Shepherd FCI Standard No.166
In accordance with the official provisions
of the German Shepherd Dog Club (SV) e.V., located in
Augsburg, a member of the Federation of Dog Clubs in
Germany (VDH) is the founding organization of the German
Shepherd Dog and therefore, responsible for the breed
standard. Work on this document was begun at the first
membership meeting in Frankfurt/M on September 20, 1899
and is based on proposals by A. Meyer and v. Stephanitz.
Additions and revisions to the standard were made as
follows: membership meeting on July 28, 1901; 23rd membership
meeting on September 17, 1909 in Koln; Board and Executive
Committee Meeting on September 5, 1930 in Wiesbaden,
and the Breeders Committee and Board Meeting on March
25, 1961 in conjunction with the WUSV (World Union of
German Shepherd Clubs) and during the WUSV Meeting on
August 30, 1976 where the standard was agreed upon,
revised, and approved by the Board and Executive Committee
on March 23 and 24, 1991.
Planned breeding activities began after
the inception of the SV in 1899. The German Shepherd
Dog was developed from herding dogs in service during
that time in Middle and Southern Germany. The goal was
to produce a high-performance working dog. To accomplish
this goal, the Breed Standard of the German Shepherd
Dog was created. This document addresses both physical
qualities as well as character attributes.
The German Shepherd Dog is medium sized, slightly longer
than tall, strong and well muscled, bone is dry, the whole
dog presenting a picture of firmness.
Height at the withers for males: 60 - 65 cm, bitches: 55
- 60 cm. Length of torso exceeds height at the withers by
10 - 17%.
The German Shepherd should appear poised, calm, self confident,
absolutely at ease, and (except when agitated) good natured,
but also attentive and willing to serve. He must have courage,
fighting drive, and hardness in order to serve as companion,
watchdog, protection dog, service dog, and herding dog.
The head is wedge-shaped and in harmony with the dogs size
(length app. 40% of height at the withers) without being coarse
or overly long. The head should appear dry, and moderately
wide between the ears. Seen from the front and side, the forehead
is only slightly domed, the center furrow is either absent
or only slightly visible. The length ratio of skull to face
is 50 : 50%. Skull width approximately equals skull length.
Seen from above, the skull slopes into a wedge-shaped muzzle.
The stop should not be pronounced. Upper and lower jaws are
strong, the bridge of the nose should be straight, not a Roman
nose or dish-faced nose. Lips are taut, well closed and of
The nose should be black.
The teeth must be strong and complete in number (42 teeth
as per formula). The German Shepherd has a scissor bite, where
the upper incisors must meet the lower incisors in a scissor
grip. Level bite, overshot and undershot teeth are faulty,
as well as widely spaced teeth. A straight incisor tooth line
is also faulty. Jawbones must be well developed, to permit
deep rooting of the teeth in the gum.
The eyes are medium sized, almond-shaped, set slightly oblique
and not protruding. The color should be as dark as possible.
The German Shepherd has medium-sized, upright ears which
are carried erect and perpendicular to one another, pointed
and open to the front. Tipped ears and hanging ears are faulty.
Laid-back ears are not faulty when the dog is in motion or
The neck is strong, well-muscled, and clean cut (without
folds of loose skin). The angle of neck to torso is approximately
The top line extends from the point where the neck meets
the skull past the well developed withers and the gently downward
sloping back to the slightly sloping croup without a visible
break. The back is firm, strong, and well muscled. The loin
is broad, well developed, and strongly muscled. The croup
should be long and have a slight downward slope (approximately
23 degrees from horizontal) and should merge smoothly into
the tail set.
The chest should be of moderate width, the underchest long
and pronounced. Chest depth should be approximately 45 to
48% of height at the withers. The ribs should be moderately
sprung. Barrel shaped or flat ribs are faulty.
The tail reaches at least to the hock joint, but not past
the halfway point of the hock itself. The coat is slightly
longer on the underside of the tail. The tail hangs in a soft,
saber-like curve. When the dog is excited or in motion, the
tail is somewhat raised, but should not reach past the horizontal
line. Surgical corrections are not permitted.
Seen from all sides, the forelegs are straight and absolutely
parallel when viewed from the front.
Shoulder and upper arms are of equal length. Both are held
snugly to the body by strong muscles. Angulation of shoulder
blade to the upper arm ideally is 90 degrees, but up to 110
degrees is permissible.
