UPDATED! German Shepherd Dog: Breed of the Week

Are German Shepherd Dogs Good City Dogs?

I have to admit I have a soft spot for this breed: the first dog I was responsible for was a 90-pound German Shepherd Dog named Snoopy. (Was everyone’s first dog back in the ’60s named “Snoopy?”)

He was my confidante/protector-from-the-monsters-hiding-under-the-bed/best friend.

The German Shepherd’s origins date back to the late 1800s. They are a full service breed, developed by Captain Max von Stephanitz to be intelligent working dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, the first German Shepherds arrived in the United States in 1907.

German Shepherd Dog
German Shepherd Dog

Many people won’t remember this, but long before Lassie, there was Rin Tin Tin, America’s first dog star. Rin was a male German Shepherd who was rescued from the battlefield by American soldier Lee Duncan. He named the dog Rinty. Duncan trained Rinty and was able to find him work starting in the silent film industry. Like Lassie, several other dogs played Rin Tin Tin, but the original Rinty made 27 films and was certainly responsible for making the German Shepherd one of America’s most popular dog breeds.

Joining the ranks of notable German Shepherd Dogs is Rumor, who won Best in Show at the 2017 edition of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

They are majestic, intelligent dogs. Males weigh anywhere from 70-90 pounds, with females being just a bit smaller.

Do German Shepherd Dogs Bark?

German Shepherds are smart and energetic dogs. If you can keep the dog occupied and exercised then they just might be a good Urban Dog for you. It’s also a good idea, especially if you are a city dweller, to buy “smart” toys to keep your Shepherd entertained. A bored German Shepherd can result in a destroyed apartment. Having one of the strongest bite forces of any dog, your sofa is no match for a bored shepherd. Training is highly recommended.

German Shepherds are not afraid to bark. UC Davis researchers Benjamin and Lynette Hart devised a chart ranking dogs by the likelihood of barking at inappropriate times. On a scale of one to ten — with one being the least offensive barkers and ten the most excessive barkers — they get a six rating. Being a guard dog is one of the things they were bred for, so barking is in their nature. That said, according the Harts, they are not on the extreme end of inappropriate barkers. Click here for more on Urban Dog’s take on barking.

Training for city dogs is super important. You want your pooch to obey you when you tell her to behave in your building’s public areas. You should have no problem training your German Shepherd Dog. They rank number three on a list of the smartest dogs! They obey first commands about 95% of the time according to Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who studies dog behavior. That means it takes them five repetitions or fewer for them to learn new commands.

Westminster Urban Dog
Rumor (Courtesy: REUTERS / Stephanie Keith)

They’re loyal family pets, good with children, great baby sitters, good guard dogs, and brave working dogs serving police and military forces across the world.

This dog can truly do it all.

Ringside at the American Kennel Club National Championship
German Shepherd Dog

If you are thinking of buying a German Shepherd Dog make sure you find a reputable breeder. Many of the ailments Shepherds can suffer from — bloat, hip dysplasia, Von Willebrands’ disease (a disease where the dog bleeds excessively) — occur because of inbreeding.

For tips on how to find a pet-friendly apartment in New York and other cities read Urban Dog’s guide. Big dogs pose a particular challenge, but don’t worry, you can find places that accept large breed dogs.

We’ll leave you with a video of Rin Tin Tin.

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