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GSD - German Shepherd Dog Alsation

Breed Standard small logo



The British GSD German Shepherd Dog (Alsation) Standard

The British Standard was adopted from several translations of the 1976 SV Standard. The version listed is the "Extended Version" which corresponds to the SV standard. The KC has since shortened it and has a copyright to their current version .


The immediate impression of the GSD is of a dog slightly long in comparison to its height, with a powerful and well muscled body. The relation between height and length and the position and symmetry of the limbs (angulation) is so interrelated as to enable a far reaching and enduring gait. The coat should be weather-proof. A beautiful appearance is desirable, but this is secondary to this usefulness as a working dog. Sexual characteristics must be well defined - i.e., the masculinity of the male and the femininity of the female must be unmistakable.

True-to-type GSD gives an impression of innate strength, intelligence, and suppleness, with harmonious proportions and nothing either over done or lacking. His whole manner should make it perfectly clear that he is sound in mind and body, and has the physical and mental attributes to make him always ready for tireless action as a working dog. With an abundance of vitality he must be tractable enough to adapt himself to each situation and to carry out his work willingly and with enthusiasm. He must possess the courage and determination to defend himself, his master, or his master's possessions should the need arise. He must be observant, obedient, and a pleasant member of the household, quiet in his own environment, especially with children and other animals, and at ease with adults. Overall he should present a harmonious picture of innate nobility, alertness, and self-confidence.


The main characteristics of the GSD are: steadiness of nerves, attentiveness, loyalty, calm self-assurance, alertness and tractability, as well as courage with physical resilience and scenting ability. These characteristics are necessary for a versatile working dog. Nervousness, over-aggressiveness, and shyness are very serious faults.


The head should be proportional in size to the body without being coarse, too fine, or overlong. The overall appearance should be clean cut and fairly broad between the ears. Forehead should be only very slightly domed with little or no trace of center furrow. Cheeks should form a very softly rounded curve and should not protrude. Skull extends from the ears to the bridge of the nose tapering gradually and evenly, and blending without a too pronounced "stop" into a wedge shaped powerful muzzle. ( The skull is approximately 50% of the whole length of the head.) Both top and bottom jaws should be strong and well developed. The width of the skull should correspond approximately to the length. In males the width could be slightly greater and in females slightly less than the length. Muzzle should be strong with the lips firm, clean and closing tightly without any flews. The top of the muzzle is straight and almost parallel to the forehead. A muzzle which is too short, blunt, weak, pointed, overlong or lacking in strength is undesirable.


Of medium size, firm in texture, broad at the base, set high, they are carried erect (almost parallel and not pulled inward), they taper to a point and open toward the front. Tipped ears are faulty. Hanging ears are a very serious fault. During movement the ears may be folded back.


The eyes are medium sized, almond-shaped and not protruding. Dark brown eyes are preferred, but eyes of a lighter shade are acceptable provided that the expression is good and the general harmony of the head not destroyed. The expression should be lively, intelligent, and self-assured.



The jaws must be strongly developed and the teeth healthy, strong, and complete. There should be 42 teeth: 20 in the upper jaw, 6 incisors, 2 canines, 8 premolars, 4 molars; 22 in the lower jaw, 6 incisors, 2 canines, 8 premolars, and 6 molars. The GSD has a scissor bite - i.e., the incisors in the lower jaw are set behind the incisors in the upper jaw, and thus meet in a scissor grip in which part of the surface of the upper teeth meet and engage part of the surface of the lower teeth. (Full and correct dentition is required for a "V" rating. Double p1's are acceptable for a "V" rating so long as everything else is correct. A missing p1 or incisor results in an "SG" rating. A missing p2 results in a "G" rating. Missing incisors are quite rare.)


The neck should be fairly long, strong with well-developed muscles, free from throatiness (excessive folds of skin at the throat) and carried at a 45 degree angle to the horizontal; it is raised when excited and lowered at a fast trot.


