The German Shepherd, also known as the German Sheppard, is a breed of dog which originated in Germany in the latter part of the 19th century. Considered a "young breed", the Shepherd was first registered in a breeding society in Germany in 1899.
Subsequent mixed breeding diluted the breed's popularity in American culture until several German Shepherds won American Kennel club shows in the late 1930s. However, the sudden rise in popularity was squashed in anti-German sentiment after World War II. Since that time, the breed has enjoyed a gradual resurgence and is now the second most registered dog breed in the United States.
Owners of German Shepherds find them to be loyal and trustworthy, and note that they make excellent and steadfast companions, especially for children. Shepherds can be overly-protective if not handled properly. Their intelligence and adaptability have led to their use in many major metropolitan police services as drug-sniffing and tracking dogs.
German Shepherds typically live between 10 and 13 years, and are prone to a number of pet health concerns. The bulk of these issues come from the amount of inbreeding which occurred early in the breed's life in order to create true stock; and they include health concerns such as hip and elbow dysplasia, which are malformations of the hips and elbows that may lead to arthritis.
A recent study by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals found that almost 20% of German Sheppards tested between 1974 and 2009 had some form of hip dysplasia. This kind of pet health issue can quickly translate from simple pain to something more serious, and many pets will undergo corrective hip or elbow surgery.
This breed is also prone to a neurological disease known as degenerative myelopathy, as well as Von Willebrand Disease, a disorder which causes bleeding. In addition, the typical size of these dogs often puts them at risk for serious bloating.