Breed Standard & How it can
affect a home
(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,
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
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
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
How does the breed standard which includes the above
breed characteristics affect me as a potential forever home looking for a GSD
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- A pup’s genetics
- A pup’s environment
time a pup for example can show changes in it’s:
- Temperament (which
may stay the same, ‘improve’ or ‘get worse’)
- Size (The biggest
of pups from the biggest of parents who previously produced huge GSD adults can go onto develop into a very small
GSD adult and vice versa.)
- Exact colouration
of its coat and eyes (which may lighten or darken)
- Coat markings (they
may decrease or increase in size or stay the same)
- Coat (Coats can
lengthen or shorten, and a previously fluffy puppy can develop very little
undercoat and a short close lying top-coat and vice-versa.)
- Ears (GSD puppies
can commonly have their ears up or down at different stages of their
development. At 8 weeks of age a
GSD puppy may or may not have its ears up.
The pup can commonly put its ears back down when it is teething
even if it had them up as a younger puppy.
Sometimes even if a pup has had its ears up at 8 weeks of age this does
not mean that it will have them up as an adult (although this is rarer
than it is common).)
- Teeth and bite (a
puppy does not have its adult teeth at 8 weeks of age, its bite can either
stay the same / improve / worsen with age, and of course environment can
affect a pup’s teeth)
(sometimes these can ‘bounce up and down’, and in some cases a puppy with
both down at 8 weeks of age can go onto retain one at a later date)
- Shape (A pup’s
confirmation can stay the same, improve or worsen)
- Movement (This can
stay the same, improve, or worsen)
- Health (Tragically
even the best intentions from the ‘best of breeders’ can not produce a 8
week old puppy whose exact hip and elbow score and genetic health status
is determined when it is 8 weeks of age, as some genetic health complaints
do not develop until it is of an older age.)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
can not guarantee how a puppy will turn out
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:
KEEP THE PUPPY THEY CHOOSE TO TAKE HOME
WITH THEM FOREVER WHATEVER IT LOOKS LIKE AND WHATEVER IT ACTS LIKE IN THE
PRESENT & FUTURE.
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
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.
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.
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.
hate to have to stress this both in real life and upon this website.
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:
- See dogs as commercial
products that they can pick up and drop at their whim as opposed to a
loving addition to their family
- Can convince
themselves that a puppy will develop into an image that they ALONE
visualised and convinced THEMSELVES that it would develop into despite
easily available literature and no doubt the breeder themselves telling
them differently PRIOR to them taking the puppy home with them (i.e. a
home’s ‘arrogance’ in their abilities to predict the future better than
the breeder), and as opposed to owning up and admitting that THEY guessed
wrong such a home will instead commonly seek to blame either the dog, its
lines, or the breeder before treating the pup as a commercial product that
they can then move on once it has failed to live up to their unrealistic
What do I do if I want to guarantee what an adult GSD will look and act like?
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:
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
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.
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.
try and stay realistic in your expectations when looking for such an adult
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.
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.
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.