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Is a German Shepherd right for you?


      When people tell me they want a German Shepherd, I first ask them "why?" That may sound odd coming from someone who lives with a pack of German Shepherds 24 hours a day, and wouldn't have it any other way, but the truth is most people understand little about the breed, and most of what they know comes from childhood memories of Rin Tin Tin. In fact, the movie industry has done a great disservice to domestic dogs with their anthropomorphic portrayals of Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Old Yeller and even cartoons such as Lady and the Tramp and Scooby Doo. The truth is dogs are NOT furry, four footed people and can't be expected to act as though they are. When you think about it, it is quite incredible and says a lot about the adaptability of canines that they fit so well into a human's lifestyle.

      By and large, pet dogs are well behaved and tolerate our abuses and unrealistic social requirements amazingly well. With no ability to understand our motivation, dogs are willing to accept the boundaries and behavior parameters we so arbitrarily establish for them. Certainly, the majority of the time our dogs behave in a predictable manner according to our wishes; however, this often leads to a false belief that dogs perceive their environment just as we do, and that spells trouble. Too often dog owners become complacent because Fido is such a good boy and fail to take appropriate precautions to protect both the dog and other people and/or property.

      An adult German Shepherd is a large, strong, and intelligent animal with canine drives and behaviors that can make it dangerous if not properly trained and socialized. Before you purchase a German Shepherd, you must learn about the breed and honestly evaluate whether you are able to put the necessary time and effort into owning one. Keep in mind that a German Shepherd is going to become stronger and more agile than most adult men. They are not weak willed dogs and will often challenge authority unless properly trained. Controlling a German Shepherd with fear and a heavy hand will alienate the dog and cause it to react with shyness or increased aggression. Likewise, being too soft and inconsistent will quickly establish the dog as alpha and relegate the owner to a subordinate position. More than any other breed, a German Shepherd needs to establish a strong bond with its owner. This bond is comprised of love, trust, and respect which must be earned through patience, consistency, and affection. That is what controls and builds the bond between the dog and owner, which makes it want to please, obey and live harmoniously within the human pack.

      It's my opinion that parenting is the most difficult job we have, and in a perfect world there would be education requirements for prospective parents. It's often been said that a dog has the reasoning capacity of a two year old child. So educate yourself about this amazing breed; understanding the difference between show lines, working lines and the combination of the two. In our experience at WindRidge, we have found that by combining select dogs from both show lines and working lines, we are able to produce a well balanced and healthy puppy.

      Understand the history and genetic makeup of German Shepherds before you bring one into your family. For the next 10 to 15 years, you are going to be responsible for raising, socializing, training, and loving the most incredible breed of dog I've ever had the pleasure of sharing my life with. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I reiterate that it's a huge responsibility and should never for even a moment be forgotten or taken lightly.

      Now, assuming you are ready to own a German Shepherd, let me tell you about WindRidge: If you are looking for a family companion and guardian that is healthy, loyal, intelligent, and beautiful, you have finally found what you are looking for. We do not breed specifically for show, personal protection, IPO, or herding although our dogs have done well in all those venues. Our goal is to breed German Shepherds that will become cherished companions, babysitters, protectors, athletes, and couch potatoes rolled into one. In other words, a dog your family can depend on regardless of the situation. Widely recognized for their versatility, German Shepherds are the breed of choice for many families; however, when people try to find a healthy, sound puppy, they quickly realize that too many shortsighted breeders have exploited the breed for profit and ego gratification. Such breeders bred many generations of German Shepherds for a single goal with little regard for overall health and soundness.

      Whether the breeder's goal was show, IPO, personal protection, or profit their tunnel vision failed to consider the welfare of the breed and ended up producing German Shepherds riddled with health problems, temperament problems (spooks, overly aggressive, or hyperactive), and structural extremes. In fact, inbreeding and linebreeding have reached a point where the German Shepherd Dog breed is in serious danger.

