A Word of Caution on Breed Standards for the German Shepherd
One important thing to stress in the discussion of the German Shepherd's breed standards is that these regulations apply most strictly to “show dogs,” where traditional criteria of “breeding” are still in use, and the dog is still assessed in the context of its original role as a work dog. With the exception of cautions against, for example, dogs with a “weak” or “lethargic” temperament, a dog being considered as a pet, rather than a worker or show dog, needs to meet very few of these standards. Whether a full-breed German shepherd or a mixed-breed, a dog of German Shepherd – in indeed any – heritage is best judged by the emotional connection it forges with a potential owner. While these standards are certainly helpful in considering the extent to which a German Shepherd is eligible for a show career, they say very little about a dog's suitability as a pet, companion, and friend.
Thus pet owners and potential pet owners are cautioned against taking these Breed Standards as more than general guidelines, and are encouraged to seek out a dog with whom they can bond, whatever the dog's color, size, or ear shape. Be it a pure-bred German Shepherd or a "Heinz 57" mix dog, it's fair to say that dogs owners love them for who they are, not how they look.