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Sacred Birman kitten and Yorkshire Terrier adult standing in black and white on a white background
German Shepherd adult in black and white

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is a loyal, intelligent and adaptable dog that when socialised and trained well can be a rewarding and loving pet.

About the German Shepherd

When well trained German Shepherds can be even tempered, self-assured, vigilant, docile and highly intelligent. This long list of qualities makes them good companions and protectors, and excellent guarding and herding dogs.

German Shepherds are driven by their motivation to work. They can become a dominant figure in their owners’ lives but German Shepherd training is easy, given the time and attention they need. This breed should receive significant daily mental and physical stimulation, with its high exercise requirement and need to learn.

Source: key facts and characteristics sourced from Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)

Breed specifics

FCI Group 1, AKC Herding Group
Size category
Avg life expectancy
9–13 years

Even-tempered / Confident / Loving / Resilient / Protective / Lively / Obedient

Key facts

  • Makes a versatile working dog
  • Needs a lot of physical and mental exercise
  • Makes a great family dog
German Shepherd adult in black and white

Breed Origin

The German Shepherd was originally bred from the herding dogs of central and southern Germany. Methodical breeding commenced once the first breed association was founded in 1889, with the goal of producing an energetic, versatile, high-achieving working dog.

A German Shepherd's life story

Find out more about the resilient German Shepherd in each stage of their life.

Up to 15 months

German Shepherd puppy

German Shepherd puppies are confident, loving and lively, with a natural intelligence. Care must be taken in their first year to set ground rules and fully socialise a German Shepherd puppy so they can grow into well-rounded dogs.

German Shepherd puppy sitting-down


With patience and continuous reinforcement, German Shepherd puppies are extremely receptive to learning and following commands. In particular, this breed will excel at canine sports training.

From 15 months

German Shepherd adult

German Shepherds are highly versatile, excelling as working and service dogs in their adult life. Their loyal, intelligent nature and natural patience with children of all ages make them an excellent family companion.

1 m 61 cm - 1 m 66 cm Height
29 kg 484 g - 41 kg 823 g Weight
1 m 56 cm - 1 m 61 cm Height
23 kg 680 g - 34 kg 19 g Weight
German Shepherd adult standing


German Shepherds are not best suited to owners who are looking for a quiet life as adult German Shepherds have a very high exercise requirement. A minimum of two hours outdoor exercise is recommended, including games to keep them both physically and mentally entertained.

The German Shepherd is an incredibly versatile dog that excels at a number of canine sports. As members of the sheepdog group, German Shepherds are skilled at herding tests and trials and their obedient, intelligent nature sees them shine in obedience and agility.

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Working German Shepherds

Thanks to their extremely reliable scenting skills, accompanied by their stamina and intelligence, adult German Shepherds excel in the police, military and emergency services, and they continue to perform their original purpose as herding dogs. 

The German Shepherd’s inherent loyalty and intelligence has seen this versatile breed excel as service and therapy dogs, providing support for their companions. In the family home, the German Shepherd’s alert nature lends them to be incredibly successful guard and watchdogs.

German Shepherd health and ageing

German Shepherds are considered to be ageing dogs when they reach eight years old. With age, your German Shepherd may experience some hearing loss and vision impairment.

This is common in older dogs but will impact their lifestyle and how much they are able to do. You may also notice reduced motivation to exercise, often due to stiffer joints so it is important to make sure your ageing dog is kept comfortable to ease any joint pains.

German Shepherd senior sitting-down

Perfect food for your German Shepherd

German Shepherd range
Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Large Adult 5+ Dry Dog Food

Health condition

Like all breeds, German Shepherds can suffer from health issues when some of their physical features are over-exaggerated as for example a sloped back. We advise you to acquire from a responsible breeder or shelter and to seek advice from your veterinarian as needed.

Health checklist illustration

A healthy start to life

Puppyhood is a time of massive physical and behavioural change, and a steep learning curve for new owners. Find out how you can provide your puppy with the best start in life so they develop into strong, healthy dogs.

Learn more
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Lifetime of health

Get advice and information on how to provide the best care for your dog at every stage of life.

Learn more
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