Derived from the old breeds of herding and farm dogs, and associated for centuries with man as servant and companion, the German Shepherd Dog has been subject to intensive development. Sponsored by the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde, the parent club of the breed founded in 1899 in Germany, the cult of the Shepherd spread rapidly from about 1914 onward in many parts of the world. Interest in the breed has been fostered by specialty clubs in many lands as it has been in the United States by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America.
Considering first the more important side of the dog, its character, the Shepherd is distinguished for loyalty, courage, and the ability to assimilate and retain training for a number of special services. He should be of equable disposition, poised, unexcitable, and with well-controlled nerves. For his typical work as a herding sheepdog, he must not be gun-shy and must have courage to protect his flock from attacks, either animal or human. For his work as a police dog, a development which followed upon his natural aptitude for training, he must have this courage and in addition must be able to make use of the excellent nose which he usually possesses. In his work as a leader of the blind, the Shepherd must and does exhibit a high order of intelligence and discrimination involving the qualities of observation, patience, faithful watchfulness, and even, to a certain degree, the exercise of judgment.
These qualities, which have endeared the German Shepherd Dog to a wide public in practically every country of the globe, are those of the companion, protector, and friend. The German Shepherd is not a pugnacious brawler, but a bold and punishing fighter if need be. In his relation to man he does not give affection lightly; he has plenty of dignity and some suspicion of strangers, but his friendship, once given, is given for life.
On the physical side, the German Shepherd Dog has been developed to a point of almost ideal fitness for the work he is called upon to do. He is a dog of middle size with enough weight to be effective as herder or patrolman, but not enough to be cumbersome or unwieldy.
The impression of the dog as a whole is one of ruggedness combined with nobility, of power combined with agility. There should be a sense of balance, forequarters and hindquarters compensating each other in their development. The outline should be smooth and flowing, and the topline of the dog, from the ear to the tip of the full tail, a single sweeping succession of unbroken curves. The German Shepherd Dog is a natural dog, unchanged for any whim of the show ring.
History provided by the American Kennel Club
The United Schutzhund Clubs of America Inc. is a German Shepherd Dog Breed
Organization guided by the rules of the organization of origin of the German
Shepherd Dog, the “Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SV)” in Germany and is
strongly devoted to create and promote the German Shepherd Dog in its original
breeding as a working dog. The United Schutzhund Clubs of America Inc. is a
member of the “World Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs” and accepts the
bylaws of this organization in regards to the breeding rules of German Shepherd
The following translation of the German Shepherd Dog F.C.I. Standard, MO.
166/23.03.1991/D translated from the SV publication 1998 has been submitted
by Johannes Grewe and is recommended by the 1998 Breed Advisory
Committee for approval by the Executive Board at their meeting in 1998.
The “Standard” is part of the USA Bylaws.
The following “Standard” has been approved by the Executive Board at the
meeting in Bangor, Maine, on May 6, 1998.
Short Historical Overview
In accordance with the official provisions of the German Shepherd Dog Club (SV) e.V., located in Augsburg, a member of the Federation of Dog Clubs in Germany (VDH) is the founding organization of the German Shepherd Dog and therefore, responsible for the breed standard. Work on this document was begun at the first membership meeting in Frankfurt/M on September 20, 1899 and is based on proposals by A. Meyer and v. Stephanitz. Additions and revisions to the standard were made as follows: membership meeting on July 28, 1901; 23rd membership meeting on September 17, 1909 in Koln; Board and Executive Committee Meeting on September 5, 1930 in Wiesbaden, and the Breeders Committee and Board Meeting on March 25, 1961 in conjunction with the WUSV (World Union of German Shepherd Clubs) and during the WUSV Meeting on August 30, 1976 where the standard was agreed upon, revised, and approved by the Board and Executive Committee on March 23 and 24, 1991.
Planned breeding activities began after the inception of the SV in 1899. The German Shepherd Dog was developed from herding dogs in service during that time in Middle and Southern Germany. The goal was to produce a high-performance working dog. To accomplish this goal, the Breed Standard of the German Shepherd Dog was created. This document addresses both physical qualities as well as character attributes.
The German Shepherd Dog is medium sized, slightly longer than tall, strong and well-muscled, bone is dry, the whole dog presenting a picture of firmness.
