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rec.pets.dogs: German Shepherd Dogs Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/gsd
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Last-modified: 19 May 1997

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This article is Copyright 1996 by the Author(s) listed below. 
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
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German Shepherd Dogs

   Created: 2 Oct 1994
   Modified: 13 May 1997
   Previous: 13 Apr 1997
   This FAQ was developed by Holly ( (hs) with the
   assistance of (alphabetical by last name though last names have been
   omitted to protect the privacy of the contributor):
     * Marianne ( (mc)
     * Katharine ( (kc)
     * Mary (also kc)
     * Gareth ( (gd)
     * Amy ( (ah)
     * Victoria ( (vj)
     * Craig ( (cm)
     * Jan ( (jm)
     * Lily ( (lm)
     * Robin ( (rn)
     * Dori ( (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
   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 _ 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
     * Introduction
     * Questions
          + 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
     * Schutzhund
     * Health Concerns
          + Brief Explanations of Various Disorders
          + More Detail on Common Disorders
               o Degenerative Myleopathy
               o Elbow Dysplasia
               o Epilepsy
               o Hip Dysplasia
               o Pannus
               o Panosteitis
               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
     * Resources
          + Bibliography
          + Addresses
               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)
               o AK
               o AZ
               o CA
               o CO
               o CT
               o DE
               o FL
               o GA
               o ID
               o IL
               o IN
               o LA
               o MA
               o MD
               o ME
               o MI
               o MN
               o MO
               o MS
               o NC
               o NH
               o NJ
               o NM
               o NV
               o NY
               o OH
               o OK
               o PA
               o SC
               o TN
               o TX
               o VA
               o VT
               o WA
               o WV
               o WI
          + Breeders (under construction)
          + Other Resources (under construction)
  _Introduction_ (mc)
     "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,
   and more.
   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
  _Questions_ (all)
     _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
     general differences.
     _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 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
     questions down.
     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,
     well-chosen homes.
     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 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
     the puppy/dog.
     _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
     at Home).
     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 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
     emergency clinic.
     _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
     of bloat.
     _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
     responsible manner.
     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,
     high-intensity dogs.
     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,
     well-tempered dog.
     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
   other breeds?_
     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 (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 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 wars.
   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
   the highest.)
   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
   within limits
   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_
   Bahnpolizei Diensthund
   Railroad police service dog
   Service dog
   Most advanced tracking title awarded by the SV
   Good show or performance rating
   Border patrol dog
   Herding dog
   _IPO I, II, III_
   Schutzhund III according to the international rules
   _KKL I_
   Koerklasse I
   Especially recommended for breeding
   _KKL II_
   Koerklasse II
   Suitable for breeding
   War dog
   Avalanche dog
   Breed surveyed for lifetime
   Faulty show or performance rating
   Dispatch Army dog (messenger dog)
   Polizei Dienst Hund
   Working Police dog
   Police-trained dog
   Police protection dog
   _SchH I, II, III_
   Obedience, tracking, and protection titles
   Sehr Gut
   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
   Tracking 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
   Customs dog
   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)
   _Preishuten Sieger_
   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 (cm)_
   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
   or advanced.
   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
   Companion Dog).
   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
   _achalasia (r)_
   dilated esophagus; vomiting begins at weaning
   _ankylosis (?)_
   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
   (calcinosis circumscripta)
   _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
   _cryptorchidism (^)_
   undescended testicle(s)
   _cystinuria (r)_
   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
   _distichiasis (^)_
   extra row of eyelashes irritate eye
   _ectasia (r)_
   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
   _epilepsy (r)_
   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)
   _pannus (^)_
   vessels, skin and pigment migrate over eye surface, leading to
   _panosteitis (^)_
   acute shifting lameness of growing dogs,
   deep bone pain,
   _patent ductus arteriosus (p)_
   aortal development defect in fetus,
   loud heart murmur,
   exercise intolerant
   _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 (^)_
   (generalized) PRA
   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 (^)_
   spinal arthritis
   _ununited anchoneal process (d)_
   elbow dysplasia; pain and limp in front legs
   _von Willebrand's disease (d)_
   bleeding disorder
   Detail for some disorders mentioned above...
   _Degenerative Myelopathy_
   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_
   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)
   _Hip Dysplasia_
   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
   _Soft Ears_
   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
                               _Hip Dysplasia
   _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.
                              _Elbow Dysplasia
   _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_
          Breed code
          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
       hip dysplasia.
    4. Exercise, running, jumping up and down, and slick floors will not
       cause HD.
    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
   breeders. (vj)
   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
          dominance is:
          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 body
   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
          and pads.
   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
          have this)
          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 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.
                             _GENERAL APPEARANCE_
   _1976 SV_
          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.
