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  • 1 Temporal muscle
  • 2 Major zygomatic muscle
  • 3 Levator of upper lip
  • 4 Canine muscle
  • 5 Buccinator
  • 6 Masseter
  • 7 Digastric muscle
  • 8 Parotid-auricular muscle
  • 9 Sternohyoid muscle
  • 10 Sternocephalic muscle
  • 11 Homotrachelic muscle
  • 12 Scapular deltoid
  • 13 Acromial deltoid
  • 14 Pectoral
  • 15 Biceps
  • 16 Brachialis
  • 17 Anconeus longus
  • 18 Anconeus lateralis brevis
  • 19 Extensor metacarpi anterior
  • 20 Extensor metacarpi lateralis
  • 21 Flexor metacarpi oblique
  • 22 Flexor metacarpi lateralis
  • 23 Upper pectoral
  • 24 Rectus abdominus
  • 25 Major abdominal oblique
  • 26 Tensor fascia lata
  • 27 Tibialis anterior
  • 28 Flexor carpi radialis
  • 29 Extensor digitorum longus
  • 30 Extensor digitorum brevis
  • 31 Achilles’ heel
  • 31. a Flexor digitorum superficialis
  • 32 Gastrocnemius
  • 33 Semi-tendonous muscle
  • 34 Semi-membraneous muscle
  • 35 Coccygeal muscle
  • 36 Vastus longus or biceps femoris
  • 37 Parameral muscle
  • 38 Gluteus superficialis
  • 39 Psoas
  • 40 Spinalis
  • 41 Rectus spinalis
  • 42 a. Trapezius (back and cervical)
  • 42 b. Angular muscle of the shoulder
  • 43 Brachiocephalic (or mastoid-humeral) muscle


Skeleton built by Gabriel Pettinaroli.

  • 1 Parietal
  • 2 Occipital protuberance
  • 3 Frontal
  • 4 Temporal
  • 5 Zygomatic path of the temporal
  • 6 Zygoma
  • 7 Supramaxilla
  • 8 Intermaxilla
  • 9 Nasal
  • 10 Inframaxilla or mandible
  • 11 Atlas (1st vertebra of the neck)
  • 12 Axis (2nd vertebra of the neck)
  • 13 Seventh vertebra of the neck
  • 14 Scapula
  • 15 Spinal acromion of the scapula
  • 16 Humerus
  • 17 Sternum
  • 18 Radius
  • 19 Ulna
  • 20 Carpus
  • 21 Metacarpus
  • 22 Fhalanges
  • 23 Spinous apophysis of the fifth vertebra
  • 24 Thirteenth vertebra
  • 25 First lumbal vertebra
  • 26 Seventh lumbal vertebra
  • 27 First sacral vertebra
  • 28 Third sacral vertebra
  • 29 First coccygeal vertebra
  • 30 Iliac wing
  • 31 Ilium
  • 32 Ischium
  • 33 Femur
  • 34 Knee-cap
  • 35 Tibia
  • 36 Fibula
  • 37 Heel
  • 38 Tarsus
  • 39 Metatarsus
  • 40 Fhalanges
  • 41 Ribs
  • I ) Scapular-humeral joint
  • II) Humeral-radial joint
  • III)Coxae-femoral joint
  • IV) Femoral-tibial joint
  • V) Tibial-tarsal joint

Misure fondamentali:

The German Shepherd is a medium-built, lightly elongated, strong, well-muscled with a lean bone structure and a solid frame. Basic statistics: the height of the withers is from 60 to 65 cm for males and 55 to 60 cm for the females. The weight of the females generally range from 22-32 kg. The weight of the males generally range from 30 -40 kg. The length of the trunk surpasses the height at about 10-17 %. The Selection, in order to deal with the frequent presence of dogs that exceed such limits, allows an allowance of 1 cm. for dogs of both sexes even though the selector is nevertheless obbligated to declare them as qualified but not recommended. These limits are often clandestinely exceeded (for the sake of a more conspicuous image) ignoring the nature of a medium-sized working breed. It’s been observed that the variations in weight depend upon the size of the breed. The differences in weight are also influenced by a different bone and muscular structure. For the dogs used in working tests this is a minor problem since the job, which imposes reactivity and dynamism, becomes self-limiting as to excesses in size. Character: the German Shepherd must be equilibrated, calm, sure of itself, detached, and have an absolutely good disposition unless provoked. Likewise it has to be vigilant and docile, in order to be an ideal companion, guard, defense, working and sheep dog, and moreover it must be courageous, combatant and temperate. It’s been observed that the standard requires medium-high character impulses in order to make it an extremely versatile breed. Elevated or low-intensity impulses can be the fruit of particular selections, which make them suited for specific civil or athletic uses. Sex: the standard recommends that the mark of the sex must be evident, that is the masculinity and the feminility must be such that both sexes are easily distinguished from each other which means also displaying a good functionality of endocrines. The characteristics that determine the difference must not be due only to the larger sizes of the males or to the differences of the external sexual organs. In the female, the expert eye may note a greater distinction in the chisel of the head, a less austere expression in eye, the anatomy of the ears and the make of the neck more elegant, slight differences in the thorax and kidney, more plastic-like muscular structure, slightly finer coat and a less furry mane. In the male, its movements must give an impression of strength and power while the female, ground cover and swiftness being equal, must manifest more elegance without losing any of the breed’s characteristics of movement. Other differences that can be observed are greater rashness in the male and greater curiosity in the female.


The head is wedge-shaped and proportional to the size (length is around 40% of the height of the withers) without being stumpy or too elongated, lean overall and moderately wide between the ears (which must be carried erect). The forehead, seen from either in front or on the side, appears only slightly convex, with or without a half-furrow slightly accented. The ratio between the skull and muzzle is 50: 50%. The length of the skull corresponds to the lenght of the muzzle. Seen from above, the head usually narrows towards the wedge-shaped muzzle, from the ears to nose, with the line from nose to forehead not being very accented. Maxilla and mandible are well-developed and strong. The nasal barrel is straight. A low or high nasal barrel is undesirable. The lips are tight, firmly fitted and darly coloured.


must be black.


must be robust, healthy and complete (42 teeth, 20 in the upper jaw, 22 in the lower jaw conforming to the dental regulations). The German Shepherd has a scissors-like teeth, meaning part of the inner surface of the upper incisors meet and engage part of the outer surface of the lower incisors. An overshot jaw or a level bite is undesirable. An undershot jaw is a disqualifying fault; the same goes for wide spaces between the teeth. Straightly positioned incisors are also a defect as they have to be slightly arcked. Maxilla and mandible must be well-developed and robust, and the teeth situated deeply inside the gums.  


are medium-sized, almond-shaped, set a little obliquely and not protruding. The color of the eyes is as dark as possible. Light-coloured eyes are undesirable because they alter the expression of the dog.


the German Shepherd has medium-sized ears, carried erect, turned in the same direction (not inserted on the side) that end to a point; the outer ears point towards the front. A dog with cropped or hanging ears are undesirable.
Ears folded backwards during movement or sleep are not to be considered defects.


the topline develops without interruption from the insertion of the neck towards the well-revealed withers and the back, just slightly inclined from the horizontal, up to the slightly inclined croup. The back is solid, robust and well-muscled. The kidney is large, robust and well-muscled. The croup must be long and slightly inclined (around 23 degrees from the horizontal) and must pass, without interupting the topline, towards the junction of the tail. The solidness of the trunk is favoured both by the junction of the vertebrae and a short, robust and slightly arcked kidney: a construction that allows optimum solidness and favours the projection of the push.


must be moderately wide with the lower part as long as possible and well-developed. The thoracic height must correspond to 45-48% height of the withers. The ribs must be moderately convex. It is considered a defect if the thorax is barrel-shaped or flat.


Forequarters: viewed from all sides, the forequarters are straight and, viewed up front, are absolutely parallel. The scapula and humerus are of equal length and well-attached to the trunk by way of a strong muscular structure. The scapular-humeral angle is ideally 90 but can normally reach 110 degrees. Both at rest and during movement, the elbows must not be open, inside-out or too attached to the body. Viewed from all sides, the forearms must be straight, lean, muscular and absolutely parallel to each other. The metacarpus is around 1/3 of the forearm and forms an angle of around 20-22 degrees. A metacarpus that is too angulated or not angulated enough impairs the progress of movement and particularly the resistance. Hindquarters: the position of the hindquarters is slightly pulled back and, viewed from behind, must be parallel among themselves, femur and tibia have approximately the same length and form an angle of around 120 degrees.

