German Shepherds are one of the most remarkable dog breeds on the planet.
They are popular with dog lovers for many reasons, one of which is their desire to please their human guardians. Before you decide to make one of these dogs a part of the home, it is advisable to learn more about this breed.
Their long breeding history focused on making them work animals, but they also make great pets. German Shepherd care is essential if you want to integrate this dog into the home fully.
They must be respected as they will look after you like a best friend and extremely loyal companion.
- 1 History Of German Shepherds
- 2 German Shepherd Care Needs According To Their Age
- 3 German Shepherd Feeding Habits
- 4 German shepherd coat and skincare
- 5 German Shepherd Care For Nails, Teeth And Ears
- 6 German Shepherd Health Problems
- 7 German Shepherd Training Guide
- 8 German Shepherds And Kids
- 9 Conclusion
History Of German Shepherds
Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz was born into a wealthy family at the end of the 19th century in Germany. Instead of following his passion for agriculture, his family persuaded him to join the military.
Von Stephanitz became a cavalry officer who spent much of his time in the German countryside, where he grew to love the herd dogs.
Since progress was slowly making these dogs obsolete, Von Stephanitz wanted to save them from extinction.
He purchased a large estate in Bavaria on the outskirts of Grafath to achieve his dream.
His first breeding stud was soon to arrive after Von Stephanitz attended a dog show in Germany in 1899. There, he noticed a German Shepherd Dog named Hektor Linksrhein.
Unable to resist his attraction to the animal, he purchased Hektor and immediately changed his name to Horand von Grafrath.
Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz established the original German Shepherd club in 1899.
The club quickly attracted the locals’ attention, and three shepherds, a major, an architect, an innkeeper, a magistrate, and factory owners joined Von Stephanitz.
Their goal was to create a standard German Shepherd breed with recognizable characteristics.
Prized characteristics include a stable temperament, the desire to protect and serve, loyalty, intelligence, strength, agility, beauty, and flexibility as pets or working animals.
Friedrich Sparwasser had already bred Horand in the northern Thuringia area of Germany to have the wolf’s strong body with pointed ears.
Von Stephanitz chose to interbreed the northern shepherding dogs with Wurttemberg in the south.
The north’s dogs were small, had compact bodies, curled tails, and wiry coats. Their temperaments were also quite sharp.
In contrast, their southern counterparts were bigger and more docile. Von Stephanitz believed that breeding dogs from these two areas would produce his perfect German Shepherd idea.
Von Stephanitz did an excellent job and so the German Shepherd is such a popular breed today.
As popular as it is, German Shepherd care throughout their life stages is critical to a long, healthy life.
German Shepherd Care Needs According To Their Age
A GSD’s care needs continue to evolve through the dog’s life stages.
Puppy care differs from an adult dog‘s needs in feeding, training, and exercise. Similarly, adult dogs have different needs than senior animals.
Read through this guide carefully to find out more about your German Shepherd’s needs as they mature.
The puppy stages
Puppies require different nutrition at dissimilar ages to become healthy and strong. Feeding and training differ during the first three months when they are older.
During their growing months, they are also extremely curious about their surroundings.
Take them for deworming and shots to help prevent general illnesses recommended by your vet during vulnerable growing months.
Adult German Shepherd care revolves around establishing a stable eating and exercise routine.
Hopefully, your German Shepherd has been house trained at this stage and is socialized.
At around 14 to 18 months of age, you might want to consider professional training to get the most from your pet.
Regular exercise is important to this stage of their life, so dog owners should take the time to keep your dog healthy.
Also, take your pet for regular veterinary checkups to help manage potential diseases that this breed is known for.
The senior years
Senior German Shepherd care is as critical as the puppy years.
Your German Shepherd will have given you their all, have protected the owner, and provided years of companionship. By 7 years, their health can decline.
Adapt their diets, exercise routines, and get regular bi-annual checkups.
Maintaining their health is critical at this stage to increase your dog’s lifespan. You will want to make them as comfortable as possible should they suffer any adverse health issues.
German Shepherd Feeding Habits
German Shepherd care involves the dog’s age, size, condition, and how active the animal is. Preferably, you will want to give this large breed a nutritious diet that caters to every stage of its life.
What to feed a German Shepherd Puppy will differ from what you feed an adult. Roughly you want 20-22% proteins, 8-10% fats and 6-8% carbohydrates. Their diet should also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Even though many dog food brands are available, you may want to think beyond the cheapest product on the market.
The German Shepherd is highly energetic and prone to a variety of diseases.
This health sensitivity means that you should consider additional German Shepherd care in feeding.
German Shepherd care up to 12 weeks
Puppies should not leave their mothers for the first eight to 10 weeks of their lives. Weaning will start from around seven weeks when the puppy is introduced to solid food mixed with warm water.
Always allow the food to cool before giving it to your puppy.
Initially, the mixture should be more liquid than solid and mashed for easier consumption. As the puppy gets used to the mixture, it should become progressively drier.
A breeder typically reduces the amount of liquid every three days to help the puppy’s digestive system to adapt to the new food.
Once you purchase your puppy and take it home, you should continue feeding it the same food given to it by the breeder.
Continuing with the same food brand will limit gastrointestinal stress, which is essential as the puppy gets used to their new family.
At this age, you should feed your German Shepherd between four and six times a day. Each meal should consist of 1 ¼ or 2 ¼ cups of kibble per day.
Mix the kibble with hot water until your puppy is weaned off wet food. Always allow the food to cool before giving it to your puppy. At this stage, your puppy probably weighs between 10 and 30 pounds.
German Shepherd care from 3 to 14 months
As the puppy grows, adjust its meals for its age, gender, and activity. Follow this guideline for feeding as your puppy grows:
- 13 to 22 weeks: 18 to 40 pounds – 2 ¼ – 3 ½ cups a day split into 3 to 4 meals
- 23 to 27 weeks: 36 to 58 pounds – 3 ½ – 4 ½ cups a day split into 3 meals
- 28 to 40 weeks: 45 to 80 pounds – 3 ½ – 4 ½ cups a day split into 3 meals
- 41 to 56 weeks: 80 to 100 pounds – 4 ½ – 5 cups per day split into 2 meals
- 57 to 65 weeks: 100+ pounds – 5 cups a day split into 2 meals
Add ½ cup for every 10 to 20 pounds of weight above 100.
This is a general feeding guideline, and you can also check other feeding charts for German Shepherd care according to their gender, age, and weight as they grow.
You may also want to consult your vet about food, meal volumes, and frequency of meals if in doubt.
Each puppy and young adult are different, but they should be given food according to manufacturer age guidelines.
Puppies also need more food than older German Shepherds while growing, so don’t be concerned about limiting their intake too much. It is, however, important to prevent over-eating, which can place their health at risk.
German Shepherd care for adults
Continue to feed your adult German Shepherd according to its weight and age from 66 weeks onwards using the guideline above. Remember to check the quality of manufactured food and the nutritional content.
Also, make sure that you purchase adult dogs’ food as their nutritional needs change with age. The nutritional content of purchased dog food alters to accommodate various dog ages.
Choose a good quality food containing animal-based nutrition to support your dog’s health.Alternatively, follow the vet’s advice for feeding your adult dog.
Consider adding raw, cooked food and supplements to your adult German Shepherd’s diet.
These dogs are large and have a lot of energy. Their food should meet their nutritional and lifestyle requirements to maintain their health.
Always purchase supplements for dogs and never give them supplements that people use.
German Shepherd care for senior dogs
A German Shepherd is considered a senior dog at age 7. Change your dog food shortly before or soon after your dog turns 7.
Take note of their physical condition and the state of their teeth to see whether your pet needs softer foods.