   _1976 SV_
          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.
   _1976 SV_
          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
   _1976 SV_
          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.
   _1976 SV_
          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.)
   _1976 SV_
          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.
   _1976 SV_
          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%.
   _1976 SV_
          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 animal.
   _1976 SV_
          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
          the pelvis.
          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.
   _1976 SV_
          Chest should be deep (45-48% of the height at the shoulder) but
          not too broad. The brisket is long and well developed.
   _1976 SV_
          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.
   _1976 SV_
          Belly is firm and only slightly drawn up. Loin broad, strong
          and well muscled.
   _1976 SV_
          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.
   _1976 SV_
          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
   _1976 SV_
          (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
   _1976 SV_
          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.
   _1976 SV_
          (No corresponding item.)
   _1976 SV_
          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.
   _1976 SV_
          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
  _Resources (all)_
   * 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
     penny. (lm)
   _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
       30 Far View Road
       Chalmont, PA 18914
       Corresponding Secretary
       Blanche Beisswenger
       17 West Ivy Lane
       Englewood, NJ 07631
       _United Schutzhund Clubs of America (USA)_
       The USA web page is at
       3810 Paule Ave.
       St. Louis, MO 63125-1427
       Phone: (314)-638-9686
       Fax: (314)-638-0609
     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
     regional director.
     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
       D-86167 Augsburg
       _The German Shepherd Dog Club of Canada_
       The GSDCC web page is at
       Mail can be sent to:
                             _GSD Mailing Lists_
   _GSD-L Mailing list_
     To get on the GSD-L email list for GSD fanciers, send mail to
     Eric Happy (
     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 (
     or Eric above.
     Please don't contact me about GSD-L. I can only refer you to the
     information above.
   _GSD-MOD Mailing List_
     There is a semi-moderated GSD mailing list (very low traffic) at 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
   (408) 247-1272
   _German Shepherd Dog Club of Alaska_
   Bonnie Johnson and Christa Burg
   P.O. Box 670266
   Chugiak, AK 99567
   (907) 688-2352
   _Ron and Margaret Nunnally_
   PO Box 19696
   Happy Jack, AZ (Phoenix area)
   (602) 477-2216
   _German Shepherd Rescue_
   Grace Konosky
   417 N. Moss St.
   Burbank, CA 91502
   (818) 558-7560
   (full service rescue)
   _Monica Royalty_
   (909) 674-8363
   _Pat Stevens_
   (510) 790-9123 (central CA)
   Manuel Madena_
   (714) 491-9177 (southern CA)
   _Linda Baker_
   (805) 297-1002
   _Tracy Beagin_
   (916) 783-6680
   _Dorathy Stansbury_
   4660-Mayapan Dr.
   La Mesa, CA 91941
   (619) 447-6963
   _Analee Nations_
   3420 Luna Av
   San Diego, CA 92117
   (619) 274-8132
   _Jim Silzeira_
   4685 Cheshire St
   San Diego, CA 92117
   (619) 576-1016
   _Trina Nagia Collinwood_
   3061 Grand Av
   Fillmore, CA 93015
   (805) 524-2774
   (full-service rescue)
   _Linda Liederknecht_
   P.O. Box 2067
   Simi Valley, CA 93065
   (805) 522-1016
   (full-service rescue)
   _Julie Priest _
   (510) 778-1638
   _Gerti Duweiss_
   (209) 523-6221
   _Barbara Adcock _
   4444 Lazy Lane
   San Jose, CA 95135
   (408) 274-4444
   (referrals only)
   _Cindy Legrand _
   24 Butcher Lane
   Fieldbrook, CA 95521
   (707) 826-1724
   (referrals only)
   _Lisa Renick _
   4811 Deny Ct.
   Sacramento, CA 95842
   (916) 339-9818
   _Susan Casey_
   Colorado Springs, CO
   (719) 597-8025
   _Nancy Phelpes_
   Box 213
   Larkspur, CO 80188
   (303) 681-2900
   _German Shepherd Club of Greater New Haven (CT)_
   (203) 795-4910 (New Haven)
   Dorrie Halloway
   (203) 758-3756 (Prospect)