The shoulder blade should be long, set obliquely (45 degrees) and laid flat to the body. The upper arm should be strong and well muscled and joined to the shoulder blade at a near right angle (90 degrees). The forelegs, from the pasterns to the elbows, should be straight viewed from any angle and the bones should be oval rather than round. The pasterns should be firm and supple and angulated at approximately 20-23 degrees (from the vertical). Elbows neither tucked in nor turned out. Length of the forelegs should exceed the depth of chest at a ratio of approximately 55% to 45%.


Should be rounded, toes well closed and arched. Pads should be well cushioned and durable. Nails short, strong, and dark in color. Dew claw sometimes found on the hind legs should be removed 2-3 days after birth.



The ideal height (measured to the highest point of the wither) is 57.5 cm for females and 62.5 cm for males, 2.5 cm either above or below the norm is allowed. Any increase in this deviation detracts from the workability and breeding value of the animal.


The length of the body should exceed the height at the wither, the correct proportions being at 10 to 9 or 8.5. The length is measured from the point of the breast bone to the rear edge of the pelvis. Over or undersized dogs, stunted growth, high-legged dogs and overloaded fronts, too short overall appearance, too light or too heavy in build, steep set limbs or any other failure which detracts from the reach or endurance of the gait are faulty.


Chest should be deep (45-48% of the height at the shoulder) but not too broad. The brisket is long and well developed.


Ribs should be well formed and long, neither barrel-shaped nor too flat; correct rib cage allows free movement of the elbows when the dog is trotting. A too rounded rib cage will interfere and cause the elbows to be turned out. A too flat rib cage will lead to the drawing in of the elbows. The desired long ribbing gives a proportionately (relatively) short loin.


Belly is firm and only slightly drawn up. Loin broad, strong and well muscled.


Back is the area between the withers and the croup, straight, strongly developed and not too long. The overall length is not derived from a long back, but is achieved by the correct angle of a well laid shoulder, correct length of croup and hindquarters. The withers must be long, of good height and well defined. They should join the back in a smooth line without disrupting the flowing top line which should be slightly sloping from the front to the back. Weak, soft, and roached backs are undesirable. (A roach is a clearly defined elevation in the center of the back above a horizontal line drawn lengthwise at the base of the withers such that the spine arches.)

Croup should be long and gently curving down to the tail (approximately 23 degrees) without disrupting the flowing topline. The illium and sacrum for the skeletal basis of the croup. Short, steep, or flat croups are undesirable.


Bushy haired, should reach at least to the hock joint, the ideal length being to the middle of the hock bones. The end is sometimes turned sideways with a slight hood; this is allowed but not desired. When at rest the tail should hang in a slight curve like a sabre. When moving it is raised and the curve increased, but ideally it should not be higher than the level of the back. A tail that is too short, rolled or curled, or generally carried badly or which is stumpy from birth is faulty.


(The leg referenced is the forward hind leg in the stacked position) The thighs should be broad and well muscled. The upper thigh bone (femur), viewed from the side should slope to the slightly longer lower thigh bone. The angulations should correspond to the front angulations without being over-angulated. The hock bone is strong and together with the stifle bone should form a firm hock joint. The hindquarters must be strong and well muscled to enable the effortless forward propulsion of the whole body. Any tendency toward over-angulation of the hindquarters reduces firmness and endurance.


The GSD is a trotting dog. His sequence of step therefore follows a diagonal pattern in that he always moves the foreleg and the opposite hind leg forward at the same time. To achieve this, his limbs must be in such balance to one another so that he can thrust the hind foot well forward to the midpoint of the body and have an equally long reach with the fore foot without any noticeable change in the back line. The correct proportion of the height to length and corresponding length of limbs will produce a ground covering stride that travels flat over the ground, giving the impression of effortless movement. With his head thrust forward and a slightly raised tail, a balanced and even trotter displays a flowing line running from the tips of his ears over the neck and back down to the tip of the tail. The gait should be supple, smooth, and long reaching, carrying the body with the minimum of up and down movement, entirely free from stiltiness.


Black or black saddle with tan, or gold to light grey markings. All black, all grey, or grey with lighter or brown markings (Sables). Small white marks on the chest or very pale color on the inside of the legs are permitted but not desirable. The nose in all cases must be black. Light markings on the chest and inside legs, as well as whitish nails, red tipped nails or wishy-washy faded color are defined as lacking in pigmentation. Blues, livers, albinos, whites, are to be rejected. The undercoat is, except in all-black dogs, usually grey or fawn in color. The color of the GSD is in itself not important and has no effect on the character of the dog or on its fitness for work and should be a secondary consideration for that reason. The final color of a young dog can only be ascertained when the outer coat has developed.

