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Golden Retriever: Everything You Need to Know About This Beloved Breed

Golden Retriever: Everything You Need to Know About This Beloved Breed 0

When you imagine a faithful family dog, does the fluffy face of a Golden Retriever come to mind? These intelligent, active, affectionate dogs make ideal four-legged additions to many families, which is probably why they're one of America's most popular dogs. Read on to discover what goldens are all about!

An Overview of the Breed

The Golden Retriever belongs to the sporting dog group, and is known for their athletic prowess and desire to please. Originally bred to retrieve waterfowl, goldens have taken on many different jobs in the modern era, including service and therapy, search and rescue, and drug and bomb detection. These eager to please pups make them easy to train and the perfect working dog. 

There are three main types of Golden Retrievers, American, English, and Canadian, which look relatively similar to the amatuer eye. While they come in all shades of gold, from light cream to almost red, the American Kennel Club recognizes three different coat color variations: light golden, golden, and dark golden.

History and Background

Golden Retrievers might seem as American as apple pie, but their story actually began  in 19th-Century Scotland. In 1865, Dudley Marjoribanks, Lord Tweedmouth, bought the only yellow Wavy-Coated Retriever in a litter of black puppies. He later bred this dog, named Nous, with a Tweed Water Spaniel, now extinct, to create the Golden Retriever we know and love. This first true golden went by the name of Crocus.

In developing the breed, Lord Tweedmouth sought to create a superior retriever suited to the Scottish climate, terrain, and available game. The dog needed to be able to retrieve on both land and water and bring the game back unharmed. They were bred to have soft mouths, a powerful gait, a flat coat, and expert swimming abilities.

By the 1870s, Scottish gamekeepers had found work for these new companions as gundogs. In the early 20th Century, they began appearing in dog shows. The Kennel Club of England first recognized the breed as "Retriever - Yellow or Golden" in 1911, then as "Retriever - Golden" a few years later. In 1925, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed, paving the way for it to become one of the most popular dog breeds in the United states.

Physical Characteristics

Golden Retrievers stand 21 to 24 inches tall and weigh 55 to 75 pounds. They sport a double coat of straight, medium-length hair with floppy ears and straight, broad head. Let’s be real, is there anything cuter than golden retriever puppies?

Their dense, waterproof coat is perfect for retrieving on land or in water. The breed comes in three basic color ranges: Light Golden, Golden, and Dark Golden.

As a sporting dog, they are known for their athletic build, boundless energy, and strong desire to perform a task and please their handler. Their soft mouths make them ideal for retriever waterfowl, or gentle play with family members. 

Personality

If you want a "Velcro dog," you want a Golden Retriever. They'll follow you everywhere because they love spending time with humans. They show great affection and a stable temperament that makes them good around children. They even have enough energy to keep up with the average kid!

What’s bad about golden retrievers? Don't expect them to be the world's greatest security dog. While they do bark , their love for human connection may result in them greeting strangers with a big kiss and request for a belly rub or back scratch.

Along with their seemingly endless energy and happy demeanor, goldens are known for their native intelligence and loyalty. These qualities make them eager to please their handler and relatively easy to train with a little work.

Caring for the Breed

Golden Retrievers need 30 minutes of exercise twice a day, not just to keep them in good shape but also to help burn off the excess energy that might make them too rambunctious. As a retriever, goldens will literally play fetch as long as allowed. If you love to jog, run, or walk as part of your daily routine, you'll have a new exercise partner! 

Golden Retrievers need training to become happy, well-behaved family members. But you're in luck there, too, because these super-smart dogs learn fast. You might want to start with leash training, though. They will chase after birds, squirrels, and other creatures if they don't know how to behave on a leash.

Nutrition can make a big difference in your Golden Retriever's health. Like any dog, this breed will get chubby unless you feed it sensible meals. A "couch potato" needs to stay between 989 and 1,272 calories per day. If the pup lives an active life, it should get 1,353 to 1,740 calories. Ask your vet whether your pet can also benefit from nutritional supplements.

