German Shepherd dog

Dog breed GSD


German Shepherd Dog or AlsationThe German Shepherd Dog is a large, strong animal often used for guarding or police work. The GSD can be a good family dog if trained properly but needs experienced handling. He relishes training and needs a firm and consistent hand. Some GSDs have a very high working drive and should be avoided when choosing a family pet. Aggression due to fearfulness has also been reported in the breed, therefore great care needs to be taken to ensure sound temperament. The GSD has a thick double coat which sheds fur, so should be groomed at least twice a week. He needs more than two hours exercise every day.

(should be as low as possible)

The breed average COI is 3.4%

Effective populations size (EPS) 147.51

EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population in KC registered dogs. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservation biologists and below 50 puts a breed at grave risk.

Health and welfare problems due to conformation

(body shape and physical characteristics)

  • The show type GSD sometimes has a steeply sloping back and very angulated hind quarters. There is concern that this may lead to orthopaedic complications.
  • The more old fashioned type (previously known as the Alsatian) is more natural looking and somewhat heavier. The modern working GSD is super athletic dog but because of his high working drive, probably would not make a suitable pet dog. Bear this in mind when choosing your breeder and puppy.
  • As a deep chested breed, bloat and stomach torsion is a risk (stomach fills with air and can twist – urgent vet treatment is needed).

BVA/KC Health Schemes

  • Hip dysplasia (malformation of the hip joints causing pain and disability): breed mean score 15.4 (parents should be lower)
  • Elbow dysplasia (malformation of the elbow joint causing pain and disability): ideally 0:0
  • Eye disease: Hereditary cataract (HC) (annual testing); Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)(annual testing) (gradual loss of vision); Multi-focal retinal dysplasia (MRD) (litter screening)
  • The GSD is one of the 14 high profile breeds designated by the Kennel Club as requiring particular monitoring by reason of visible conditions which may cause health and welfare concerns.

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia

DNA tests available

Parents should be tested for:

  • Degenerative myelopathy (CDRM) (degenerative disease of the spinal cord, causing hindquarter weakness, loss of feeling and paralysis)
  • Pyruvate Kinase deficiency ( a key enzyme deficiency which shortens the lifespan of red blood cells leading to haemolytic anaemia)
  • Ivermectin sensitivity
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis (rare enzyme deficiency causing damage to bones, joints and organs)

Unofficial (breed club) schemes

  • Haemophilia test for males
  • Bitches under 2 years not to produce a litter
  • No stud dog to be used under 18 months of age

Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents (or check the KC’s health test results finder). If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.

(for which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire and dam)

A recent scientific study has found that early neutering of males and females in the first year of life is associated with a threefold risk of acquiring at least one joint disorder. Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) disease in particular. Urinary incontinence (UI) in early neutered females was at 7% but not found in intact females

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