The German Shepherd is the third most popular breed in the United States, originally bred for herding sheep. Besides its original purpose, the breed can be found doing police work, search and rescue, therapy work, guarding, being guide dogs, as well as in the military. They are often employed in scenting positions. The breed was created in 1899, and since then it has always been a stable working breed. Although it is a wonderful worker, it also makes an excellent family pet.
In the U.S., the breed was originally called the German Sheep Dog, which was an incorrect translation and technically refers to another German breed. Due to World War I anti-German sentiments, the name was changed to Shepherd Dog in 1917. In 1931, the name was finally changed to German Shepherd Dog, which gave the breed the proper translation of its German name.
The breed is very large; it stands 22 to 26 inches tall and weighs 75 to 110 pounds on average. It has a relatively short double coat which is generally black and tan, black and red, black and brown, or sable, but can sometimes be cream, black, or white. The German Shepherd has a large head, erect ears, a wedge-shaped muzzle which is usually black, and compact legs.
The German Shepherd is a very protective breed, making it an excellent watchdog or guardian. It is very willing to serve its owner as well as keep him safe. It is a loving breed which can be easy to train if properly socialized. It is a fearless breed when defending its family, but completely non-aggressive within its own environment.
The breed is fairly health and can live on average from 10 to 12 years. It may experience some health problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia, von Willebrands disease, skin allergies, canine degenerative myelopathy, bloat, and pancreas deficiency.