The German Shepherd (German: Deutscher Schäferhund, German pronunciation: [ˈʃɛːfɐˌhʊnt]) is a breed of large-sized working dog that originated in Germany. The breed's officially recognized name is German Shepherd Dog in the English language, sometimes abbreviated as "GSD", and was also formerly known as the Alsatian and Alsatian Wolf Dog in Britain. The German Shepherd is a relatively new breed of dog, with their origin dating to 1899. As part of the Herding Group, German Shepherds are working dogs developed originally for herding sheep. Since that time, however, because of their strength, intelligence, trainability and obedience, German Shepherds around the world are often the preferred breed for many types of work, including assistance, search-and-rescue, police and military roles, and even acting. The German Shepherd is the second-most popular breed of dog in the United States and fourth-most popular in the United Kingdom.
German Shepherds are large-sized dogs. The breed standard height at the withers is 60–65 cm (24–26 in) for males and 55–60 cm (22–24 in) for females. The weight standard is 30–40 kilograms (66–88 lb) for males and 22–32 kilograms (49–71 lb) for females. They have a domed forehead, a long square-cut muzzle and a black nose. The jaws are strong, with a scissor-like bite. The eyes are medium-sized and brown with a lively, intelligent and self-assured look. The ears are large and stand erect, open at the front and parallel, but they often are pulled back during movement. They have a long neck, which is raised when excited and lowered when moving at a fast pace. The tail is bushy and reaches to the hock.
German Shepherds have a variety of colors, the most common of which are tan/black and red/black. Most color varieties have black masks and black body markings which can range from a classic "saddle" to an over-all "blanket." Rarer colour variations include the sable, pure-black, pure-white, liver and blue varieties. The all-black and sable varieties are acceptable according to most standards; however, the blue and liver are considered to be serious faults and the all-white is grounds for instant disqualification from showing in conformation at All Breed and Specialty Shows.
German Shepherds sport a double coat. The outer coat, which sheds all year round, is close and dense with a thick undercoat. The coat is accepted in two variants; medium and long. The long-hair gene is recessive, making the long-hair variety rarer. Treatment of the long-hair variation differs across standards; they are accepted but not competed with standard coated dogs under the German and UK Kennel Clubs while they can compete with standard coated dogs but are considered a fault in the American Kennel Club. The FCI accepted the long-haired type in 2010, listing it as the variety b—while short-haired type is listed as the variety a.