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German Shepherd Dog Anatomy


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German Shepherd Dog Anatomy

The German Shepherd Dog is essentially a trotting dog. Developed for herding the dog would work all day - almost always in a trot never tiring. Therefore strict adherence to the structural makeup is of utmost importance. Croup formation and shoulder angulation are just many of the features that serious dedicated breeders work for in their breeding stock.

With sound structural efficiencies for long, arduous work, the standard for the German Shepherd Dog calls for mental stability and a willingness to work. The dog should be approachable, quietly standing its ground, showing confidence and a willingness to meet overtures without itself necessarily making them. It should be generally calm, but eager and alert when the situation warrants. It should be fearless, but also good with children. The German Shepherd Dog should not be timid or react nervously to unusual sounds or sights. A dog that is overly aggressive because of its overall fears of people and events can be extremely dangerous. These dogs should be eliminated from the gene pool as dogs that are not structurally sound.

The withers is maybe one of the most notable parts of canine anatomy, as it is used to measure the height of a dog. The withers is a ridge on the dog's back between its shoulder blades. The height of a dog is measured from the bottom of the paw up to the withers, and never includes the neck, head or ears of a dog in the measurement. Starting from the paws on a dog's forelegs, the paw is connected to the pastern by the wrist joint. There is no human equivalent to the pastern, but it is the shortest and lowest bone on a dog's forelegs excluding the paws and toes. The pastern is connected to the forearm by the pastern joint, and the forearm is connected to the upper arm by the elbow. These are only vaguely similar to forearms, elbows and upper arms found in humans. The upper arm is connected to the body by the shoulder.

German Shepherd Dog Skeletal

A dog's hind legs are considerably different than its forelegs. Again starting from the paws, the hind paws are connected to the rear pastern. The rear pastern is connected to the secondary thigh, also known as the gaskin, by a pronounced joint known as the hock. The secondary thigh is connected to the upper thigh by the stifle, sometimes referred to as the knee joint. The upper thigh forms the hind-quarters and is connected to the body by the hip.

Along the back of the dog, there is the croup, loin, back, withers and crest. The croup is the rear-most portion of the dog's back, where the tail is connected. The crest lies along the neck-line of the dog. The loin, back and withers fall in between the two, in the order described. Along the underside, there is abdomen, brisket and fore chest. The abdomen is rear-most portion of the dog's underside, starting where the rib-cage stops. The brisket forms the underside of the dog's chest, where the rib-cage is, and the fore chest is the protrusion of chest past that forelegs.

The head of the dog includes characters common among most mammals such as eyes, nose, ears and tongue. The elongated portion of the dog's mouth and nose area is known as the muzzle. The point where the muzzle meets the remainder of the head is known as the stop, and is usually where the eyes are located.

German Shepherd Dog Proportions to the Standard

The "white" line represents the height at the shoulders, which should be measured using a special rod for measuring dogs, placing the animal on a solid floor. The "Orange" line represents the total length of the trunk which the German Shepherd Dog varies between 111% and 125% of its height at the shoulders.

German Shepherd Dog Cranio Facial Ratio

The cranio-facial axes (cranial axis AB and facial axis CD) are parallel in the German Shepherd dog. Any deviation from the parallelism represents a defect of varying degree. The right cranio-facial ratio is 1:1 (The mouth should be closed for accuraracy).

German Shepherd Dog Height & Weight Standards


  • Height at the wither 60 cm to 65 cm (23.62 inches - 25.59 inches)

  • Weight 30 kg to 40 kg. (66.14 pounds - 88.18 pounds; Midrange = 77 pounds)


  • Height at the wither 55 cm to 60 cm (21.65 inches - 23.62 inches)

  • Weight 22 kg - 32 kg (48.5 pounds - 70.55 pounds; Midrange = 59.5 pounds)

German Shepherd Dog Growth Chart by Weight & Age





Age in Mos

Kilogram (kg.)

