How to choose the right dog breed: The German Shepherd

The German Shepherd Dog is the classic guard dog, which may explain its high popularity. The German Shepherd's reputation is consistent with its rankings of 10 on watchdog barking and territorial defense. The Shepherd stands apart from other breeds that are also ranked high on watchdog barking and territorial guarding by being rated higher on overall reactivity and destructiveness.

The German Shepherd is not for the fainthearted who back away at a small growl or dislike meting out discipline. Its guard-dog behavior is linked to high overall aggression, particularly toward other dogs, and a high tendency to resist domination by its owner. Given the German Shepherd's rating near the top on ease of obedience training, the dog-owner relationship is likely to thrive most if the Shepherd is given systematic obedience training.

Because of the high popularity of this breed and the variety of roles it fills in guarding, guiding the blind, and as a family pet, you should expect considerable variability from one dog in this breed to another. It is definitely worth exploring the genetic line of a German Shepherd you may be considering.

If the Shepherd's spirit appeals to you but you'd like to soften its aggressive and destructive tendencies, consider selecting a female. And if the Shepherd's high destructiveness really concerns you, two other guarding breeds, the Akita and the Rottweiler, rank very low on this trait.

The German Shepherd:

Weight: 75 lbs
Height: 25 in.
Build: Sturdy
Coat: Dense; regular grooming desirable.
Color: Browns, black and tan.

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