  • a) The normal (stock) coated GSD should carry a thick undercoat and the outer coat should be as dense as possible, made up of straight hard close lying hairs. The hair on the head and ears, front of the legs, paws and toes is short. On the neck it is longer and thicker, on some males forming a slight ruff. The hair grows longer on the back of the legs as far down as the pastern and the stifle, and forms fairly thick trousers on the hindquarters. There is no hard or fast rule for the length of the hair, but short mole-type coats are faulty.
  • b) In the long-coated GSD (long stock coat) the hairs are longer, not always straight and definitely not lying close and flat to the body. They are distinctly longer inside and behind the ears, and on the back of the forelegs and usually at the loins, and form a moderate tufts in the ears and profuse feathering on the back of the legs. The trousers are long and thick. Tail is bushy with light feathering underneath. As this type of coat is not so weatherproof as the normal coat it is undesirable.
  • c) In the long open-coated GSD the hair is appreciably longer the in the case of the type b and tends to form a parting along the back, the texture being somewhat silky. If present at all , undercoat is found only at the loins. Dogs with this type of coat are usually narrow chested, with narrow overlong muzzles. As the weather protection of the dog and his working ability are seriously diminished with this type of coat, it is undesirable.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.


All male dogs must have both testicles fully descended into the scrotum.



© Kennel Club Standard for the German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian)

GENERAL APPEARANCE. Slightly long in comparison to height; of powerful, well muscled build with weather-resistant coat. Relation between height, length, position and structure of fore and hindquarters (angulation) producing far-reaching, enduring gait. Clear definition of masculinity and femininity essential, and working ability never sacrificed for mere beauty.

CHARACTERISTICS. Versatile working dog, balanced and free from exaggeration. Attentive, alert, resilient and tireless with keen scenting ability.

TEMPERAMENT. Steady of nerve, loyal, self-assured, courageous and tractable. Never nervous, over-aggressive nor shy.

HEAD and SKULL. Proportionate in size to body, never coarse, too fine or long. Clean cut; fairly broad between ears. Forehead slightly domed; little or no trace of central furrow. Cheeks forming softly rounded curve, never protruding. Skull from ears to bridge of nose tapering gradually and evenly, blending without too pronounced stop into wedge shaped powerful muzzle. Skull approximately 50% of overall length of head. Width of skull corresponding approximately to length, in males slightly greater, in females slightly less. Muzzle strong, lips firm, clean and closing tightly. Top of muzzle straight, almost parallel to forehead. Short, blunt, weak, pointed, overlong muzzle undesirable.

EYES. Medium sized, almond-shaped, never protruding. Dark brown preferred, lightly shade permissible, provided expression good and general harmony of head not destroyed. Expression lively, intelligent and self-assured.

EARS. Medium sized, firm in texture, broad at base, set high, carried erect, almost parallel, never pulled inwards or tipped, tapering to a point, open at front. Never hanging. Folding back during movement permissible.

MOUTH. Jaws strongly developed. With a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square at the jaw. Teeth healthy and strong. Full strong. Full dentition desirable.

NECK. Fairly long, strong, with well developed muscles, free from throatiness. Carried at 45 degrees angle to horizontal, raised when excited, lowered at fast trot.

FOREQUARTERS. Shoulder blades long, set obliquely (45 degrees) laid flat to body. Upper arm strong, well muscled, joining shoulder blade at approximately 90 degrees. Forelegs straight from pasterns to elbows viewed from any angle, bone oval rather than round. Pasterns firm, supple and slightly angulated. Elbows neither tucked in or turned out. Length of foreleg exceeding depth of chest.