Grooming your dog every six weeks, along with weekly brushing sessions, can help you manage that thick coat. Check the toenails every couple of weeks to see if they need trimming.

Potential Health Issues

Any dog can experience health issues, including Golden Retrievers. This breed has a relatively high cancer rate, with up to 56 percent of female deaths and 66 percent of male deaths caused by the malignant forms of this disease. Golden Retrievers can also be bothered with circulatory, heart, and lung problems.

Similar to other sporting dogs, goldens are prone to joint issues, like arthritis and hip and elbow dysplasia. With proper breeding, weight management, and treatment, severe cases can be avoided. It’s always a good idea to take extra care of a golden’s joint by adding nutritional joint support, like glucosamine for dogs, to their diet.

Their dense double coat makes a great potential home for bacteria, pests, parasites, and debris. These invaders could pose a problem because these dogs can have trouble with allergic reactions to fleas, ticks, mites, mold, and dust. Regular baths with a dog shampoo will help keep their coat free of irritants. It’s also a good idea to provide extra skin and coat support by adding an omega 3 for dogs to their diet.

Goldens can also run into trouble with cataracts, thyroid problems, bloat, and ear infections. It’s vital to schedule regular wellness checks so a vet can catch these issues early.

Fun Facts

Not every breed of dog can swim well, but Golden Retrievers are highly capable swimmers. Why are golden retrievers so good at swimming? Their strong hind legs, water-repellent double coat, webbed paws, and rudder-like tail help them excel at swimming.

Since receiving AKC recognition in 1925, Golden Retrievers have regularly placed near the very top of the rankings as one of the most popular U.S. dog breeds. 

They are considered to be the 4th smartest dog breed behind Border Collies, Poodles, and German Shepherds.

Not just good for waterfowl retrieving, goldens also make great therapy dogs, guide dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs. 

Famous Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers have moved in some high-flying circles, including the White House. President Gerald Ford's Golden Retriever, Liberty, made a cute and friendly addition to the First Family in the 1970s.

Bretagne was a famed search-and-rescue dog who aided the rescue efforts of major hurricanes like Katrina, Rita, and Ivan and was deployed to Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks. She was the last known surviving dog that responded to Ground Zero.

Pinkie took the Best in Breed title at the Westminster Dog Show, only to grow even more famous for her "adoption" of a trio of tiger cubs.

Buddy achieved fame through his appearances on America's Funniest Home Videos and Late Night With David Letterman. He also starred in the feature film Air Bud.

Golden Retrievers to Follow on Instagram

Tucker currently rules Instagram with an unmatched 2.2 million followers.

Marty and Murphy are a hilarious Canadian duo. Marty is known to sing a tune or two.

Chelsea can be found chillin by the pool, or in it, most of the time. Let’s just say water is her second love behind food.

Maui shares his adventures with Rubi the Corgi.

What to Expect From Golden Retriever Ownership

If you adopt a Golden Retriever, you can expect many happy years with a loving, active, friendly companion. Just do everything you can to keep up with it! Give it lots of personal attention, exercise, and the right portions of nutrients, and you can't go wrong with this golden-haired beauty!

From Pembroke to Cardigan: A Complete Corgi Guide

From Pembroke to Cardigan: A Complete Corgi Guide 0

From ordinary folks to royalty, everyone loves corgis. They are smart, alert, and affectionate. There's no mistaking these pups’ unique appearance: big ears, bouncing butt and short "drumstick" legs.  Some may look like a loaf of bread. Others have perfected the “sploot”. Everything about them — from their round builds to their happy faces — is absolutely adorable. What's not to love about this breed? Keep reading to learn more!

An Overview of Corgis

Corgis are the smallest member of the herding group. Their long and low bodies make them quick and agile herders. It’s no surprise that their name reflects their stature. The word Corgi is believed to be derived from the Welsh words “cor”, which means dwarf, and “gi”, which means dog. 

