's Recommended Breeding Principals_
1. Breed normals to normals
2. Breed normals with normal ancestry
3. Breed normals from litters with a low incidence of HD
4. Select a sire that produces a low incidence of HD
5. Replace dogs with dogs that are better than the breed average
OFA is especially interested/concerned in HD in littermates. Their
contention is that a dog with excellent hips that has littermates with
HD is a poorer breeding prospect than a dog with fair hips whose
littermates have no HD.
_Sixteen breeds have had at least 75 individuals tested as of December
31, 1994. These are divided by sex, % dysplastic and % of each grade
of dysplasia. Because different breeds have different numbers that
have been tested, it is hard to assign a "most dysplastic" number to
them. Note: In all breeds, more bitches have been tested than males,
yet in almost every case, dogs have had a higher incidence of ED.
GSD: Females: 2940 tested
18.2% dysplastic... 68.7% Grade I
22.0% Grade II
9.3% Grade III
Males: 2156 tested
23.9% dysplastic... 67.2% Grade I
20.9% Grade II
11.8% Grade III
Grade I: minimal bone change on the aconeal process
Grade II: additional subchondral bone changes and/or osteophytes
Grade III: well developed degenerative joint disease
_Categories for Dysplasia
_ Normal (receive OFA certification numbers)
Borderline (recommend repeat study in 6-8 months)
_OFA Number Interpretation
_Numbers are interpreted as follows: _BBBxxxPmmS-T_
Ascending numerical order of normal individuals assigned a
breed registry number
Phenotypic evaluation (observational evaluation)
Age in months when evaluation was done
Sex of individual
Given the example number _EPT100G24M-T_, it would represent:
EPT - A Pointer
100 - The 100th Pointer to be evaluated
G - Evaluated as Good
24 - 24 months old at the time of evaluation
M - Male
T - Tattooed
Correction of Anecdotal Misinformation
1. There are no environmental factors which cause HD.
2. There is no evidence in the scientific literature that megadoses
of vitamin C or any other supplement is beneficial in reducing the
effects of HD. (Note from Robin: other OFA publications indicate
these megadoses may be harmful.)
3. High caloric intake resulting in rapid growth and increased weight
gain may exacerbate changes in dysplastic hips but will not create
4. Exercise, running, jumping up and down, and slick floors will not
5. Prior injuries to the femurs and/or pelvis may be detected
radiographically and are taken into account when evaluating hip
1. _DO YOUR HOMEWORK_: Prospective buyers should check pedigrees for
OFA numbers prior to purchasing a dog. If an OFA number cannot be
verified assume the dog to be dysplastic until proven otherwise.
2. _PRELIMINARY EVALUATIONS_: Can be performed as early as 4-5 months
of age and OFA evaluations are about 90% accurate when compared to
follow-ups at 24 months of age.
3. _ANESTHESIA_: Is not required by OFA but is recommended.
4. _HORMONAL EFFECT_: Some female dogs show subluxation when
radiographed around an estrus cycle which is not apparent when
re-radiographed in anestrus. The OFA recommends radiographing 3-4
weeks before or after a heat period or 3-4 weeks after weaning a
litter of pups.
5. _FILM COPIES_: Due to optical archiving the OFA can no longer
supply copies of films. If a copy is necessary ask your
veterinarian to insert 2 films in the cassette prior to making the
exposure. This will require about a 15% increase in the kVp to
make an exact duplicate of the radiograph sent to OFA.
This latest information comes from the pamphlet "Hip Registry".
_Color and Heredity (vj/hs)_
When people think of GSDs, they think of the "saddleback" markings,
however GSDs can be one solid color (all white is a conformation
disqualification for showing) and sable. Sables are noted by
multi-colored individual hairs, though they may be masked by dark or
black guard hairs. Coloring patterns include: black & tan, black &
red, black & cream, black, white (conformation disqualification),
sable (various colorations), black & silver, liver (rare -
conformation fault) and blue (rare - conformation fault). The liver
color is the result of matched recessives in the black series. The
blue color is the result of matched recessives in the dilution series.