BODY. Length measured from point of breast bone to rear edge of pelvis, exceeding height at withers. Correct ratio 10 to 9 or 8 and a half. Undersized dogs, stunted growth, high-legged dogs, those too heavy or too light in build, overloaded front, too short overall appearance, any feature detracting from reach or endurance of gait, undesirable. Chest deep (45% - 48%) of height at shoulder, not too broad, brisket long, well developed. Ribs well formed and long; neither barrel-shaped nor too flat; allowing free movement of elbows when gaiting. Relatively short loin. Belly firm, only slightly drawn up. Back between withers and croup, straight, strongly developed, not too long. Overall length achieved by correct angle of well laid shoulders, correct length of croup and hindquarters. Withers long, of good height and well defined, jointed back in smooth line without disrupting flowing topline, slightly sloping from front to back. Weak, soft and roach backs undesirable and should be rejected. Loin broad, strong, well muscled. Croup long, gently curving downwards to tail without disrupting flowing topline. Short, steep or flat croups undesirable.

HINDQUARTERS. Overall strong, broad and well-muscled, enabling effortless forward propulsion of whole body. Upper thighbone, viewed from side, sloping to slightly longer lower thighbone. Hind angulation sufficient if imaginary line dropped from point of buttocks cuts through lower thigh just in front of hock, continuing down slightly in front of hind feet. Angulations corresponding approximately with front angulation, without over-angulation, hock strong. Any tendency towards overangulation of hindquarters reduces firmness and endurance.

FEET. Rounded toes well-closed and arched. Pads well-cushioned and durable. Nails short, strong and dark in colour. Dewclaws removed from hindlegs.

TAIL. Bushy-haired, reached at least to hock - ideal length, reaching to middle of metatarsus. At rest tail hangs, in slight sabre-like curve; when moving raised and curve increased, ideally never above level of back. Short, rolled, curled, generally carried badly or stumpy from birth, undesirable.

GAIT/MOVEMENT. Sequence of step follows diagonal pattern, moving foreleg and opposite hindleg forward simultaneously; hind foot thrust forward to midpoint of body and having equally long reach with forefeet without any noticeable change in backline.

COAT. Outer coat consisting of straight. hard, close lying hair as dense as possible. Thick undercoat. Hair on head, ears, front of legs, paws and toes short, on back, longer and thicker; in some males forming slight ruff. Hair longer on back of legs as far down as pasterns and stifles and forming fairly thick trousers on hindquarters. No hard and fast rule for length of hair; mole-type coats undesirable.

COLOUR. Black or black saddle with tan or gold to lightgrey markings. All black, all grey, or grey with lighter or brown markings referred to as Sables. Nose black. Light markings on chest or very pale colour on inside of legs permissible but undesirable, as are whitish nails, red tipped tails or wish-washy faded colours defined as lacking in pigmentation. Blues, livers, albinos, white (i.e. almost pure white dogs with back noses) and near whites highly undesirable. Undercoat, except in all black dogs, usually grey or fawn. Colour in itself is of secondary importance having no effect on character or fitness for work. Final colour of a young dog only ascertained when outer coat has developed.

SIZE. Ideal height (from withers and just touching elbows) : Dogs 62.5 cm (25 ins). Bitches 57.5 cm (23 inch). 2.5 cm (1 inch) either above or below ideal permissible.

FAULTS. Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

NOTE. Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

September 2000
© Copyright The Kennel Club, 1986




AKC American standard of the GSD 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 balanced, 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 nobility--difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Secondary sex characteristics are strongly marked, and every animal gives a definite 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 willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with 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 which indicate shyness must be penalized as very serious faults and any dog exhibiting pronounced 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 incorruptible character combined with body and gait suitable for the arduous 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 desirable 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 ischial 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 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 proportion 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 perpendicular 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 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. Complete 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, proportionate 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 but little higher than the top of the shoulders, particularly in motion.

Topline -- 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.

Chest --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 which 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 causes 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.

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.

Tail 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 carried to one side-is faulty only to the extent that it mars general appearance. When the dog is excited or in motion, the curve is accentuated and the tail raised, but it should never be curled forward beyond a vertical line. Tails too short, or with clumpy ends due to ankylosis, are serious faults . A dog with a docked tail must be disqualified.

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. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed, but are normally left on.
The feet are short, compact with toes well arched, pads thick and firm, nails short and dark.

