How small can German Shepherds be?

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

(Page 1 of 4: Viewing entries 1 to 10)  
Page Links: 1  2  3  4  

You are missed!
Barked: Mon Jun 18, '12 4:28am PST 
Sooo, it may be a possibility that my next dog *might* be a German Shepherd. The one we are looking at seemed really small, it only reached up to my knee (all other German Shepherds I've known have been much bigger). So, I was wondering, how small exactly can German Shepherds get? shrug

More Bored- Collies
Barked: Mon Jun 18, '12 8:40am PST 
The AKC standard calls for a dog that is 22-26 inches tall at the shoulder.
That's the size a GSD *should* be, however, any breed can come in any size really.
Depends on what the "breeders" are going for.

The whole "mini" fad has taken many breeds by storm. And all it really takes to make a smaller dog is breeding smaller and smaller specimens together. (And mix in smaller breeds if necessary).

Dwarfism also seems to be a prominent issue with the GSD breed.
(More info here: http://www.germanshepherdrescue.co.uk/pituitary-dwarfism-german-shep herd.html )

Member Since
Barked: Mon Jun 18, '12 8:50am PST 
Up to your knee? Are you saying her shoulder is to your knee or her head is to your knee?

Anyway you look at it, that's a VERY small Shepherd.


I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Mon Jun 18, '12 8:53am PST 
How old was the dog you were looking at? I know it seems like a dumb question, but if it was an adolescent GSD and its growth plates had not yet closed... anyway, some dogs go through growth spurts and shoot up fast all of a sudden.

If you're sure it was at full growth, then it might just be a smaller than typical GSD, because the standard indicates a minimum height as well as a max. I would be less concerned if the gender was female, obviously they tend to be smaller. Sorry to say that this is a breed in a particularly bad genetic mess right now in the US. Be cautious.

To answer your question more specifically: They can be as small as people are willing to breed them off-standard and still call them a GSD. If they don't care about registering their dogs, they can even mix by using a smaller dog that looks enough like a GSD to create a mini shep (as Cobain mentioned). Creating minis is another fad, right up there with creating whacky hybrids.

Love me.
Barked: Mon Jun 18, '12 9:11am PST 
Do you have a picture? smile

dog-sitter in- charge.
Barked: Mon Jun 18, '12 9:27am PST 
Depends how tall YOU are, and how tall the dog actually is at the withers.. smile

Funny, most of the GSDs I've seen or known are actually TOO BIG - not the opposite. I find the standard sized GSDs - especially females, mostly I see them in the working ring - to be quite petite and quick dogs.

Love me.
Barked: Mon Jun 18, '12 10:05am PST 
haha, you're around 5'8"-9", right? smile

She is in Taiwan; but I don't think the breeders there have the best of dogs, most of them end up in the shelters and rescues, which is where she is looking. So any dog she picks may -or may not- have problems.wink

Edited by author Mon Jun 18, '12 10:10am PST


Do you even- lift?
Barked: Mon Jun 18, '12 10:42am PST 
Our herding instructor has a female that's 21 inches and 55 lbs. She always looks tiny to me, but she's just an inch short of being within standard for a female. And the dog is from working lines and does work, so function is more important in her case anyway.

Like Lilith, most of the Shepherds I see are above, sometimes way above, standard. I've been asked if Onyx was a miniature German Shepherd and he's not even undersized compared to the standard, just compared to the majority of Shepherds around here.

But as has been mentioned, a GSD can be as large or small as someone wants to breed it. If the dog is in a shelter now, it may have received poor nutrition while growing that could have contribute to its small size. And like Lucille said, it could be possible the dog isn't fully grown yet.

Edited by author Mon Jun 18, '12 10:52am PST


Spooky Mulder
Barked: Mon Jun 18, '12 12:11pm PST 
Depends how tall YOU are, and how tall the dog actually is at the withers..

Lol sat here thinking the same thing.

Females can go under standard (any dog can, really), not all that uncommon. Frankly I'd rather take a petite dog than an oversized one anyway. The big dogs tend to be clunkers, smaller tends to still be pretty spry.

Mulder is at the high end of the standard at ~25 inches, yet most "average" people think he's small. His back rests halfway between my thigh, if that tells you anything.

When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Mon Jun 18, '12 1:01pm PST 
One of the first dogs I worked with was a tiny female GSD and one of the best protection dogs I have ever seen. I am about 5'8" and she came just to my knee. She looked funny sitting with the boys but she was crazy drivey, smart and quick. She was never sick or sore a day.
  (Page 1 of 4: Viewing entries 1 to 10)  
Page Links: 1  2  3  4