The German Shepherd Dog's country of origin is Germany and therefore the standard used for the breed and recognized by the FCI (the international umbrella organization for all the kennel clubs) is set forth by the SV (the German Shepherd Dog club of Germany).
The general appearance of the German Shepherd Dog is of a medium sized, slightly stretched, strong, dry and well muscled dog with strong bones. The body as a whole must appear compact.
The height and length of the dog must fall within the following ranges: Height at the withers of males is 60-65 cms and for females is 55-60 cms. The length of the body of both sexes must surpass the height of the dog by 10-17%.
The character of the German Shepherd Dog must be one of self-assurance, balanced with a set of strong nerves and absolutely impartial behavior, while maintaining a good nature until pushed to the limit. The dog must be vibrant and easy going. The dog must also be courageous, have a strong fighting instinct and posses firm nerves. These requirements are essential to the breed because the dog is to be used as a companion, guardian, protector and working sheepdog.
The dog's head has to be wedge shaped and should be proportionate in size to the rest of the body (the head's length should be approximately 40% of the dog's height at the withers). The head should not appear clumsy, shapeless, coarse or too long. The overall appearance of the head should be dry with no loose, flabby skin. There should be moderate distance between the ears. The forehead, viewed either from the front or side, should not have a domed appearance and should have little or no center furrow. The ratio between the forehead and the end of the muzzle must be almost 50:50. The width of the forehead must be the same as the length. When viewed from the top, the skull from the ears to the tip of the nose must consist of smooth lines, while having a defined separation between the skull and the muzzle (this is known as the stop).
The jaws, both under and upper, must be well developed. The muzzle must be straight. The lips must be tight, well-knit and dark in color.
The dog's nose must be black.
The mouth must be strong, well developed, healthy and have a complete set of teeth (42 in total). The bite must be a scissor-bite with the bottom and top teeth locking with each other in a scissor-like manner. The upper jaw must overlap the bottom jaw. The definition on the sides of the jaw, is positioned so that the top and bottom layers of the front teeth must not shut directly on top of each other, but must overlap in a scissor-like close. The bones of the jaw must be well developed so as the teeth are not prematurely worn down.
The eyes are of middle size, almond-shaped, slightly angled, and do not protrude. The color of the eye should be as dark as possible. Light eyes are undesirable as they tend to spoil the dog's expression.
The ears of a German Shepherd Dog are middle sized, firm textured, broad at the base, set high on the skull, are carried erect (almost parallel and not pulled inwards), taper to a point and open towards the front. Tipped ears are considered faulty. Hanging (or floppy) ears are a very serious fault. During movement the ears may be folded back.
The neck must be one that is strong, well muscled and without excessive, loose skin at the throat. The neck should be at a 45° angle to the body.
The body of a German Shepherd Dog is made up of a smooth top line which begins at the back of the neck and continues in a straight line over a well developed wither and sloping slightly toward the croup without any visible disturbance. The back is tight, strong and well muscled. The loin is broad, well developed and well muscled. The croup must be long and slightly angled (about 23° to the horizontal), without any disturbance to the topline. It must continue toward the beginning of the tail.
The dog's chest must be moderately broad and the brisket should be long and pronounced. The depth of the chest should not be more than 45-48% of the height at the wither.
The ribs must show a moderate curve to them. It is considered faulty if the ribs are too round (barrel shaped) or too flat (slab sided).
The tail is bushy haired on the underside and should reach at least to the hock joint. The ideal length being to the middle of the hock bones. When at rest, the tail should hang in a slight sabre-like curve. When moving, the tail is raised and the curve is increased. Surgical corrections of the tail are not permitted.
The forelimbs, when viewed from all sides, must be absolutely straight. They must be parallel when viewed from the front. The shoulder blade and the upper arm must be of the same length, well muscled, and be tightly knit to the body. The angle of the shoulder blade to the upper arm should be 90° ideally, but it is usually acceptable to 110°. The elbows must be close to the body both while standing and in movement.
The pastern must be 1/3 of the length of the foreleg and an angle of about 20° to 22° to the foreleg. The pastern should not be too straight or too angled so as to not deter the dogs stamina.
The feet should be rounded with toes well closed and arched. The pads of the feet should be well cushioned and durable, but not too brittle surfaced. The nails should be short, strong, and dark in color.
The position of the hindquarter bones are rounded toward the back and when viewed from the back are parallel to each other. The uppper and lower thigh bones are almost the same in length and should create a 120° angle. The thigh must be strong and well muscled. The hock joint must be strong and tightl while on a vertical line to the rear feet.
The gait of the German Shepherd Dog enables the dog to be a trotting dog. This is achieved by the limbs being in balance to one another so that the hindquarter may be thrusted well forward to the mid-point of the body and have an equally long reach with the forefoot without having any noticable change in the back line. The proper proportion of height to corresponding length of limbs will produce a ground-covering gait giving the impression of effortless movement. The head thrusts forward and the tail raises slightly, balanced and even trotting is seen with a flowing line running from the tips of the ears over the neck, back and the tip of the tail.
The skin is tight and without any wrinkles.
The coat in regards to the consistency of the hair is as follows: The German Shepherd Dog's correct hair type consists of an undercoat and an overcoat. The overcoat must be made up of dense, straight (hard and close) lying hairs. The hair on the head, ears, paws, and legs must be shorter and even denser. The hair at the back of the hind legs form a moderate "trouser".
The base color of the coat should be black with markings that are brown, reddish-brown, blonde, and light grey. Alternatively, a grey-based color with "clouds" of black markings and a black saddle and mask. Incospicpoues white markings on the chest and brighter shades on the under and inner sides of the dog are permitted, but not desirable. The nostrilles must be black. Non-existance of a mask, bright until piercing eye color as well as light/white nails are considered lack of pigmentation. The undercoat is a light grey. White is not permitted as a coat color.
The weight of the male is in the range of 30 to 40 kg and the female is 22 to 32 kg.
The testicles of the males must be two in number, apparently normal, and fully developed into the scrotum.
Faults are considered as any departure from the foregoing points and the seriousness of the fault should be regarded in exact proportion to its degree.
Serious faults are considered any departure from the breed standard and which affects the usefulness and apearance of the dog. Lacking of pigmentation, heavy and loose dogs, missing or faulty dentition and/or jaw formation.
Ear faults are those ears which are set too low on the side of the skull, soft and tipping tops.
Faults which exclude the dog from breeding include: a weak character and nervous or nervous biters; documented serious hip displaysia condition; monorchids, kryptorchids or deformed testicles; deformed tails and ears; dogs with deformalities; dogs with specific missing teeth; faulty jaws (under or over shot mouths); over or undersize by more than 1 cm from the stated height standard; albinos; white coat color regardless if the nose and/or eyes are dark; longcoated dogs (where the hair is soft, long, not tight - especially noticeable long for inside and on the outside of the ears, long hair behind the front and rear legs, long hanging hair hanging from the tail); longhair with absolutely no undercoat, where the hair from the back is parted in the middle and hangs down the side of the dog.
Dental faults consist of the following missing teeth combinations: 1 premolar 3 or 2 incisors; or 1 premolar 2 and 1 incisor; or 1 premolar 2 and 1 premolar 1; or 2 premolar 2; 1 premolar 3 and 1 additional tooth; or 1 canine or 1 premolar 4 or 1 molar 1; or 1 molar 2 or a total of 3 or more teeth.