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Max von Stephanitz - Founder of the breed
First day at home



Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz (December 30, 1864 – 22 April 1936) was a German dog breeder who developed the German Shepherd Dog into the breed we know today. He set guidelines for the breed standard and was one of the founders and first president of the Verein (Association) für Deutsche Schäferhunde (abbreviated - SV).


He was primarily interested in improving shepherding dogs because they were the working dogs of his time. Stephanitz enjoyed attending dog shows and observed that there were many different types of shepherding dogs in use in Germany at the time and that there was no breed standardisation. He admired those dogs with a wolfish appearance and pricked ears; the dogs also had to be intelligent, have sharp senses and possess a willingness to work. He believed that he could create a better working dog that could then be used throughout Germany.


It was his idea to introduce the breed to other types of work other than shepherding, i.e.: delivering messages, rescue work, sentry duty, and also personal protection. Versatility, intelligence, loyalty, and utility were traits high on his list of breeding priorities. As a result of his efforts, the German Shepherd Dog became the world's most used working dog.


Separating a puppy from its littermates and mother is very traumatic. It may result in loss of appetite and sometimes even loose runny stools and can last for several days.

  • Your puppy’s first week at home should be a quiet one.

  • The puppy should be allowed to explore and meet its new family. It will be wonderful if each family member has a treat to give to the puppy as it moves around to meet everyone for the first time. Whenever your puppy goes to anyone in the family it must always be a pleasant experience, particularly during the first few days at home.

  • Sit on the ground and take your puppy onto your lap, talk to your puppy and cuddle it gently.

  • Protect your puppy from overly boisterous handling by young family members as it might become overawed.

  • Talk to your puppy as it explores its new surroundings to make it feel more at home.

  • You should now start teaching the puppy its name.

  • When you first arrive home give your puppy a chance to relieve itself in an area you have designated for that purpose.

  • Remember to supervise the puppy; do not let it out of your sight.



  • Keep on feeding what the breeder fed, until at least three months of age.

  • Do not add milk or rich food like liver, etc to the food as it might cause or aggravate existing diarrhoea.

  • Leave the puppy alone by itself so that it can eat. If you or any other family member remains in sight, the puppy will be distracted.

  • Offer food to your puppy three times a day. If your puppy isn't hungry that often, reduce the frequency.

  • After twelve weeks of age, feed twice a day. 

  • When fed once a day dogs become overly hungry and are more likely to overeat at mealtime. Let your puppy eat as much as he/she wants in fifteen minutes and then pick up the food dish. Puppies soon learn that if they do not get on with eating and finish the food, the food will “disappear”.

  • Free-fed (having food constantly available) puppies never get very hungry; they don't enjoy their food unless special treats are added. The combination of special treats and freely available food makes them picky.

  • CHANGING DOG FOOD: Should you prefer to change to another food you must do it gradually. One good way to switch food is to make use of the decreasing-increasing percentages method. This method can also be used to change older puppies 1 year and older from puppy food to adult food. For several days you feed 75% of the old food with 25% of the new food. For two more days feed 50% of each food. Lastly, for several days (or until the old food is finished) feed 75% of the new food with 25% of the old.

  • Avoid foods that sell at unusually low prices. It is impossible to distinguish good dog food from poor dog food simply by looking at the ingredient list on the label. Many things that owners look for, such as high protein levels and extra vitamins, are as likely to be harmful than helpful. For example, overfeeding (overweight puppy/dogs) is a factor that contributes to hip dysplasia. If you have a large-breed puppy, purchase "large breed" puppy food. The actual formula is different, not just the kibble size, and is better for very rapidly growing puppies.



If you want your dog to sleep inside


  • Your puppy’s sleeping quarters should be in a small pen from which it cannot escape.

  • Keep the pen in a draft-free area next to your bed. For approximately the first three weeks, if your puppy cries, take him out to the designated relieving area. Do not exuberantly praise your puppy (rather say nothing) if it relieves itself as it might send a signal to the puppy that you want to play; just put the puppy back into its pen without any fuss and your puppy should go back to sleep.

  • Give the puppy a stuffed toy to snuggle with.

  • Allowing your dog on the bed with you is fine if that is what you want it to do. Just remember that once you have allowed this you cannot scold your dog if he hops onto the bed when he is muddy or dirty. Rather train your dog to hop onto your bed only when you give him a command to do so.

  • Once your puppy is house trained and when he settles in quietly and easily for the night you can remove the pen and just provide a dog bed or cushion.


If you want your dog to sleep outside

  • Create a specific sleep area for your dog, in an enclosed area which is draft-free and sheltered from inclement weather.

  • Provide a dog bed or cushion and perhaps even a blanket or even a stuffed toy for the dog to snuggle.

  • Sit and play with your dog in this area so that he experiences “his place” as pleasurable.

  • Try and spend as much time as possible with your puppy in this space, before nightfall, before you have to leave him on his own.

  • He will whine and bark! Be strong….



Be mindful of hazardous areas such as a swimming pool or the driveway. Small puppies can easily worm their way through a standard swimming pool fence and they like sleeping under cars.



Expecting a bond to form automatically is wishful thinking. Creating a good bond with your dog requires that you consistently take the right actions. The following three things have enormous power to bond the two of you together:


  • Take your dog on regular, one-dog outings (only after his third inoculation at 12 to 14 weeks). A dog views a person who does this as a leader. It's also a perfect time to socialise your dog.

  • Train your dog daily. Some of this training needs to be done away from the house, such as on walks or in training class. Certain exercises are particularly good for building your bond with your dog:

  • Gentle stay training.

  • Come-when-called, with great rewards so that the dog knows it's always worthwhile to come to you.  

  • Walk on a loose leash.

  • Eye contact, attention exercise.

  • Retrieving, taught with a gentle method; a simple play retrieves if the dog is not training for competitive dog sport.


3. Daily grooming. It is impossible to overstate the benefits of this few minutes a day conditioning your dog to human handling and to your touch in particular.

Playing with your dog

You must make sure that your interaction with your dog is exciting for your dog. Even when your dog just comes to greet you, make a fuss, pat and rub him/her, do baby talk, etc. When you play with your dog, rough it up a little (keep age of dog in mind), but be careful, if your dog’s ears go down or it subtly shies away from you or lies down when you approach your dog in a playful manner, then your play is to rough for your dog, adapt the robustness of play to suit your dog. You know that you are getting it right when your dog brings a toy and drops it on your lap for you to play or your dog engages you in a playful manner (wriggles its body or goes for your feet as it approaches you); then you must play, even if it just for a brief moment, do not brush your dog aside. If your dog never engages to play you know you have bonding work to do.




House Training

Puppies have a strong natural instinct to avoid soiling their own area. If you are consistent and patient, this natural urge for cleanliness makes house training fairly easy. You can begin training at any time after five weeks of age. A little extra effort and patience in puppyhood will make the difference between a happy, cooperative pet and one that causes problems.

Consider the following:


  • Know that scolding, once the deed is done, does not help. A sharp “No” when your puppy starts relieving itself helps to get the message across. Carry your puppy out immediately. When your puppy continues to relieve itself outside, praise lavishly

  • Clean up the “accident” with something to mask the smell.

  • Know that dogs normally relieve themselves when they wake up. So make sure to take your puppy outside when it wakes up.

  • Watch your dog’s body language; when your puppy starts sniffing around (searching for a place to relieve itself) take him/her outside immediately. Praise your puppy when it relieves itself.

  • You must get up throughout the night to take your puppy out. When you hear him/her waking up and sniffing about, get up and take your puppy outside. A pen or crate is the best, as your puppy will not have the run of your room if you do not hear him/her waking up.

  • It will take a week or so to get your puppy trained.


Obedience Training

We advise that you do not take your puppy for training until it has had all its puppy inoculations which should be around 3 to 4 months of age. To be absolutely sure it might be best to wait until the puppy is 5-6 months old. You really do not need a puppy school to take advantage of the rapid learning phase (Age 7-12 weeks). Socialisation does not have to put your puppy’s health at risk; find a healthy and safe environment.


Decide what you want to do with your dog. If you just want an obedient dog, a general dog school will suffice. If you want to show your dog or participate in dog sport (Agility, Fly ball, IPO, etc.) you have to go to clubs or personal trainers who are able to give you specialised assistance.


Dog shedding occurs in nearly all dogs and is a natural process of eliminating (shedding) dead hair. German Shepherd Dogs have double coats, i.e. a soft undercoat, and the outer and much coarser topcoat. GSD’s can shed profusely, blowing their coat twice a year in what seems like endless loads. Blowing coat is a term that describes the heavy shedding that takes place twice a year, once in the spring time and another in the autumn.


The best solution is brush, brush and brush again!


  • Do moderate brushing with a soft brush until your puppy has its permanent hair.

  • To manage the double coat you should use an undercoat rake to comb out hair and shedding undercoat.

  • Follow this up by brushing with a slicker brush to remove dust, dirt and loose fine hair.

  • Always go in the direction of hair growth when you are brushing your dog. 

Tips to control excessive shedding


The overall health of a dog is one of the biggest factors that influence how much hair actually falls out. A dog who is shedding more than the usual amount for the breed may have undiagnosed health issues.


Feed a high-quality diet. One of the best ways to reduce excessive shedding in dogs is to start with a healthy diet. Cheap dog food is made mostly of fillers that dogs have difficulty digesting, such as corn and grains. Better quality foods cost more but they do a better job controlling dog shedding because they are made with better protein sources that are more easily digested, which allows your dog to absorb more vitamins and minerals than cheap dog food. Keep in mind that better nutrition can help reduce shedding, but it won't eliminate shedding completely.


Add omega-3 oils into your dog's daily foods or administer as a supplement. When used in combination with other measures such as feeding a better diet, additional omega-3s can reduce dog shedding by calming inflamed skin, decreasing dandruff and improving overall coat texture.


Control fleas. Dogs with flea problems scratch incessantly which causes hair to fall out. Keeping your dog free of fleas will prevent irritated skin, dandruff and excessive fur shedding.