What many people don’t know is that there are actually two different types of Corgis: Cardigan Welsh Corgi and Pembroke Welsh Corgi. These two types are considered separate breeds because they come from different ancestors (we’ll touch on that later).

However, they do share similarities, both physically and personality wise, that lead to them often being confused. Both types have large heads with long bodies on short, thick legs. However, the quickest way to tell them apart is to look from behind. Cardigan Welsh Corgis have tails, while Pembrokes do not. 

History and Background

Delving into the history of Corgis reveals the differences between the two breeds, which originate from different parts of Wales - Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire - and have different ancestral lineage.  

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is one of the oldest breeds in the British isles and nearly 2,000 years older than Pembrokes. Their ancestors were brought to Wales from Central Europe by Celtic tribes around 1200 BC. It is believed that they descended from the German Teckel lineage.

The history of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi dates back to around the 10th century and is believed to descend from the Nordic Spitz breeds. However, the theory of their origin is somewhat disputed and includes ties to Flemish weavers, Scandinavian raiders, and even a fanciful tale of being ridden by fairies. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are perhaps best known because Queen Elizabeth II loves the breed.

Both excelled in herding and guarding grazing cattle. Perhaps surprisingly, the breeds haven't interbred, with the exception of a brief period in the 1930s. During this period, these two corgi breeds were considered one breed, Welsh Corgi, by the Kennel Club of Great Britain. In 1934, the two types were separated into two distinct breeds.  

Physical Characteristics

They have a lot more going on than their stoutness! These dwarf breeds have almost comically large heads and upright ears. Cardigans are rounder (in both body and ears) and larger, with males weighing up to 38 pounds. Pembrokes are slightly smaller at 30 pounds and feel more rectangular thanks to their straighter spine.

Cardigan coats can be brindle, black and white with either brindle or tan points, blue merle, or red and sable with white markings. Pembrokes, on the other hand, have red, sable or tricolor coats with white markings. However, it's common for dogs of both breeds to have a white stripe down their nose. Technically, the AKC considers their longer coat to be a fault of the breed, but plenty of people love their fluffy Corgis!

Personality

There are also a few personality differences between the two Corgi types. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are more outgoing, while Cardigans can take some time to warm up to new people. Pembrokes have more energy overall and stay close to their owners, which makes them excellent walking buddies. However, some people prefer the Cardigan Welsh Corgi's independence and adaptability. They love to lounge at home on the sofa as much as they like to travel.

Caring for the Breed

With their higher energy, Pembrokes may require more calories than Cardigans, especially because the latter breed can easily become overweight. The AKC recommends giving Cardigans two smaller meals each day to aid digestion.

When it comes to grooming, Cardigans need only weekly brushing and trimming of their nails and the fur around their feet. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are a bit more demanding because of their double coat — it requires daily brushing with a slick brush and can shed quite a bit. Bathing your Pembroke during shedding season helps to reduce this.

They enjoy a good walk, and Pembrokes especially want a job to do. However, their legs are too short for them to join you on bike rides, so stick to daily walking or jogging. If you notice your Cardigan zooming around the house — an activity known as "trapping" — it's time for exercise. Cardigan Welsh Corgis love toy balls and socializing, and regular trips to the dog park are a great way to give them both! Note that stairs and excess jumping can cause back injuries in Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

Both breeds can benefit from training, which helps them socialize and release energy. Training may include herding, obedience or agility activities. Pembrokes and Cardigans alike love positive rewards, which will help ensure they are well-behaved.

Common Health Issues

Both breeds are typically healthy and have similar life expectancies — 10 to 15 years for Cardigans and 10-13 years for Pembrokes. With proper breeding, many genetic health conditions can be avoided. It is important to have hip and ophthalmologist evaluations to catch potential joint issues, progressive retinal atrophy, and degenerative myelopathy

Due to their low build, Cardigans and Pembrokes are prone to developing hip dysplasia and back injuries. Doggie parents should avoid letting their pup jump between furniture and the floor. It is also important to ensure your pup’s joints are receiving the nutritional support they need to stay healthy. Look for a glucosamine for dogs supplement and/or omegas for dogs to support their joints and reduce inflammation.

