Today, German Shepherds are among America’s most popular dog breeds. The intelligent and capable working dog has devotion and courage that cannot be matched by another breed. If you are thinking of bringing a GSD home, it is important you pay attention to the gender as well. This is an important decision if you wish your future pet to mend according to your lifestyle. Before you bring the new puppy home, it is crucial you learn more about the breed.
Where Does This Breed Come From?
Compared to other breeds, the GSD is a newer breed that only came to existence in 1899. The intelligent and friendly dog breed owes its existence to a career captain in Germany, named Captain Max von Stephanitz. Centuries before the dog breed was created, farmers had to rely on dogs to drive and protect their herds. While some dogs were well trained and legendary for their skill, Stephanitz noticed that nobody in the region took the opportunity to develop herding dogs of the region into a separate breed.
Throughout his career, Captain Max von Stephanitz came across many fine herding dogs that were capable, intelligent and athletic. What amused Stephanitz was that he was unable to find a dog breed that contained all these traits. He then worked hard to develop a dog that would have all the favorable qualities of a herding dog. Slowly, GSD dogs were not only used for herding sheep but also as guide and police dogs.
German Shepherds are also referred to as Alsatian in parts of Europe and in Great Britain. This breed has several talents and has held several jobs, from chasing down criminals, to performing in movies. The intelligent dog is easy to train and is always up for a challenge. While the German Shepherd has many traits you might want in a dog breed, the breed might not be the right choice for everyone.
Originally bred to herd a flock of sheep, the high-energy dog needs to constantly be entertained or else he is likely to exhibit his boredom through excessive barking and chewing. The breed also tends to appear aloof and suspicious to strangers but that is not the case with loved ones. The overall temperament of the dog depends on a variety of factors, including genes, gender and socialization.
Generally, female GSD make for sweeter and friendlier companions. Male GSDs tend to be territorial and urinate wherever they go to mark their territory. They are also much prouder. Female German Shepherd dogs tend to be gentler and friendlier towards their owners and people in general. However, keep in mind that your dog’s temperament depends on his/her socialization skills. Whether you opt for a male or female pet, expose your puppy to new people and surroundings from a young age so that they grow up to become well-mannered and well-rounded dogs.
Dog owners may consider enrolling their dog in puppy kindergarten classes. Taking your dog out for regular strolls in the park and introducing the breed to new people and pets will also improve their socialization skills. Typically, German Shepherds can be aloof but cannot be described as aggressive. With their family, GSD are playful and lively, but may exhibit signs of possessiveness. While this makes the dog breed an excellent watchdog, other dog owners might not appreciate it. Because of their intelligent and curiosity to learn, German Shepherds are easier to train compared to other dogs.
As male German Shepherds are comparatively larger than their female counterparts, they need to be fed a greater amount of food. It is generally recommended that feed your dog 3-4 cups of nutritious dog food, divided into two meals. The amount of food and nutrition your dog needs depends on its size, build and metabolism. When it comes to nutrition, dogs are like people and have different dietary needs. Not all dogs require the same amount of food. A highly active and energetic dog will undoubtedly require more food than an elderly and crippled dog.
The quality of dog food also plays a vital role in improving their health. The better the quality of the dog food, the more nourishing it will be for your pet. If your dog is gaining weight at a rapid pace, take him/her to the vet. Special care must be taken if you are raising a German Shepherd puppy. GSDs grow at a rapid pace between the ages of 4 and 7 months. This makes them highly susceptible to bone disorders. Additionally, over-feeding your puppy and letting him gain weight cam result in joint problems.
Male German Shepherds are generally larger than their female counterparts and have a height ranging from 24 to 26 inches, while females stand about 22 to 24 inches tall. Their weight ranges from 75 to 95 pounds.
Both male and female German Shepherds are highly energetic and require several hours of vigorous exercise. GS is not the breed for you if you enjoy lazing around and watching TV all day and expect your dog to do so as well. GSDs are packed with energy and indulge in destructive behavior if they are unexercised. If you are in need of an energetic companion that will accompany you for your morning jogs then undoubtedly, this breed is the perfect choice for you.
