German Shepherd Breed Standard, Characteristics, Types (AKC and SV) | A Strong, Versatile, Intelligent, Muscular, Devoted Canine
The German Shepherd Breed Standard, which is published by the American Kennel Club, lay out the ideal qualities of a dog of a given breed, including the German Shepherd, for purposes of the United States. While certainly not all dogs comply with all or indeed many of the characteristics described in the breed standards, the guidelines nevertheless provide a useful set of expectations regarding the appearance, personality, and other characteristics of an animal belonging to a particular breed. Potential pet owners of a German Shepherd are encouraged to read up on the breed's standards in order to know what to expect – both in terms of their animal's appearance and personality, and in order to be prepared for any particular medical conditions common to a given breed. The AKC breed standard for the German Shepherd includes a detailed discussion of the following: General Appearance, Temperament, Size, Proportion, Substance, Head, Neck Topline, body, Forequarters, Hindquarters, Coat, Color, Gait, and Disqualifications.
Similarly, In Germany, the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SV), the official club for the German Shepherd dog, also has in place a listing of standards, which include a detailed discussion of the following: Genera Appearance, Head, Ears, Neck, Body, Limbs Forehand, Hindquarters, Movement, Skin, Coat, Color, Size | Weight, and Dentition Faults
Breed Standards are used most commonly, however, not by the average pet owner but by judges in dog shows and competitions, who assess any given animal according to the standards and expectations laid out for its breed as a whole, rather than on its merits as a pet. Regardless of how the Breed Standards are used, however, they provide a wealth of useful information for the German Shepherd breed, or for any other breed for that matter.
In summary, breed standards are just that, merely standard by which to judge and assess the physical and emotional traits of your German Shepherd, but characteristics that should not be cause for concern if your dog falls outside the breed standard. Dogs are like humans and come in all shapes, sizes and colors. It's more important to have a healthy, happy, and sound dog than it is to have one that fits the exact German Shepherd breed standard.