In fiction and popular culture, Dalmatians are traditionally seen as the ideal canine companion of firefighters. But what modern-day police department would be complete without its very real crime-fighting dog, the German shepherd? German shepherds are one of the most popular dogs to own because of their intelligence, size and companion abilities. There are a lot of important facts to know if you are interested or planning to own a German shepherd.
German shepherds came from one German man’s desire to create an intelligent and working dog. Max von Stephanitz bought the first-ever registered German shepherd in 1899 and after the birth of several new puppies, the German shepherd was officially accepted by the U.K. kennel club in 1919. It took German shepherds many years to gain popularity and acceptance in the United States, but by the 1990s, the dog was one of the top 5 most popular dogs in the U.S.
German shepherds are large dogs, averaging between 50 and 80 pounds. Their face features a black nose, ears that stick straight up and a large jaw with a sharp bite. The most common color combination of a German shepherd is black and tan, with the fur predominantly tan. German shepherds feature a thick coat that sheds nearly year round and a thick, long tail.
Along with Rottweiler and pit bull breeds, German shepherds are known to be an aggressive dog. If the dog is not comfortable, they are known for random biting and hundreds of such incidents occur around the United States every year.
German shepherds were originally bred as work dogs and this breeding has resulted in a rather intelligent dog. These dogs quickly learn commands, and training them becomes quite simple, with learning occurring within days or even hours. Shepherds are prone to arthritis in later life. The average lifespan of a German shepherd is 10 to 13 years.
The keen sense of smell by a German shepherd has led to its use in a wide range of law enforcement duties. These dogs can be trained to sniff out drugs and people, both dead and alive. The dog can chase a person down and properly apprehend them until its owner comes in for the arrest. The German shepherd has even been used by the military for detecting hidden bombs and traps.