It should be noted that the standard proposed here is very much for discussion. It has been produced by reference to existing standards of the German Shepherd from Canada, FCI, UK and USA. However, wherever possible, in each section reference has been made to the von Stephanitz ideal as presented by him in The German Shepherd in Word and Picture. These will be quoted in parentheses after each definition. The main definitions are largely taken from the Kennel Club's current standard with possible re-emphasis on the true, old-fashioned, Alsatian.


The German Shepherd Dog is a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life. It is well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The dog is slightly longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It has a weather-resistant coat. Every animal gives a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex.

(The shepherd dog should be a drawn out dog whose total length exceeds the shoulder height...shoulders, like hindquarters, should be firm with well developed muscles...a weather-proof coat is a sine qua the pure and suitable exterior characteristics of their sex)


Versatile working dog, balanced and free from exaggeration. Attentive, alert, resilient and tireless with keen scenting ability.

(Indefatigable, always zealous for duty, always attentive, always ready to serve...capacity for scenting)


Steady of nerve, loyal, self-assured, courageous and tractable. Never nervous, over-aggressive or shy.

(Fit for service, full blood, strong nerves and mental alertness...courageous watcher)


Proportionate in size to body, never coarse, too fine or long. Clean cut; fairly broad between ears. Forehead slightly domed; little or no trace of central furrow. Cheeks forming softly rounded curve, never protruding. Skull from ears to bridge of nose tapering gradually and evenly, blending without too pronounced stop into wedge-shaped powerful muzzle. Skull approximately 50 per cent of overall length of head. Width of skull corresponding approximately to length, in males slightly greater, in females slightly less. Muzzle strong, lips firm, clean and closing tightly. Top of muzzle straight, almost parallel to forehead. Short, blunt, weak, pointed, overlong muzzle undesirable.

(Each head...must be tuned to the general harmony of the body-build...the head should gradually slope away from the forehead between the eyes, without any sharp break, towards the ridge of the nose...the cheeks should be gradually continued into the jaw without protrusion...firm tightly-drawn lips)


Eyes of medium size, almond shaped, set a little obliquely and not protruding. The colour as dark as possible. Eyes of lighter colour are sometimes found and are not a serious fault if they harmonize with the general colouration, but a dark brown eye is always to be preferred. The expression should be lively, intelligent, and composed.

(Almond shaped, somewhat slanting eyes...they should, if possible, be dark... generally the colour of the eye matches that of the coat...intelligent wide-awake expression)


Medium-sized, firm in texture, broad at base, set high, carried erect, almost parallel, never pulled inwards or tipped, tapering to a point, open at front. Never hanging. Folding back during movement permissible.

(High-set, well erect, upstanding ears...length must be in proportion to the head)


Jaws strongly developed. With a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Teeth healthy and strong. Full dentition desirable -42 in number--20 upper and 22 lower

(A full grown dog has 42 teeth...the incisors of the upper jaw must stand straight and fit, with their inner edge like scissors over those of the lower jaw)


Fairly long, strong, with well developed muscles, free from throatiness. Carried at 45 degrees angle to horizontal, raised when excited, lowered at fast trot.

( strong enough to carry the a level position...during movement ..head and neck generally level and stretched out. When at rest slightly raised)


Shoulder blade and upper arms are equal in length, well muscled and firmly attached to the body. Shoulder blades set obliquely (approximately 45 degrees) laid flat to body. Upper arm strong, well muscled, joining shoulder blade at approximately 90 degrees. Seen from all sides, the forearms are straight and, seen from the front, absolutely parallel. Bone oval rather than round. The elbows must turn neither in nor out while standing or moving. Pasterns firm, supple, with a slight forward slope. An over long, weak pastern, which would affect a dog's working ability is to be heavily penalised. Length of foreleg slightly exceeds the depth of chest.

(shoulder blade must be long..humerus must also be long...very strong muscles...firmness of the attachment....) NB von Stephanitz shows drawn illustrations of these points which agree with the paragraph above.