About the German Shepherd

      The AKC describes the German Shepherd as, "Generally considered dogkind's finest all-purpose worker. The German Shepherd Dog is a large, agile, muscular dog of noble character and high intelligence. Loyal, confident, courageous, and steady, the German Shepherd is truly a dog lover's delight. German Shepherd Dogs can stand as high as 26 inches at the shoulder and, when viewed in outline, presents a picture of smooth, graceful curves rather than angles. The natural gait is a free-and-easy trot, but they can turn it up a notch or two and reach great speeds. There are many reasons why German Shepherds stand in the front rank of canine royalty, but experts say their defining attribute is character: loyalty, courage, confidence, the ability to learn commands for many tasks, and the willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones. German Shepherds will be gentle family pets and steadfast guardians, but the breed standard says, there's a 'certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships."

German Shepherd history


      The German Shepherd Dog, also known as the Deutsher Schäferhund, Alsatian, or Altdeutsche Schäferhunde, descends from the family of German herding dogs that, until the late 19th century, varied in type depending on the area in which they originated. In the waning years of the 1800s, a German cavalry officer, Captain Max von Stephanitz, made it his mission to develop the ideal German herder. Von Stephanitz and other like-minded breeders crossed various strains from the central and northern districts of Germany, resulting in the ancestors of today’s German Shepherd Dog (GSD).

      Von Stephanitz co-founded the world’s first club devoted to GSDs and spent 35 years promoting and refining the breed. Today, the GSD’s versatility is so thoroughly deployed in the performance of myriad tasks that it is easy to forget that the breed was originally created to herd sheep. The GSD’s now-famous qualities—intelligence, agility, speed, stealth, and the overall air of firm authority—were forged not in the police academy but in the sheep pasture.


      GSDs became popular in the United States in the early 1900s, thanks in part to the adventures of canine movie stars Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart. The GSD is among some German breeds, that suffered from anti-German sentiment during and after the world wars. In World War I–era Britain, the breed was referred to as the Alsatian, a name many British dog lovers still prefer.


      With the rise of modern livestock management and the decline of herding as a canine occupation, von Stephanitz shrewdly promoted his breed as an ideal K-9 worker. The GSD is today the preferred dog for police and military units the world over.

Coats, Colors and Size


      The German Shepherd comes in many colors such as black, black and tan, black and red, sable, and bi-colored. Most colors are permissible and can be registered by the AKC. Strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues, whites, livers or other colors are considered serious faults by the AKC and are often associated with health problems.

The German shepherd is available in four different coats- short with an undercoat (stock coat), medium with an undercoat (plush coat), long with an undercoat (long coat), and long with a thick undercoat, (plush long coat).

      When fully grown, the average German Shepherd male stands between 24-26 inches tall at the shoulder and are between 65-90 pounds. Females stand between 22-24 inches tall at the shoulder and are typically between 50-75 pounds. German Shepherds usually stop growing between 18-24 months old.

What is hip and elbow dysplasia? 

      Hip Dysplasia is a malformation of the ball and socket joint of the hip and likewise, elbow dysplasia is a malformation of the ball and socket of the elbow. A dog may or may not become lame because of the disease, depending upon its severity. Although no breeder can guarantee that a puppy will not get hip or elbow dysplasia, we are making every effort to avoid such an occurrence by only using stock that have received x-ray views and are prelim or final rated by the Orthopedic Foundation of Animals.

      Listed below you will find a chart of different hip dysplasia registries. If you look at the chart, you can clearly see that Germanys Fast Normal is the US standard of borderline. Borderline in the US is considered unsatisfactory for breeding, and it is finalized at 2 years old. Germany however, breeds dogs with Fast Normal and the grade is given at 1 year, very seldom are they ever re-tested. At WindRidge, we prefer to use the OFA ratings and will often retest any dogs we have imported or bought that only have SV or FCI ratings so that we can produce happy and healthy puppies.

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