The following is a summary of color inheritance in the German Shepherd
based on information from "The German Shepherd Dog: A Genetic History"
and "Practical Genetics for Dog Breeders", both by Malcom Willis,
required reading for any serious German Shepherd fan, especially for
Color is controlled by several series of genes. Each series is worked
through in the following:
(x^y designates ^y as a superscript)
_THE AGOUTI SERIES_
The basic body color is controlled by the genes. The order of
a^y ... golden sable
a^w ... grey sable
a^s ... saddle marked black and tan
a^t ... bicolor* black and tan
a ..... black
*bicolor is where the dog only has tan on the legs and face, not on
The black gene a is recessive to the other colors. Blacks bred to
blacks will only produce blacks. The sable colors are dominant over
the other colors.
_THE BLACK SERIES_
This gene controls the black pigment formation.
BB ... Black pigment including nose, eyerims and pads
Bb ... Carrier for liver color
bb ... Liver color - brown black colors, brown nose, eye rims
Most GSDs are BB.
_THE WHITE SERIES_
White is recessive to all other colors. In order get a white coat
color, both parents must carry the white gene (either be white
themselves or be carriers.)
C ............. Melanin is produced. (Standard GSD's colors
C^ch .......... Partial albinism - chinchilla (not seen)
C^d ........... White coat with dark eyes and nose (not albino)
a^yC^chC^ch ... Yellowish coat collar (proposed)
_THE COLOR SERIES_
Controls the intensity of the non-black coloration.
INT .... Lightest tan (cream)
int^m .. Intermediate tan (tan)
int .... Darkest tan (red)
The intensity of the color series determines whether dogs with color
(i.e. not all-black or all-white recessives) will be black & cream,
black & tan or black & red.
_THE DILUTION SERIES_
Controls how intense the black pigment will be.
D ... Dense pigment
d ... blue dilution
Bd ... Black pigment-blue dilution together begets a blue coat which
looks as though it has a dusty or flour sheen.
_THE MASK SERIES_
E^m .... Produces a black mask on the face
E ...... Dark coat with no mask
e^br ... Brindle (rare, will be seen as striping on the legs)
e ...... Clear tan
The ee combination affects only the coat and not the nose. The black
fades to tan. In these dogs, the tail tip will be red, not black.
Go to Table of Contents
_GSD Standards - AKC (2/11/1978) (hs) and British (cm) Comparisons_
_NOTE (95/08/08): AKC has decided to challenge the copyright over the
breed standards. Until this silliness and childish "Mine! Mine!" on
the part of the AKC is over, the AKC breed standard for the GSD will
not be printed in either the text or webbed version of the FAQ. There
are many GSD books on the market that contain the standard, and a copy
can be obtained from the GSD Club of America. Don't bother buying the
AKC's book with all the standards if all you want is the GSD standard.
_NOTE (96/02/14): AKC has come to their senses slightly and put up the
GSD standard at http://www.akc.org/germshep.htm. Though this doesn't
allow for an easy comparison, at least it's something. -HS_
The British Standard was adopted from several translations of the 1976
SV Standard. The version listed is the "Extended Version" which
corresponds to the SV standard. The KC has since shortened it and has
a copyright to their current version.
The immediate impression of the GSD is of a dog slightly long
in comparison to its height, with a powerful and well muscled
body. The relation between height and length and the position
and symmetry of the limbs (angulation) is so interrelated as to
enable a far reaching and enduring gait. The coat should be
weather-proof. A beautiful appearance is desirable, but this is
secondary to this usefulness as a working dog. Sexual
characteristics must be well defined - i.e., the masculinity of
the male and the femininity of the female must be unmistakable.
True to type GSD gives an impression of innate strength,
intelligence, and suppleness, with harmonious proportions and
nothing either over done or lacking. His whole manner should
make it perfectly clear that he is sound in mind and body, and
has the physical and mental attributes to make him always ready
for tireless action as a working dog. With an abundance of
vitality he must be tractable enough to adapt himself to each
situation and to carry out his work willingly and with
enthusiasm. He must possess the courage and determination to
defend himself, his master, or his master's possessions should
the need arise. He must be observant, obedient, and a pleasant
member of the household, quiet in his own environment,
especially with children and other animals, and at ease with
adults. Overall he should present a harmonious picture of
innate nobility, alertness, and self-confidence.