Pound (lb.)

% of Total

Kilogram (kg.)

Pound (lb.)









































































Again, these are approximations and your own puppy growth chart may not absolutely reflect these numbers. If you have any doubt that your puppy is not changing according to the above German Shepherd Dog growth chart, the best thing to do would be to contact your trusted vet.

If you are providing adequate exercise and quality dog food, your German Shepherd's dog growth should be normal and she will have no trouble reaching her full potential.

German Shepherd Dog Puppy Teeth

It is hard to tell for sure when your puppy starts losing its 28 baby teeth. A puppy's baby teeth, or milk teeth, come in at four weeks of age and commonly start to fall out between weeks 14 and 30, to make room for the 42 large adult teeth that will grow in their place.

German Shepherd Dog Physical characteristics

Like most predatory mammals, the dog has powerful muscles, a cardiovascular system that supports both sprinting and endurance, and teeth for catching, holding, and tearing. Dogs have nails, not claws.

The dog's ancestral skeleton provided the ability to jump and leap. Their legs can propel them forward rapidly, leaping as necessary to chase and overcome prey. Consequently, they have small, tight feet, walking on their toes (thus having a digitigrade stance and locomotion); their rear legs are fairly rigid and sturdy; the front legs are loose and flexible, with only muscle attaching them to the torso.

The dog's muzzle size will come with the breed. The sizes of the muzzle have different names. Dogs with longer muzzles, such as the German shepherd dog, are called mesocephalic. All dogs (and all living Canidae) have a ligament connecting the spinous process of their first thoracic (or chest) vertebrae to the back of the axis bone (second cervical or neck bone), which supports the weight of the head without active muscle exertion, thus saving energy. This ligament is analogous in function (but different in exact structural detail) to the nuchal ligament found in ungulates. This ligament allows dogs to carry their heads while running long distances, such as while following scent trails with their nose to the ground, without expending much energy.

Although selective breeding has changed the appearance of many breeds, all dogs retain the basic ingredients from their distant ancestors. Dogs have disconnected shoulder bones (lacking the collar bone of the human skeleton) that allow a greater stride length for running and leaping. They walk on four toes, front and back, and have vestigial dewclaws on their front legs and sometimes on their rear legs. When a dog has extra dewclaws in addition to the usual one on each front leg, the dog is said to be "double dewclawed".

There is some debate about whether a dewclaw helps dogs to gain traction when they run because, in some dogs, the dewclaw makes contact when they are running and the nail on the dewclaw often wears down in the same way that the nails on their other toes do, from contact with the ground. However, in many dogs the dewclaws never make contact with the ground; in this case, the dewclaw's nail never wears away, and it is then often trimmed to keep it to a safe length.

The dewclaws are not dead appendages. They can be used to lightly grip bones and other items that dogs hold with the paws. However, in some dogs these claws may not appear to be connected to the leg at all except by a flap of skin; in such dogs the claws do not have a use for gripping as the claw can easily fold or turn.

There is also some debate as to whether dewclaws should be surgically removed. The argument for removal states that dewclaws are a weak digit, barely attached to the leg, so that they can rip partway off or easily catch on something and break, which can be extremely painful and prone to infection. Others say the pain of removing a dewclaw is far greater than any other risk. For this reason, removal of dewclaws is illegal in many countries. There is, perhaps, an exception for hunting dogs, who can sometimes tear the dewclaw while running in overgrown vegetation. If a dewclaw is to be removed, this should be done when the dog is a puppy, sometimes as young as 3 days old, though it can also be performed on older dogs if necessary (though the surgery may be more difficult then). The surgery is fairly straightforward and may even be done with only local anesthetics if the digit is not well connected to the leg. Unfortunately many dogs can't resist licking at their sore paws following the surgery, so owners need to remain vigilant.