Fun Facts

According to legend, Welsh fairies relied on Pembroke Welsh Corgis to work their cattle, pull their coaches, and even carry them into battle! For this reason, Corgis are sometimes known as "enchanted" dogs.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis were named the 11th smartest breed by Stanley Coren in his book "The Intelligence of Dogs."

People think that Corgis and their body parts look like all sorts of food! Their stubby legs resemble "drumsticks," especially from the back. And the Japanese even have a word for their fluffy butts — the Japanese word for "peach!"

Famous Corgis

Many people are aware of the Queen of England's penchant for the breed. She's owned at least 30 Pembroke Welsh Corgis or mixes in her lifetime, giving them the royal treatment even after they've passed.

Horror writer Stephen King has affectionately referred to his Corgi Molly as the "Thing of Evil" on social media since she joined the family in 2015.

Anime fans might recognize Ein, a Pembroke Welsh with enhanced intelligence, who joins the Bebop crew in Cowboy Bebop. Netflix is making a live action reboot of Cowboy Bebop.

Finally, comic lovers can check out Tori the Corgi and her sardonic munchkin cat friend Samuel in their series on Webtoons.

In its early days, Amazon even had a Pembroke Welsh Corgi mascot named Rufus, who joined his editor-in-chief owner at work!

Corgis to Follow on On Instagram

Ralph the Corgi may be the most famous Corgi influencer with 318k followers.

Geordi La Corgi & Scotty are an adorable duo you don't want to miss.

Don't forget to check out Tibby's fun and festive IG.

What to Expect When Owning a Corgi

Your expectations will differ based on the breed. With a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, you'll have a small, loyal and energetic friend who will keep up with you — and keep you on your toes! The double-coat needs more attention but is beautiful nonetheless.

If you choose a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, you'll have a gentler and more timid dog that loves spending time at home with you. However, it will still require socializing, and you must be watchful of your dog's weight.

Overall, both Corgis make excellent additions to a family or even a ranch!

Australian Shepherd: From the Farm to the Family Room

Australian Shepherd: From the Farm to the Family Room 0

Beloved both as a family pet and a working dog, Australian Shepherds (affectionately known as Aussies) are a popular breed. Their merle coats and gorgeous eyes make them stand out at first look. However, the Australian Shepherd Club of America has always focused on the breed's personality and abilities over appearances. Intelligent and loyal, they make great companions and working dogs—as long as you can keep up with them!

Keep reading for all you need to know about aussies, plus some fun facts!

History and Background

Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd hails from the USA, not Australian. According to the lore, this breed descends from herding dogs that traveled from New Zealand to the US with Merino sheep herds. Some believe that the Australian Shepherd's ancestors go even further back to the Basque region of Europe! It's easy to see why others think Aussies came from a collie mix, especially when you're talking about a fluffier dog. 

Regardless of the breed's origins, Australian Shepherds have quickly become a popular breed in the United States—17th according to the AKC—and across the world! That's impressive when you consider Aussies have only been recognized by the AKC relatively recently (1993).

Physical Characteristics

Aussies might be the perfect breed with its medium size and coat. They measure 20 (female) to 22 (male) inches tall and have a weight range between 40 and 65. 

Every Australian Shepherd has a coat as unique as its personality. Aussies come in red merle, red, blue merle, black, red, and blue, each of which may include tan and/or white. Their splotchy coats, which feather out from their legs and frame their faces with a mane, are one of their most identifiable features. 

That distinct coloring also extends to their eyes, which can have any combination of blue, brown, hazel, amber or green. Each eye can have split or swirled colors, too. Aussies are one of the few dog breeds that commonly have two different colored eyes, which is called heterochromia.  Put it together with their naturally floppy ears, and it's hard not to fall in love with Australian Shepherds. 

