According to the AKC breed standard, “The first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life.” They are athletic, agile and muscular dogs with a curved outline. The skull slopes into a long, wedge-shaped muzzle that ends in black nose and teeth that meet in a scissors bite. German Shepherds have medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes that are dark, alert, and expressive. They have bushy, saber tails that hang down to the hock. Dewclaws should be left on the front, but removed from the back legs. They come in all colors of the canine rainbow, including white, though white is not accepted by AKC standards.
Size and Weight
The ideal height for male German Shepherds is 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder, for females, 22 to 24 inches. There is no established weight requirement, but males range in weight from 75 to 90 pounds and females generally weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. They are longer than they are tall, with the ideal proportion being 10:8.5.
Coat and Color
German Shepherds have a double coat that developed over the years to protect these herding dogs from rain, snow and burrs. Some dogs have long hair, while most have medium-length length coats. The coat may be either straight hair that lies flat against the body, or it may be wavy or wiry. They come in a wide variety of colors and color patterns including black, black and cream, black and red, black and silver, black and tan, blue, bray, liver, sable, or white. White dogs can not be entered into AKC competitions, but other organizations allow white dogs. There are no color patterns that exclude a German Shepherd from being a loving family dog, however.
German Shepherds don't require any special grooming. They are heavy shredders, however, leaving a trail of hair wherever they go, and twice a year they blow their entire coat. Brush the dog several times per week to help cut back on the amount of hair that lands on floors and furniture, and brush daily when the dog is blowing his coat. Only bathe a German Shepherd when he absolutely needs it. Over-bathing will strip the coat of essential oils. Despite their constant shedding, German Shepherds are clean dogs, and baths may only be needed once every few months.
Check the dog's ears on a weekly basis for signs of irritation, infection, or wax buildup. Cleanse with a veterinarian-approved solution and a cotton ball – never use a cotton swab in a dog's ear canal. Trim the nails once per month, and brush his teeth at least once per week to keep tartar from building up and to keep dog breath at bay.