Julie Jacobson/AP
February 15, 2017 03:09 PM

Rumor the German shepherd took home Best in Show on Tuesday at the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The 5-year-old dog’s achievement ended a long drought for the Herding Group, which hadn’t produced a Westminster Best in Show winner since 1987. While the German shepherd is an infrequent presence in the dog show circuit’s Winner’s Circle, it is common to see this breed involved in military, police and therapy work.

But is this hard-working breed for you? While it might be tempting to welcome a German Shepherd into your home now that the dog is presiding Best in Show, it is important to do your homework to ensure this dog is a winning fit for you and your family.

To help prospective pet parents learn more about the breed, PEOPLE talked to the American Kennel Club’s Vice President of Public Relations & Communications Brandi Hunter for the expert insight on what you can expect from a pet German shepherd.

What is the breed history of the German shepherd?

The German shepherd was developed in Germany in the late 1800s as a sheep herder. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1908. German shepherds rose to popularity after World War I due to their many wartime accomplishments and the public’s love for Rin Tin Tin. The German shepherd was bred to be a versatile, trainable and willing worker. As a herding sheepdog, the German shepherd acted as a moving fence to keep the sheep in the field in which they graze. German shepherds have taken on many more jobs beyond their original purpose of herding. The German shepherd was the first breed to be trained as a leader of the blind. The breed is also an impeccable police dog, among many other things.

What is the personality of a German shepherd? 

The German shepherd is one of the most intelligent dog breeds. These dogs are known for their loyalty, courage and the ability to assimilate and retain training for a variety of different jobs. They have a high energy level, requiring daily mental and physical challenges in order to be happy. German Shepherds make excellent watchdogs and are typically reserved with strangers. They are sensitive, loyal and reliable with a strong desire to please.

What kind of owner is a good fit for the German shepherd? 

German shepherds need daily mental stimulation and physical exercise, so a prospective owner would need to have the time and energy to provide it. Training and socialization are a must for any dog owner. German shepherds are also known to be loyal family pets and good guard dogs.

What are the pros of owning a German Shepherd? 

The German shepherd has consistently been the second most popular dog breed, according to AKC registration statistics – people love German shepherds!  Their loyalty and affection for their families is unwavering. This breed is very fond of children once a relationship is established, and German shepherds are a popular choice as a family pet.

Are there any health concerns to be aware of with German shepherds?

German shepherds are generally healthy dogs, but like all large breeds there is always a possibility of issues with hips and elbows.  Responsible breeders do health testing to better their breed and provide happy, healthy dogs to puppy buyers.

Would the German shepherd be a good dog for first-time dog owners?

There are distinct differences between males and females, so prospective dog owners should consider that when choosing a puppy.  Its size and strength should also be taken into account, but a German shepherd’s intelligence, desire to please and high trainability make it a good choice. First-time dog owners need to understand the commitment to training and daily exercise.

You May Like