You may also love the look of Aussies but prefer a smaller option. In that case, you can always consider the Miniature Australian Shepherd, which grows between 13 (female) and 18 (male) inches and weighs 40 pounds maximum. The Toy Australian Shepherd is even smaller—they've got a full size of just 14 inches! But that small stature still fits all the friendliness and intelligence over the larger breed.

Personality and Temperament

Perhaps Australian Shepherds are popular because the breed is a great compromise. These dogs have enough energy to join you and your family on your adventures, become working dogs, or learn commands. Still, their personalities are surprisingly chill despite their independent and bold natures. 

Homeowners love Australian Shepherds because they're not as likely to dig as other breeds, and their social tendencies make them great family dogs. These pups are loyal to their owners, albeit a bit wary of strangers. Still, this makes the breed a good protector, as is often the case with herding breeds.

If you're looking for a dog that will be part of your family, you almost can't go wrong with an Australian Shepherd. They love kids and get along well with other pets. They're playful and not known for being aggressive. Best of all, this breed has a lifespan between 10 and 12 years on average, so you'll have plenty of time to spend with your dog.

Caring For Your Aussie

Not every home is the right for an Australian Shepherd. They're too energetic to be comfortable in an apartment and can become hyperactive or even destructive if they do not receive enough attention or exercise. They do best with a large enclosed yard or space to roam free in the country. 

Nutrition

A diet with moderate fat content ensures the Aussie double coat remains healthy, while a high-protein diet keeps muscles strong. Aussies need more calories than less active breeds.

Exercise

Herding dogs like Aussies need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Working dogs naturally burn off steam, and family pets can join walks/hikes and runs, tussle in the backyard, or play Frisbee. You can also consider agility and obedience activities, which intelligent Aussies love!

Training

If you cannot train your Australian Shepherd and assert dominance, it can become unruly. That's the risk when any intelligent breed becomes bored, and the Aussie is undoubtedly clever. However, if you're dedicated, you can tap into your Aussie's natural intelligence and strengthen your bond through training.

Start by socializing your Aussie pup starting around 8 weeks old. Crate training your Aussie helps with sleep and when you're not home. Start with basic commands such as "Sit" or "Shake" before moving onto more complex commands that are broken up into smaller parts.

Grooming

That medium coat allows Aussies to be equally comfortable in both hot and cold climates, and it requires only a moderate amount of grooming for most of the year. As long as you brush your dog weekly and prepare for seasonal blowouts, you won't need to deal with matted fur. Nevertheless, potential owners who cannot dedicate the time to weekly brushing (and more as the seasons change) may want to look at a different breed.

Health Concerns

Aussies are generally healthy dogs. However, like any breed, they can develop certain health issues. Common problems include hip and elbow dysplasia, heart disease, deafness, allergies, epilepsy, osteochondritis dissecans, sensitivity to drugs, and eye problems. The breed can also become infected by Collie nose, a type of immune reaction.

Fun Facts About the Australian Shepherd Dog

  • Some Aussies still happily herd on ranches!
  • Aussies have participated in rodeos in the past.
  • This breed has earned the nickname Bob-Tails because of its naturally short tail.
  • Aussies were once nicknamed "ghost eye" because of its unique eye color combinations.

Famous Aussies

Hyper Hank gained fame in the 1970s for his frisbee skills.

Australian Shepherds to Follow

For those who love the breed but may not have room in their hearts or homes, you can get your doggie fix online. Several Aussies have become "Instagram famous!"

Oliver the Aussie hails from Portland, and his family snaps beautiful photos of him, often surrounded by nature.

Nova Mae loves to swim as much as she loves to pose for photos, which show off her stunning blue and brown eyes!

An Aussie named Secret (and her owner Mary) may have more followers than any other Australian Shepherd on Instagram. With the dog's golden eyes and owner's bold red hair, it's easy to see why they have so many fans!

