Newest Review: ... well with other dogs, but gets on brilliantly with our other dog. Unfortunately, German Shepherds and some other breeds, are known for hav... more
Hair today, Ball tomorrow!
Member Name: rune_tune
Advantages: Loving, loyal and exceptionally intelligent
Disadvantages: Hair, hair and more hair ! Its a moulting machine !
Or so I thought....... We've landed up with a rescue 6-year-old bitch!
My breed of choice are Chow's, but my old boy is now getting to the end, but we weren't making any plans to replace him once the time does come.
But then again, I wasn't expecting to find out about a GS bitch that had been on her own for about 5 weeks while her owner was in hospital (people had popped in to feed and let her out and that was about it). The owner subsequently died, leaving Tasha without a home, and the GSD rescue centres full to the brim.
Cue our involvement! Someone called us because she knew we understood the breed and might be in a position to help, since time was now going against Tasha (she had less than 48 hours left before really hard decisions were needed). We needed to make sure our other dog (another rescue x-breed) would get on with Tasha, so we arranged to meet up with the woman who was dealing with it all.
We popped up to a friend's allotment where there was plenty of space for them to run, but on neutral ground for them both and safely fenced in.
After much bounding around by them both but in opposite directions to each other we decided to take the risk and bring her home.
So what have we let ourselves in for getting a GSD?
Intelligence! Very intelligent in fact and very responsive. But as long as they have been well bred and well trained they are exceptionally good socially, not only with people but other dogs (although we are still introducing Tasha to our cats and that's a slow process).
She will bark at people through the window. As she is settling with us, she isn't quite as vocal as she was, but already this is her home and she likes to make sure other people know this!
She gets on well with the other dogs, although the Chow now tends to stay out of the way because of his age. We've had a couple of little fights with the other rescue dog, and both have been over their toys! It was something we expected and we're fortunate that it isn't over more stuff than the toys, which is easy enough for us to regulate.
And we have hair all over the place! GSD's moult like it is going out of fashion. They only moult once a year - for 365 days! Your Vacuum Cleaner will be working overtime; your clothes and furnishings will never be hair free again! Sticky mitts are a must for all clothing when you are going out. Although we now have a different hair remover, which is basically a oblong 'rubber' brick that is designed to pick up hair and its excellent! We got it from our local pet store and its been worth its weight in gold (or hair) since it removes it superbly.
Water - she loves water! Well water that has mud around it as she ploughs through streams, but try to get her outside in the rain, even when she is crossing her paws is a completely different matter! Cue shoving her out bodily............
She can also run for miles happily! We live in a typical terrace house, but are fortunate not too far from here we have an open area where we can let her run and play, and she needs to be able to do that. The amount of energy this dog has is astounding. You can't afford to miss any walk with a GSD.
These dogs are a working breed, and like Collies do have certain characteristics that some people would find difficult to live with or understand, even experienced dog owners! This isn't a breed to be taken on lightly by even experience dog owners if you've not had one before. But if you are willing to take on the challenges they are simply wonderful dogs to have.
The GSD is loyal, very self-assured and willing. The biggest problem they have faced is nervous aggression more often than not brought about by poor breeding and also poor handling. The poor breeding can also then lead onto problems with the health of the dog.
So what are some of the health problems?
The German Shepherd is normally a fit healthy dog with an average lifespan these days of 12-15 years old but there are some special health problems that are associated with this breed some of which are hereditary and which you may be able to avoid by choosing a reputable breeder.
This is the most common hereditary condition and you can reduce the chances of your dog being affected by checking the hip scores of the parents and by keeping exercise to a gentle level until your dog is at least 6 months old. OCD is a disease which usually affects the shoulder or elbow joints and again can be prevented by keeping exercise down during those early months.
An illness seen quite often in GSD's and although it is quite alarming when it first happens, it can be successfully controlled with medication.
A disease like multiple sclerosis in humans is a progressive paralysis of the hind legs that generally starts in late middle age and for which there is no treatment.
This is a deep penetrating infection around the anus, the cause of which is unknown but it may be partly due to the German Shepherds large bushy tail, which curves down over the anus and prevents ventilation of the area. Treatment can be surgical or there is some suggestion that cyclosporin may be useful although expensive. It is a condition that unfortunately has a tendency to recur.
This is a blood clotting problem which can lead to uncontrolled bleeding in male dogs so check with the breeder that there is no history of this in the parents. It is the male dogs that are affected by the disease but the bitches can be carriers.
This has become more common in the GSD and the dog becomes unable to digest food properly becoming increasingly thin with excessive appetite. Treatment is lifelong and requires pancreatic enzymes to be given either in powdered form or as capsules with food.
Bloat or gastric torsion
This is a real emergency and a life threatening condition, which has become more common in deep chested dogs over the years. Experts are divided but good tips for reducing the risk are that it is best to feed 2 small meals rather than one large meal a day and to avoid feeding your dog before strenuous exercise.
We have taken out pet insurance via Sainsbury's who gave us an excellent deal at just under £9-00 per month. This is highly recommended for any animal, but particularly something like a GSD where there are known issues that could arise.
What is the difference between an Alsatian and GSD?
None. Some people still believe that Alsatians are the shorthaired variety, while German Shepherd refers to the long haired variety.
There isn't a definitive reason why the name Alsatian became so popular over here in the UK. It's believed to be a combination of two reasons. The first is that when the dogs were first bred it was in the Alsace region of France, which at the time was part of Germany.
It also is believed that after the first and second world wars, to have the word German connected to anything was a negative, so it was dropped in favour of the name Alsatian by many people.
Brief history of the breed.
A former cavalry officer called Max von Stephanitz decided to cross breed working sheep dogs to create a working sheepdog that fulfilled his criteria in certain areas. Not least, a dog who would herd but also cover large distances at a trot.
Eventually a breed standard was drawn up, and the first breed show took place in 1899 following which the GSD became firmly established across Germany. In 1906 the first dogs were exported to the USA
The breed then was most certainly not like the German Shepherd we know today, as they were rough coated, short tailed and quite mongrel like in their appearance. The German Shepherd Dog as we now know it didn't really appear until after the Second World War.
Our biggest problem is that so often people are scared of GSD's. Yes, they are protective of their home, but they should never be aggressive. If they are, something is very wrong either in the breeding or training.
They are strong willed dogs, so you must ensure you show them whose leader of their pack.
It saddens us when walking her to see other people crossing the road. She would love nothing more than to say hello to people, as are most GSD's.
She is taking a little time to integrate with the cats.... Simply because she has no finesse whatsoever! Her idea of saying hello is bounding over, all paws and slobber. Needless to say, our cats aren't impressed with this idea. But she is beginning to calm down now around them.
Having said all that, we have a dog that is so intelligent, that even at 6 years old and new to our household is already learning new things. She is very easy to train (albeit stubborn on occasion), and a wonderful companion to have around. She is great around the other dogs, and is fine with children (although as with ANY dog, we wouldn't leave her alone with very young children).
She is loving, and for the most part a very quiet dog to have in the house and she is already a firm family favourite.
If you do decide to take the plunge and go for the breed you will be rewarded in ways very few breeds offer.
Summary: Despite its history these dogs are great!