German Shepherd happy and panting after an agility run Black Sable (or gray) GSD, the original color and still common in working linesWhite German Shepherd Dog
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German Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd Dog (known also as the Alsatian or Schäfer (hund) is an intelligent breed of dog. Because they are eager to please, they are easily trained in obedience and protection. more...

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German Shepherd Dogs are often used as working dogs in many capacities, including search and rescue (SAR), military, police or guard dogs. They are also used as assistance dogs / service dogs (such as guide dogs), though not as much as Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers.

Appearance

The German Shepherd Dog is a large, strong, substantial-looking dog. The fur is a double-coat and can be either short or long haired. It varies in color, coming in many different shades, mostly cream (tan) and brown, but also solid black or white. Dogs with coats that have tri-colored hair (ie. black, brown or red, white) are called sable or agouti. Different kennel clubs have different standards for the breed according to size, weight, coat color and structure.

Common faults

Some GSDs have ears that never stand up completely; instead, the top 10 to 15 percent of the ear remains floppy. These are called "friendly-tipped" dogs. It is a disqualifying fault in show dogs.

A small percentage of GSDs have a tail that stands vertically, exposing their anus. This is also a disqualifying fault in show dogs.

Breed lines

There are several types or lines of GSD and the behavior, abilities, and appearance of each is quite different. The major lines are the international working line, the international show line, and the North American show line.

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Dogs from FCI-recognised international working lines are bred primarily for traits involving their working ability rather than appearance, so their appearance can be somewhat varied.

The FCI-recognised international show lines differ in that emphasis is given more to the appearance of the dog when breeding, so they are very consistent in type or appearance.

The North American show lines have also been bred primarily for their looks, but have a markedly different appearance from the international dogs, featuring a noticeably sloped back and sharp angulation of the hock joint. There is a current debate over whether the American show lines still represent the original German Shepherd Dog, or whether the line has become distinct enough that it should be considered a separate breed. Critics of the American line argue that the working ability of these dogs has been lost, and that the angled back is detrimental to the health of the animal. Proponents of the line believe that the altered bone structure of their dogs represents an improvement to the herding ability of the animals.

In the erstwhile GDR, the German Shepherds more closely adhered to the old prewar standard marked by straighter back, longer and denser coat and darker color. These dogs are now praised for breeding working dogs as they are less prone to hip dysplasia. Attempts to preserve this distinct line and raise it to the status of an officially recognized breed ("East German Shepherd Dog") are stalled.

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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