Breed Standard & How it can affect a home

Breed characteristics (characteristics that the general public identifies the breed as having) outlined within the GSD breed standard


Temperament: This needs a whole page to itself as temperament alongside health is of the uttermost importance in this breed


Size for a male: Ideal 63 cm / 25 inches Permissible range 60.5 cm / 24 inches – 65.5 cm / 26 inches

Size for a female: Ideal 58 cm / 23 inches Permissible range 55.5 cm / 22 inches – 60.5 cm / 21 inches


Colour: Of secondary importance as has no affect on character or fitness for work

Accepted colours: Black saddle with Tan markings, Grey (sable), black, bi

Highly undesired colours that can be produced by the breed includes: whites, blues, livers, etc.

Eye colouration: Dark brown in fitting with the overall harmony of the head (lighter shade permissible but undesirable)


Overall coat: Double coated

Undercoat: Thick & present

Top coat: Hard, straight, close lying, dense as possible, longer on tail & pasterns & stifles forming fairly thick ‘trousers’ on the hind quarters, a light ruff is permissible in males, and it is to be short on the head / ears / front of the legs / paws / toes / and top-line (including the dog’s back, lumber region and croup).

Undesirable coats: Mole coats & Long-coats (But as of recently in Germany long coats can now be bred from & shown in their own classes.  The KC recognised breed shows in other countries such as the UK are now starting to include classes for long coats.)


Ears: Medium sized, firm in texture, erect, set high, almost parallel to each other, open, base is broad & they taper to a point.  They are allowed to be folded back when moving.

Ear faults: Hanging, tipped, pulled inwards (young GSD puppies of course commonly go through these stages prior to putting their ears up)


Head: In proportion to the body & clean cut

Skull: Approximately 50% of the overall length of the head (females can be slightly less & males slightly greater), width approximately similar to its length, fairly broad between the ears, and from the ears to the bridge of the nose gradually & evenly tapers downwards.  The stop is not too pronounced.

Eyes: Medium sized, almond shaped

Muzzle: Wedge shaped, powerful / strong, top of the muzzle is straight, the muzzle is almost parallel to the forehead, cheeks are full & form a softly rounded curve, lips firm & closely fitted, teeth set in a scissor bite & a strongly developed jaw.

Neck: Fairly long, strong with well developed muscles, carried at a 45 degree angle but can be raised when excited or lowered when moving.

Undesirable head & neck characteristics: Coarse / fine / long heads, short / weak / pointed / over long muzzles, trace of a central furrow, too pronounced stop, protruding eyes, protruding cheeks, missing or extra teeth, throatiness on the neck


Tail: Reaches at least to the hock, and at rest hangs in a sabre like curve.  When moving a dog is allowed to raise it and curl it slightly more, as long as it does not raise it above the dog’s top-line.

How does the breed standard which includes the above breed characteristics affect me as a potential forever home looking for a GSD puppy?


As a general rule of thumb although some homes are happy to have a GSD puppy whatever it looks like there are homes whom without even realising that they are doing it are taking the breed standard and the variations within it into consideration when it comes to choosing both a breeder, a litter, and a puppy within a litter. 


For example I doubt that many homes would be looking for or wanting a GSD that was the size of a Chihuahua. I am also sure that the majority of homes looking for a GSD puppy would choose to look elsewhere if they came across an advertised litter from parents advertised as the size of a Chihuahua.


Thus it is important to go to a breeder who aims to produce GSD pups that have the correct breed characteristics otherwise over time their pups will become adults that act and look less and less like the breed (in this case a German Shepherd) that a home has fallen in love with.


However when going to a breeder a home has to realise that producing a dog which is an animal is not the same for a breeder as it is for a manufacture producing for example a sofa.  Whereas a machine producing sofas will continually replicate the exact same sofa with the exact same attributes with a poorly made sofa no doubt being identified prior to going to a new home an animal dog will often not display all of it’s breed characteristics until it is an adult.  Thus a home obtaining a GSD puppy will often not see what their final dog is until it is either an adult or near the end of its life. 


For example bar a pup’s 'overall' colouration falling into a defined colour definition (such as black) the above German Shepherd Dog’s breed characteristics can be affected by:



Over time a pup for example can show changes in it’s:



Even the most successful of show and working kennels with decades of experience with their own lines do not turn out a top winner every time they retain a puppy, and not every puppy these kennels retain will develop good health such as aspects relating to hips, etc.


Breeders unfortunately do not have crystal balls which allow them to see how time and environment and genetics will affect a pup’s psychological and physiological development.


Thus a home should only decide to take a puppy into their household on the basis that they will keep this puppy HOWEVER  it turns out.


It is one thing taking a puppy home with you and to the vets within 48 hours only to find out that it has a genetic health complaint that a breeder’s vet has missed picking up on (IF the breeder has vet checked the puppy prior to the puppy being homed  & I hasten to add this is NOT something that we would expect to experience) before deciding to immediately return the puppy to the breeder whom it will still have its bond with.


It is another thing to obtain a GSD puppy that has lived either as a sole dog or one of a handful of dogs in your household, and then several weeks or months later look at either returning it to the breeder or re-homing it yourself on the basis that it did not develop EXACTLY (for example possibly you love all of its characteristics bar the fact that it the puppy is now 0.5 cm too big in comparison to the limitations within the breed standard) how you wanted it to.


A GSD puts its heart and soul into loving its family.  It is cruel on the puppy to allow it to bond to your family, and then to return it on the basis of something that is not the pup’s fault.  At the end of the day this is a living, loyal, and loving creature and not a sofa or computer game to be obtained and dropped at a home’s whim.