What to Expect When Owning An Aussie

Whether you want a dog that can herd, keep up with your active lifestyle, or complete your family, Australian Shepherds are a great choice. They'll keep you on your toes, but if you keep them stimulated, they're a great addition to any home! Nevertheless, if you've never owned a dog before, you may want to consider a more relaxed breed. 

Breed of the Month: German Shepherd

Breed of the Month: German Shepherd 2

German Shepherds are one of the most recognizable breeds. Whether you've seen them in movies, on television, or at your local police station, you won't have trouble recognizing these beautiful dogs. The German Shepherd, or GSD, is a companion, a friend, and a protector. They're a unique breed, known for their intelligence, strength, and loyalty. Read on to learn more about this incredible breed and see if a GSD is the dog for you.

A General Overview of the GSD

The German Shepherd is a large breed of dog in the herding dog category. Once used as herders, the GSD now has a role as a working dog and as a companion. We know these dogs for their loyalty, intelligence, obedience, and tenaciousness.

Owning a GSD as a pet is quite an experience. They're very vocal so don't be surprised if your dog is constantly trying to tell you something. Whether it's groans after an ear rub or whining at the television (and they find TV interesting) they're usually speaking to you.

They can be rough but gentle at the same time. Playtime is a fun bonding experience where you might get some fake nips, a lot of noise making, and plenty of laughs.

History and Background

The German Shepherd was originally a type of dog used to protect cattle and herd sheep. Their origins are fairly new—the mid to late 1800s. Look at any history book on World War I and World War II, and you'll read about how the GSD was integral to the German Army.

Physical Characteristics and Breed Standard

German Shepherds range in size from medium to large. The American Kennel Club (AKC) standard is a height of 24-26 inches in males and 22-24 inches in females. The standard weight is 65-90 pounds in males and 50-70 pounds in females. Of course, you'll see dogs that far exceed those ranges, with some German Shepherds weighing a healthy 100 pounds or more.

The life expectancy is 12-14 years. Interestingly, the oldest known German Shepherds lived to 18 years and older! With the right diet and care, they can exceed the life expectancy as long as they don't have underlying illnesses.

Personality and Temperament

German Shepherd dogs have a wide range of talents. That's why you often see them in helpful roles. Here are just some examples of the work these dogs do:

  • Police dogs
  • Military dogs
  • Guide dogs
  • Support dogs
  • Bomb-sniffing dogs
  • Drug dogs
  • Guard dogs

They're excellent as working dogs because of their high intelligence and desire to please their owners. Yet, these traits also make them fit companions. The GSD learns what makes their family happy and will do whatever it takes to protect them. They can be friendly and calm once they get to know strangers, unless they detect a threat to their family members. As noted by the AKC:

There are many reasons German Shepherds stand in the front rank of canine royalty, but experts say their defining attribute is character: loyalty, courage, confidence, the ability to learn commands for many tasks, and the willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones.

Care and Needs

Like any dog, a German Shepherd has specific care needs you must know when taking on the responsibility.

Nutrition

A healthy diet is important to your dog's health. Make sure you have food that has vitamins and minerals. As far as people food goes, items like eggs, yogurt, and cooked veggies are fine. Be careful of other human foods - a regulated diet with dog food or safe foods is best.

Grooming

German Shepherds shed excessively. You will find dust bunnies the size of Texas if you're not constantly cleaning the floors. This is because these dogs have a double coat. What this means is that they have a soft undercoat with a close-lying outer coat. Brush your German Shepherd every few days to reduce the shedding, but remember that this shedding is much more prevalent at certain times of year. Give your dog a bath every so often and trim the toenails every month.

Exercise

German Shepherds are active dogs, and they need exercise and playtime to flourish. Daily walks or open play in fenced areas is ideal. You may even enjoy engaging your dog in activities like tracking, herding, dock diving, or agility.

Here are some exercises good for your German Shepherd.