Because male GSDs are, by nature, stubborn and dominant, they are much more difficult to train compared to female GSDs. Begin training your dog from a young age. Start by keeping the training session shorts and involve tons of treats. Female German Shepherd dogs are easier to train and make better contenders for sports competitions, such as for agility and rally obedience. Both male and female dogs cannot stand being left alone or unexercised for long periods of time, hence only adopt the dog breed if you do not have a busy schedule and can care for them properly.
German Shepherds and Children
Generally, female GSD bond better with children, as the male counterparts are too dominant and may push around the kids, if not trained properly. Most parents of young children are often afraid of adopting the breed as they are greatly concerned about how the dog will treat the children and vice versa. Rest assured, GSD are both gentle and protective and will practically act as babysitters, stopping your children from causing mischief.
Supervise your child’s interaction with the dog as younger children have the tendency to roughhouse. While the dog breed may come around as reserved to strangers, we guarantee the dog breed will display nothing but love and compassion when they enter your home.
Coat and Grooming
Since the GSD was originally bred for herding flocks of sheep in harsh weather conditions, they feature a double coat that protects them against snow and rain. The coat types of German Shepherds come in a variety of colors and patterns, including cream, black, tan, sable and white. Unfortunately, the dog breed is a heavy shedder. Brushing your furry friend around 2 to 3 times a week may help with the process.
We do not recommend you bathe the dog regularly as it may strip the coat of its natural oils, causing your dog’s fur to lose its shine and luster, hence only run the bathwater if your dog really needs it. Additionally, the dog’s nails needs to be clipped as per required. Take your dog to the vet if it exhibits signs of ear infection. You may clean the dog’s ear using a damp cotton ball dipped in a gentle, pH balanced ear cleaner to prevent problems.
While GSD is genuinely a dog breed, they are susceptible to number of health concerns. It is not necessary that your dog is likely to contract any of the following diseases but as a responsible dog owner, it is imperative you are aware of them.
Spaying the female shepherd dog lowers the risks of several diseases including mammary tumors, uterine diseases and cancers that all common in female dogs. Additionally, spaying the pet has several other positive effects on the behavior of the dog, as they tend to become less aggressive and mellower. Always ask for health clearances before adopting a pet. Some diseases that the breed is highly susceptible to include:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Gastro Dilation-Volvulus
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
- Degenerative Myelopathy
If the dog is left unexercised for long periods, you ought to expect trouble. Boredom can cause a string of behavioral issues in both male and female dogs. Some behavioral issues you should be wary of include excessive barking, digging and chewing.
Male German Shepherd Dogs at a Glance
- Male German Shepherds make excellent guard dogs and are inclined towards their family members much more than females. However, this depends on how the dog has been raised and trained.
- Compared to female GSDs, their male counterparts may grow up to become quite dominant. If they are not raised with a strong influence, they will grow up thinking there are no rules to follow. Once again, this will not be a problem if your dog has been trained properly.
- As mentioned above, this breed tends to be territorial and are highly possessive of their owners. While they will love all members of their family, they will be more inclined towards their owners.
- Male GSDs tend to bond to one person in the household more than others. It is usually the person who is training, feeding and spending quality time with the dog.
- Male dogs are better for personal protection and are often used as police and guide dogs.
- Male GSDs grow up to be much taller, with greater masculine features.
Female German Shepherd Dogs at a Glance
- While female GSDs too can become dominant with not raised with a strong pack, they are much easier to handle than their male counterparts.
- Female GSDs are less territorial and usually display equal amount of love for the entire family. While some dogs may become inclined to a single family member, female GSDs care for all of their family members.
- They are not the best choice for guarding but are likely to protect people and make for good guard dogs.
- Female GSDs have a sensitive nature and are easier to train. They are usually the top contenders for rally obedience, agility and other dog sports.
- Female GSDs tend to be smaller than their male counter parts and have feminine features.
While in some ways choosing between a male and female GSD is a matter of personal preference, you should always keep in mind the above differences before selecting a pet. Before you bring a furry friend home, evaluate their characteristics and try to determine which dog would fit best in your household. It is also important you state your intent before adopting a puppy to ensure the dog is best suited for the particular job. Overall, this breed makes for a trustworthy, friendly and lovable companion that is bound to bring joy to any home.
For more information, speak to the breeder to get an idea of the personality of the puppy. Evaluating the parent’s personality helps in predicting the dogs’ temperament. Good luck!