Height at the withers for males: 60 – 65 cm, bitches: 55 – 60 cm. Length of torso exceeds height at the withers by 10 – 17%.
The German Shepherd should appear poised, calm, self-confident, absolutely at ease, and (except when agitated) good natured, but also attentive and willing to serve. He must have courage, fighting drive and hardness in order to serve as companion, watchdog, protection dog, service dog, and herding dog.
The head is wedge-shaped and in harmony with the dog’s size (length app. 40% of height at the withers) without being coarse or overly long. The head should appear dry, and moderately wide between the ears. Seen from the front and side, the forehead is only slightly domed, the center furrow is either absent or only slightly visible. The length ratio of skull to face is 50 : 50%. Skull width approximately equals skull length. Seen from above, the skull slopes into a wedge-shaped muzzle. The stop should not be pronounced. Upper and lower jaws are strong, the bridge of the nose should be straight, not a Roman nose or dish-faced nose. Lips are taut, well closed and of dark color.
The nose should be black.
The teeth must be strong and complete in number (42 teeth as per formula). The German Shepherd has a scissor bite, where the upper incisors must meet the lower incisors in a scissor grip. Level bite, overshot and undershot teeth are faulty, as well as widely spaced teeth. A straight incisor tooth line is also faulty. Jawbones must be well developed, to permit deep rooting of the teeth in the gum.
The eyes are medium sized, almond-shaped, set slightly oblique and not protruding. The color should be as dark as possible
The German Shepherd has medium-sized, upright ears which are carried erect and perpendicular to one another, pointed and open to the front. Tipped ears and hanging ears are faulty. Laid-back ears are not faulty when the dog is in motion or resting.
The neck is strong, well-muscled, and clean cut (without folds of loose skin). The angle of neck to torso is approximately 45 degrees.
The top line extends from the point where the neck meets the skull past the well-developed withers and the gently downward sloping back to the slightly sloping croup without a visible break. The back is firm, strong, and well-muscled. The loin is broad, well developed, and strongly muscled. The croup should be long and have a slight downward slope (approximately 23 degrees from horizontal) and should merge smoothly into the tail set.
The chest should be of moderate width, the underchest long and pronounced. Chest depth should be approximately 45 to 48% of height at the withers. The ribs should be moderately sprung. Barrel shaped or flat ribs are faulty.
The tail reaches at least to the hock joint, but not past the halfway point of the hock itself. The coat is slightly longer on the underside of the tail. The tail hangs in a soft, saber-like curve. When the dog is excited or in motion, the tail is somewhat raised, but should not reach past the horizontal line. Surgical corrections are not permitted.
Seen from all sides, the forelegs are straight and absolutely parallel when viewed from the front.
Shoulder and upper arms are of equal length. Both are held snugly to the body by strong muscles. Angulation of shoulder blade to the upper arm ideally is 90 degrees, but up to 110 degrees is permissible.
Elbows may not turn out when the dog is standing or in motion or be pinched inward. The lower legs viewed from all sides are straight and absolutely parallel, dry, and well-muscled. The pastern measures about 1/3 of the forearm length and is angled 20-22 degrees to the foreleg. Pasterns with an angle of more than 22 degrees or very steep pasterns (less than 20 degrees) reduce working capability especially, endurance.
The paws are rounded, tight, and arched. The soles are hard, but not brittle. The nails are strong and dark.
The rear legs have a pronounced rounded knee or turn of stifle which projects the dog’s rear quarter well behind the point of the pelvis. Seen from the rear, the hind legs are parallel to one another. Upper and lower thighs are of approximately the same length and form an angle of 120 degrees. Thighs are strong and well-muscled.
The hock joint is strong and dry and the hock stands upright under the joint.
The paws are tight, slightly arched, the balls of the feet are hard and dark, nails strong, arched, and dark.
The German Shepherd is a trotting dog. Length and angulation of front and rear legs must be in proper proportion to one another to permit the dog to move the rear leg underneath the body, matching the reach of the rear legs with that of the front legs and at the same time, keeping the top-line over the back relatively undisturbed. Any tendency for over-angulation of the rear reduces firmness and endurance of the dog and therefore, working capability. Correct body proportions and angulation result in a ground-covering gait which moves close to the ground and conveys the impression of effortless movement. With the head held slightly forward and the tail slightly lifted, the dog trotting evenly and smoothly, we see a softly moving top-line which flows without interruption from neck to tail tip.
The skin covers the body loosely, but without folds.
The correct coat for the German Shepherd is a stock coat (outer and under coat). The top coat should be as tight as possible, straight, coarse, and clinging closely to the undercoat. The head, including the inside of the ears, the front of the legs, the paws, and toes have short hair. Neck hair is longer and thicker. On the rear side of the legs, hair length increases downward to the pastern and hock. The rear of the thighs is covered show moderate “pants”.
Black with reddish brown, brown, tan to light-grey markings. Solid black, grey with darker overcast, black saddle and mask. Inconspicuous small white chest markings, as well as lighter pigment on the inside of the legs is permitted, but not desirable. All dogs, no matter what their color, must have black noses.
Missing mask, light to white markings on the chest and inner leg sides, light toenails, and a red tail tip are signs of faulty pigmentation. Undercoat has a slight grey cast. White is not permissible.
Males: Height at the wither 60 cm to 65 cm
Weight 30 kg to 40 kg.
Females: Height at the wither 55 cm to 60 cm
Weight 22 kg – 32 kg
Visual inspection must show two normally developed testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
Any deviations from the above listed points are considered faults. Points deducted must be in accordance with severity of the deviation.
Deviations from the breed characteristics described above which compromise the working ability of the animal.
Ear Faults: ears set too low, tipped ears, overset ears, and soft ears.
Considerable lack of pigment.
Firmness strongly compromised.
Faults of Dentition:
All deviation from scissor bite and number of teeth, unless they are disqualifying faults.
a) Character weakness, nervous biters, and dogs with a weak nervous system;
b) Dogs with documented “severe hip dysplasia”;
c) Monorchids and cryptorchids as well as dogs with testicles of visibly uneven size or shrunken testicles;
d) Dogs with disfiguring ears and/or tails;
e) Malformed dogs;
f) Tooth faults as follows:
1. Missing 1 #3 premolar and one additional tooth;
2. Missing 1 canine tooth or
3. Missing 1 #4 premolar, or
4. Missing 1 molar #1 or #2 or
5. Missing a total number of 3 teeth and/or more;
g) Dogs with bite faults: overbite of 2 mm or more, or undershot; level bite;
h) Dogs that measure more than 1 cm over or under regulation size;
j) White coat (incl. those with dark eyes and nails);
k) Long stock coat (long, soft loosely fitting outer coat with undercoat, flags on ears and legs, bushy pants and bushy tail with flag on underside);
l) Long coat (long, soft outer coat without undercoat). This coat type frequently is parted along the center line of the back, has flags on ears, legs, and tail.
Information taken from The United Schutzhund Clubs of America Inc.
Schutzhund is a German word meaning “protection dog.” It refers to a sport that focuses on developing and evaluating those traits in dogs that make them more useful and happier companions to their owners. Schutzhund work concentrates on three parts. Many are familiar with the obedience work of the American Kennel Club’s affiliates and will recognize the first two parts, tracking and obedience. The Schutzhund standards for the third part, protection work, are similar to those for dogs in police work.
While dogs of other breeds are also actively involved in the sport of Schutzhund and often follow similar criteria for breeding purposes, this breed evaluation test was developed specifically for the German Shepherd Dog. Schutzhund is intended to demonstrate the dog’s intelligence and utility. As a working trial, Schutzhund measures the dog’s mental stability, endurance, structural efficiencies, ability to scent, willingness to work, courage, and trainability.
This working dog sport offers an opportunity for dog owners to train their dog and compete with each other for recognition of both the handler’s ability to train and the dog’s ability to perform as required. It is a sport enjoyed by persons of varied professions, who join together in a camaraderie born of their common interest in working with their dogs. Persons of all ages and conditions of life even those with significant disabilities enjoy Schutzhund as a sport. Often, it is a family sport.
The Schutzhund Trial consists of 3 Parts
Part 1: Tracking
The tracking phase includes a temperament test by the overseeing judge to assure the dog’s mental soundness. When approached closely on a loose leash, the dog should not act shyly or aggressively. The track is laid earlier by a person walking normally on a natural surface such as dirt or grass. The track includes a number of turns and a number of small, man made objects left by this person on the track itself. At the end of a 33 foot leash, the handler follows the dog, which is expected to scent the track and indicate the location of the objects, usually by lying down with it between its front paws. The tracking phase is intended to test the dog’s trainability and ability to Schutzhund Trial
Part 2: Obedience
The obedience phase includes a series of heeling exercises, some of which are closely in and around a group of people. During the heeling, there is a gun shot test to assure that the dog does not openly react to such sharp noises. There is also a series of field exercises in which the dog is commanded to sit, lie down, and stand while the handler continues to move. From these various positions, the dog is recalled to the handler. With dumbbells of various weights, the dog is required to retrieve on a flat surface, over a one-meter hurdle, and over a six-foot slanted wall. The dog is also asked to run in a straight direction from its handler on command and lie down on a second command. Finally, each dog is expected to stay in a lying down position away from its handler, despite distractions, at the other end of the obedience field, while another dog completes the above exercises. All of the obedience exercises are tests of the dog’s temperament, structural efficiencies, and, very importantly, its willingness to serve its owner scent, as well as its mental and physical endurance.
Part 3: Protection
The protection phase tests the dog’s courage, physical strength, and agility. The handler’s control of the dog is absolutely essential. The exercises include a search of hiding places, finding a hidden person (acting as a decoy), and guarding that decoy while the handler approaches. The dog is expected to pursue the decoy when an escape is attempted and to hold the grip firmly. The decoy is searched and transported to the judge with the handler and dog walking behind and later at the decoy’s right side. When the decoy attempts to attack the handler, the dog is expected to stop the attack with a firm grip and no hesitation. The final test of courage occurs when the decoy is asked to come out of a hiding place by the dog’s handler from the opposite end of the trial field. The dog is sent after the decoy who is threatening the dog with a stick and charging at the handler. All grips during the protection phase are expected to be firmly placed on the padded sleeve and stopped on command and/or when the decoy discontinues the fight. The protection tests are intended to assure that the dog possesses the proper temperament for breeding.
The Schutzhund Titles
For SchH1 the dog must be at least 18 months old and pass an initial temperament test by the judge. The dog must heel off leash, demonstrate the walking sit, the walking down, and the long down under distraction, as well as the send-out. It must retrieve on the flat and over a hurdle, and over the scaling wall. In tracking, it must be able to follow a track laid by its handler at least 20 minutes earlier. There are also protection tests.
For SchH2 the dog must be at least 19 months old and must already have earned its SchH1 degree. It must again pass all of the obedience and protection tests required for the SchH1 degree, but those tests, for SchH2, are made more difficult and require greater endurance, agility, and, above all, control. There is an additional walking stand exercise required. In tracking, the SchH2 candidate must be able to follow a track laid by a stranger at least 30 minutes earlier.
For SchH3, the master’s degree, the dog must be at least 20 months old and must have earned both the SchH 1 and the SchH2 titles. Again, the tests now are made far more difficult. All exercises in obedience and protection are demonstrated off leash. The Walking stand is replaced by the running stand. In tracking, the dog must follow a track that was laid by a stranger at least 60 minutes earlier. The track has four turns, compared with two turns for SchH1 and 2, and there are three objects, rather than two, that must be found by the dog. The picture of obedience, strength, eagerness, and confidence presented by an excellent SchH3 team is a beautiful illustration of the partnership of human and dog.
Information taken from the United Schutzhund Club of America, The German Shepherd Dog.
Achtung (Ahk-toong’): Watch, Attention
Aus (Ows): Out, Drop it, Let Go
Bleib (Blibe): Stay
Bringen Bring, Fetch
Fass (Fahs): Attack, Take hold
Fuss (Foos): Heel
Gib Laut Bark, Speak
Hier Here, Come
Hopp Up! Jump
Nein (Nine): No
Pass auf (Pahs owf): Pay attention, Heads Up
Pfui (Foo-ey): Shame, Stop That, Drop That
Platz (Plots): Down
Setz, Setzen (Zetze’n): Sit
Such (Zook): Search
Voran (For-ahn): Go forward, Take the lead
Voraus (For-ows): Go forward! Run out
Kriech (creekh): Crawl