In addition, for those dogs whose dewclaws make contact with the ground when they run, it is possible that removing them could be a disadvantage for a dog's speed in running and changing of direction, particularly in performance dog sports such as dog agility.

German Shepherd Dog Sight

Like most mammals, dogs aredichromats and have color vision equivalent to red-green in color blindness humans. Different breeds of dogs have different eye shapes and dimensions, and they also have different retina configurations. Dogs with long noses have a "visual streak" which runs across the width of the retina and gives them a very wide field of excellent vision, while those with short noses have an "area centralis" - a central patch with up to three times the density of nerve endings as the visual streak - giving them detailed sight much more like a human's.

German Shepherd Dog Hearing

Dogs detect sounds as low as the 16 to 20 Hz frequency range (compared to 20 to 70 Hz for humans) and above 45 kHz (compared to 13 to 20 kHz for humans) and in addition have a degree of ear mobility that helps them to rapidly pinpoint the exact location of a sound. Eighteen or more muscles can tilt, rotate and raise or lower a dog's ear. Additionally, a dog can identify a sound's location much faster than a human can, as well as hear sounds up to four times the distance that humans are able to Those with more natural ear shapes, like those of wild canids like the fox, generally hear better than those with the floppier ears of many domesticated species.

German Shepherd Dog Penis

Male dogs, as well as wolves, have a bulbus glandisat the base of their penises. The penis sometimes emerges from the fur-covered sheath during. sexual arousal During coitus the bulbus glandis swells up and results in a ' tie' (the male and female dogs being tied together). Muscles in the vaginaof the female assist the retention by contracting. Male dogs have a conspicuous penis sheath. Male dogs also use their penises to direct urine when marking their territories

At the time of, penetration the canine penis is not erect, and can only penetrate the female because it includes a narrow bone called the "baculum", a feature of most placental mammals. When the male achieves penetration, he will usually hold the female tighter and thrust deeply. It is during this time that the male's penis expands and it is important that the bulbus gland is sufficiently far enough inside for the female to be able to trap it. Unlike human sexual intercourse, where the male penis commonly becomes erect before entering the female, canine copulation involves the male first penetrating the female, after which swelling of the penis to erection occurs, which usually happens rapidly.

Male canines are the only animals that have a locking bulbus glandisor "bulb", a spherical area of erectile tissue at the base of the penis. During copulation, and only after the male's penis is fully inside the female's vagina, the bulbus glandis becomes engorged with blood. When the female's vagina subsequently contracts, the penis becomes locked inside the female. This is known as "tying" or "knotting".

German Shepherd Dog Temperature regulation

It is a common misconception that dogs do not sweat. They do sweat, mainly through the footpads, but only a small fraction of a dog's excess heat is lost this way. Primarily, dogs regulate their body temperature through panting. Panting moves cooling air over the moist surfaces of the tongue and lungs, transferring heat to the atmosphere.

Dogs possess a rete mirabile, a complex system of intermingled small arteries and veins, in the carotid sinus at the base of their neck. This acts to thermally isolate the head, which contains the brain, the most temperature-sensitive organ, from the body, which contains the muscles, where most of the heat is generated. The result is that dogs can sustain intense physical exertion over a prolonged time in a hot environment, compared to animals which lack this apparatus; thus, a dog chasing a jackrabbit through the desert may not be able to outrun the rabbit, but it can continue the chase until the rabbit slows due to overheating.

All About The German Shepherd : German Shepherd Types and Lines : Designations : German Shepherd Colors and Saddle Types : German Shepherd Dog Names
Schutzhund - IPO : Common German Shepherd Dog Medical Conditions : German Shepherd Dog Anatomy : German Shepherd Dog Heat Stroke Prevention
Deutsch Schäferhund Breed History : The Origins of the Domestic Dog : Cold Weather Precautions For German Shepherd Dogs
Knowing Dog CPR : How Dogs Know What You're Feeling : A dog's tail can tell you a lot more than you might think
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