The German Shepherd Dog

Veterinarian's German Shepherd

Xena is Dr. Debbie’s German Shepherd Dog.

One popular dog breed in the United States and among My Zoo’s team members is the German Shepherd Dog (GSD).   Both Dr. Debbie and Patti have GSDs.   In 2012, the GSD ranked number 2 in most popular breeds registered with the American Kennel Club.



German Shepherd Dogs are working dogs originally bred in Germany for herding sheep.  The breed was selectively bred for its intelligence, agility, strength, and sense of smell in the late 1890s and early 1900s.



GSDs are large dogs and weigh around 50 to 90 pounds.   The GSD is characterized by a long muzzle with a black nose, erect ears, and brown eyes.  They can come in a variety of colors, but black and tan is the most common.  They have medium to long hair on their body and a bushy tail.   Their fur grows in a double coat, with an outer coat and a thick undercoat.  The outer coat sheds all year round.  To reduce the amount of fur shed in a home, GSDs should be brushed regularly.



German Shepherds are highly intelligent, working dogs.   As such, German Shepherds need an outlet for their mental and physical energy.   Frequent walks or jogs with appropriate training are a must.  Owners of GSDs should be calm, but authoritative.  Without appropriate training and socialization, GSDs can become timid and bite out of fear.    German Shepherds can be wonderful with children, but they need consistent training and socialization.  As with any breed of dog of any size, we recommend ALWAYS monitoring children with dogs.   Additionally, children require education and training on how to handle and behave around dogs.


German Shepherds as working dogs

German Shepherds are used as working dogs (especially as police or military dogs). They can be trained for explosive detection, search and rescue, messenger dogs, drug detection, and as guide dogs.   Of course, in some areas they are still used for herding and protecting sheep.  Owners of GSDs are frequently involved with obedience training, agility, herding, and other sporting events.


Health issues

Inappropriate breeding has led to the German Shepherd breed having multiple hereditary diseases.   Hip dysplasia is of particular concern as it can lead to hip pain and arthritis.   They can also have digestive issues, allergies, and tumors.   When selecting a dog, it is important to purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder.  Of course, we also recommend looking at German Shepherd rescue groups if you are considering this breed.


Famous German Shepherds



Strongheart– This was an early canine star in the 1920s.   He helped contribute to the breed’s rise in popularity.


Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin – Rin Tin Tin is probably the most famous German Shepherds in the movies.    He was originally rescued from a World War I battlefield by an American Soldier, and he went on to star in 27 films.




2 thoughts on “The German Shepherd Dog

  1. We had a huge German Shepherd named Phil. Phil was 160 pounds of love – gentlemanly and sensitive. A harsh word would cause him to crouch on the floor and cry piteously. He was a clown who would entertain rooms of people with his antics. He was an athlete who could fetch a football until all the available humans were exhausted. When he came to live with us, he had skin problems, allergies and frequent ear infections. A local vet doing a TV segment led us to believe he needed thyroid medication. A simple blood test confirmed the diagnosis and a small inexpensive pill improved his health quickly and dramatically. For a few years, Phil lived the high life, then his hips failed. When Phil could no longer support himself on his hind feet, his two favorite people, my husband and stepson, took Phil to his last appointment in my husband’s convertible with the top down. As they drove away, I noticed Phil sitting in the back seat with a big goofy smile on his face. Everyone else was crying. It has been several years since Phil left us and there are other dogs to love, but there will never be another Phil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *