German Shepherds are natural herding dogs. Your German Shepherd will try to "herd" you and your family. Often they will "follow ahead", walking in front of you and looking back to make sure you're going where you should. Although the German Shepherd is not used as frequently for herding in present time, there are many breed lines still known for their herding. The breed is naturally loyal, intelligent and protective (which makes it good for police work). The German Shepherd has an excellent nose, making it good for tracking and search and rescue work. They are calm and have a steady temperament when well-bred which is why they have been used as "Seeing Eye" dogs. A German Shepherd thrives on regular exercise, mental stimulation and a well-balanced diet.
These traits make a German Shepherd an absolute pleasure to own when well-trained, but in the hands of a novice, unconcerned, uncommitted owner, their intelligence and drive can become difficult to manage.
Breeding plays an important role in the temperament of German Shepherds, so selecting a reputable breeder concerned with both physical health and the personality of their puppies is of utmost importance. Different bloodlines exhibit traits differently, so question breeders about the strong and weak traits of their bloodlines.
The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, such as tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character. Any of the above deficiencies in character which indicate shyness must be penalized as very serious faults and any dog exhibiting pronounced indications of these must be excused from the ring. It must be possible for the judge to observe the teeth and to determine that both testicles are descended. Any dog that attempts to bite the judge must be disqualified. The ideal dog is a working animal with an incorruptible character combined with body and gait suitable for the arduous work that constitutes its primary purpose.
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