The hip is strong and well-muscled.

The hocks are robust and solid and the metatarsus is perpendicular to the hock.

The height of the thorax and the length of the forequarters (measured from the elbow down):

the height of the thorax is measured from the withers to the part beneath the chest. It must be between 45%- 48% the height of the withers. The chest must have good development in the three diametres in order to contain the vital organs. The ribs must be slightly arcked and at the same time should provide good support to the scapular and humeral joints in order to have a good elbow position. A good development in the length of the thorax highly favours the kidney. The height of the elbows must exceed the depth of the chest, placed at around 55% of the total height. This proportion guarantees a good length for the forequarters.

Height ratio – length of the trunk

the length of the trunk is measured from the shoulders to the nates. A correct length of trunk guarantees a good and ample step for the trotter. The length of the trunk must be equal to the height of the withers increased 10% - 17% its value. In practice, in a male with a height of 65 cm, the length of the trunk can vary from 71. 5 cm to 76. 5 cm. In a female with a height of 60 cm, the length of the trunk can vary from 66 cm to 70 cm. Squat, short, long-legged dogs that go beyond the proportions indicated are considered defective.

The croup:

the croup of the German Shepherd, an eccellent trotter, must be long, sloped and well-connected to the back and the tail. The standard recommends a slope of around 23 degrees, considering the ideal line that goes from the centre of the hip to the point of the nates. Its real slope, frequently confused with the sacral profile is often more pronounced. The slope of the croup creates the closed angles of the hindquarters that allow trotting action. The croup becomes a levering arm that favours the push and the support of the trunk, in other words: the longer it is, the more advantageous its action. The width of the croup is measured by the distance between the points of the nates.

The lower profile of the trunk:

a good trunk is generated by a correct height, width and depth of the thorax. The lower profile, outlined by a good development of the sternum, is completed by the ventral profile that represents the lower part of the kidney. The ventral profile must be slightly pulled back, creating an image of substance and at the same time solidly containing the visceral organs.

The chest and the angulation of the scapula and the humerus

the chest is formed by the front part of thorax that must be well-developed in a transversal sense, while the forechest must be well-developed in front. The width of the chest is measured by the distance that runs between the two scapulae. The scapula must be long, mobile, worked by elestic muscles. The optimum slope of the scapula for best extension is 45 degrees from the horizontal. Even the humerus must be long and well-inclined in order to allow good extension. The humerus is worked by mobile and elastic muscles. An optimun slope is from 52 gradi - 54 degrees from the horizontal.

The metacarpus:

the metacarpus is around 1/3 of the length of the forearm. An optimum slope varies from 20 to 22 degrees from the vertical. If the slope is less than 20 degrees it is considered too rigid, more than 22 degrees instead is too flexible. The metacarpus constitutes one of the particular anatomical characteristics of the trotter. It is for this that it has to be rightly flexible in order to absorb easily the impact of the ground during the leaning phase of the extension.

The angulation of the hindquarters generated by the femur and tibia:

putting the metatarsus in a vertical position, the angle suggested by the standard, formed between the femur and tibia is around 120 degrees. The femur must be shorter than the tibia. The hock must be robust, solid and salient. These anatomical characteristics give ample width and power to the push. The angulation of the hindquarters must correlate with that of the forequarters in order to produce a harmonious trot. The push action is aided by the powerful muscles present in the hindquarters. An excessive angulation tires the push, while a limited angulation increases the frequency but both diminish the resistance to the trot.

The tail and feet:

the tail must be bushy, dark in the upper part, doted with long hair in the internal part. It must reach beyond the hock and not exceed the middle of the metatarsus in order to give esthetical harmony to the dog and to balance the trunk in various movements, like changes in direction. On the other hand, if excessively long, it can hamper the movement. The tail at rest must be carried with a slight curve, and slightly arcked instead during motion and when the dog is excited. Deviations or amputations are considered defects. The feet must be closed, arcked and short, but at the same time, must be elastic in order to mitigate the impacts with the ground. The sole of the feet is very hard, the nails strong and dark-coloured.

