GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG
F.C.I. Standard No 166 dated 23/3/91
Adopted in Australia 1/1/94.
Translation by - Mrs H. Gross-Richardson.
Country of Origin - Germany
A SHORT HISTORICAL OVERVIEW - According to the official
records of the Breed Club for the German Shepherd Dog (Verein
fur Deutsche Schaeferhunde Inc., Augsburg.) - (SV)), in the
Association for German Dog Matters (VDH). The SV, as the
founding association of the breed, is responsible for the
Standard of the German Shepherd Dog, which was drawn up at the
first meeting of members in Frankfurt am Maine on 20th
September 1899, on the proposals of A. Meyer and Von
Stephanitz. There were supplementary clauses added at the 6th
meeting of members on 28th July 1901, the 23rd Meeting in
Cologne in September 1909, the Executive and advisory
commission Wiesbaden on 5th September, 1930, and the Breed
Commission and Executive meeting on 25th March 1961, within
the framework of the World Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs
(WUSV). It was revised and confirmed at the WUSV conference
on 30th August 1976, revised and catalogued by authorisation
and resolution of the Executive and Advisory Committee on 23rd
The German Shepherd Dog, whose planned breeding commenced in
the year 1899, after the founding of the GSD Verein, was bred
from the central German and South German strains of the
existing herding dogs of those times, with the final goal of
creating a working dog, predisposed to high working aptitude.
in order to reach this goal, the Breed Standard was laid down,
which relates to the physical attributes, as well as to those
of temperament and character.
GENERAL APPEARANCE - The German Shepherd Dog is medium sized,
slightly elongated, powerful and well muscled, the bones dry
and the overall structure firm.
Important Proportions: The height of withers:
for dogs is 60-65 cm (23½ - 25½ ins), and
for bitches 55-60 cm (21½ - 23½ ins).
The length of the body is greater than the height at the
withers by about 10 to 17%.
CHARACTERISTICS - Usage: All round working, herding and
(See also under General Appearance and Temperament.)
TEMPERAMENT - The German Shepherd Dog must be of well balanced
temperament, steady of nerve, self assured, absolutely free
and easy, and (unless provoked) completely good natured, as
well as alert and tractable. He must have courage, combative
instinct and hardness, in order to be suitable as companion,
watch, protection, service and herding dog.
HEAD AND SKULL - The head is wedge shaped, proportionate in
size to the body, (length of head about 40% of the height at
withers) without being coarse or over long; in overall
appearance dry, and moderately broad between the ears. The
forehead is only slightly domed viewed from the front and from
the side, and without any, or only slightly indicated, central
furrow. The ratio of skull to muzzle is 50:50. The breadth
of the skull corresponds approximately to its length. The
skull, viewed from above, tapers evenly from the ears to the
nose, with a sloping, not sharply defined, stop, into the
wedge-shaped foreface (muzzle). Upper and lower jaws are
strongly developed. The bridge of the nose is straight, a
dishfaced or convex curve is not desired. The lips are tight,
well fitting and of a dark colour.
The Nose: Must be black.
EYES - Are medium sized, almond shaped, slightly oblique and
not protruding. The colour of the eyes should be as dark as
possible. Light, piercing eyes are not desirable as they
detract from the expression of the dog.
EARS - The German Shepherd Dog has erect ears of medium size,
that are carried upright and almost parallel (not pulled
inwards). They run to a point and are set with the orifice to
the front. Tipped ears and drop ears are faulty. Ears
carried laid back during gaiting or when at rest are not
MOUTH - The dentition must be strong, healthy and complete (42
teeth, in accordance with the dentition formula). The German
Shepherd Dog has a scissor bite, that is, the incisors must
connect like scissors, so that the incisors of the upper jaw
cut scissor-like over those of the lower jaw. Level, over- or
undershot bites are faulty, as well as large gaps between the
teeth. It is also a fault when the incisors are placed in a
straight line in the gums. The jawbones must be strongly
developed, so that the teeth are embedded deeply in the
NECK - The neck should be strong, well muscled and free from
throatiness (dewlap). The angle to the body (horizontal) is
about 45 degrees (during stance).
FOREQUARTERS - The forelegs are straight viewed from all
sides, absolutely parallel viewed from the front. Shoulder
blade and upper arm are of equal length and firmly attached to
the body with strong musculation. The angulation of shoulder
blade and upper arm is, in the ideal case, 90 degrees, but as
a rule 110 degrees. The elbows should be neither turned out
nor pinched in, either in stance or during movement. The
forearm should be straight viewed from all sides, and stand
absolutely parallel, dry and firmly muscled. The pastern is
approximately 1/3 of the length of the forearm, and has an
angle of approximately 20 to 22 degrees to the forearm. Too
sloping pasterns (more than 22 degrees) and too steep pasterns
(less than 20 degrees) diminish the dog's working ability, and
especially its endurance.