The whole assembly of the thigh, viewed from the side, is broad, with both upper and lower thigh well muscled, forming as nearly as possible a right angle. The upper thigh bone parallels the shoulder blade while the lower thigh bone parallels the upper arm. The metatarsus (the unit between the hock joint and the foot) is short, strong and tightly articulated. The dewclaws, if any, should be removed from the hind legs. Feet as in front.

The ideal dog has a double coat of medium length. The outer coat should be as dense as possible, hair straight, harsh and lying close to the body. A slightly wavy outer coat, often of wiry texture, is permissible. The head, including the inner ear and foreface, and the legs and paws are covered with short hair, and the neck with longer and thicker hair. The rear of the forelegs and hind legs has somewhat longer hair extending to the pastern and hock, respectively. Faults in coat include soft, silky, too long outer coat, woolly, curly, and open coat.


The German Shepherd Dog varies in color, and most colors are permissible. Strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified.

A German Shepherd Dog is a trotting dog, and its structure has been developed to meet the requirements of its work. General Impression -- The gait is outreaching, elastic, seemingly without effort, smooth and rhythmic, covering the maximum amount of ground with the minimum number of steps. At a walk it covers a great deal of ground, with long stride of both hind legs and forelegs. At a trot the dog covers still more ground with even longer stride, and moves powerfully but easily, with coordination and balance so that the gait appears to be the steady motion of a well-lubricated machine. The feet travel close to the ground on both forward reach and backward push. In order to achieve ideal movement of this kind, there must be good muscular development and ligamentation. The hindquarters deliver, through the back, a powerful forward thrust which slightly lifts the whole animal and drives the body forward. Reaching far under, and passing the imprint left by the front foot, the hind foot takes hold of the ground; then hock, stifle and upper thigh come into play and sweep back, the stroke of the hind leg finishing with the foot still close to the ground in a smooth follow-through. The overreach of the hindquarter usually necessitates one hind foot passing outside and the other hind foot passing inside the track of the forefeet, and such action is not faulty unless the locomotion is crabwise with the dog's body sideways out of the normal straight line.

Transmission The typical smooth, flowing gait is maintained with great strength and firmness of back. The whole effort of the hindquarter is transmitted to the forequarter through the loin, back and withers. At full trot, the back must remain firm and level without sway, roll, whip or roach. Unlevel topline with withers lower than the hip is a fault . To compensate for the forward motion imparted by the hindquarters, the shoulder should open to its full extent. The forelegs should reach out close to the ground in a long stride in harmony with that of the hindquarters. The dog does not track on widely separated parallel lines, but brings the feet inward toward the middle line of the body when trotting, in order to maintain balance. The feet track closely but do not strike or cross over. Viewed from the front, the front legs function from the shoulder joint to the pad in a straight line. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs function from the hip joint to the pad in a straight line. Faults of gait, whether from front, rear or side, are to be considered very serious faults.

Cropped or hanging ears.
Dogs with noses not predominantly black.
Undershot jaw.
Docked tail.
White dogs.
Any dog that attempts to bite the judge.

Approved February 11, 1978
Reformatted July 11, 1994




FCI Breed Standard

1) Angulation and Movement

The German Shepherd Dog is a trotter. His gait exhibits diagonal movement, i.e., the hind foot and the forefoot on opposite sides move simultaneously. The limbs, therefore, must be so similarly proportioned to one another, i.e. angulated, that the action of the rear as it carries through to the middle of the body and is matched by an equally far-reaching forehand causes no essential change in the topline. Every tendency toward overangulation of the rear quarters diminishes soundess and endurance. The correct proportions of height to length and corresponding length of the leg bones results in a ground-eating gait that is low to the ground and imparts an impression of effortless progression. With his head thrust forward and a slightly raised tail, a balanced and even trotter will have a topline that falls in moderate curves from the tip of the ears over the neck and level back through the tip of the tail.

2) Temperament, Character and Abilities

Sound nerves, alertness, self-confidence, trainability, watchfulness, loyalty and incorruptibility, as well as courage, fighting drive and hardness, are the outstanding characteristics of a purebred German Shepherd Dog. They make his suitable to be a superior working dog in general, and in particular to be a guard, companion, protection and herding dog.
His ample scenting abilities, added to his conformation as a trotter, make it possible for him to quietly and surely work out a track without bodily strain and with his nose close to the ground. This makes him highly useful as a multipurpose track and search dog.