How does this relate to Merjuke?



Although a breeder can get pretty apt at predicting certain characteristics as stated above sometimes certain characteristics can change over time.  Sometimes a home looking for a puppy for a specific reason (such as a potential stud dog) may request that a breeder such as ourselves gives a written and signed guarantee that covers what will happen if a puppy fails to develop desired characteristics such as 2 testicles being present (etc.) as a result of the dog's genetics, but as a general rule of thumb most ethical breeders will be looking to place their puppies in homes as pets that will keep the puppy as a pet on the basis of however it turns out.

In our opinion it is unethical for a breeder to guarantee that everything will always 100% turn out the way that they predicted it would in a puppy, as breeders are unable to see into the future.

This is why at Merjuke we tell homes PRIOR to a potential forever home taking one of our puppies home with them that even if the parents have certain characteristics, even if the parents have produced these characteristics before, and even if the puppy at 8 weeks of age looks like it is displaying certain characteristics:

That this does NOT mean that this puppy has the characteristics that it appears to be displaying during the days before or even on the day that a home takes the puppy home with them


Just because a puppy is showing potential to look or act like a certain way that it does NOT mean that it will look or act like this at a later date



We can not guarantee how a puppy will turn out




That we will only allow a home to take one of our puppies home with them on the basis under the condition that they promise us PRIOR to taking one of our pups home with them that aside from life changing events affecting them (such as their bereavement, etc.) that they will:




An example of this could be a litter in which both parents are over KC breed standard height allocations.  The parents may have produced pups that developed into over KC breed standard height adults in previous litters, and there may be one puppy in a subsequent litter that a home is looking at that is not only the biggest puppy at 8 weeks of age that either mum or dad has ever produced but which is by far is the biggest within the litter. 

Now homes will often use distinguishing adjectives relating to the pup’s size, colour, etc. to distinguish which puppy they like, and it may be that a breeder will mimic these same adjectives with this particular home so that for the ease of conversation and effective communication a home easily identifies and knows which puppy they are currently discussing.  But even if a home OR the pup’s breeder describes or 'mimics' the home's choice of language in reference to this puppy this does not mean that a breeder is saying that the puppy will look or act like this as an adult. 

For example in the example being used a home and the breeder may use the adjectives such as the 'big ' or 'large' puppy when discussing what is this example the largest puppy that mum and dad has ever produced, but this does not mean that this puppy is destined to develop into a large over KC breed standard height adult, the biggest adult that mum or dad has ever produced, or even the biggest within the litter.  In fact this puppy may go onto develop into an under breed standard height adult. 


The home in this example would be informed of this risk PRIOR to taking the puppy home with them as described above .  If the home in this example then decides to take the puppy home with them regardless of this then they are deciding to take the puppy dependent upon the pup's size as an adult being extremely variable whilst agreeing to keep this dog forever despite the size this puppy develops into as an adolescent and as an adult.

We are aware that some people are very clever at coming across as being a perfect forever home, but who have alternative motives for obtaining a puppy / deceiving a breeder. 


Thus although we tell our homes that we would never ever expect this to apply to them that we have also tattooed our pups, as that way if the worst were ever to happen and a home deceived us and place one of our puppies into a rescue on the basis of this or another reason a rescue should inform us of this and give us an opportunity to get back our puppy / dog.


I hate to have to stress this both in real life and upon this website. 


But PRIOR to talking to either myself (or another breeder) PRIOR to taking one of our puppies home with them although a home can innocently not originally realise that a breeder can not guarantee the above breed characteristics (sometimes homes innocently visualise that a breeder has skills that they unfortunately can never own) there are also some homes that tragically can put on an image to a breeder of being a very good and caring potential forever home but whom in fact:


What do I do if I want to guarantee what an adult GSD will look and act like?



If a home is not happy with the facts in relation to how a breeder can NOT predict a pup’s future, and they wish to have more of a ‘sure thing’ in terms of what their dog looks and acts like we recommend that they:


Go to a breeder with a lot of personal recommendations who homes adult GSD dogs that have passed all of the available health & temperament tests alongside having either a show grading or official breed survey, and we recommend that a home spends a lot of time and multiple visits interacting with this adult in different environments. 


Even at this point there is a chance that the dog could go onto develop specific breed related conditions which do not develop until the dog is of an older age, or that the dog will not respond to its commands in the same way that it did with the person it was purchased from.


In addition to this as such a dog would have no doubt had a lot of additional time and expense placed in it in comparison to a puppy then expect to have a high chance of you needing to have much ‘deeper pockets’ when approaching the owner.


Also try and stay realistic in your expectations when looking for such an adult dog. 

We would all love a German Seiger, but as it has been rumoured in the past that such dogs when of an older age have either turned down 1,000,000 or passed hands for $500,000 - $250,000 then unless you are in a very fortunate position alongside having the capabilities able to persuade the owner to part with such a dog the chances of you purchasing such a dog are VERY slim.



As an extra note just as we are on the subject of purchasing older dogs we are 100% not hinting that you get in contact with us about such dogs, as although it can sometimes be flattering to have requests for our older dogs (which we have had numerous requests for) we have no interest in letting them go anywhere.  As can be seen on my site I have not had maximum allowed KC registered litters from all of my girls, I have kept my spayed oldies, etc.


I hope that this article has been of some assistance when it comes to deciding whether or not getting a GSD puppy is the right decision for you, as well as helping you to explore and hopefully understand some of the difficulties in predicting a puppy’s future.