The World Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs (WUSV)
The German Shepherd Dog is medium sized. With the
hair pressed down, the height at the withers is measured 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 62.5 cm
for males and 57.5 for females. An allowance of 2.5 cm 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 is slightly long, strong and well muscled.
The bones are dry and the structure firm. The ratio of height to
length and the placement and structure of the limbs (angulation) are
so balanced that a far-reaching, effortless trot is guaranteed. He
has a weather proof coat.
A pleasing appearance is desired as long as the working ability
of the dog is not called into question.
Sex characteristics must be pronounced, e.g., the masculinity of
the males and the femininity of the females must be unmistakable.
The German Shepherd that corresponds to the Standard offers the
observer a picture of rugged strength, intelligence and agility,
whose overall proportions are neither in excess or deficient in any
way. The way he moves and behaves leaves no doubt that he is sound
in mind and body and so possesses physical and mental traits that
render possible an ever ready working dog with great stamina.
It is only possible for a practiced expert to ascertain the
presence of requisite working dog traits in the German Shepherd.
Therefore, only special judges should be called upon, as it is
incumbent on them to judge the character of the dogs brought before
them. This should include a test for gun soundness, as only German
Shepherd Dogs that have achieved recognized working dog titles may
receive the breed rating excellent.
With an effervescent temperament, the dog must also be
cooperative, adapting to every situation, and take to work willingly
and joyfully. He must show courage and hardness as the situation
requires to defend his handler and his property. He must readily
attack on his owner's command but otherwise be a fully attentive,
obedient and pleasant household companion. He should be devoted to
his familiar surroundings, above all to other animals and children,
and composed in his contact with people. All in all, he gives a
harmonious picture of natural nobility and self-confidence.
The German Shepherd Dog is a trotter. His gait
exhibits diagonal movement, I.e., the hind foot and the fore foot on
opposite sides move simultaneously. The limbs, therefore, must be so
similarly proportioned to one another, i.e. angulated, that the
action of the rear as it carries through to the middle of the body
and is matched by an equally far-reaching forehand causes no
essential change in the top line. Every tendency toward over
angulation of the rear quarters diminishes soundness and endurance.
The correct proportions of height to length and corresponding length
of the leg bones results in a ground-eating gait that is low to the
ground and imparts an impression of effortless progression. With his
head thrust forward and a slightly raised tail, a balanced and even
trotter will have a top line that falls in moderate curves from the
tip of the ears over the neck and level back through the tip of the
Sound nerves, alertness, self confidence,
trainability, watchfulness, loyalty and incorruptibility, as well as
courage, fighting drive and hardness, are the outstanding
characteristics of a purebred German Shepherd Dog. They make his
suitable to be a superior working dog in general, and in particular
to be a guard, companion, protection and herding dog.
His ample scenting abilities, added to his conformation as a
trotter, make it possible for him to quietly and surely work out a
track without bodily strain and with his nose close to the ground.
This makes him highly useful as a multipurpose track and search dog.
The head should be in proportion to the body size
(in length approximately 40% of the height at the withers) and not
coarse, overrefined or overstretched (snipey). In general appearance,
it should be dry with moderate breadth between the ears.
The forehead when viewed from the front or side is only slightly
arched. It should be without a center furrow or with only a slightly
The cheeks form a gentle curve laterally without protrusion
toward the front. When viewed from above, the skull (approximately
50% 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 and 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. Also, a slight oversize in the case of males or
undersize in the case of females is not objectionable.
The muzzle is strong; the lips are firm and dry and close
The bridge of the nose is straight and runs nearly parallel with
the plane of the forehead.
Dentition must be healthy, strong and complete
(42 teeth, 20 in the upper jaw and 22 in the lower jaw). The German
Shepherd Dog has a scissors bite, e.g. the incisors must meet each
other in a scissors like fashion, with the outer surface of the
incisors of the lower jaw sliding next to the inner surface of the
incisors of the upper jaw.
An undershot or overshot bite if faulty, as are large gaps
between the teeth. A level bite is faulty, as the incisors close on
a straight line.
The jaws must be strongly developed so that the teeth may be
The ears are of medium size, wide at the base and
set high. They taper to a point and are carried facing forward and
vertically (the tips not inclined toward each other). Tipped,
cropped and hanging ears are 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 six months of age and sometimes longer.
