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German Shepherd Personality Traits | A Highly Intelligent, Alert, Devoted, Confident and Loyal Canine

When one thinks of German Shepherd personality, words such as intelligent, devoted, loyal, confident, brave, protective-along with many other notable traits-immediately come to mind.  This is without question a proud and noble breed, one envisioned by its founder, Max Von Stephanitz, to be that of an alert and watchful dog, one that would prove highly effective in undertaking strenuous working tasks in rural Europe, such as herding animals (it was originally used for protecting sheep), protecting its immediate surroundings, while also displaying a high degree of devotion and loyalty to its master.

German Shepherd Personality Traits

In summary, the ideal German Shepherd personality traits should exhibit the following qualities:

•    Intelligent: They are one of the most intelligent dogs in the world, ranking as high as number 3 in a number of studies published by animal experts.
•    Alert, but also suspicious and cautious: They have a natural tendency to be watchful of their surroundings, cautious to strangers, aloof in their demeanor, but eventually accepting of others.
•    Protective: As a working dog, the German Shepherd personality comes with a natural protective instinct of its surroundings and loved ones.
•    Devoted and Loyal: The German Shepherd dog will give its life, sacrificing all it has to ensure the safety and security of its loved ones.
•    Confident, Proud and Noble: German Shepherd dogs display a noble, confident demeanor within themselves, expressing this in the way they walk and carry themselves.
•    Courageous and Brave: Though not an aggressive animal, the German Shepherd will stand its ground when warranted, ready to use its large and powerful frame as needed for protecting itself and its loved ones.
•    Energetic and Active: From going on long walks to swimming with children in the backyard pool, German Shepherds are active dogs indeed, displaying a high degree of physical strength, stamina, and endurance.
•    Highly Trainable: The ability to effectively teach an animal commands and instructions for which they retain this knowledge very quickly has made the German Shepherd one of the world's most sought after canines.  
•    Affectionate: Don't be surprised if your German Shepherd wants to curl up on the couch as you watch a movie or read a favorite book. He or she may even sneak in a quick kiss or playfully swipe his paw at you. These dogs are very affectionate and loving.

Additionally, it's also highly recommend that you socialize your German Shepherd at a young age, introducing him or her to other family members, friends, and other pets (such as taking your dog to dog parks and other forms of canine socialization), while also enrolling your German Shepherd into formalized training classes.

Times have changed since the days of Max Von Stephanitz and the development of one of the world’s most recognized canines, but the breed endures and continues to this day, exuding qualities that still make it an excellent working dog, but also a highly adaptable and social companion for the family. Whatever the task may be, this highly intelligent and alert canine will prove invaluable indeed, excelling at whatever is asked of him.  

And though the German Shepherd is considered a working breed, it's also a highly adaptive canine with a well-balanced temperament and personality allowing it to perform the following duties:

•    Security and protection work
•    Seeing eye dog | Therapy Dog
•    Search and Rescue
•    Herding dog
•    Show dog (such as canine confirmation shows)
•    Trial dog (Schutzhund competitions and other similar tests of mental and physical endurance)
•    Family companion
•    Silver Screen Actor!

The German Shepherd has also been used by countries all around the world as a highly successful military and police dog, with duties ranging from delivering food to soldiers in the trenches during both World Wars, along with chasing down criminals in open fields at amazing speed and precise accuracy.

"American vs. European" German Shepherd Personality Traits

There are differences, however, in German Shepherd personality traits when you start to compare what is generally known as the “American vs. European” breed line debate.  It’s a hotly contested topic, with ardent supporters and critics on both sides, and it’s worth discussing as there are noticeable German Shepherd personality differences between the breed lines.

American German Shepherd personality traits are considered to be that of a “softer”, less driven breed line, one that is void of the many working line characteristics found in the European German Shepherds.  They also are physically different, as American lines exhibit noticeable sloping and angulation at the rear, are generally softer and rounder in appearance, and have a slimmer, more refined head.  They are looked upon more as family companions, and generally not suited for high-stress or demanding work environments, such as police and security work.

German Shepherd personality traits for European lines consist of a dog with a hardened temperament, high energy level, and one that seeks to engage in strenuous mental and physical activities.  Breeders of European line German Shepherds also proclaim their dogs to have very strong, sound, and stable temperaments, qualities necessary for police, protection, and security work, along with competitive trials, such as Schutzhund.  It’s also these types of qualities, according to breeders of European line German Shepherds, that make them an excellent family companion, both with adults and children.

German Shepherd Personality Traits for Backyard Breeders

And then there’s the German Shepherd personality traits for backyard breeders; unethical, inexperienced, and ill-advised breeders who seek nothing more than financial gain, with little or no interest in the health and overall temperament of the dog. Thus, it’s extremely difficult to assess the personality traits of these types of German Shepherds, for which thegermanshepherd.org ultimately recommends steering clear of. But what you can do to help promote the breed is report suspicious, abusive, or unethical breeding practices to any number of breed specific advocacy groups within your area.  

Keep in mind that as the popularity of the German Shepherd breed increased (much like that of the Doberman Pinscher, another excellent dog from Germany), first-time breeders quickly became overnight experts, further exacerbating the issue with backyard breeders, such as devastating health issues for many German Shepherds, ranging from cancer to hip dsyplasia.  Its thus important to ask the tough and necessary questions when obtaining a German Shepherd for you and your family.  Remember, this is a life-long commitment, so choose wisely.  

As for the American vs. European debate, specifically that of the German Shepherd personality traits, please keep in mind that there are without question numerous breeders in North America (and around the world) that engage in sound and ethical breeding practices, resulting in well-balanced, high-quality German Shepherd dogs.  And remember, a European bred or European bloodline German Shepherd does not have to physically come from Germany or Eastern Europe in order for it to carry this distinction.  Rather, the dog has to carry the German or Eastern European lineage be considered this type. That’s important to note because there are many North American breeders who only breed European lines.

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