German Shepherds are moderately active dogs and are described in breed standards as self-assured.The breed is marked by a willingness to learn and an eagerness to have a purpose. They are curious, which makes them excellent guard dogs and suitable for search missions.
They can become over-protective of their family and territory, especially if not socialized correctly. They are not inclined to become immediate friends with strangers. German Shepherds are highly intelligent and obedient, as well as being protective of their owners.
Many common ailments of the German Shepherds are a result of the inbreeding practiced early in the breed's life. One such common ailment is hip and elbow dysplasia which may lead to the dog experiencing pain in later life and may cause arthritis. A study conducted by the University of Zurich found that 45% of the police working dogs were affected by degenerative spinal stenosis, although the sample studied was small. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals found that 19.1% of German Shepherd are affected by hip dysplasia.Due to the large and open nature of their ears, German Shepherds are not prone to ear infections because there is no hair in the outer ear canal to hold debris or moisture.According to a recent survey in the UK, the median life span of German Shepherds is 10.95 years, which is normal for a dog of their size.