3) Head

The head should be in proportion to the body size (in length approximately 40% of the height at the withers) and not coarse, overrefined or overstretched(snipey). In general appearance, it should be dry with moderate breadth between the ears.
The forehead when viewed from the front or side is only slightly arched. It should be without a center furrow or with only a slightly defined furrow.
The cheeks form a gentle curve laterally without protrusion toward the front. When viewed from above, the skull (approximately 50% of the entire head length) tapers gradually and evenly from the ears to the tip of the nose, with a sloping rather than a sharply defined stop and into a long, dry wedge-shaped muzzle (the upper and lower jaws must be strongly developed.)
The width of the skull should correspond approximately to the length of the skull. Also, a slight oversize in the case of males or undersize in the case of females is not objectionable.
The muzzle is strong; the lips are firm and dry and close tightly.
The bridge of the nose is straight and runs nearly parallel with the plane of the forehead.

4) Dentition

Dentition must be healthy, strong and complete (42 teeth, 20 in the upper jaw and 22 in the lower jaw). The German Shepherd Dog has a scissors bite, e.g. the incisors must meet each other in a scissorslike fashion, with the outer surface of the incisors of the lower jaw sliding next to the inner surface of the incisors of the upper jaw.
An undershot or overshot bite if faulty, as are large gaps between the teeth. A level bite is faulty, as the incisors close on a straight line.
The jaws must be strongly developed so that the teeth may be deeply rooted.

5) Ears

The ears are of medium size, wide at the base and set high. They taper to a point and are carried facing forward and vertically (the tips not inclined toward each other). Tipped, cropped and hanging ears are rejected. Ears drawn toward each other greatly impair the general appearance. The ears of puppies and young dogs sometiems drop or pull toward each other during the teething period, which can last until six months of age and sometimes longer.
Many dogs draw their ears back during motion or at rest. This is not faulty.

6) Eyes

The eyes are of medium size, almond shaped, somewhat slanting and not protruding.
The color of the eyes should blend with the color of the coat. They should be as dark as possible. They should have a lively, intelligent and self-confident expression.

7) Neck

The neck should be strong with well-developed muscles and without looseness of the throat skin (dewlaps).
The neck is carried at an angle of about 45 degrees to the horizontal. It is carried higher when excited and lower when trotting.

8) Body

The body length should exceed the height at the withers. It shouldamount to about 110 to 117% of the height at the witthers. Dogs with a short, square or tall build are undesirable.
The chest is deep (approximately 45 to 48% of the height at the withers) but not too wide. The underchest should be as long as possible and pronounced.
The ribs should be well formed and long, neither barrel shaped nor too flat. They should reach the sternum, which is at the same level as the elbows. A correctly formed rib cage allows the elbows freedom of movement when the dogs trots. A too round rib cage disrupts the motion of the elbows and causes them to turn out. A too flat rib cage draws the elbows in toward one another. The rib cage extends far back so that the loins are relatively short.
The abdomen is moderately tucked up. The back, including the loins, is straight and strongly developed yet not too long between the withers and the croup. The withers must be long and high, sloping slightly from front to rear, defined against the back into which it gently blends without breaking the topline. The loins must be wide, strong and well muscled.
The croup is long and slightly angled (approximately 23 degrees). The ileum and the sacrum are the foundation bones of the croup. Short, steep or flat croups are undesirable.

9) Tail

The tail is bushy and should reach at least to the hock joint but not beyond the middle of the hocks. Sometimes the tail forms a hook to one side at its end, though this is undesirable. At rest the tail is carried in a gentle downward curve, but when the dog is excited or in motion, it is curved more and carried higher. The tail should never be raised past the vertical. The tail, therefore, should not be carried straight or curled over the back.
Docked tails are inadmissible.