Elbows may not turn out when the dog is standing or in motion
or be pinched inward. The lower legs viewed from all sides
are straight and absolutely parallel, dry, and well muscled.
The pastern measures about 1/3 of the forearm length and is
angled 20-22 degrees to the foreleg. Pasterns with an angle
of more than 22 degrees or very steep pasterns (less than
20 degrees) reduce working capability especially, endurance.
The paws are rounded, tight, and arched. The soles are hard,
but not brittle. The nails are strong and dark.
The rear legs have a pronounced rounded knee or turn of stifle
which projects the dog's rear quarter well behind the point
of the pelvis. Seen from the rear, the hind legs are parallel
to one another. Upper and lower thighs are of approximately
the same length and form an angle of 120 degrees. Thighs are
strong and well muscled.
The hock joint is strong and dry and the hock stands upright
under the joint.
The paws are tight, slightly arched, the balls of the feet
are hard and dark, nails strong, arched, and dark.
The German Shepherd is a trotting dog. Length and angulation
of front and rear legs must be in proper proportion to one
another to permit the dog to move the rear leg underneath
the body, matching the reach of the rear legs with that of
the front legs and at the same time, keeping the topline over
the back relatively undisturbed. Any tendency for over-angulation
of the rear reduces firmness and endurance of the dog and
therefore, working capability. Correct body proportions and
angulation result in a ground-covering gait which moves close
to the ground and conveys the impression of effortless movement.
With the head held slightly forward and the tail slightly
lifted, the dog trotting evenly and smoothly, we see a softly
moving topline which flows without interruption from neck
to tail tip.
The skin covers the body loosely, but without folds.
The correct coat for the German Shepherd is a stock coat
(outer and under coat). The top coat should be as tight as
possible, straight, coarse, and clinging closely to the undercoat.
The head, including the inside of the ears, the front of the
legs, the paws, and toes have short hair. Neck hair is longer
and thicker. On the rear side of the legs, hair length increases
downward to the pastern and hock. The rear of the thighs is
covered show moderate "pants".
Black with reddish brown, brown, tan to light-grey markings.
Solid black, grey with darker overcast, black saddle and mask.
Inconspicuous small white chest markings, as well as lighter
pigment on the inside of the legs is permitted, but not desirable.
All dogs, no matter what their color, must have black noses.
Missing mask, light to white markings on the chest and inner
leg sides, light toenails, and a red tail tip are signs of
faulty pigmentation. Undercoat has a slight grey cast. White
is not permissible.
Males: Height at the wither 60 cm to 65 cm Weight
30 kg to 40 kg.
Females: Height at the wither 55 cm to 60 cm Weight
22 kg - 32 kg.
Visual inspection must show two normally developed testicles
fully descended into the scrotum.
Any deviations from the above listed points are considered
faults. Points deducted must be in accordance with severity
of the deviation.
Deviations from the breed characteristics described above
which compromise the working ability of the animal.
Ear Faults: ears set too low, tipped ears, overset ears,
and soft ears.
Considerable lack of pigment.
Firmness strongly compromised.
Faults of Dentition: All deviation from scissor bite and
number of teeth, unless they are disqualifying faults.
a) Character weakness, nervous biters, and dogs with a weak
b) Dogs with documented "severe hip dysplasia";
c) Monorchids and cryptorchids as well as dogs with testicles
of visibly uneven size or shrunken testicles;
d) Dogs with disfiguring ears and/or tails;
e) Malformed dogs;
f) Tooth faults as follows:
1. Missing 1 #3 premolar and one additional tooth;
2. Missing 1 canine tooth or
3. Missing 1 #4 premolar, or
4. Missing 1 molar #1 or #2 or
5. Missing a total number of 3 teeth and/or more;
g) Dogs with bite faults: overbite of 2 mm or more, or undershot;
h) Dogs that measure more than 1 cm over or under regulation
j) White coat (incl. those with dark eyes and nails);
k) Long stock coat (long, soft loosely fitting outer coat
with undercoat, flags on ears and legs, bushy pants and bushy
tail with flag on underside);
l) Long coat (long, soft outer coat without undercoat). This
coat type frequently is parted along the center line of the
back, has flags on ears, legs, and tail.