10 Facts About German Shepherds That Will Surprise You!

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Here are 10 facts you may not know about one of America’s favorite dog breed, the German Shepherd. Although a new breed, the German Shepherd is currently one of the most popular breeds in the world. Here you will find facts, breed information, german shepherd colors, and info about adoptions and rescues.

black and cream german shepherd dog with a black collar standing up outside

In 2016, the German Shepherd was ranked as the second most popular breed in the United States. This breed has many talents and desirable traits that make it the best dog for any home. Even german shepherd mixes take on some of their best characteristics.

Breed Overview

  • Group: Herding
  • Height: 22-26 inches
  • Weight: 60 to 100 pounds
  • Hair: Thick double coat of medium length and they are big shedders!
  • Hair color: Most colors are available, including two colors, black and brown, black and cream, black and red, black and silver, black, gray and sand. Keep in mind that blue, liver or white are not desirable due to breeding criteria.
  • Life span: 7 to 10 years
  • Temperament: Intellectual, brave, awake, brave, loyal, protective, very vocal; some think GSDs are an aggressive breed, but this is a myth!
  • Hypoallergenic: No.
  • Origin: Germany, Purebred
liver colored german shepherd laying in the grass

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About German Shepherds

1. They Are Fast!

When used for herding, they really trot more than they run. Their speed reaches about 20 miles per hour! However, when they are in a full on sprint, they run up to speeds of 30 to 35 miles per hour! 

2. German Shepherds Are Very Intelligent! 

While we know this breed for their instinct, trainability, and service behavior, they are considered the third smartest dog! Poodles and Border Collies take the number one and two spot, but in our opinion, this could be hard to choose! 

3. GSDs Were Used During 9/11

Apollo arrived on the scene 15 minutes after the attack of 9/11 happened and received a medal of honor. Another German Shepherd, Trakr, found a survivor 27 hours after the attack happened. 

4. Strong Bite Force

Animal bites are measured by pounds per square inch (PSI). A German Shepherd has a PSI of 238. Just for perspective, a Tiger Shark’s PSI is 325 and a Rottweiler’s is 328.

5. They Can Have Floppy Ears. 

When Shepherd dogs are between 16 and 20 weeks old, they may have floppy ears because they are in the teething stage. Afterwards, the cartilage finishes forming, where their ears will stand for the rest of their lives. 

6. Easily Trainable 

Did you know that adult german shepherds are easier to train than pups? In addition, they can also learn tasks and behaviors in 5 times or fewer if trained properly. 

7. Very Popular 

For the past 7 years, they have ranked in the top 5 of popularity according to the AKC

8. The First Seeing-Eye Dog 

German Shepherds were the first breed to be trained to help the visually impaired in 1928, which was also considered the first service dog.

9. German Shepherds Were Used in the Wars 

During the World Wars, both sides used German Shepherds for a variety of tasks. The military even taught them how to parachute from planes.

10. They Blow Their Coat 

While shedding is somewhat of a problem year round, two times per year they shed their entire undercoat, so be ready to groom! 

white long haired german shepherd laying in the grass

Characteristics of the German Shepherd

As a breed, the German Shepherd has a protective, loyal and friendly personality. Raised with a strong work ethic, they are one of the most popular breeds in the United States, largely because of their ability to be excellent family dogs. Although they love “their people,” they can thrive on the vigilance, care for family, and care of strangers and newcomers.


German Shepherd Colors

Colors Recognized by the AKC

The official standard by the AKC states that: “The German Shepherd Dog varies in color, and most colors are permissible. Strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified.” However, Daily Puppy reports that the AKC says that disqualification is only for shows, and can still be registered.

That being said, all the colors of GSDs can be registered, but some by not be able to take part in the show ring.

Black and Tan – This is one of the most common colors for shepherds and what most are used to seeing. While they are born dark, their fur usually lightens up some as they get older.

Black and Cream – Basically this is just a regular german shepherd with a lighter tan color. Think of the tan areas being washed out. They have the black “saddle” look on their faces and bodies. This coat color is attributed to a recessive gene.

black german shepherd with a collar on laying in the grass

Black – Some may consider this GSD color rare because you don’t see them often. There’s also a misconception they black shepherds may act differently or are mixed with another breed, but that’s not the case. Typically, the gene that gives this breed their color is recessive. In order for a puppy to be pure black, both parents must carry this gene.

White – While these are beautiful dogs and are still purebred, they go against the breed standard. However you can still register them with the AKC. White is normally a recessive gene just as black.

Albino – These are often confused with the white german shepherd. If the dog is truly albino, their eyes will be pink or white. Albino GSDs are also super rare.

sable german shepherd dog sitting outside
Sable German Shepherd

Sable – Most would call this color gray, but they define it as the tips of the hair being gray, while the rest is a mixture of colors. The agouti gene is dominant in this case and no two are ever alike.

Panda – You guessed it! This GSD cost looks like a real panda bear and one of the rarest colors. They will have the normal black and tan color, but can be up to 40% white. Shepherds inherit this color when a genetic mutation occurs.

Liver – This color is another rare one. The genes block the pigmentation, so the saddle and muzzle are brown instead of black. You won’t find these shepherds in the show ring, but they are still beautiful dogs. They are red in color and their eyes look a little amber.

Blue – Those with a blue coat will normally have blue eyes as well. They are also commonly mistaken for mixed breeds or Belgium Malinois.

Isabela – The rarest german shepherd color of all because it has to have the recessive genes from blue and liver. Their noses can be many different colors and their eyes are an odd color as well.

There are a few more colors including black and silver, gray, black and red, bicolor, and silver.

german shepherd puppy on a leash sitting next to a little girl

German Shepherd Rescues and Adoption

GSD Rescue – This agency is based out of Raleigh, NC. They adopt to residents living in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. They do not adopt GSDs under the age of 1-year-old to families who have children under 8 years old. The adoption fee is $300 and all dogs are up to date on their shots, have been spayed or neutered, and are free of heartworms and parasites.

Petfinder.com – You can search all parts of the United States to find puppies and grown shepherd dogs near you.

Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue – Located in California, they adopt shepherds and Belgian Malinois. The adoption fee is $400 and donations are appreciated. The process starts with an application and a call from the agency. They say things can move pretty quickly but the adoptions take a minimum of 2 weeks.

Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue – While this agency adopts to residents Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Deleware they have an entire page dedicated to rescues across America for you to find a german shepherd to adopt.

Common FAQs about the German Shepherd Breed

Is a German Shepherd a good family dog?

This breed makes a great family dog especially with the proper training and socialization. They are natural protectors which is perfect for those who want a guard dog. 

What are the 5 types of German Shepherds?

American Show Line German Shepherds, Czech Working Lines German Shepherds, East German DDR Working Line German Shepherds , European Show Line German Shepherds, and West-German Working Line German Shepherds

Should I get a male German Shepherd or female?

Female shepherds seem to be better companions and more fit for cuddling. Males are better protectors, guard dogs, and are great for those without kids. However, if you train them as a puppy both could be good for families.

What is the lifespan of a German Shepherd?

As long as they are fed the proper diet and have regular vet visits, you can expect your shepherd dog to live anywhere between 7 to 10 years according to the AKC.

Is the German Shepherd aggressive?

The German Shepherd may have gained a reputation as an aggressive dog throughout history and the media, but this is not true. They are very protective of their owners and can show signs of aggression if they are not socialized properly, but they are not aggressive by nature and are welcome and open to new people.

Final Thoughts

Shepherd dogs are a favorite breed around the world. If you are looking for an obedient purebred, German Shepherd may be the one for you. Not only do they make excellent service and working dogs, but loving companions. 

The only warning we have is that you will want to train your pup from the beginning. This is so they will behave. It reduces barking, and helps others to feel comfortable, as this breed has known to be a little intimidating. 

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