   _Helen Scott _
   46 Hyde St
   Manchester, CT 06040
   (203) 646-4023
   _Catherine A. McDonald_
   18 Stone Mill Rd.
   Storrs, CT 06268
   (203) 487-1213
   _Cynthia Mitchell _
   (302) 875-0756
   _Suzanne Greenholt_
   115 Cardinal Circle
   Hockessin, DE 19707
   (302) 234-3339
   _FL _
   _Linda Novotasky _
   4661 Hedgehog St
   Middleburg, FL 32068) 6455
   (904) 282-8808
   _Irving Polack_
   361 Western Rd.
   New Smyrna, FL 32168
   (904) 423-8662
   _Jim Trejbal_
   P.O. Box 2727
   Jacksonville, FL 32203
   (904) 725-8859
   _Penny Evancic_
   1244 Jamaica Court
   Jacksonville, FL 32216
   (904) 725-9009
   _Susan Armstrong_
   6030 NW 77 Terrace
   Parkland, FL 33067
   (305) 753-5772
   _Diane Roberts_
   11904 McMullen Loop
   Riverview, FL 33569
   (813) 671-2913
   A full service rescue
   _GA _
   _Janet Berwick_
   (706) 636-2621
   _Mike Protocas_
   Marietta, GA
   (404) 587-5248
   _Dana F. Everles_
   (404) 926-6366
   _ID _
   _Sharon Thomas_
   Rt. 1, Box 123
   Priest River, ID 83856
   (208) 448-2787
   _IL _
   _German Shepherd Rescue_
   Liz Vahlcamp
   (314) 863-1467
   full service rescue
   _Janet Ingalls_
   St. Charles, IL 60175
   (708) 377-2919
   _German Shepherd Rescue_
   Jackie Brandt
   Rt. 1, Box 253
   Mokena, IL 60448
   (815) 485-2052
   full service rescue
   _IN _
   _Deanna Lugo_
   841 Hoffman
   Hammond, IN 46320
   (219) 932-8424 (home) or 219-853-6516 (office)
   _Laurie Tatum_
   96 E. 800 N
   Lake Village, IN 46349
   (219) 345-5540
   full service rescue; owner surrenders only
   _LA _
   _Joan R. Morehead_
   PO Box 5024
   Shreveport, LA 71115
   (318) 797-5982
   _ME _
   _Adroscoggins GSD Club of Maine_
   Winnie And Norman York
   (207) 797-4387
   (207) 469-7628
   _Joyce Gagnon_
   RFD 3 Box 433
   Wiscasset, ME 04578
   (207) 882-7470
   (full service rescue)
   _MD_ (See VA also for DC area rescues)
   _Risa Lapidow_
   (301) 441-2461
   _Margaret Scaife_
   Jeff Dr., Box 185-19
   Waldorf, MD 20603
   (301) 843-0966
   full service rescue
   _Gayle Arrington_
   Prince Frederick, MD
   (410) 535-1999
   (703) 440-6125
   _MA _
   _Janice Ritter_
   (617) 290-0710 (days)
   _Westledge GSD Rescue_
   John Hire/Patty Lacroix
   Western MA
   (413) 967-8361
   _Ann Thompson_
   (413) 323-5968
   _Debbie Hokkanen_
   GSDCA Regional Rescue Contact
   (508) 852-4473
   _MI _
   _Gail Gray_
   1500 Sylvan Rd.
   Chelsea, MI 48118
   (313) 475-3570
   _Kathleen Holcomb_
   21500 Wasson Rd.
   Gregory, MI 48137
   (517) 223-9863
   _MN _
   _German Shepherd Dog Club of Minneapolis-St. Paul_
   Marilyn Lindsey-Miller
   210 Kindross, P.O. Box 574
   Willenie, MN 55090
   (612) 426-3682
   _Pat Peterson_
   (612) 461-2743
   _Bert Haagenstad_
   4361 Welcome Ave N.
   Crystal, MN 55422
   (612) 535-6339
   _MS _
   _Cindy Bailye_
   581 Walker Lane
   Raymond, MS 39154
   (601) 857-5373
   _MO _
   _German Shepherd Rescue_
   Anne Mackey
   Kansas City, MO
   (816) 363-0121
   _Karen Waggoner_
   Ozark, MO
   (417) 485-6946
   _NV _
   _German Shepherd Dog Club of S. Nevada_
   Betty Zapatka
   5409 Avendia Vaquero
   Las Vegas, NV 89108
   (702) 645-2721
   _Dottie Newell_
   (702) 425-2103
   _NH _
   _Ellamea and Rex Jones_
   (603) 228-6819 (NH)
   Referral only (for now)
