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Six pawsome German Shepherd facts

German Shepherd facts
(Image credit: Getty)

Let's get our list of German Shepherd facts started! Originally bred in Germany in the 1800s as a working dog and used for herding sheep, the German Shepherd has gone down in history thanks to its amazing abilities. The breed not only served as a messenger, supply carrier, tracker and guard dog in the First and Second World War, but it was the first breed used for guide dog training in the 1920s. Today, the German Shepherd is not only invaluable for its services to the police, military, rangers and search and rescue teams, but it is one of the most popular dog breeds in the US (ranked third by the American Kennel Club in 2020) to have as a pet and loyal companion. Below we'll show you the German Shepherd facts that will show you why this is…

1. German Shepherds are one of the smartest dog breeds

It’s not a coincidence that German Shepherds are one of the top obedience competitors. They are considered the third most intelligent dog breed after the Border Collie and the Poodle. A study by canine psychologist Dr Stanley Coren showed that German Shepherds can learn a new behaviour in under five repetitions and will obey a first command 95% of the time. This makes them great to train as it won’t take long to teach this dog new tricks! A classic German Shepherd fact.

2. They have a nose for everything

With 225 million scent receptors, German Shepherds (alongside Beagles) have the second-best sense of smell of any dog breed after the bloodhound. If you own a German Shepherd you’ll know they like to sniff everything, but it’s because of this ability that they are also used for bomb and drug detection, tracking and search and rescue. These dogs are not just great sniffers – they’re heroes. German Shepherds were one of the breeds used after the 9/11 terrorist attacks working 12-hour shifts to locate victims. 

German Shepherd facts

(Image credit: Getty)

3. Their bite is worse than their bark

A key German Shepherd fact is that the loudest recording of a German Shepherd was 108 decibels. That’s louder than a lawn mower! You can train your German Shepherd to bark on command, but it may still bark if it’s not getting enough attention or exercise. The German Shepherd’s bite is definitely worse than its bark though. It has one of the top 20 most powerful bites among dog breeds, exerting a pressure of 231 psi (more than a Doberman or Pitbull). Proper training is important to stop your German Shepherd biting, but, although they are big dogs, they are more protective than aggressive. They do love to chew, so keep good shoes hidden and make sure your dog has the best dog chew toys to play with (you can add treats to the Kong Classic chew toy to keep them happier for longer), as they can damage their teeth biting into the wrong material. 

4. They're like a kindergarden cop

 German Shepherds can grow up to 26in tall. They’re big dogs, so they can be intimidating, but as long as they are trained properly and exposed to children as a puppy, German Shepherds can make loyal family pets. While they can be wary with strangers, this is generally because they’re fiercely protective – another characteristic which makes them great police and guard dogs. 

German Shepherd facts

(Image credit: Getty)

5. Looking after them may require a good vacuum

Another one of the German Shepherd facts you might not be aware of, is the fact that they're nicknamed the German shedder, because of the amount of hair they shed year-round, German Shepherds are generally double coated dogs. As a working breed they’ve adapted a second layer of fur to protect them against harsh weather, such as rain and snow. Panda German Shepherds have unique black and white markings resembling the giant Chinese bear, but this is a rare breed with an uncommon gene. If you own a German Shepherd you’ll need to brush their fur 2-3 times a week and you’ll need one of the best pet hair vacuum cleaners to clean up all that extra hair! 

German Shepherd facts

(Image credit: Getty)

6. These superstars are one of the most searched dogs on the web

Cute, entertaining, versatile and easy to train, German Shepherds make great actors and have starred in television and movies for years. Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin were some of the earliest canine movie stars in the 1920s and even have their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Since then the breed has starred in films such as K9, Rex, Ace the Wonder Dog and more recently I Am Legend. Today, as the Internet takes over, these agile dogs are still getting in on the action. According to Google trends they are one of the most searched dogs on the Internet – a German Shepherd fact we don't find hard to believe.

More than just a dog

German Shepherd dogs are one of the few breeds to have the word dog in their official name, probably so as not to confuse them with human shepherds! Their herding origins have made them obedient and loyal dogs but, as you can see from this list of German Shepherd facts, this incredible breed has become so much more.

Zara Gaspar

Former editor of World of Animals magazine, Zara is a freelance writer with a passion for wildlife. Born in South Africa, she developed a love of animals from an early age. She is currently looking for a bigger house just so she can get a cat and a dog.