NorsStar German Shepherds

Origin of the breed


The German Shepherd Dog was developed by Captain Max von Stephanitz beginning in 1899.  Using local herding dogs as foundation stock, he and others belonging to the newly founded Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhund (SV) embarked on a selective breeding program of superior service dogs.
Colors Strong pigment preferred, nose, eye rims, and pads of feet should be black.  Acceptable coat colors include: sable, black & tan (variations on the tan coloring includes red, gold, silver, cream), bi-color (predominantly black with tan on feet & lower legs), and black.  The white dog is incorrect and is disqualified from the show ring.
Size Dogs:  24-26 inches at the withers

Bitches: 22-24 inches at the withers

The GSD is a dog slightly longer than it is tall; proportions should be 8.5 (height) to 10 (length).

Coat Double-coat, made up of a soft undercoat for insulation with medium-length straight, stiff "guard" hairs outermost.  A long coat, like that of a collie, or the absence of an undercoat is incorrect.

German Shepherds shed their undercoats twice a year, generally in the spring and fall.

Trainability A highly trainable breed, they are found in a variety of occupations including herding, police work, scent detection (bombs, drugs and people), guide dogs for the blind, dogsports (obedience, Schutzhund, agility), personal protection, and of course, family companion.
Hips Like most large breeds, the GSD can be afflicted with hip dysplasia (HD).  The dog's hip is a ball-and-socket joint, similar to a person's hip.  HD occurs when the socket (part of the pelvis known as the acetabulum) is shallow, and the femur head (the ball at the top of the long leg bone) doesn't fit deeply.  Depending on the severity of the condition, the dog will experience pain and arthritis, and perhaps be crippled. X-ray by a veterinarian is used to diagnose the condition.  HD is not controlled by a single gene, and hip joint conformation is also influenced by feeding practices and exercise.

In order to reduce occurrence of HD, reputable breeders will use only stock without this genetic affliction.  In Germany, the SV certifies hips of GSDs x-rayed at 1 year or older, and uses the following designations:

a1, or normal

a2, or fast normal

a3, or noch zugelassen (still permissible)

a6, or ausland, is used to reference a hip certification received outside Germany

(On some older pedigrees, a-zuerkannt may be seen.  This means the hips were certified but does not specify the rating.)

In the US, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is the most widely used organization for evaluation of hips.  The OFA will certify hips of dogs (all breeds) x-rayed at 2 years or older, and uses the following designations:

Excellent  (about 4% of certified GSDs *)

Good  (about 60% of certified GSDs *)

Fair  (about 35% of certified GSDs *)

    * as of Oct 03

Hips not certified would be evaluated as borderline, mild, moderate or severely dysplastic.

In an effort to further reduce the incidence of HD in German Shepherds, the SV instituted a program which assigns a hip rating number (ZW) to each dog based initially on its parents.  It may be changed as hip information about siblings and progeny becomes available.  The guideline for breeders is to avoid breeding a pair whose ZW numbers total more than 200.  In general a ZW under 100 is preferred, but like a golf score, lower is better.

How to read a pedigree A pedigree is the family tree, generally shown sideways rather than up and down like a person's genealogy might be.

The father and mother will be shown farthest to the left, with the father always on top.  Moving to the right, each dog's parents, grandparents and great-grandparents will be shown in this manner.  Most pedigrees show 4 or 5 generations.

Along with the names of these dogs, often you'll see conformation ratings, working titles and hip ratings.

Linebreeding This a practice followed by many breeders to increase the influence of a specific dog on a litter of puppies.  When an ancestor appears multiple times in a pedigree, the dog is said to be "linebred" on that ancestor.  It is not uncommon for a dog to be linebred on more than one ancestor.

Linebreeding may be listed on a dog's pedigree.

Working Titles Commonly seen titles include:
SchH1 beginning level tracking, obedience & protection German-style training, could be earned in North America or Europe
SchH2 intermediate level tracking, obedience & protection
SchH3 advanced level tracking, obedience & protection
HGH herding
FH very advanced level tracking
CD beginning level obedience American-style training, could be earned in US or Canada
CDX intermediate level obedience
UD advanced level obedience
TD tracking
TDX advanced level tracking
IP1 beginning level police dog work International police training
IP2 intermediate level police dog work
IP3 advanced level police dog work
Conformation or Show Ratings
VA vorzuglich auslese, or excellent select For each of these ratings, an individual dog's rank is given.  For example, the very best dog and bitch at the Sieger Show receive the VA1 rating.  Relatively few achieve the VA rating (usually about 10 of each sex), though many can earn V, or SG ratings.  VA ratings can only be earned at  Sieger Shows, which are national level events.
V vorzuglich, or excellent
SG sehr gut, or very good
G gut, or good