The main characteristics of the GSD are: steadiness of nerves,
attentiveness, loyalty, calm self-assurance, alertness and
tractability, as well as courage with physical resilience and
scenting ability. These characteristics are necessary for a
versatile working dog. Nervousness, over-aggressiveness, and
shyness are very serious faults.
The head should be proportional in size to the body without
being coarse, too fine, or overlong. The overall appearance
should be clean cut and fairly broad between the ears. Forehead
should be only very slightly domed with little or no trace of
center furrow. Cheeks should form a very softly rounded curve
and should not protrude. Skull extends from the ears to the
bridge of the nose tapering gradually and evenly, and blending
without a too pronounced "stop" into a wedge shaped powerful
muzzle. ( The skull is approximately 50% of the whole length of
the head.) Both top and bottom jaws should be strong and well
developed. The width of the skull should correspond
approximately to the length. In males the width could be
slightly greater and in females slightly less than the length.
Muzzle should be strong with the lips firm, clean and closing
tightly without any flews. The top of the muzzle is straight
and almost parallel to the forehead. A muzzle which is too
short, blunt, weak, pointed, overlong or lacking in strength is
Of medium size, firm in texture, broad at the base, set high,
they are carried erect (almost parallel and not pulled inward),
they taper to a point and open toward the front. Tipped ears
are faulty. Hanging ears are a very serious fault. During
movement the ears may be folded back.
The eyes are medium sized, almond-shaped and not protruding.
Dark brown eyes are preferred, but eyes of a lighter shade are
acceptable provided that the expression is good and the general
harmony of the head not destroyed. The expression should be
lively, intelligent, and self-assured.
_1976 SV_ (MOUTH and TEETH)
The jaws must be strongly developed and the teeth healthy,
strong, and complete. There should be 42 teeth: 20 in the upper
jaw, 6 incisors, 2 canines, 8 premolars, 4 molars; 22 in the
lower jaw, 6 incisors, 2 canines, 8 premolars, and 6 molars.
The GSD has a scissor bite - i.e., the incisors in the lower
jaw are set behind the incisors in the upper jaw, and thus meet
in a scissor grip in which part of the surface of the upper
teeth meet and engage part of the surface of the lower teeth.
(Full and correct dentition is required for a "V" rating.
Double p1's are acceptable for a "V" rating so long as
everything else is correct. A missing p1 or incisor results in
an "SG" rating. A missing p2 results in a "G" rating. Missing
incisors are quite rare.)
The neck should be fairly long, strong with well-developed
muscles, free from throatiness (excessive folds of skin at the
throat) and carried at a 45 degree angle to the horizontal; it
is raised when excited and lowered at a fast trot.
The shoulder blade should be long, set obliquely (45 degrees)
and laid flat to the body. The upper arm should be strong and
well muscled and joined to the shoulder blade at a near right
angle (90 degrees). The forelegs, from the pasterns to the
elbows, should be straight viewed from any angle and the bones
should be oval rather than round. The pasterns should be firm
and supple and angulated at approximately 20-23 degrees (from
the vertical). Elbows neither tucked in nor turned out. Length
of the forelegs should exceed the depth of chest at a ratio of
approximately 55% to 45%.
Should be rounded, toes well closed and arched. Pads should be
well cushioned and durable. Nails short, strong, and dark in
color. Dew claw sometimes found on the hind legs should be
removed 2-3 days after birth.
_1976 SV_ (HEIGHT)
The ideal height (measured to the highest point of the wither)
is 57.5 cm for females and 62.5 cm for males 2.5 cm either
above or below the norm is allowed. Any increase in this
deviation detracts from the workability and breeding value of
The length of the body should exceed the height at the wither,
the correct proportions being at 10 to 9 or 8.5. The length is
measured from the point of the breast bone to the rear edge of
Over or undersized dogs, stunted growth, high-legged dogs and
overloaded fronts, too short overall appearance, too light or
too heavy in build, steep set limbs or any other failure which
detracts from the reach or endurance of the gait are faulty.
