The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is one of the most popular dogs according to AKC records. The GSD was originally bred as a herding dog in Germany in the early 1900s. Quickly, it showed willingness to work hard. Their high level of intelligence proved to be far more useful than simply being a herding dog.
In fact, while herding instinct is still there, they are rarely used for this purpose any longer. GSDs have been used as guide dogs for the visually impaired as well as police dogs to apprehend criminals. While all dogs have a greater sense of smell than humans, the German Shepherd’s sense of smell outranks most other dog breeds. This has made them valuable in detecting illegal substances, explosive devices, and as search and rescue dogs. They are commonly used by the military and police. In addition, the GSD is known as an outstanding athlete that performs well in sports such as agility, tracking, obedience, and herding.
The GSD is known for their high level of intelligence. They are capable of learning new behaviors in just a few repetitions. They appear to have a desire to cooperate and work with humans. The GSD is multi-talented and eager to work which makes the dog a true workaholic. This may be problem in a household where you just want a dog but do not have adequate time to train and spend with the dog. They are active and must have adequate exercise to utilize excess energy daily. If not, then they often become difficult to handle and develop a destructive nature. Consistency in training is imperative using positive reinforcement based methods and mentally challenging toys.
While considered by some as an aggressive dog, this is not entirely accurate. As a rule GSDs are very social and want to spend time with the family. The more time spent results in a happier dog. They are loyal, dedicated guardians and gentle family pets, who are willing to put their life on the line to protect their loved ones. While they are aloof to strangers, they are not hostile, using their nature to protect the family. They may be fearless and willing to stand their ground as either a watchdog or guardian. For this reason, it is the owner’s responsibility to spend time socializing and training the dog, thus ensuring that it is comfortable around strangers and other dogs.
This breed is a great dog if you are looking for a companion. Their affectionate and dedicated nature is a positive trait of the breed, and they can be particularly fond of children. Remember, their desire is to spend time with you rather than being left alone all day, every day. In fact, if left alone, sadly they often develop neurotic behavioral problems to seek your attention.