BODY - The topline flows from the set on of neck over the well
defined withers and over the back, sloping very slightly from
the horizontal to the slightly sloping croup without a
noticeable break. The back is firm, strong and well muscled.
The loin is broad, strongly developed and well muscled. The
croup should be long and gently sloping (approximately 23
degrees to the horizontal) into the set on of tail, without
disrupting the topline.
The Chest: Should be moderately broad, the underchest as long
as possible and well developed. The depth of chest should be
about 45% to 48% of the height at the withers.
The Ribs: Should be moderately sprung. Barrel chested is as
equally faulty as is slab sided.
HINDQUARTERS - The position of the hindlegs is slightly set
back, whereby the hindlimbs, viewed from the back, stand
parallel to each other. Upper and lower thighs are of almost
equal length and form an angle of about 120 degrees; the
thighs are strong and well muscled. The hocks are well
developed and firm; the rear pastern stands perpendicular
under the hock.
FEET - The front feet are rounded, well closed and arched.
The hind feet are closed, and slightly arched. The pads are
hard but not rough, and of dark colour. The nails are strong,
arched and of dark colour.
TAIL - Reaches at least to the hock, however, not below the
middle of the rear pastern. It is slightly longer haired on
the underside, and is carried curving down gently, higher in
excitement and during movement, but not above the horizontal.
Corrective operations are forbidden.
GAIT/MOVEMENT - The German Shepherd Dog is a trotter. The
limbs must be of such length and angulation that the
hindquarters may be thrust well forward under the body, and
the forequarters reach equally far forward, without noticeable
change in the topline. Any tendency towards overangulation of
the hindquarters lessens their firmness and endurance, and
thus the dog's utmost working ability. With correct
structural proportions and angulations, a roomy, smooth,
ground covering gait results, that gives the impression of
effortless forward propulsion. With the head pushed forward,
and a slightly raised tail, an even and calm trot results in a
softly curving and unbroken topline, running from tips of the
ears, over the neck and back, to the tip of the tail.
COAT - The skin fits loosely, but without forming folds. The
correct coat of the German Shepherd Dog is a double coat
(Stockhaar) with undercoat. The top coat should be as dense
as possible, straight, harsh and close lying. It should be
short on the head, including inside the ears, the front of the
legs and on the feet and toes; it is a little longer and
heavier coated on the neck. The hair lengthens on the back of
the legs to the pastern or hock; on the back of the thighs it
forms moderate breeching.
COLOUR - Black with reddish tan, tan, gold to light grey
markings. All black, and all grey; in greys with dark
shadings, black saddle and mask. Unobtrusive, small white
markings on chest as well as very light colour on insides of
legs permissible but not desirable. The nose must be black in
all colour types. Lacking mask, light to piercing eyes, as
well as whitish markings on chest and inner sides of legs,
light nails and red tip of tail are to be rated as lacking in
pigment. The undercoat is of a light grey toning.
The colour white is not permitted.
Dogs: Height at withers 60-65 cm (23½ - 25½ ins)
Weight 30-40 kg (66-88 lbs)
Bitches: Height at withers 55-60 cm (21½ - 23½ ins)
Weight 22-32 kg (48-71 lbs).
FAULTS - 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
Major Faults: Deviations from the above described Breed
Standard that impair the working ability.
Ear Faults: Too low set at the sides, tipped ears, inward
tilted ears, ears not firm.
Considerable pigment deficiencies.
Strongly impaired overall firmness.
Dentition Faults: All deviations from a scissor bite and the
dentition formula, as far as it does not concern
Weak character disqualifying faults. (See below)
, savageness or nervousness.
Proven "severe H.D".
Monorchids and cryptorchids, as well as dogs with clearly
uneven or atrophied (stunted ) testicles.
Disfiguring ear or tail defects.
Dentition faults, missing:
1 Pre-Molar 3, and one further tooth, OR
1 Canine, OR
1 Pre-Molar 4, OR
1 Molar 1 OR
1 Molar 2 OR
3 or more teeth altogether.
Jaw defects: Overshot 2mm or more. Undershot. Level bite in
the whole region of the incisors.
More than 1cm over or under size.
White coat colour (even with dark eyes and nails).
Long double coat (Long Stockhaar): Long, wavy, topcoat not
lying closely, with undercoat, feathering on ears and legs,
bushy breeches and bushy tail forming flags below.
Longcoat: Long, soft top coat without undercoat, usually with
a parting down the back, flags on ears and legs and tail.
NOTE - Male animals should have two apparently normal
testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
Working Dog Group A.N.K.C. © January 1998
Last Updated: 8/8/01