Many dogs draw their ears back during motion or at rest. This is
The eyes are of medium size, almond shaped,
somewhat slanting and not protruding.
The color of the eyes should blend with the color of the coat.
They should 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 without looseness of the throat skin (dewlaps).
The neck is carried at an angle of about 45 degrees to the
horizontal. It is carried higher when excited and lower when
The body length should exceed the height at the withers. It
should amount to about 110 to 117% of the height at the withers.
Dogs with a short, square or tall build are undesirable.
The chest is deep (approximately 45 to 48% of the
height at the withers) but not too wide. The under chest should be
as long as possible and pronounced.
The ribs should be well formed and long, neither barrel shaped
nor too flat. They should reach the sternum, which is at the same
level as the elbows. A correctly formed rib cage allows the elbows
freedom of movement when the dogs trots. A too round rib cage
disrupts the motion of the elbows and causes them to turn out. A too
flat rib cage draws the elbows in toward one another. The rib cage
extends far back so that the loins are relatively short.
The abdomen is moderately tucked up.
The back, including the loins, is straight and strongly developed
yet not too long between the withers and the croup.
The withers must be long and high, sloping slightly from front to
rear, defined against the back into which it gently blends without
breaking the top line.
The loins must be wide, strong and well muscled.
The croup is long and slightly angled (approximately 23 degrees).
The ileum and the sacrum are the foundation bones of the croup.
Short, steep or flat croups are undesirable.
The tail is bushy and should reach at least to the hock joint but
not beyond the middle of the hocks. Sometimes the tail forms a hook
to one side at its end, though this is undesirable. At rest the tail
is carried in a gentle downward curve, but when the dog is excited
or in motion, it is curved more and carried higher. The tail should
never be raised past the vertical. The tail, therefore, should not
be carried straight or curled over the back.
Docked tails are inadmissible.
The shoulder blade should be long with an oblique
placement (the angle at 45 degrees) and lying flat against the body.
The upper arm joins the shoulder blade in an approximate right
angle. The upper arm as well as the shoulder must be strong and well
The forearm must be straight when viewed from all sides. The
bones of the upper arm and forearm are more oval than round.
The pasterns should be firm but neither too steep nor too down in
pastern (Approximately 20 degrees).
The elbows must be neither turned in nor turned out. the length
of the leg bones should exceed the depth of the chest (approximately
The thigh is broad and well muscled.
The upper thigh bone when viewed from the side joins the only
slightly longer lower thigh bone at an angle of approximately 120
degrees. The angulation corresponds roughly to the forequarter
angulation without being over angulated.
The hock joint is strong and firm.
The hock is strong and forms a firm joint with the lower thigh.
The entire hindquarters must be strong and well muscled to be
capable of carrying the body effortlessly forward during motion.
The feet are relatively round, short, tightly
formed and arched. The pads are very hard, but not chapped. The
nails are short, strong and of a dark color.
Dew claws sometime appear on the hind legs and should be removed
within the first few days of birth.
Color should be black with regular markings in
brown, tan to light gray, also with a black saddle, dark sable
(black cover on a gray or light brown case with corresponding
lighter marks), black, uniform gray or with light or brown markings.
Small white markings on the fore chest or a very light color on the
insides of the legs are permissible though not desired. The nose
must be black with all coat colors. (Dogs with little or no masks,
yellow or strikingly light eyes, light markings on the chest and
insides of the legs, white nails and a red tip of the tail or washed
out weak colors are considered lacking in pigment.) The undercoat or
base hair is always light gray, with the exception of that on black
dogs. the final color of a puppy is only determined when the outer
coat completely develops.
a) The medium smooth coated German Shepherd Dog
The outer coat should be as thick as possible.
The individual hairs are straight, coarse and lying flat against the
body. The coat is short on the head inclusive of the ears, the front
of the legs, the feet and the toes but longer and thicker on the
neck. The hair grows longer on the back of the fore- and hind legs
as far down as the pastern and the hock joint, forming moderate
reaching on the thighs. the length of the hair varies, and due to
these differences in length, there are many intermediate forms. A
too short or mole like coat is faulty.
b) The long coated German Shepherd Dog
The coat is considerably longer than that of the
long-smooth-coat. It is generally very soft and forms a parting
along the back. The undercoat will be found in the region of the
loins or will not be present at all. A long coat is greatly
diminished in weatherproofing and utility and therefore is
Faults include anything that impairs working
versatility, endurance and working competency: