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Breed highlight: German Shepherd

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Breed highlight: German Shepherd

Are you thinking about expanding your family to include a new (or another) furry friend? Inviting a new furbaby into your life is kind of a big deal and the “who” of the situation is a big decision. There are over 200 dog breeds in the world according to the American Kennel Club and up to 360 according to The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (International Canine Federation). Amongst these 360 breeds is the German Shepherd, also known as the Alsatian. German shepherds are a popular breed of dogs, great for active families with young children. Learn more about the German Shepherd in this blog to see if a German shepherd fits into your family.  

The German Shepherd‘s home of origin is pretty obvious… they’re German. They’re not the old philosopher kind of German though, but a hard working, out in the wild hills German. They’re a working dog breed, developed by Max von Stephanitz in 1899 by mixing various German herding dogs to find the ideal farm companion. 

Ideal working dogs are intelligent, loyal, lean, large and muscular and German Shepherds tick every single box. Their loyalty and intelligence ensures they train well and can excel in various roles including as police dogs, search and rescue dogs, and service dogs. But they’re not restricted to the fields, they have a place at home too. 

German Shepherds became household companions after WWI, celebrated in media such as Wonder Dog and The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. They began to be seen as fiercely loyal, gentle, protective and intelligent companions. They are very protective of their families and make excellent watchdogs. They can inspire better lifestyle changes including consistent exercise and reduced loneliness. 

 If well cared for, the German Shepherd can live to be over 13 years old, including good nutrition, exercise, injury management and grooming. Due to their double coat, dense and thick, they should be brushed regularly to reduce tangling, skin irritation and hair loss. Also important for keeping their fur in good shape is good food. High quality, high hydration food with plenty of fats and necessary proteins keep your pet healthy, happy, within a good weight range (such as our Bella and Boots food blends!). As active dogs, they need between 30 mins and 2 hours of exercise a day, though more is better for this energetic dog — this time can be broken up in the morning, midday and evening, with leashed walks, off-leash play, independent play and social time with other dogs. Mental simulation can also supplement some active time as that will keep their brains sharp, reduce unwanted behaviours and burn up energy.  Not meeting this required exercise regime could lead to problems including the development of negative behaviours, obesity and heart conditions. Shepherds are also predisposed to injuries caused by being overweight including hip and elbow dysplasia, back injury, and fatty heart disease. 

German Shepherds are also predisposed to diseases including degenerative myelopathy, gastric dilation, perinatal fistula or lumbosacral syndrome. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and risks so if you have a German shepherd or are introducing one to your family you can catch any of these issues before they develop too seriously. 

As we mentioned, a well cared for shepherd can live for over 13 years, meaning they would be great companions for growing children. Their intelligence and loyalty would make them the perfect childhood friend, providing emotional support and encouraging healthy habits. But, due to their size and energy levels, it is important that the Shepherd is well trained to be careful around small children to prevent injury. It is important also to teach any young children appropriate behaviour around dogs.  

If you’ve been convinced that the German Shepherd is a good fit for your family, consider looking at local shelters for dogs looking for a home. Shepherds are commonly sent to shelters because families can't keep up with the responsibilities associated with this breed. Otherwise, do your due diligence to find an ethical, certified breeder around South-east Queensland. When your furry friend does join you in your new home, make sure you're patient as you both adapt to the changes and visit your vet. Most importantly, enjoy your new friend!

If you have a new friend, German Shepherd or not, give our Bella and Boots food blends a go. It helps keep your pet well-fed, hydrated, with plenty of energy and important nutrients. Try our food trial packs here or order your pets favourite food blend here

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