Beautiful, strong, and elegant, the German Shepherd has it all. Powerful without being heavy, this dog breed is slightly larger than the average dog and exists in two varieties: short- and long-haired.
According to The Kennel Club breed standard, short-haired German Shepherds have an outer coat consisting of straight, hard, close-lying hair, as dense as possible. They also have a thick undercoat, which protects them from the elements. The hair is a little longer and thicker at the neck and legs. German Shepherds require relatively little maintenance: brushing twice per week and bathing once or twice per year. During moulting periods, in spring and autumn, your German Shepherd will need brushing several times a week with a suitable brush, to get rid of dead hair.
There is also a long-haired variety of German Shepherd. This variety was once frowned upon but has recently been officially recognised in the breed standard. The long-haired German Shepherd is characterised by a much longer outer coat, which, of course, requires more maintenance than the short-haired variety. The hair is smooth and forms tufts around the ears and legs. There is also dense feathering on the hind legs. Much like the short-haired variety, the long-haired German Shepherd has a thick, protective undercoat.
Short-haired or long-haired, the German Shepherd's coat is very recognisable for its colour, although there are many nuances. The characteristic black and tan coat is more related to so-called “show line" dogs, intended for companionship or exhibition. For working dogs, the coat is very often grey.
The varieties of German Shepherd colour are:
"Classic" black and tan: The black colour covers part of the back, but stops at the thighs and tail. There is a little black around the nose.
Black with brown or red markings
Black with yellow or light grey markings
Black and tan: Here the black is much more present. It covers the tops of the legs, the face, and the tail.
Black and sable: Black is the predominant colour. The sable colour is found mainly on the legs.
Fawn and charcoal
Sable and charcoal
Black and silver
Some breeders also sell a breed called the Old German Shepherd Dog. The Old German Shepherd Dog is a classification of the German Shepherd breed in its own right, not to be confused with a senior German Shepherd! However, be aware that the Old German Shepherd Dog is not recognised as a German Shepherd and therefore cannot be registered as such. The breed is not recognised by any of the big global canine organisations. If you're thinking of adopting an Old German Shepherd Dog, be careful and make sure to educate yourself properly. Being very rare nowadays, not enough is known about the potential health problems for this breed.
The German Shepherd is a large dog with a slightly sloping rump. The male is larger than the female, measuring between 60 and 65cm at the withers versus 55 to 60cm at the withers. Males are also heavier than females: 30 to 40kg compared to 22 to 30kg.
German Shepherds grow fairly quickly until they reach six months old. Their growth curve is very specific for both males and females. At three months old, a male German Shepherd puppy will weigh between 11.4 and 14.3kg, while a female puppy will weigh between 8.6 and 11.9kg.
Around four months old, puppies begin to lose their baby teeth to accommodate their permanent teeth. During this period, they tend to chew on anything they can find. Around six months old, growth starts to slow to a cruising speed. At this point, a male German Shepherd weighs between 21 and 27kg. The female weighs between 16 and 22kg.
Around the age of one, the male weighs between 29 and 28kg, and the female between 21 and 30kg. The end of a German Shepherd's growth stage varies from one dog to another. Larger German Shepherds finish growing at around 19 months old, while smaller ones stop around 16 months. However, maturity occurs quite late in German Shepherds, even after they've finished growing physically. Some dogs take almost three years to fully mature. As such, training your German Shepherd is extra important, to ensure that your pooch knows how to channel their energy and follow the rules, to evolve peacefully within your family.
Likewise, throughout your puppy's growth stage, be careful not to put too much strain on them so as not to damage their joints and cause mobility problems. This breed is often affected by hip dysplasia, so don't take any unnecessary risks like stairs, rough games, or crazy races.
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