The Updated KC Breed Standard for German Shepherds is shown below. We here at Vakeranti strive to breed our dogs to adhere as closely as possible to the Standard.
Slightly long in comparison to height; of powerful, well muscled build with weather-resistant coat. Relation between height, length, position and structure of fore and hindquarters (angulation) producing far-reaching, enduring gait. Clear definition of masculinity and femininity essential, and working ability never sacrificed for mere beauty.
Versatile working dog, balanced and free from exaggeration. Attentive, alert, resilient and tireless with keen scenting ability.
Steady of nerve, loyal, self-assured, courageous and tractable. Never nervous, over-aggressive or shy, see details on Schutzhund Training below.
Head and Skull
Proportionate in size to body, never coarse, too fine or long. Clean cut; fairly broad between ears. Forehead slightly domed; little or no trace of central furrow. Cheeks forming softly rounded curve, never protruding. Skull from ears to bridge of nose tapering gradually and evenly, blending without too pronounced stop into wedge-shaped powerful muzzle. Skull approximately 50 per cent of overall length of head. Width of skull corresponding approximately to length, in males slightly greater, in females slightly less. Muzzle strong, lips firm, clean and closing tightly. Top of muzzle straight, almost parallel to forehead. Short, blunt, weak, pointed, overlong muzzle undesirable.
Medium-sized, almond-shaped, never protruding. Dark brown preferred, lighter shade permissible, provided expression good and general harmony of head not destroyed. Expression lively, intelligent and self-assured.
Medium-sized, firm in texture, broad at base, set high, carried erect, almost parallel, never pulled inwards or tipped, tapering to a point, open at front. Never hanging. Folding back during movement permissible.
Jaws strongly developed. With a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Teeth healthy and strong. Full dentition desirable.
Fairly long, strong, with well developed muscles, free from throatiness. Carried at 45 degrees angle to horizontal, raised when excited, lowered at fast trot.
Forequarters Shoulder blade and upper arms are equal in length, well muscled and firmly attached to the body. Shoulder blades set obliquely (approximately. 45 degrees), laid flat to body. Upper arm strong, well muscled, joining shoulder blade at approximately 90 degrees. Seen from all sides, the forearms are straight and, seen from the front, absolutely parallel. Bone oval rather than round. The elbows must turn neither in nor out while standing or moving. Pasterns firm, supple, with a slight forward slope. An over long, weak pastern, which would affect a dog’s working ability is to be heavily penalised. Length of foreleg slightly exceeds the depth of chest.
Body Length measured from point of shoulder to point of buttock, slightly exceeding height at withers. Correct ratio 10 to 9 or 8 and a half. Undersized dogs, stunted growth, high-legged dogs, those too heavy or too light in build, over-loaded fronts, too short overall appearance, any feature detracting from reach or endurance of gait, undesirable. Chest deep (45-48 per cent) of height at shoulder, not too broad, brisket long, well developed. Ribs well formed and long; neither barrel-shaped nor too flat; allowing free movement of elbows when gaiting. Relatively short loin. Belly firm, only slightly drawn up. Back between withers and croup, straight, strongly developed, not too long. Overall length achieved by correct angle of well laid shoulders, correct length of croup and hindquarters. The topline runs without any visible break from the set on of the neck, over the well defined withers, falling away slightly in a straight line to the gently sloping croup. The back is firm, strong and well muscled. Loin broad, strong, well muscled. Weak, soft and roach backs highly undesirable and should be heavily penalised. Croup slightly sloping and without any break in the topline, merges imperceptibly with the set on of the tail. Short, steep or flat croups highly undesirable.
Hindquarters Overall strong, broad and well muscled, enabling effortless forward propulsion. Upper and lower thigh are approximately of equal length. Hind angulation sufficient if imaginary line dropped from point of buttocks cuts through lower thigh just in front of hock, continuing down slightly in front of hindfeet. Angulations corresponding approximately with front angulation, without over-angulation. Seen from the rear, the hind legs are straight and parallel to each other. The hocks are strong and firm. The rear pasterns are vertical. Any tendency towards over-angulation of hindquarters, weak hocks, cow hocks or sickle hocks, is to be heavily penalised as this reduces firmness and endurance in movement.
Rounded toes well closed and arched. Pads well cushioned and durable. Nails short, strong and dark in colour.
Bushy-haired, reaches at least to hock – ideal length reaching to middle of metatarsus. At rest tail hangs in slight sabre-like curve; when moving raised and curve increased, ideally never above level of back. Short, rolled, curled, generally carried badly or stumpy from birth, undesirable.
Gait/Movement Sequence of step follows diagonal pattern, moving foreleg and opposite hindleg forward simultaneously; hindfoot thrust forward to midpoint of body and having equally long reach with forefeet without any noticeable change in backline. Absolute soundness of movement essential.
Outer coat consisting of straight, hard, close-lying hair as dense as possible; thick undercoat. Hair on head, ears, front of legs, paws and toes short; on back, longer and thicker; in some males forming slight ruff. Hair longer on back of legs as far down as pasterns and stifles and forming fairly thick trousers on hindquarters. No hard and fast rule for length of hair; mole-type coats undesirable.
Black or black saddle with tan, or gold to light grey markings. All black, all grey, with lighter or brown markings referred to as Sables. Nose black. Light markings on chest or very pale colour on inside of legs permissible but undesirable, as are whitish nails, red-tipped tails or wishy-washy faded colours defined as lacking in pigmentation. Blues, livers, albinos, whites (i.e. almost pure white dogs with black noses) and near whites highly undesirable. Undercoat, except in all black dogs, usually grey or fawn. Colour in itself is of secondary importance having no effect on character or fitness for work. Final colour of a young dog only ascertained when outer coat has developed.
Ideal height (from withers and just touching elbows): dogs: 63 cms (25 ins); bitches: 58 cms (23 ins). 2.5 cms (1 in) either above or below ideal permissible.
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
In 1901 German specialists keen to protect the best qualities of the breed introduced the Schutzhund Test to ensure that dogs were of correct temperament.
"The tracking phase includes a temperament test by the overseeing judge to assure the dog's mental soundness. When approached closely on a loose leash, the dog should not act shyly or aggressively. The track is laid earlier by a person walking normally on a natural surface such as dirt or grass. The track includes a number of turns and a number of small, man-made objects left by this person on the track itself. At the end of a 30-foot leash, the handler follows the dog, which is expected to scent the track and indicate the location of the objects, usually by lying down with it between its front paws. The tracking phase is intended to test the dog's trainability and ability to scent, as well as its mental and physical endurance.
The obedience phase includes a series of heeling exercises, some of which are closely in and around a group of people. During the heeling, there is a gun shot test to assure that the dog does not openly react to such sharp noises. There is also a series of field exercises in which the dog is commanded to sit, lie down, and stand while the handler continues to move. From these various positions, the dog is recalled to the handler. With dumbbells of various weights, the dog is required to retrieve on a flat surface, over a one-meter hurdle, and over a six-foot slanted wall. The dog is also asked to run in a straight direction from its handler on command and lie down on a second command. Finally, each dog is expected to stay in a lying down position away from its handler, despite distractions, at the other end of the obedience field, while another dog completes the above exercises. All of the obedience exercises are tests of the dog's temperament, structural efficiencies, and, very importantly, its willingness to serve man or woman.
The protection phase tests the dog's courage, physical strength and agility. The handler's control of the dog is absolutely essential. The exercises include a search of hiding places, finding a hidden person (acting as a human decoy), and guarding that decoy while the handler approaches. The dog is expected to pursue the decoy when an escape is attempted and to hold the grip firmly. The decoy is searched and transported to the judge with the handler and dog walking behind and later at the decoy's right side. When the decoy attempts to attack the handler, the dog is expected to stop the attack with a firm grip and no hesitation.
The final test of courage occurs when the decoy is asked to come out of a hiding place by the dog's handler from the opposite end of the trial field. The dog is sent as the decoy runs toward the dog and handler. The decoy runs directly at the dog, threatening the dog with a stick. All bites during the protection phase are expected to be firmly place on the padded sleeve and stopped on command and/or when the decoy discontinues the fight. The protection tests are intended to assure that the dog is neither a coward nor a criminal menace."