Chest should be deep (45-48% of the height at the shoulder) but
not too broad. The brisket is long and well developed.
Ribs should be well formed and long, neither barrel-shaped nor
too flat; correct rib cage allows free movement of the elbows
when the dog is trotting. A too rounded rib cage will interfere
and cause the elbows to be turned out. A too flat rib cage will
lead to the drawing in of the elbows. The desired long ribbing
gives a proportionately (relatively) short loin.
Belly is firm and only slightly drawn up. Loin broad, strong
and well muscled.
Back is the area between the withers and the croup, straight,
strongly developed and not too long. The overall length is not
derived from a long back, but is achieved by the correct angle
of a well laid shoulder, correct length of croup and
hindquarters. The withers must be long, of good height and well
defined. They should join the back in a smooth line without
disrupting the flowing top line which should be slightly
sloping from the front to the back. Weak, soft, and roached
backs are undesirable. (A roach is a clearly defined elevation
in the center of the back above a horizontal line drawn
lengthwise at the base of the withers such that the spine
Croup should be long and gently curving down to the tail
(approximately 23 degrees) without disrupting the flowing
topline. The illium and sacrum for the skeletal basis of the
croup. Short, steep, or flat croups are undesirable.
Bushy haired, should reach at least to the hock joint, the
ideal length being to the middle of the hock bones. The end is
sometimes turned sideways with a slight hood; this is allowed
but not desired. When at rest the tail should hang in a slight
curve like a sabre. When moving it is raised and the curve
increased, but ideally it should not be higher than the level
of the back. A tail that is too short, rolled or curled, or
generally carried badly or which is stumpy from birth is
(the leg referenced is the forward hind leg in the stacked
position) The thighs should be broad and well muscled. The
upper thigh bone (femur), viewed from the side should slope to
the slightly longer lower thigh bone. The angulations should
correspond to the front angulations without being
over-angulated. The hock bone is strong and together with the
stifle bone should form a firm hock joint. The hindquarters
must be strong and well muscled to enable the effortless
forward propulsion of the whole body. Any tendency toward
over-angulation of the hindquarters reduces firmness and
The GSD is a trotting dog. His sequence of step therefore
follows a diagonal pattern in that he always moves the foreleg
and the opposite hind leg forward at the same time. To achieve
this, his limbs must be in such balance to one another so that
he can thrust the hind foot well forward to the midpoint of the
body and have an equally long reach with the fore foot without
any noticeable change in the back line. The correct proportion
of the height to length and corresponding length of limbs will
produce a ground covering stride that travels flat over the
ground, giving the impression of effortless movement. With his
head thrust forward and a slightly raised tail, a balanced and
even trotter displays a flowing line running from the tips of
his ears over the neck and back down to the tip of the tail.
The gait should be supple, smooth, and long reaching, carrying
the body with the minimum of up and down movement, entirely
free from stiltiness.
(No corresponding item.)
Black or black saddle with tan, or gold to light grey markings.
All black, all grey, or grey with lighter or brown markings
(Sables). Small white marks on the chest or very pale color on
the inside of the legs are permitted but not desirable. The
nose in all cases must be black. Light markings on the chest
and inside legs, as well as whitish nails, red tipped nails or
wishy-washy faded color are defined as lacking in pigmentation.
Blues, livers, albinos, whites, are to be rejected. The
undercoat is, except in all-black dogs, usually grey or fawn in
color. The color of the GSD is in itself not important and has
no effect on the character of the dog or on its fitness for
work and should be a secondary consideration for that reason.
