Australian Shepherd Dog

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The German Shepherd Dog or GSD is so well known that the breed really needs no introduction.  They are ideal for all kinds of activities from police work to guide dogs and everything in between. 
The GSD ideally stands at 23-25ins (57.5-63cm) and weighs 75-95lb (34-43kg).  I have met much smaller GSDs than this and I've also met one memorable and magnificent dog that was considerably taller and weighed 12 stone, which is 168lb or 76kg.

          Above: Not your usual breed photo.  Thanks to Zukes of morguefile for this one.

A typical GSD is highly intelligent and alert and should be self-assured and courageous.  There are long-haired and short haired varieties and although most of them have the familiar markings and colourings of the dogs in the photos, you may come across some GSDs that are completely white.


      One man and his dog.  Thanks to
      Mark at morguefile for this lovely photo

Leave some for the birds!  Thanks to
Mark at morguefile for this one as well.



One thing I should say about the GSD is that although you may fall in love with the breed there are many non doggy people and some doggy people who are afraid of them.  You will need to make sure that your dog is well trained and responsive as you will find that people tend to cross the road to avoid you. Some dog owners will immediately rush to put their dogs on the lead when they see you coming and won't allow their smaller dogs to play with a GSD.  I have walked with a German Shepherd on many occasions and I have spoken to numerous owners.  We've all found that even with a well behaved dog other people tend to shy away.

GSDs can be very good at agility but the larger, heavier dogs may never be as fast as the lighter breeds.  Some of them can also find the weave poles a bit too close together and the tunnel isn't always ideal for the large dogs.  The small GSDs find it a lot easier but in general the breed is so versatile that whatever the size you'll eventually come home with place rosettes and some of them might have a number 1.  Having said that the weave might be difficult, I've just read on the Kennel Club website that the record for weaving through 60 poles is held by a GSD who did it in 12.14 seconds! 

If you have never owned a GSD before I would recommend that you speak to a responsible breeder about the dog's needs before you finally commit to bringing one home.  As the breed is prone to hip dysplasia you'll need to find out about hip scores and exercise requirements.  You'll also need advice about when your dog may be able to start jumping.     

German Shepherd Crosses 
If you like GSDs but you're not sure about taking on a pure bred dog then why not consider one of the crosses?  Some of them can make excellent agility dogs, especially if they have the trainability of the GSD.  I've thoroughly enjoyed watching the progress of a GSD cross in our training class.  I'm not sure what he's crossed with, but Chip has gone from being a mad, gangly youngster to winning a novice class in a very short time. A certain amount of distant control is necessary as no-one could possibly keep up with him.  A popular cross is the GSD/collie and I've seen these win quite a few rosettes and trophies at shows. 

German shepherd crossbreed. 
Thanks to Dawn Turner for the photo

I know lots of GSD people like to collect bits and pieces to tdo with the breed so I've included a few things for you to look at.  There are also some useful comments further down the page.
More dog products can be found in the Agility Bits Doggie Shop


If you would like to join a specialist forum on GSDs there is a good one at  

Here's the Comments from GSD handlers:

I have now started competing with my second GSD. My first fell in love with agility the moment she saw it - competed from age 2 to age 11 and was pretty competitive at novice level. My current one is 26" tall with a wiry frame and fabulous jumping action - she is going to be stunning. My advice is to get one of the English or working lines rather than show lines - they have a good straight back parallel to the floor or the hips slightly lower than the shoulder. They will then have a good jumping action (hopefully) and a long jumping career. They're a fun dog to run in agility.

Lynn P:
Brill dog for agility very obedient loyal and loves the action. the only problem they are a bit too big for competitions. its like taking a lorry around the course and then a mini. you get the picture, but other than that the breed is very well suited to agility.

HI, I have a german shepherd and she is amazing! I love her to pieces and she is great at agility :)

Karen (GSD/Akita):
Rescue dog with all the abilities of a mountain goat, so looking forward to starting agility training this winter!

Sharon Footitt:
Classed as medium weight for feed etc so not excessively large. Absolutely brilliant first agility dog as easy to train and control. Although not the fastest is accurate and consistent with clear rounds!

Karen Stubbs (Collie/GSD cross):
I think I have two of the most intelligent breeds in one! I have trained all my dogs myself and Sadie has, by far, been the easiest.

I am 13 years old and I have a 2 year old German Shepherd called Mollie. She is an Amazing dog but unfortunately is too big for a bitch so we cannot show her in professional shows but enjoy taking part in 'Scrufts' at my local riding school. (That and she has a floppy ear!)  I have a horse and she is unbelievably well behaved around him. I am already looking for some bigger jumps as she has cleared the top easily. She has an excellent temperament and I recommend one to anybody. As long as you train them correctly, they will stay loyally by your side.
Karis also has a Parsons Jack Russell Terrier and has written some very useful comments about the breed.

Sarah comments on her collie/shepherd cross:
We haven't done any formal training in agility but my 16 month old collie/shepherd cross Tess enjoys jumping the kids seesaw. Tess is very attentive and has a lot of energy!

Gill Vann (Belgian Shepherd/GSD):
My last dog was a large GSD he was steady but  slow, my cross has the GSD ability with the speed and lightness of a BSD and although she is too young to compete(17mths) she is showing a great potential at training.

My dog is only 17 months and after having two sessions at agility has loved it. By the second time he had completed each exercise, even the collapsible tunnel!  He was quite fearless and it was very obvious he enjoyed it immensely.  He loved the jumps and the seesaw, a frame and tyre he just took in his stride!  I was amazed at the way he took to it all.  I shall definitely be continuing with this with him. 

GSD Handler:
Consistant, wanting to please dogs. Always placed in starters but don't buy if you want to win at higher levels.  Even in ABC [Anything But Collie] classes good BSD [Belgian Shepherd Dogs] and kelpies will be faster. You should do better in harder courses due to lack of speed on straight up and down courses. Very rewarding dogs to train.  Keep it motivational/positive and a shepherd will try as hard as it can. Try to get a smallish light shepherd for agility.

Marcia says:
She took to the equipment at 4 mo. and never was afraid of anything, she was just young and was not really allowed to go on it yet.  She is 25.5 inches tall at 9mo. and a thin frame.  She is very quick and has a ton of energy.
Pat comments: As Marcia says, four months is too young to introduce a dog to agility equipment but there's no harm in letting them watch classes and get used to seeing it all.

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