10) Forequarters

The shoulder blade should be long with an oblique placement (the angle at 45 degrees) and lying flat against the body. The upper arm joins the shoulder blade in an approximate right angle. The upper arm as well as the shoulder must be strong and well muscled.
The forearm must be straight when viewed from all sides. The bones of the uppper arm and forearm are more oval than round.
The pasterns should be firm but neither too steep nor too down in pastern (Approximately 20 degrees).
The elbows must be neither turned in nor turned out. the length of the leg bones should exceed the depth of the chest (approximately 55%).

11) Hindquarters

The thigh is broad and well muscled. The upper thigh bone when viewed from the side joins the only slightly longer lower thigh bone at an angle of approximately 120 degrees. The angulation corresponds roughly to the forequarter angulation without being overangulated. The hock joint is strong and firm. The hock is strong and forms a firm joint with the lower thigh. The entire hindquarters must be strong and well muscled to be capable of carrying the body effortlessly forward during motion.

12) Feet

The feet are relatively round, short, tightly formed and arched. The pads are very hard, but not chapped. The anils are short, strong and of a dark color. Dewclaws sometime appear on the hind legs and should be removed within the first few days of birth.

14) Color

Color should be black with regular markings in brown, tan to light gray, also with a black saddle, dark sable (black cover on a gray or light brown case with corresponding lighter marks), black, uniform gray or with light or brown markings. Small white markings on the forechest or a very light color on the insides of the legs are permissible though not desired. The nose must be black with all coat colors. (Dogs with little or no masks, yellow or strikingly light eyes, light markings on the chest and insides of the legs, white nails and a red tip of the tail or washed out weak colors are considered lacking in pigment.) The undercoat or base hair is always light gray, with the exception of that on black dogs. the final color of a puppy is only determined when the outer coat completely develops.

15) Coat

a) The medium smooth coated German Shepherd Dog

The outer coat should be as thick as possible. The individual hairs are straight, coarse and lying flat against the body. The coat is short on the head inclusive of the ears, the front of the legs, the feet and the toes but longer and thicker on the neck. The hair grows longer on the back of the fore- and hind legs as far down as the pastern and the hock joint, forming moderate breeching on the thighs. the length of the hair varies, and due to these differences in length, there are many intermediate forms. A too short or molelike coat is faulty.

b) The long smooth coated German Shepherd Dog

The individual hairs are longer, not always straight and above all not lying close to the body. The coat is considerably longer inside and behind the ears, on the back of the forearm and usually in the loin area. now and then there will be tufts in the ears and feathering from elbow to pastern. The breeching along the thigh is long and thick. The tail is bushy with slight feathering underneath. the long-smooth-coat is not as weatherproof as the medium-smooth-coat and is therefore undesirable; however, provided there is sufficient undercoat, it may be passed for breeding, as long as the breed regulations of the countr allow it.
With the long smooth coated German Shepherd Dog, a narrow chest and narrow overstretched muzzle are frequently found.

c) The long coated German Shepherd Dog

The coat is considerably longer than that of the long-smooth-coat. It is generally very soft and forms a parting along the back. The udnercoat will be found in the region of the loins or will not be present at all. A long coat is greatly diminished in weatherproofing and utility and therefore is undesirable.


Faults include anything that impairs working versatility, endurance and working competency, especially lack of sex characteristics and temperament traits contrary to the German Shepherd Dog such as apathy, weak nerves or overexcitability, shyness; lack of vitality or willingness to work; monorchids and cryptorchids and testicles too small; a soft or flabby constitution and a lack of substance; fading pigment; blues, albinos (with complete lack of pigmentation, e.g. pink nose, etc.) and whites (near to pure white with black nose); over and under size; stunted growth; high-legged dogs and those with an overloaded forechest; a disproportionaltely short, too refined or coarse build; a soft back, too steep a placement of the limbs and anything depreciating the reach and endurance of gait; a muzzle that is too short, blunt, weak , pointed or narrow and lacks strength; an over-or undershot bite or any other faults of dentition, especially weak or worn teeth; a coat that is too soft, too short or too long; a lack of undercoat; hanging ears, a permanently faulty ear carriage or cropped ears; a ringed, curled or generally faulty tail set; a docked tail (stumpy) or a naturally short tail.

The above standard was approved and put into effect for the countries and clubs of the FCI. The name of the breed is the German Shepherd Dog. The country of origin is Germany.




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