The final color of a young dog can only be ascertained when the
outer coat has developed.
a) The normal (stock) coated GSD should carry a thick undercoat
and the outer coat should be as dense as possible, made up of
straight hard close lying hairs. The hair on the head and ears,
front of the legs, paws and toes is short. On the neck it is
longer and thicker, on some males forming a slight ruff. The
hair grows longer on the back of the legs as far down as the
pastern and the stifle, and forms fairly thick trousers on the
hindquarters. There is no hard or fast rule for the length of
the hair, but short mole-type coats are faulty.
b) In the long-coated GSD (long stock coat) the hairs are
longer, not always straight and definitely not lying close and
flat to the body. They are distinctly longer inside and behind
the ears, and on the back of the forelegs and usually at the
loins, and form a moderate tufts in the ears and profuse
feathering on the back of the legs. The trousers are long and
thick. Tail is bushy with light feathering underneath. As this
type of coat is not so weatherproof as the normal coat it is
c) In the long open-coated GSD the hair is appreciably longer
the in the case of the type b and tends to form a parting along
the back, the texture being somewhat silky. If present at all ,
undercoat is found only at the loins. Dogs with this type of
coat are usually narrow chested, with narrow overlong muzzles.
As the weather protection of the dog and his working ability
are seriously diminished with this type of coat, it is
_1976 SV_ (FAULTS)
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a
fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be
regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.
_1976 SV_ (NOTES)
All male dogs must have both testicles fully descended into the
Go to Table of Contents
* indicates highly recommended
2)_The Book of the German Shepherd Dog_. Anna Katherine Nicholas. TFH
Publications, Inc., Ltd., 1983. ISBN 0-87666-562-8.
_Dogwatching_. Desmond Morris. Crown Publishers, 1987. ISBN
_The Essential German Shepherd Dog_. Roy and Clarissa Allan. Ringpress
Books, Ltd., 1994,1996. ISBN 0-948955-13-9.
*_The German Shepherd Dog: A Genetic History_. Malcolm B. Willis Ph.D.
Howell Book House, 1991. ISBN 0-87605-175-1.
The Willis book is fabulous. It is quite technical, with a good
deal of material on health problems particular to GSD's. Willis is
opinionated, and pulls no punches when discussing how the breed has
developed around the world. A very enjoyable book, and worth every
_The German Shepherd Today_. Winifred Strickland & James Moses. Howell
Book House, 1988. ISBN 0-02-614990-7.
*_How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend_. Monks of New Skete. Little, Brown
and Co., 1978. ISBN 0-31660-491-7.
The first of the Monks' two books on raising dogs. See note on "The
Art of Raising a Puppy". (hs)
(1) _Pet Owner's Guide to the German Shepherd Dog_. Dr. Malcom B.
Willis, Howell Book House, 1993, ISBN 0-87605-978-7
_Schutzhund: Theory and Training Methods_. Susan Barwig and Stewart
Hilliard. Howell Book House, 1991. ISBN 0-87605-731-8
*_Schutzhund Obedience: Training in Drive with Gottfried Dildei_.
Sheila Booth. Podium Publications, 1992.
(Available from Direct Book Services @ 1-800-776-2665 or from the
publisher at Dept A, PO Box 171, Ridgefield, CT 06877.) This book
is an excellent training guide using motivational methods and the
dog's drives to teach basic obedience. (mc)
_The Total German Shepherd Dog_. Fred L. Lanting. Alpine Publications,
Inc. PO Box 7027, Loveland, CO. 1990. ISBN 0-931886-43-X.
_Tracking Dog, Theory and Methods_. Glen Johnson.
_Training the German Shepherd Dog_. John Cree. The Crowood Press. ISBN
_The German Shepherd Dog Club of America_
The GSDCA web page is at http://www.gsdca.org
30 Far View Road
Chalmont, PA 18914
17 West Ivy Lane
Englewood, NJ 07631
_United Schutzhund Clubs of America (USA)_
The USA web page is at http://www.igateway.net/~usagsdog/
3810 Paule Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63125-1427
The USA follows the International Standard for the German Shepherd
Dog, which is the acknowledged standard in almost every (if not
every) major western country in the world except the United States
and Canada. They are also a Breed Registry for German Shepherd
Dogs, affiliated with the SV in Germany. Dogs registered through
USA are given both a USA number and an SV number, and the pedigree
issued is processed by the SV in Germany and looks the same as the
German pedigree. USA has approximately 4000 members and about 164
clubs around the country, plus an additional 45 or more clubs which
are in the process of meeting the requirements for full-fledged
status. Usually this means they have yet to conduct a Schutzhund
trial or hold a show. The country is divided into geographical
regions, and each club is allocated to a given region, under a
Effective 1 Jan 1996, for litters to be registerable with the USA,
both parents must be OFA or "A" certified and both parents must
have a working title.
_Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (SV)_
Steinerne Furt 71/71a
_The German Shepherd Dog Club of Canada_
The GSDCC web page is at
Mail can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
_GSD Mailing Lists_
_GSD-L Mailing list_
To get on the GSD-L email list for GSD fanciers, send mail to
Eric Happy (email@example.com)
with a message about your interests in GSDs. (The list has gone to
an application system for additions due to some problems with users
not understanding netiquette.) This list is a high volume list and
can be chatty.
There is a web page for GSD-L at
If you have questions regarding the mailing list, contact:
Gareth Davies (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or Eric above.
Please don't contact me about GSD-L. I can only refer you to the
_GSD-MOD Mailing List_
There is a semi-moderated GSD mailing list (very low traffic) at
email@example.com. The command: _SUBSCRIBE GSD-MOD_ should be the
first and only line of your mail message.
_German Shepherd Dog Rescue_
compiled by Janice Ritter (MA Rescue)
_German Shepherd Dog Club of America, Inc._
Linda Kury, Rescue Committee National Chair
369 Drake Court
Santa Clara, CA 95051
_German Shepherd Dog Club of Alaska_
Bonnie Johnson and Christa Burg
P.O. Box 670266
Chugiak, AK 99567
_Ron and Margaret Nunnally_
PO Box 19696
Happy Jack, AZ (Phoenix area)
_German Shepherd Rescue_
417 N. Moss St.
Burbank, CA 91502
(full service rescue)
(510) 790-9123 (central CA)
(714) 491-9177 (southern CA)
La Mesa, CA 91941
3420 Luna Av
San Diego, CA 92117
4685 Cheshire St
San Diego, CA 92117
_Trina Nagia Collinwood_
3061 Grand Av
Fillmore, CA 93015
P.O. Box 2067
Simi Valley, CA 93065
_Julie Priest _
_Barbara Adcock _
4444 Lazy Lane
San Jose, CA 95135
_Cindy Legrand _
24 Butcher Lane
Fieldbrook, CA 95521
_Lisa Renick _
4811 Deny Ct.
Sacramento, CA 95842
Colorado Springs, CO
Larkspur, CO 80188
_German Shepherd Club of Greater New Haven (CT)_
(203) 795-4910 (New Haven)
(203) 758-3756 (Prospect)
_Helen Scott _
46 Hyde St
Manchester, CT 06040
_Catherine A. McDonald_
18 Stone Mill Rd.
Storrs, CT 06268
_Cynthia Mitchell _
115 Cardinal Circle
Hockessin, DE 19707
_Linda Novotasky _
4661 Hedgehog St
Middleburg, FL 32068) 6455
361 Western Rd.
New Smyrna, FL 32168
P.O. Box 2727
Jacksonville, FL 32203
1244 Jamaica Court
Jacksonville, FL 32216
6030 NW 77 Terrace
Parkland, FL 33067
11904 McMullen Loop
Riverview, FL 33569
A full service rescue
_Dana F. Everles_
Rt. 1, Box 123
Priest River, ID 83856
_German Shepherd Rescue_
full service rescue
St. Charles, IL 60175
_German Shepherd Rescue_
Rt. 1, Box 253
Mokena, IL 60448
full service rescue
Hammond, IN 46320
(219) 932-8424 (home) or 219-853-6516 (office)
96 E. 800 N
Lake Village, IN 46349
full service rescue; owner surrenders only
_Joan R. Morehead_
PO Box 5024
Shreveport, LA 71115
_Adroscoggins GSD Club of Maine_
Winnie And Norman York
RFD 3 Box 433
Wiscasset, ME 04578
(full service rescue)
_MD_ (See VA also for DC area rescues)
Jeff Dr., Box 185-19
Waldorf, MD 20603
full service rescue
Prince Frederick, MD
(617) 290-0710 (days)