   _German Shepherd Rescue_
   Stu and Karen Randall
   Goffstown, NH
   (603) 497-3472
   _Wendy Luba_
   Mt. Vernon, NH 03057
   (603) 673-6426
   _Emily St. Hilaire_
   Ware, NH 03281
   (603) 529-2458
   _NJ _
   _Jodi Caizza_
   (201) 928-9786
   _Kim Dislonde_
   (201) 743-8885
   _Iza Kabuska_
   RD2 Box 364
   Andover, NJ 07821
   (201) 398-1393
   full service rescue
   _Donna Petrosia_
   P.O. Box 903
   Jackson, NJ
   (908) 370-3795
   _German Shepherd Rescue_
   Christy Shore
   Leesburg, NJ
   (609) 785-9728
   Rutherford, NJ
   (201) 935-7076
   Rotties and GSDs
   _German Shepherd Rescue, Inc of PA (see below)_
   Southern NJ
   (609) 985-4725
   _Lacy's Shepherd Rescue_
   Donna Petroisie
   Jackson, NJ
   (908) 370-3795
   _NM _
   _Central New Mexico GSDC_
   Kathy Gonsey
   429 Shirk Ln SW
   Albuguerque, NM 87105
   H: (505) 877-7352
   W: (505) 877-8370
   full service rescue
   _NY _
   _Ritter Hof Kennel_
   Mary and Kitty Cummings
   810 E. Maine Rd.
   Johnson City, NY 13790
   (607) 729-2718
   _German Shepherd Rescue_
   Risa Stein
   Rocky Pt, NY
   (516) 744-3258
   _Anne Marie Stedman_
   (914) 756-4165
   _Donna Blair_
   Pottersville, NY 12860
   (518) 251-3959
   _Margaret C. Patterson_
   Macedon, NY
   (315) 524-4126
   _NC _
   _German Shepherd Dog Rescue_
   Debbie and Jim Rafalowski
   Raleigh, NC
   (919) 467-4698
   full service rescue
   _Steve and Anita Holton_
   Raleigh, NC
   (919) 774-6384
   _OH _
   _German Shepherd Rescue_
   Elizabeth Stidham
   Eaton, OH 45320
   (513) 456-5393
   _Dennis Barker_
   17 Tyler St.
   Toledo, OH 43612
   (419) 476-3899
   _Dr. Bonnie Huffman_
   8591 Kennard Rd.
   P.O. Box 4
   Lodi, OH 44254
   (216) 948-4101
   _OK _
   _German Shepherd Rescue_
   Lynn Seals
   404 Airport Rd.
   Broken Box, OK 74728
   (405) 584-7664
   _PA _
   _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_
   Nadine Miller
   1 West Crestlyn Drive
   York, PA 17402
   (717) 741-0286
   _Kim Carr_
   PO Box 93
   New Columbia, PA 17856
   (717) 568-0567
   _Colleen Baker_
   1168 Dogwood Lane
   Quakertown, PA 18951
   (215) 538-3201
   _German Shepherd Rescue_
   Carol and Wendall Larson
   RD1 Box 415
   UpperBlack Eddy, PA 18972
   (215) 294-9216
   _Jennifer and Tom Buck_
   RD2 Box 2821P
   Hamburg, PA 19526
   (215) 320-4000
   _SC _
   _GSD Rescue_
   Carl Makins
   (803) 232-9125
   _TN _
   _Laura Hamrick_
   233 Burch Road
   Clarksville, TN 37042
   (615) 431-4561
   (White GSD emphasis, but sometimes has others)
   _TX _
   _Marci Linn_
   (817) 847-1126
   _German Shepherd Dog Club of Dallas_
   Connie Irwin
   (214) 530-1568 referrals
   EJ Murphy
   (817) 481-1753 referrals
   _German Shepherd Dog Club of Houston_
   Adoptive Assistance
   Tom Landry
   (713) 251-0403 (Houston area)
   _German Shepherd Dog Club of Fort Worth_
   Lee Rugeri
   Roanoke, TX
   (817) 431-9163
   _Sherry Wallis_
   725 E. Creekside
   Houston, TX 77024
   (713) 465-9729
   _VT _
   _Ian McLean_
   Starksboro, VT
   (802) 482-3932
   _David McCarthy_
   Burlington, VT
   (802) 899-3559
   _Bonnie Capron_
   Arlington, VT
   (802) 375-6057
   _VA_ (See also MD for DC area rescues)
   _Betsy Brown_
   Oragne, VA
   (703) 854-7840
   _Julie Duhn_
   200 Gravel Ridge Rd.
   Waynesboro, VA 22980
   _Larry Spivak_
   9200 Dorothy Lane
   Springfield, VA
   (703) 451-9046
   _Gloria Shelton_
   (703) 659-1400
   _Debbie Day_
   (703) 895-9047
   _WA _
   _GSD Rescue_
   Margaret LaTour
   P.O. Box 3523
   Redmond, WA 98073
   (206) 762-4504
   (full service rescue)
   _WV _
   _James Breon_
   Petersburg, WV
   (304) 257-4638
   _WI _
   _Carol Overguard_
   Cambridge, WI 53523
   (608) 423-4456
   The best resources to find breeders in good standing are the various
   parent clubs. This list is currently under construction.
                              _Other Resources_
               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:
   _German Shepherd Dog FAQ
   Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 Holly Lee Stowe_

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM