22 Facts About German Shepherds (2024 UPDATE)

If you’re interested in learning interesting facts about German Shepherds, you can count on us. We collected these facts to show you how fascinating German Shepherds are. 

Some information might surprise you, but most will make you fall in love. 

So, let’s go!

Top 10 German Shepherd Facts

Fascinating German Shepherd History Facts

German Shepherds have a long history of being awesome. They were the stars of the 20th century, both in cinema and on battlefields. 

Read on to find out how these fantastic dogs made history.

1. The German Shepherd was introduced in the early 1900s.

(Vom Geliebten Haus)

The first German Shepherd was actually a Thuringian Shepherd, used to develop the breed by being bred to other herding dogs.

Capt. Max von Stephanitz is the man who bought and named the first German Shepherd in 1899. He wanted a dog that is loyal, easily trainable, intelligent, and able to perform many tasks. He found all that in one dog and used it to create many more like it. 

2. In WWI and WWII, German Shepherds served in the military.

(Military Working Dog Support Association, Inc)

German Shepherds were highly useful during the wars. 

During WWI, they served only in the German military. However, In WWII, other armies, including the US army, also used them. 

They primarily served as messengers but also performed the roles of guards, ammunition carriers, and rescue dogs.

3. American and Canadian police-trained German Shepherds helped in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

(The New York Times, The Dogington Post)

They worked in the search team among other search-and-rescue dogs. The number of German Shepherds that were a part of the team is unknown, but some sources say that there were roughly 100 present in NY after the attacks. 

Additionally, a German Shepherd named Trakr was the only dog that found a survivor in the rubble. His DNA was later used for cloning, and 5 Trakr clones were born in 2009.

4. German Shepherds were among the most famous stars in the silent film era.

(Reader’s Digest)

German Shepherds have been popular stars of Hollywood films. One German Shepherd, Rin Tin Tin, appeared in more than 25 films during the 1920s and 1930s. He earned more than some human stars of that time, over $6,000 a week (around $80,000 today).

However, the highest-grossing star in Hollywood at the time was actually another German Shepherd — Strongheart. He eventually became a multi-millionaire and was generally considered more widely known. 

5. A German Shepherd was the very first guide dog in America.

(International Guide Dog Federation)

In 1928, the first guide dog, a German Shepherd called Buddy, arrived from Switzerland with her new owner, Frank Morris. Many were skeptical, but helping her new owner cross a busy street in New York proved her skills very quickly.

Interestingly, the trainer of that dog was also an American (living in Switzerland), Dorothy Eustis.

German Shepherd Features

We all know what German Shepherds look like, and a lot of other breeds have a similar physique developed by the breeders. There’s more to these dogs than their wolf-like looks. Keep reading to find out more fascinating German Shepherd facts.

6. The breed has a lot of predispositions to different health issues.


Some of the most common illnesses they can have are degenerative myelopathy, epilepsy, bloat, pancreatic enzyme insufficiency, and hip dysplasia.

They also often suffer from thyroid diseases, skin allergies, and many other problems depending on their genetics and lifestyle.

7. Some of the best service dogs are German Shepherds.


They are excellent service dogs because of their loyalty, intelligence, and easy trainability. 

They work as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, medical alert dogs for people with epilepsy, mobility assistance for people with disabilities, and lastly, as psychiatric service dogs. 

8. They are one of the most active dog breeds.

(PitPat, Ready, Set, Puppy!)

German Shepherds are among the most energetic dog breeds. 

They need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. Adult German Shepherds need at least 90 minutes of exercise each day to stay healthy. 

Puppies and seniors need a bit less. Puppies should exercise only for five minutes for each month of their age. If over-exercised, they can start developing hip dysplasia earlier than normal.

9. German Shepherds belong to the herding dog group.

(American Kennel Club)

They were created from different herding breeds and were first used for herding sheep. Today, many of them are used for guarding, protection, and police purposes.

Like other herding dogs, they have a strong herding instinct they might also use on their owners, especially kids. 

10. There are both mini and giant German Shepherds.

(Anything German Shepherd, Animalso)

Mini German Shepherds are a crossbreed between a German Shepherd and a Poodle, Corgi, or some other small breed. Giant German Shepherds, also called King Shepherds, are also a hybrid breed.

Besides these two, there are also dwarf German Shepherds, which are purebred German Shepherds that suffer from pituitary dwarfism. 

11. German Shepherds are the third most intelligent dog breed in terms of obedience and working ability.


This means that they understand new commands after they’ve been repeated fewer than five times. 

German Shepherds obey first-time commands in 95% of the cases. The only breeds considered more intelligent than German Shepherds are Border Collies and Poodles.

12. An average lifespan of a German Shepherd is between 9 and 13 years.

(K9 Web)

Unfortunately, German Shepherds don’t live long. Because of their size and potential health issues, the average age they reach is 10. 

When they reach 13, they can be compared to an 80-year-old human. In rare cases, they can reach the age of 18–20, but not more.

13. The German Shepherd’s nose must be black for it to compete in breed shows.

(American Kennel Club)

Independent of the fur color, the tip of the nose cannot be of any other color. In other words, if a German Shepherd is born with a nose of any other color, it would be disqualified in a breed dog show.

However, it could still compete in agility events, work as a service dog, and be an amazing pet.

Fun Facts About German Shepherds

It’s not hard to see why German Shepherds are so popular today. However, if you’re still not convinced, here are a few more fun facts to emphasize the reasons for their fame.

14. There are two lines of German Shepherds.

(German Shepherd Shop)

The line can either be working or show, and the dogs are usually bred to fit the line.

Show line dogs are bred to have more sloped back, broader shoulders, and lower energy levels. They are also friendlier and less intense. However, some of the physical requirements also make them suffer from more illnesses.

Working line German Shepherds are bred to be healthy, strong, active, fearless, and enduring. 

15. There’s a dog club for old German Shepherds.

(German Shepherd Dog League of America)

When German Shepherds turn 12, they are eligible for German Shepherd Thirteen (13) clubs. These clubs celebrate the dogs that reach the age of 13. Their and their owner’s recognition is honored with a certificate. It’s also published on the web pages and in the Shepherd news. 

16. The official English name of the breed is the German Shepherd Dog.

(Federation Cynologique Internationale, German Shepherds Etc)

First, it was known only as German Shepherd in English. After WWI, England and Ireland changed the name to Alsatian, while America changed the name to Shepherd Dog

While in England and Ireland, the dog is still sometimes referred to as Alsatian, in America, it was changed back in 1930. 

From 1977, their official name in English is German Shepherd Dog, not just German Shepherd!

(American Kennel Club)

Among 344 officially recognized different breeds of dogs, German Shepherds are always in the top three in the United States. In 2020, they went from second to third place but are still equally loved.

18. There are eleven standard colors of German Shepherds.

(Canine Weekly)

Although the most famous German Shepherds come from the bi-color group, there are more standard colors to choose from. They can be:

  • Black
  • Black with either red, tan, cream, or silver,
  • Blue
  • Liver 
  • White
  • Sable

Keep in mind that not all colors are acceptable for breed shows. For example, liver, blue, fawn, spotted black, pure red, and white are considered faults and cannot compete in breed shows.

19. German Shepherds of some colors can cost more than $2,000!

(AllShepherd, ZooAwesome, Ned Hardy)

Some colors, like black, panda, or Isabella, are extremely rare. This means that you’d most likely have to wait for your puppy — and pay quite a lot. 

Black German Shepherds, for example, can cost up to $2,000, while panda puppies range from $1,500–$3,000. Isabella-colored puppies are also priced at $1,500, at least. However, as the price depends on the breeder and location, it can be much higher too.

Buying from a reliable breeder is also a must, because German Shepherds can change color from puppyhood to adulthood. 

20. Schutzhund is a sport created especially for German Shepherds.

(United Schutzhund Clubs of America)

This sport/competition tests how well-bred each German Shepherd is. It tests the following features: 

  • Endurance
  • Intelligence
  • Trainability
  • Scenting ability
  • Mental state
  • Ability to work 
  • Efficiency
  • Bravery

21. German Shepherds are bred differently in Europe and America.


American and European breeders don’t use the same standards for breeding German Shepherds. This is why dogs from America and Europe are never the same. 

For example, the American German Shepherd is larger, lives a shorter life, but is generally a better family pet.

22. Some German Shepherds have been trained to recognize COVID-19.

(News Medical)

Because of their fantastic sense of smell, they were trained to recognize COVID-19 in the sweat of the affected people. Their average accuracy was 85–88%, which is higher than that of some antigen tests.


Why do the police use German Shepherds?

The police use German Shepherds because they are excellent working dogs. They use the working line of German Shepherds specifically bred to perform well in challenging conditions.

German Shepherds are extremely intelligent, are great at maintaining order, are natural protectors, and are exceptionally easily trained.

They have a calm temperament and react well in all situations. Besides all these factors, they are also strong and energetic. Because of these characteristics, they are also one of the most used service animals.

(Misty Ridge Animal Resort & Boarding Kennels)

What are German Shepherds known for?

German Shepherds are mainly known for their intelligence and trainability. They are also known for being great police dogs and for their exceptional work in the service dog industry. And, of course, for their herding skills, from which they got their name.

(Misty Ridge Animal Resort & Boarding Kennels)

Is a German Shepherd a good family dog?

German Shepherds can be great family dogs with the right training. If they are introduced into the family when they are puppies, they’ll quickly get used to people. 

But, you should keep in mind that these dogs are highly protective of their family members and may become aggressive towards others. 

Also, since they are active pets, they are best for families with yards, so they can run and play whenever they want.

(Neater Pets)

How smart are German Shepherds?

The German Shepherd is as smart as a 2.5-year child. They are among the most intelligent dogs and one of the easiest breeds to train. They have excellent memory and are able to learn most of the commands quickly and easily.

(Petland Independence)

What do you need to know about German Shepherds?

First of all, you should know that German Shepherds are highly intelligent pets. They are great as service dogs and police dogs, but they also make great family pets if trained from an early age. 

But it’s also important to note that they are highly protective of their family and can hurt those they perceive as threats.

(PitPat, CertaPet, Neater Pets)

Final Thoughts 

German Shepherds are one of the most interesting dog breeds that has achieved so much. They did so much in a little bit over 100 years and are still winning hearts all around the world. 

This is why we hope that our facts about German Shepherds have helped you understand and love them even more than you have before reading.


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