The German shepherd Dog is medium sized. With the hair pressed down, the height at the withers ismeasured by stick along the vertical as it follows the line of the elbow from the withers to the ground. The ideal height at the withers is 62.5cm for males and 57.5cm for females. An allowance of 2.5cm over or under is permissible. Exceeding the maximum as well as not meeting the minimum diminishes the working and breeding value of the dog.
The German Shepherd Dog is slightly long, stretched, powerful and well muscled. The bones are dry and firmly developed. The ratio of height to length and placement and structure of the limbs (angulation) are so balanced that a far reaching, effortless gait is guaranteed. He has a weatherproof coat. A harmonious appearance is desired as long as the working ability of the dog is not called into question. Sex characteristics must be pronounced, as the masculinity of the males and the femininity of the females must be unmistakable.
Angulation and Movement
The German Shepherd Dog is a gaiter. His gait exhibits a diagonal movement; that is, the hind and foreleg on the same side always move in opposite directions. Therefore, the limbs must be so similarly proportioned to one another, angulated, that the action of the rear as it is always carried through to the middle of the body is matched by an equally far reaching forehand causing no essential change in the topline. The over angulated rear diminishes the firmness and endurance. The correct proportions of height to length and corresponding length of leg bones results in a ground covering gait which is low to the ground and gives the impression of effortless progression. With his head thrust forward and tail slightly raised, a balanced and steady trotter will have a topline running unbroken in a gentle curve from the tip of the ears over the neck and back to the tip of the tail.
Temperament, Character and Abilities
Strong nerves, alertness, self confidence, trainability, watchfulness, loyalty and incorruptability as well as courage, hardness and fighting drive are the outstanding characteristics of a pure bred German Shepherd Dog. They make him suitable to be a superior working dog in general and especially as a guard, companion, protection and herding dog. His ample scenting ability added to his conformation as a trotter makes it possible for him to quietly and surely work out a trail without bodily strain and with his nose close to the ground. This makes him highly useful as a multi-purpose track and search dog.
The head should be in proportion to the body size (in length, approximately 40 percent of the height of the withers) and not coarse, over refined nor over stretched. In general appearance, it should be dry with moderate breadth between the ears. The forehead, when viewed from the side, is only slightly arched. It should be without a center furrow or with only one slightly defined. The cheeks form a gentle curve laterally without protrusion toward the front. When viewed from above, the skull (in length, approximately 50 percent of the entire head length) tapers gradually and evenly from the ears to the tip of the nose, with a sloping rather than a sharply defined stop, into a long, dry wedge shaped muzzle. The upper and lower jaws must be strongly developed. The width of the skull should correspond approximately to the length of the skull. A slightly oversized skull in the case of the male and slightly undersized in the case of the female is not objectionable. The muzzle is strong and the lips are firm, dry and close tightly. The bridge of the nose is straight and runs nearly parallel with the plane of the forehead.
Dentition must be strong, healthy and complete with 42 teeth, 20 in the upper jaw and 22 in the lower jaw. The German Shepherd Dog has a scissor bite, therefore, the outside surface of the lower incisors slide next to the inside surface of the upper incisors. A level, overshot or undershot bite is faulty as are large gaps between teeth. The jaws must be strongly developed so that the teeth may be deeply rooted.
The ears are of medium size, wide at the base and set high. They taper to a point and are carried facing forward and vertical. Tipped ears are undesirable and ears that drop or have been cropped must be rejected. Ears drawn toward each other greatly impair the general appearance. The ears of puppies and young dogs sometimes drop or pull toward each other during the teething period, which can last until the sixth month of age and sometimes longer. While in motion or in a relaxed position, many dogs do carry their ears relaxed against the head.
This is not a fault.
The eyes are of medium size, almond shaped, set somewhat aslant and not protuberant. The color of the eye should blend with the color of the coat and be as dark as possible. They should have a lively, intelligent and self-confident expression.
The neck should be strong with well developed muscles and no loose folds or dewlaps. It is normally held level but is raised up when excited and it is lowered while in motion.
The body length should exceed the height at the withers by 110-117%; square or tall dogs are not desired. The chest is deep but not too broad. The ribs should be well formed and long, neither flat or barreled. The rib cage extends far back so that the loin is relatively short. The underchest should be long and pronounced. The belly should be moderately drawn up.
The withers are long and high, sloping slightly from front to rear and defined against the back into which it gently blends without breaking the topline. The back and loin should be straight and well muscled, yet not too long from the withers to the croup. The loin should be wide, strong and well muscled. The croup is long and slightly angled. Short sloping or flat croups are undesirable.
The shoulder blade should be long and set at an oblique angle and lie flat against the body. The upper arm and the shoulder must be strong and well muscled. The forearm must be straight when viewed from all sides. The bones of the upper and forearm are more oval than round. The pasterns should be firm but neither too steep nor too flat. The elbows must be neither turned in nor out. The length of the running bones should exceed the depth of the chest 55%.
The thigh is broad and well muscled. The upper thigh is fairly long and, viewed from the side, is set diagonally to a proportionately long stifle bone. The hock joint is strong and forms a firm joint with the lower thigh bone. The entire hindquarters must be strong and well muscled to be capable of carrying the body effortlessly forward.
The tail is bushy and should reach at least to the hock joint but is not beyond the middle of the hock. Sometimes the tail forms a hook to one side at its end -- this is undesirable. The tail is normally carried in a gentle downward curve, but when the dog is excited or in motion, it is curved more and carried higher, though it should never be carried past the vertical. Therefore, the tail should never be carried straight or curved over the back. Docked tails are to be rejected.
The feet are relatively short, round, tight and arched. The pads are hard but not chapped. The nails are short and strong and of a dark color. Dewclaws sometimes appear on the rear legs but should removed within the first few days after whelping.
The color can be black, gray, either as a solid color or with regular brown, tan or light gray markings or a black saddle. Also, the sable pattern of a black overlay or a gray, tan, or brown base with lighter markings to tone. Small white markings on the forechest or a very light color on the insides of the legs is permissible though not desired. The nose must be black with all colors. The undercoat, except in black dogs, is always a lighter shade. The final color of a puppy is only determined when the outer coat has completely developed. Dogs with an insufficient mask or who are lacking the mask, with yellowish eyes or light eyes, light markings on the chest and on the inside of the feet as well as yellowish toenails or a red tail or washed out soft colors are lacking in pigmentation.
The outer coat should be as thick as possible and composed of straight, coarse hairs that lay close to the body. The coat is short at the toes, but it grows longer and more profuse on the neck. The hair grows longer on the back of the fore and rear legs as far down as the pastern and the hock joint and forms moderate trousers on the thighs. The length of the hair varies and due to these differences in length, there are many intermediate types. A too short mole-like coat is faulty.
The following faults exclude a dog for use in breeding. Anything that impairs working powers, endurance and competency, in particular lack of sex charisterics or shepherd instincts such as apathy, weak nerves or over-excitability, shyness; lacking in vitality or willingness to work; monorchids and cryptorchids and testicles too small; soft or flabby constitution and lack of substance; fading pigment; blues and whites; over and undersized dogs. Other faults include stunted growth; disproportionate height or length; overloaded chest; too refined or coarse build; soft backs; too steep a chest; too steep a placement of the limbs or anything else that detracts from reach or endurance of gait; a muzzle that is too short, blunt, weak, pointed or narrow and lacking in strength, an over or undershot bite or any other faults of dentition, especially weak or worn teeth. A coat that is too soft, too short or too long and lacking in undercoat, hanging ears, a permanently faulty ear carriage or cropped ears. A ringed, curled or generally faulty tail set, a docked tail or naturally short tail.