  • Walking. If your dog is healthy and full of energy, walk them up to three times a day.
  • Running or Jogging. These are perfect to increase your dog's endurance. This works after the dog is at least 18 months old. Be wary of the surface you use. Dogs don't wear running shoes so stay away from rocky surfaces, uneven areas, and hot asphalt. Go running or jogging twice a week.
  • Spring Pole Training. The spring pole increases your dog's power and muscle mass. Not to mention that it's a fun exercise he will enjoy. This is ideal twice each week.
  • Weave Poles. These are another tool that maximizes endurance and agility. Start with a treat to show them how to maneuver through the poles. Practice until your dog can do it with no treat.
  • Doggy Squats. Just like in humans, squats increase mobility. They're fairly easy too!

How to do doggy squats:

Have your dog follow your sit command.

Then, have them stand.

Use treats to entice them to keep repeating the action.

After two weeks, increase the reps in healthy dogs (not puppies or seniors).

Have your dog start with 2 sets of 5 squats and add on from there.

Without exercise, your dog may face a variety of health issues like obesity, muscle atrophy, and joint issues.

Training

As mentioned, German Shepherds are extremely intelligent. By using reward-based training, the results should be more than satisfactory. Start out as early as possible. Even if you rescue an adult German Shepherd, know that they're smart enough to ignore the old "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" saying. It's simply not true with this breed.

The AKC recommends socialization from 8 to 16 weeks.

Also included in integral training:

  • Crate training
  • House training

From 3 to 9 months

  • Obedience training
  • Recall (teaching him to come when called)
  • Impulse control

From 9 to 24 months

Continuing to work on impulse control, improve obedience skills, and advance to training in more focused activities like tracking, scent work, protection work, agility, and herding—all of which (and more) are capabilities of this breed—must continue throughout this period and then be reinforced as your GSD reaches adulthood.

Health Problems

German Shepherds are fairly healthy dogs. There are two areas to keep in consideration. They can be prone to hip dysplasia and degenerative myelopathy. Sometimes, they may experience bloat, which is a swelling of the stomach and can be life-threatening.

Hip dysplasia is one of the more common issues in this breed and others. It occurs during growth where there is a deformity of the hip. According to VCA Hospitals:

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease factored by diet, environment, exercise, growth rate, muscle mass, and hormones. As this disease is most commonly seen in large breed dogs, these puppies should be at a normal, lean weight during growth, rather than overfed and encouraged to grow "big."

The first signs are pain and/or weakness in the hind legs. It may occur in puppies but many dogs don't show signs until they're older. There are supplements that help with joint mobility and health. And the vet may prescribe certain medications to help if it is more serious.

Fun Facts

German Shepherds are the third most intelligent dog, and their IQ is around 60.

A German Shepherd was the first dog used to help a blind person.

Schutzhund is a dog sport first created for German Shepherds. Schutzhund tests the natural abilities of the GSD, although other dogs can take part as well.

They're the second most popular dog in the United States.

Famous German Shepherds

No list is complete without some famous German Shepherds!

Rin-Tin-Tin was a box office star.

Chips was a military hero, and the most decorated war dog during World War II.

Apollo worked with the NYPD K-9 Urban Search and Rescue Team. Along with his handler, he was the first search-and-rescue dog team on site at the World Trade Center after the attack on 9/11.

Remember the first seeing-eye dog? That was Buddy, a pioneer in seeing-eye dogs.

German Shepherds to Follow

It's fun to watch German Shepherds in action. One of our favorites to follow on Instagram is Jade the Sable. Jade and Jasper are two Canadian internet stars where the antics are hilarious, sweet, and totally watchable.

Another fun pair is Dakota and Rocky. These two love to go to the beach and people watch.

And for the cutest police officer ever, check out K9 Caz.

What to Expect Owning a German Shepherd

While every experience is different, what we can tell you is you'll have years of a loyal companion, an intelligent adversary, and a best friend. They're unique dogs and will love you forever. And whether it's solely a pet or you have a working dog, they're loyal till the end. By knowing more about this wonderful breed, you ensure your furry friend gets the best care and the most love. Let's face it, German Shepherds are special dogs and deserve a special owner too.