A vet’s appointment can help you decide on feeding and supplement needs at this stage. You may also need to adjust your pet’s food if they have diabetes, a heart condition, or osteoporosis.
Always watch their health at this age and make necessary changes as required.
German shepherd coat and skincare
Short or long-haired German Shepherds need special coat and skincare. Although keeping their coats shiny and their skin healthy, additional supplements improve coat condition.
German Shepherd care– coat and skin
Brush your German Shepherd daily or up to four times a week. Use a Furminator, which helps to get down into the undercoat, removing loose hair.
Take care when using this brush as you can damage your dog’s skin.
Only shampoo your German Shepherd once every six months or once a year. If your pet gets especially muddy or dirty, then add another bath to their routine when necessary.
Excessive shampooing can deplete the skin of its natural oils, which can lead to other problems. Use a special shampoo from the vet to bathe your German Shepherd.
Avoid shaving this breed as it will be difficult to grow their coat back properly. Their fur also provides heating and cooling through seasonal changes, leaving this part of coat care to nature.
Poor coat condition has many causes. Irregular or no brushing and a poor diet can cause coat condition to deteriorate.
A medical condition can also affect your pet’s coat condition quality. Signs that your pet needs help also include:
- Their coat is dull
- They scratch a lot because their skin itches.
- Itchy skin, hair clumps, and red, irritated skin can be caused by fungus or mites. Take your dog for a vet visit as soon as possible if this happens, as professional treatment may be called for.
- Shedding excessive amounts of fur
- Clear signs of discomfort.
Supplements for a healthy coat and body
Supplements work from the inside out, as does quality food. Feed your German Shepherd quality food for its age, and its coat should reflect this care.
German Shepherd coat care includes external and internal attention. If your pet’s coat is suffering, consider the following:
- Higher quality food brand that is age-appropriate
- Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
- Liquid zinc
- Coconut oil for internal and external use
- Cooked carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potato mixed with their daily food
- CBD oil without THC for internal use
- Flaxseed oil
Always consult your vet about coat supplements, and never give your dog any vitamins produced for human use.
German Shepherd Care For Nails, Teeth And Ears
Nail care will depend on how active your German Shepherd is and the types of surfaces he moves around on.
Rough surfaces like dirt and asphalt will naturally keep your pet’s nails in trim.
If your dog is less active and only moves around on soft surfaces like grass, you may need to trim its nails every month. A strong purpose-designed nail clipper will be enough to keep their nails in check.
Be careful to trim only excess tips off as cutting too deep into the nail can injure the nail bed.
Many people recommend that a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste work better for dental hygiene. Others like to use disposable dental wipes for dogs that many vets and pet shops stock.
Your German Shepherd puppy’s ears should be standing up at about 16 weeks. Keep their ears in good health with regular, gentle wiping inside the ear.
Store-bought hypoallergenic wipes that are used for human babies are safe. Check your German Shepherd’s ears regularly, no matter their age.
A quick inspection every week should be enough to spot potential infections or other problems.
German Shepherd Health Problems
As wonderful as these dogs are, they suffer from diverse health problems
Poor breeding programs, genetics, nutrition and exercise, and general German Shepherd care contribute to their health or lack thereof.
Take excellent care of your pet from its puppy days through to its youth, adult, and senior years to protect it as much as you can.
Also, take your dog for regular vet checks annually to pre-empt health problems.
When you notice that your German Shepherd feels unwell, don’t delay professional care, which may worsen health.
Here are some prominent diseases in this breed:
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Pannus – corneal disease
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Perianal Fistulas (PF)
- Von Willebrand’s disease
- Skin allergies
- Thyroid problems
Some conditions can be severe and require immediate medical care, such as bloating.
Some like DM cannot be treated and require keeping your pet as comfortable as possible. Others like skin allergies are not serious but need to be treated.
Some diseases are manageable, like epilepsy, and don’t need to impact life quality unduly.
Panosteitis affects long bone growth in developmental years, and the animal may outgrow this disease.
