German shepherd, breed of large, muscular working dog perfected in Germany at the turn of the 20th cent. It stands about 25 in. (64 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 60 to 85 lb (27.2–38.5 kg). Its double coat is composed of dense, woolly underhair and a medium-length, harsh, straight or slightly wavy outercoat. Although it may be any color except white, it is usually black and tan, black, or gray. Developed over centuries from sheepherding and farm-dog stock, the German shepherd has been trained in a variety of specialities other than herding, e.g., as a police dog, as a carrier of messages and a patrol dog in war, and as a leader of the blind. It is also very popular as a pet. See dog.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.