The neck:

must be strong and mobile, without loose folds of skin. The neck rises during excitement and lowers at trot. The neck, together with the head, provides important balance that allows constant harmony that is ideal during trotting or gallopping. Increasing trot speed, its slope tends to the horizontal, which lowers and moves the barycentre forward. Making the hindquarters lighter, it favours a swifter and wider gait. The perpendicularity viewed from up front and behind and the perpendicularity viewed in profile: to observe the perpendicularity, we have to observe the dog in a natural position that allows us to admire its static equilibrium. A verification that is performed considering the existing relation between the perpendicular line and the axis of the forelegs viewed up front and in profile, those hindlegs viewed from behind and in profile. Looking at the dog in front and behind, the ideal line of the perpendicularity must run in the centre of the limb. Looking at the dog in profile, the correct perpendicularity of the forequarters must divide the forearm considering also the right placement of the scapula and the humerus. Looking at the dog in profile, the correct perpendicularity of the hindquarters must, from the nates, fall in front of the hind feet. Every deviation in the perpendicularity comports a diminished stability in the dog because the pressures generated by the weight of the body are directed outside the central axis of the limb and so hamper their support action and negatively affect the stability of the back and the efficiency of movement. The correctness of the perpendicularity viewed in front and behind helps the stability of the dog. The correctness of the perpendicularity viewed on the side, either in front or behind, helps above all the efficiency of movement.

Movement: ithe German Shepherd is a trotter.

The limbs must be in harmony among themselves, in length and angulations, so as to allow the forequarters to bring themselves up to the level of the trunk and the hindquarters extend just as widely, without substantial changes to the topline. Every tendency towards an excessive sloping of the hindquarters diminishes the solidness and the resistance and compromises as a consequence the suitability of the German Shepherd for work. The right proportions and angulations allow ample, low-to- the-ground movement, which gives the observer the impression of a fluid and easy gait. In a tranquil and uniform trot, with the head held forward and the tail slightly raised, a flexible, uninterrupted topline can be observed which begins at the centre of the ears, going through the neck and the trunk and ends at the extremity of the tail.


the skin is clinging, liftable, but without forming loose folds.


the right coat of the German Shepherd is stiff with a double coat. The covering hair must be as thick as possible, stiff and lying close to the body. The head, including the inner ear and foreface, and the legs and paws are covered with short hair, and the neck with longer and thicker hair. The rear of the forelegs and hind legs has somewhat longer hair extending to the pastern and hock, respectively; on the hind part of the thighs moderate "pantaloons" can be observed.


black with mixtures of reddish-brown, brown, yellow up to light grey. Uni-coloured black or grey with darker shades of grey. Saddle and black mask. Small white spots on the breast are allowed, but not desirable, as well as being lightly coloured in the inner part of the limbs. Whatever colour of the coat, the nose has to be always black. Lack of mask, very light-coloured eyes, light or dirty-white spots on the breast and in the inner part of the limbs, light-coloured nails and the extremity of the tail coloured red, are signs of scarce pigmentation. The undercoat must be slightly grey in tone. A white dog is not qualified.


the males must have two normally developed testicles, both situated completely in the scrotum.


every deviation from the aforementioned points is to be considered a defect and will be judged according to the degree of the deviation itself.

Serious defects:

differences from the breed characteristics a described beforehand could compromise the suitability for work. Ear defects: ears that are attached too low, folded ears, converging or weak ears. Pigmentation defects. Remarkable lack of general solidness.

Dental defects:

all deviations from the scissor-bite and the dental regulations.

Defects that effect disqualification:

-dogs with a weak character, dogs who bite, dogs with weak nerves.
-dogs that suffer from serious dysplasia.
-monorchid or cryptorchid dogs, likewise those with evidently irregular or atrophied testicles
-dogs with ear and tail deformations.
-dogs with malformations.
-dogs with dental defects such as a missing third premolar or another teeth, or an incisor, or a fourth premolar, or respectively a first or second molar, or as a whole missing three or more teeth.
-dogs with mandible defects: oenognatism of two of more mm, prognatism, a level bite on all the incisors.
-dogs whose size exceeds the maximum or minimum limit by 1 cm or the minimum limit of the standard.
-white-coloured dogs (even if having dark eyes and nails).
-long and compact hair (long soft hair, undercoat not lying close to the body, fringes on the ears and limbs, thick "pantaloons" on the thighs and thick tail with fringe towards the bottom).
-long hair (long hair, soft fur without undercoat, usually divided in the middle of the back, fringes on the ears, limbs and tail).