As with all pet health problems–get expert medical care quickly. You will be protecting your pet from undue suffering, increase their life quality and potentially extend their life.
German Shepherd Training Guide
German Shepherd training is quite controversial. Some people say you should only start home training your puppy after two months; others say three months is better.
Working dog training is recommended for K9 units from a year old by some, and others suggest 18 months.
Everyone has their own ideas about training ages. Make up your own mind after reading these recommendations.
Take your pet’s temperament into account, but clearly, house training is important for several reasons, including:
- Knowing their name
- Potty training
- Positive behavior when walking.
- Know biting and play limits
- Understanding other acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the home
When your puppy is well-trained, you can enjoy a mutually fulfilling relationship. Taking your German Shepherd for professional training is even better.
Professional training teaches commands that increase protection and security. It also gives your intelligent, energetic pet a positive outlet for its abilities.
Training from 2 to 4 months
- Your first goal is to socialize the dog.
- The second goal is to get your pet familiar with getting into a crate.
- Your third goal is to housetrain your pet. Crate training helps with housetraining, so don’t skip this step.
Training from 3 to 9 months
During this period, you should focus on increasing training efforts.
- Your first goal at this stage is to teach your pet to be obedient.
- The second goal is for your German Shepherd to learn to recall so that it comes when summoned.
- Thirdly, you want your pet to learn how to control its impulses.
Training from 9 months to 2 years
By this time, your German Shepherd should have mastered basic housetraining and commands. Consistency and patience are key to getting the results you want during home training.
You may now want to take your pet for professional obedience training as they will be more manageable, for example when taking to a dog park, kennel or other mixing with dogs or people.
Obedience training focuses on increasing impulse control and improving obedience skills.
Advanced training can address specific areas such as protection, enhancing abilities.
Service dogs would undergo specific training involving tracking, herding, protection as a guard dog, and so on.
An obedient dog is more easily controlled. Training offers both you and your dog the opportunity to build trust, have an outlet for energy, and a way to exercise its intelligence.
Everyone ultimately benefits from a well-trained German Shepherd.
German Shepherds And Kids
Many people who own German Shepherds have raised them as puppies with small children are convinced that they can trust their dog.
Be careful to do research when buying a German Shepherd from a breeder by checking socialization processes.
If the dog is well-raised as a pup, it will probably make a good, safe fit with kids.
If the animal has been neglected and abused in a puppy mill, it will probably be unwise to accept that your kids will be safe around a damaged puppy.
People hope that they can trust German Shepherds around their kids because of their reputation as good family dogs.
The reality is that the dog’s temperament, training, and the behavior of the kids influence the dog’s responses.
Typically, when a German Shepherd is well-trained and socialized, it can be safe to have it around children.
The best advice, though, is to never leave kids unattended with a dog as no matter how loyal and protective the German Shepherd is, it is still a dog.
Always introduce a new dog slowly to new family members and pets. German Shepherds can be as territorial and protective as they are a patient breed, but you should be sensitive to their needs.
German Shepherds are powerful animals and may unwittingly harm small children with rough play.
Likewise, they may be wary of being around toddlers who can also play rough.
These dogs are a good match for young children who have almost as much energy as a growing or adult German Shepherd.
Regular interaction and play will always build loyal bonds, creating mutual trust between people and their dogs.
No matter how good the German Shepherd’s reputation is as a child-friendly dog, always supervise interaction between the two.
Train your dog, include it in family activities, and you will likely have a child-friendly dog that you can trust.
So there you have it, the ultimate guide for German Shepherd care. Hopefully this helps you decide do you want this dog as a pet.
If you are already a German Shepherd owner as a work animal or pet, understanding its needs is vital to maintaining its health.
When you know how to care for your German Shepherd Dog throughout its life stages, you equip yourself for a fulfilling long-term relationship.
Your pet is well looked after and is always willing to respond in kind.
Look after your pet, and you will all enjoy years of loyal companionship and protection.