There are clubs in the UK which are now offering Schutzhund Training, contact your local GSD Breed club for further advice.
Breed Clubs and Societies
ALLERTONSHIRE GSD CLUB. Sec. Mrs T Hunter. Tel No: 01748 812251
BIRMINGHAM & DISTRICT GSD ASSOC. Sec. Mrs Hood. Tel No: 01922 457615
BOLTON & DISTRICT GSD CLUB. Sec. Mrs C Morrison. Tel No. 0161 368 4928
BRITISH ASSOC FOR GSDS. Sec. Mrs K Dunkason. Tel No: 02380 263999
CLYDE VALLEY GSD CLUB. Sec: Miss A Dickie. Tel No: 01236 604833
CREWE & NORTH STAFFS GSD CLUB. Sec. Ms A Doran. Tel No: 01782 388402
DERBYSHIRE GSD CLUB. Sec. Miss P Roe. Tel No: 01142 336262
FIFE GSD CLUB. Sec. Mrs H Christie. Tel No: 01307 466373
GSD CLUB OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. Sec. Mrs J Leadbetter. Tel No: 01388 730111
GSD CLUB OF BRISTOL. Sec. Mrs L Dodds. Tel No: 0117 957 3925
GSD CLUB OF DEVON. Sec. Miss S Tucker. Tel No: 01626 833260
GSD CLUB OF ESSEX. Sec. Mrs S Rankin. Tel No: 01708 342194
GSD CLUB OF HERTFORDSHIRE. Sec. Mrs J Green. Tel No: 01438 832525
GSD CLUB OF KENT. Sec: Mrs E Lowe. Tel No: 01843 846572
GSD CLUB OF NORTHERN IRELAND. Sec. Ms J Allen. Tel No: none available, please contact the Kennel Club for further information
GSD CLUB OF SCOTLAND. Sec. Mrs A Mathieson. Tel No: 01241 439230
GSD CLUB OF SUFFOLK. Sec. Mrs M McCrae. Tel No: 01473 719514
GSD CLUB OF WALES. Sec. Mrs S Evans. Tel No: 029 2021 9253
GSD LEAGUE OF GB. Sec. Miss C Lister. Tel No: 01630 638540
GRAMPIAN GSD ASSOC. Ms Dawson. Tel No: 01224 848201
HEADS OF THE VALLEY GSD CLUB. Sec. Mrs M Davies. Tel No: 01443 412975
HUMBERSIDE GSD CLUB. Sec. Mrs Bryant. Tel No: not available, please contact the Kennel Club for further information
ICENI GSD CLUB. Sec. Mrs Tidy. Tel No: 01473 310461
LEICESTERSHIRE GSD CLUB. Sec. Mrs D Walgate. Tel No: 0116 222970
MIDLAND COUNTIES GSD ASSOC. Sec. Mrs Macdougall. Tel No: 01636 813764
NORFOLK GSD CLUB. Sec. Mrs J Mann. Tel No: 01603 754713
NORTH EASTERN GSD CLUB. Sec. Ms S Hall. Tel No: 0191 241 1096
NORTH WALES ALSATIAN CLUB. Sec. Mrs C Wilson - 01407 840486
NORTH YORKSHIRE & SOUTH DURHAM GSD CLUB. Sec Ms Ingham. Tel No: Contact the Kennel Club for further information
PRESTON & FYLDE GSD CLUB. Sec. Mrs A Height. Tel No: 01942 867010
SHEFFIELD GSD SOCIETY. Sec. Mrs A Hardy. Tel No: 01777 703417
SOUTH WESTERN GSD CLUB. Sec: Mrs H Gray. Tel No: 01380 850483
SOUTH YORKSHIRE ALSATIAN ASSOC. Sec. Mr R Brandon. Tel No. 01302 721015
SOUTHERN GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG CLUB. Sec. Mrs V Kimber. Tel No: 01992 301585
TYNE VALLEY GSD CLUB. Ms I I'Anson. Tel No: 01207 543439
WEST YORKSHIRE GSD CLUB. Sec. Mrs Belfield. Tel No: 0113 237 4223