Brush regularly with a breed appropriate dog de-shedding tool. Grooming tools such as rakes help keep loose fur to a minimum, it prevents excessive shedding because you have raked loose undercoat fur out before it is shed naturally.


Bathing your dog encourages loose hair to fall out in the tub instead of on your furniture. However, over-bathing can cause dry skin, which can cause the fur to fall out. A well maintained German Shepherd Dog usually doesn’t require frequent bathing. Maintenance includes everything, from a healthy diet to regular brushing. Routine and regular brushing naturally keeps your dog clean and so frequent washing becomes unnecessary. However, should wash your dog when it is really dirty (playing in mud, etc.) More important is what shampoo you use. The cheap shampoos will dry out the coat/skin; purchase a high-quality shampoo; use the stuff the professionals use, you will pay more, but it is worthwhile.



Between six and sixteen weeks of age, puppies lose the disease protection they received from their mothers and start to develop their own immunity to disease. Unfortunately, we never know exactly when this happens, so there is often a brief period when puppies have lost the disease protection that they received from their mothers, but have not yet developed strong immunity of their own.


Until your puppy is four or five months old, try to prevent contact with stray dogs or sick dogs. Avoid boarding your puppy or taking him/her to places where lots of other dogs relieve themselves.




Deworming remedies


Keep the following in mind:

  • De-worming products from vets only are generally the newer combination medications. These products are more effective than those bought at supermarkets and pet shops.

  • Single treatment products are not highly effective in the treatment of the larval stages of Roundworm and Hookworm.


Preventative practices

  • Remove all dog faeces from the dog’s environment on a daily basis.

  • Proper control of fleas will decrease the occurrence of flea tapeworm.

  • Do not feed suspect meat as it might be infected with life-threatening tapeworm.


It is recommended that all dogs on the property be de-wormed with an effective, broad-spectrum worming remedy every six months.


If a persistent infestation is suspected it is advisable to take a faeces specimen to your vet so that a test can be done to establish the following:


  • is there a worm infestation?

  • what worms are present?

  • how heavy is the infestation?

  • is my de-worming agent effective?

  • do I need to de-worm at all?


Common worms in dogs and their symptoms


Emaciation, vomiting, diarrhoea, or constipation with a typical bloated appearance.


Anaemia, emaciation and weakening, puppies grow poorly, the coat becomes dull, loss of hair is visible, upset stomachs, faeces often have a slimy, bloody jelly-like appearance, itching skin infections and irritations are sometimes seen.



Dypilidium Caninum is the most common tapeworm in dogs and is harmless. However, tapeworm segments stick to the anal area and can be seen in the faeces which causes a feeling of aversion towards the dog.



Your pup’s ears will go up and down and up again or fall sideways or crisscross. One ear will be up and the other down sometimes leaning on each other as if clothes-pegged together. This is normal. After they are done teething and adult teeth are in (around 7 months of age) the ears will remain up.


The German Shepherd Dog breed was developed by breeding different herding dogs that existed at the time. Some dogs had erect ears, others were partially erect and some were even drop-eared. Erect ears were preferred and written into the standard of the breed. However, one cannot change the foundation of the breed and so every once in a while a puppy will pop up that has floppy ears. These dogs have to have their ears supported with lightweight ear supports, to increase the chances that the ears will remain erect.


Teething places a huge strain on the pup's system, as does anything that affects the pup's general health, but if an ear has ever been up under its own power it will re-erect. Most erect-eared pups regain erectness by 6 months of age but sometimes it can take a bit longer. Generally, the larger the dog is going to be, the longer it takes for the ears to come up. Large males are usually the slowest. German Shepherd Dog ears are made of cartilage that firms up as teething passes and the calcium supply used for teething goes back into the ears.


If the bases of the ears are standing before the teething process, they will probably come up on their own. If the pup is over 5 months, and the ears were not up before teething, you might want to consider ear supports.

Feeding your puppy
First night at home
Bonding with your puppy
Training your puppy
Obedience training
Brushing your dog
Tips to control excessive shedding
Ears not up
Changing dog food
Weekly grooming







Wipe head and muzzle with a soft damp cloth 
Wipe tear-stains away
Check teeth for tartar build-up
Check corners of lips for gunky saliva build-up and/or dryness.
Check if the nose is dry and cracked
To prevent flystrike, apply Shoo-Fly ointment regularly.
If the ears are not fully erect yet, rather use Shoo-Fly spray.
If a flystrike crust has already formed, do not pick it, rather just apply the ointment as it contains healing properties.


Wipe the inside of the ear with a damp cloth. 
Be careful that water does not seep into the ears.
Ensure that you get to all the folds and creases
To prevent flystrike, apply Shoo-Fly ointment regularly.
If the ears are not fully erect yet, rather use Shoo-Fly spray.
If a flystrike crust has already formed, do not pick it, rather just apply the ointment as it contains healing properties.


Brush at least once a week with a undercoat rake and follow up with a slicker brush.


Calluses usually form on the elbows when the dog's favourite lie-down place is paved. 
Apply a mixture of equal parts of milking cream and Germolene ointment regularly. 

 Grooming essentials

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