_Westledge GSD Rescue_
John Hire/Patty Lacroix
GSDCA Regional Rescue Contact
1500 Sylvan Rd.
Chelsea, MI 48118
21500 Wasson Rd.
Gregory, MI 48137
_German Shepherd Dog Club of Minneapolis-St. Paul_
210 Kindross, P.O. Box 574
Willenie, MN 55090
4361 Welcome Ave N.
Crystal, MN 55422
581 Walker Lane
Raymond, MS 39154
_German Shepherd Rescue_
Kansas City, MO
_German Shepherd Dog Club of S. Nevada_
5409 Avendia Vaquero
Las Vegas, NV 89108
_Ellamea and Rex Jones_
(603) 228-6819 (NH)
Referral only (for now)
_German Shepherd Rescue_
Stu and Karen Randall
Mt. Vernon, NH 03057
_Emily St. Hilaire_
Ware, NH 03281
RD2 Box 364
Andover, NJ 07821
full service rescue
P.O. Box 903
_German Shepherd Rescue_
Rotties and GSDs
_German Shepherd Rescue, Inc of PA (see below)_
_Lacy's Shepherd Rescue_
_Central New Mexico GSDC_
429 Shirk Ln SW
Albuguerque, NM 87105
H: (505) 877-7352
W: (505) 877-8370
full service rescue
_Ritter Hof Kennel_
Mary and Kitty Cummings
810 E. Maine Rd.
Johnson City, NY 13790
_German Shepherd Rescue_
Rocky Pt, NY
_Anne Marie Stedman_
Pottersville, NY 12860
_Margaret C. Patterson_
_German Shepherd Dog Rescue_
Debbie and Jim Rafalowski
full service rescue
_Steve and Anita Holton_
_German Shepherd Rescue_
Eaton, OH 45320
17 Tyler St.
Toledo, OH 43612
_Dr. Bonnie Huffman_
8591 Kennard Rd.
P.O. Box 4
Lodi, OH 44254
_German Shepherd Rescue_
404 Airport Rd.
Broken Box, OK 74728
_German Shepherd Rescue, Inc of PA_
Nancy Aiosa (717) 586-9064
Diane Reppy (717) 943-2055
Sue Bunnell (717) 388-6959
Charlotte Williams (717) 943-2624
_German Shepherd Rescue_
1 West Crestlyn Drive
York, PA 17402
PO Box 93
New Columbia, PA 17856
1168 Dogwood Lane
Quakertown, PA 18951
_German Shepherd Rescue_
Carol and Wendall Larson
RD1 Box 415
UpperBlack Eddy, PA 18972
_Jennifer and Tom Buck_
RD2 Box 2821P
Hamburg, PA 19526
233 Burch Road
Clarksville, TN 37042
(White GSD emphasis, but sometimes has others)
_German Shepherd Dog Club of Dallas_
(214) 530-1568 referrals
(817) 481-1753 referrals
_German Shepherd Dog Club of Houston_
(713) 251-0403 (Houston area)
_German Shepherd Dog Club of Fort Worth_
725 E. Creekside
Houston, TX 77024
_VA_ (See also MD for DC area rescues)
200 Gravel Ridge Rd.
Waynesboro, VA 22980
9200 Dorothy Lane
P.O. Box 3523
Redmond, WA 98073
(full service rescue)
Cambridge, WI 53523
The best resources to find breeders in good standing are the various
parent clubs. This list is currently under construction.
This section is currently under construction.
_Police K-9 Magazines_
_The Police K-9 Recruiter_
PO Box 1263
Monroe, WA 98272
Subscriptions are free to sworn active law enforcement officers.
Just fax a business card or letter on department letterhead
requesting one. Isues are sent to departments only. Officers
wanting issues mailed to their residence must pay the regular
subscription fee of $29.95.
If you have favorite magazines, videos or books about GSDs that are
not mentioned here, please send mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
_German Shepherd Dog FAQ
Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 Holly Lee Stowe_