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Old German Shepherd Dog: Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

plush coat german shepherd

Height: 21-24 inches
Weight: 49-71 pounds
Lifespan: 7-13 years
Colors: Black, bed, brown, tan, blue
Suitable for: Families, children, farms, companions
Temperament: Courageous, affectionate, brave, intelligent, loyal

The Old German Shepherd dog is better known today as the Working Line German Shepherd. It differs from the modern or Competition German Shepherd in that it has a straighter back and does not have the downward slope and frog-like legs of the competition line. If you are thinking about getting one of these American favorites for your home but would like to learn more about it first, keep reading while we discuss diet, exercise, training, and more to help you make an informed decision.

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Old German Shepherd Puppies


You can expect to pay a lot for your Old German Shepherd puppy, depending on where you live and what breeder you choose. Since these dogs are so popular, it shouldn’t be difficult to find one in your area, and several prestigious breeders can provide you with a dog with a long lineage for the right fee.

Breeding rights can also increase the cost of your dog, and if you don’t purchase these rights, you will need to get the dog spayed or neutered as part of your contract. It’s common to purchase this breed already trained, which can increase your purchase price by several thousands of dollars.

Other factors will increase your ongoing costs, including regular vet visits, flea and tick medication, food, treats, toys, and more.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Old German Shepherd Dogs 🧠

The Old German Shepherd dog is an intelligent and courageous dog with a strong desire to work. It’s focused and brave, so it makes a perfect rescue dog, and it excels in high-stress situations. The military has used them since the first World War, and they are still employed today. It is a herding dog, so it has plenty of energy, and it will often try to herd family members. It’s also alert and will make a great watchdog but is friendly enough to play with the children and snuggle up on the couch for a good movie.

These German Shepherds are incredibly intelligent and able to learn complex multi-step tasks. Their intelligence allows them to find and rescue missing people, drugs, bombs, and more. It can also solve challenging problems, and it can open doors, retrieve specific items, and much more. It’s also extremely protective and is a formative fighter.

Are Old German Shepherds Good for Families? 🏡

Old German Shepherd dogs make fantastic pets for families large and small. It enjoys playing with children and being part of family activities. It also makes a fantastic watchdog that will help keep your family safe. The only downside to keeping these dogs is that they like to herd family members, which can cause them to nip and scare small children. Plenty of training and socialization can help reduce this bad behavior.

Do Old German Shepherds Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The Old German Shepherd dog gets along with other pets, especially if you socialize it a lot as a puppy. However, it will chase small animals in the yard, and it could try to herd your pets, especially the cats, which can cause some problems, but they usually get used to each other quickly.

dark sable working german shepherd dog
Image Credit: LNbjors, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning an Old German Shepherd Dog:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Old German Shepherds are extremely active and will require a high protein diet with real meat like chicken, turkey, or fish. We recommend looking for brands that provide omega fats because they help reduce swelling and promote a shiny coat. Probiotics add good bacteria to the gut, which can help balance your pet’s sensitive digestive system and boost the immune system. Avoid brands that contain artificial colors and chemical preservatives as they can cause health problems for some dogs.

Exercise 🐕

Old German Shepherd dogs are extremely active and require as much exercise as possible to stay happy and healthy. We recommend setting aside a minimum of 45 minutes each day for games, playing, and running. These dogs love games of fetch and will chase a ball around for most of the day. It also loves games of tug of war, and if you have the strength, it can be a great way to help them expend energy.

German shepherd_Zelenskaya_shutterstock
Image Credit: Zelenskaya, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

Your Old German Shepherd is extremely intelligent and can learn a long list of tricks. We recommend holding short training exercises right after your exercise time to help your pet stay focused on your training. Holding your sessions at the same time each day can also help, as can plenty of reinforcement in the form of praise and treats. Avoid showing your dog any disappointment as that can set back any progress made, and be patient because it can take even the smartest dogs several weeks to learn a new trick and commit it to memory.

Grooming ✂️

The Old German Shepherd is an extremely heavy shedder that will release tons of hair into your home during the spring or fall, and many owners will tell you that you can watch the hair fall off your dog in clumps during this time, so it will need frequent brushing to manage it. Some owners even recommend a professional groomer to minimize the effort required. We also recommend brushing the teeth as often as possible to slow the progression of dental disease and trimming the nails if you hear them clicking on the floor.

german shepherd dog lying on grass with tongue out
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

Health and Conditions ❤️

Minor Conditions
  • Obesity
Serious Conditions
  • Hip Dysplasia


Obesity in all dog breeds is a huge problem in the United States. Some experts suggest that more than 40% of dogs over 5 years of age are overweight. Unfortunately, German Shepherds are especially susceptible to obesity because they have high exercise demands that can be difficult for some owners to meet. Obesity can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and several other serious health conditions. The best way to prevent obesity is to pay close attention to the food bag’s portion size suggestions of the brand you are feeding and ensure your pet gets plenty of activity.

Hip Dysplasia

Unfortunately, hip dysplasia is common in the German Shepherd breed, and many breeders will run tests on the parents to keep it from affecting their puppies. Hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip joint doesn’t form correctly, and the bones do not move smoothly in the joint. As the dog ages, the bones begin to wear down, affecting your pet’s ability to bear weight. Symptoms include difficulty getting up and an aversion to stairs. Weight management, medication, and surgery can help to manage hip dysplasia.

Male vs Female

The male Old German Shepherd is a little larger and heavier than the female, and it also tends to suffer from hip dysplasia more often. Females are slightly smaller, have feminine facial features, are better around small children, and are a little easier to train. Males are more protective and tend to be possessive, but they are a little easier for new owners to manage.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Old German Shepherd

1. Old German Shepherds are extremely versatile and can be service dogs, police dogs, obedience dogs, and more.

2. The Old German Shepherd is a popular television actor, and several have become famous, including Rin Tin Tin, Andromeda, and Bullet.

3. Old German Shepherds form stronger bonds with one family member, typically the owner or caretaker.

german shepherd standing on grass
Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

The Old German Shepherd makes a fantastic family pet and watchdog. It also serves many purposes in law enforcement as well as the military and is one of the most popular dogs in the United States and beyond. Since it’s so popular, you should be able to find a breeder in your area, and there is also a good chance you’ll get one for a good price. It requires quite a bit of maintenance when it’s shedding but not during the rest of the year. It has a long lifespan and is relatively healthy.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide, and it has helped answer any questions you had about these amazing dogs. If we have convinced you to purchase one for your home, please share this guide to the Old German Shepherd on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image Credit: hansbenn, Pixabay

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