Breed Standard of the German Shepherd Dog

General Appearance   

The first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a  strong, agile, well-muscled animal, alert and full of life. It is well bal-  anced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and  hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents  an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It looks substantial  and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of  muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness or  soft living. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobil-  ity—diffi-cult to define, but unmistakable when present. Secondary  sex characteristics are strongly marked, and every animal gives a defi-  nite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex. 


The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless,  but not hostile, expression, self-confidence, and a certain aloofness  that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.  The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and  showing confidence, and have a willingness to meet overtures with-  out itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands,  eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as com-  panion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever  the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrink-  ing behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking  about or upward with an anxious expression or showing nervous  reactions, such as tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of  confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character.  Any of the above deficiencies in character that indicate shyness must  be penalized as very serious faults, and any dog exhibiting pro-  nounced indications of these must be excused from the ring. It must  be possible for the judge to observe the teeth and to determine that  both testicles are descended. Any dog that attempts to bite the judge  must be disqualified. The ideal dog is a working animal with an incor-  ruptible character combined with body and gait suitable for the ardu-  ous work that constitutes its primary purpose.

    Size, Proportion, Substance 

The desired height for males at the top of the highest point of the  shoulder blade is 24 to 26 inches; and for bitches, 22 to 24 inches.    The German Shepherd Dog is longer than tall, with the most desir-  able proportion as 10 to 8½. The length is measured from the point  of the prosternum or breastbone to the rear edge of the pelvis, the is-  chial tuberosity. The desirable long proportion is not derived from a  long back, but from overall length with relation to height, which is  achieved by length of forequarter and length of withers and hindquarter, viewed from the side.


  The head is noble, cleanly chiseled, strong without coarseness, but  above all not fine, and in proportion to the body. The head of the  male is distinctly masculine, and that of the bitch distinctly feminine.    The expression is keen, intelligent, and composed. Eyes of medium  size, almond shaped, set a little obliquely and not protruding. The  color is as dark as possible. Ears are moderately pointed, in propor-  tion to the skull, open toward the front, and carried erect when at  attention, the ideal carriage being one in which the center lines of the  ears, viewed from the front, are parallel to each other and perpen-  dicular to the ground. A dog with cropped or hanging ears must be  disqualified.    Seen from the front the forehead is only moderately arched, and the skull slopes into the long, wedge-shaped muzzle without an  abrupt stop. The muzzle is long and strong, and its topline is parallel  to the topline of the skull. Nose black. A dog with a nose that is not  predominantly black must be disqualified. The lips are firmly fitted.  Jaws are strongly developed. Teeth—42 in number (20 upper and 22  lower)—are strongly developed and meet in a scissors bite in which  part of the inner surface of the upper incisors meet and engage part  of the outer surface of the lower incisors. An overshot jaw or a level  bite is undesirable. An undershot jaw is a disqualifying fault. Com-  plete dentition is to be preferred. Any missing teeth other than first  premolars is a serious fault.    Neck, Topline, Body

  The neck is strong and muscular, clean-cut and relatively long, pro-  portionate in size to the head and without loose folds of skin. When  the dog is at attention or excited, the head is raised and the neck carried high; otherwise typical carriage of the head is forward rather  than up and a little higher than the top of the shoulders, particularly  in motion. 


  The withers are higher than and sloping into the level back. The  back is straight, very strongly developed without sag or roach, and  relatively short.    The whole structure of the body gives an impression of depth and  solidity without bulkiness.


  Commencing at the prosternum, it is well filled and carried well  down between the legs. It is deep and capacious, never shallow, with  ample room for lungs and heart, carried well forward, with the  prosternum showing ahead of the shoulder in profile. Ribs well  sprung and long, neither barrel-shaped nor too flat, and carried down  to a sternum that reaches to the elbows. Correct ribbing allows the  elbows to move back freely when the dog is at a trot. Too round  causes interference and throws the elbows out; too flat or short caus-  es pinched elbows. Ribbing is carried well back so that the loin is  relatively short. Abdomen firmly held and not paunchy. The bottom  line is only moderately tucked up in the loin.


    Viewed from the top, broad and strong. Undue length between the  last rib and the thigh, when viewed from the side, is undesirable.  Croup long and gradually sloping.


    Bushy, with the last vertebra extended at least to the hock joint. It is 
set smoothly into the croup and low rather than high. At rest, the tail  hangs in a slight curve like a saber. A slight hook—sometimes car-  ried to one side—is faulty only to the extent that it mars general ap-  pearance. When the dog is excited or in motion, the curve is accen-  tuated and the tail raised, but it should never be curled forward be-  yond a vertical line. Tails too short, or with clumpy ends due to anky-  losis, are serious faults. A dog with a docked tail must be disqual-  ified.


  The shoulder blades are long and obliquely angled, laid on flat and  not placed forward. The upper arm joins the shoulder blade at about  a right angle. Both the upper arm and the shoulder blade are well  muscled. The forelegs, viewed from all sides, are straight and the  bone oval rather than round. The pasterns are strong and springy and  angulated at approximately a 25-degree angle from the vertical.     

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