German Shepherds are medium to large-sized dogs that can grow to be quite a handful. An average German Shepherd will grow to full maturity by the age of 3. Usually, this is around the time that German Shepherds stop growing in size. But there are several stages of development by the time the German Shepherd grows to its full height and size. The following are the stages of maturity of a German Shepherd described in brief.
Stages of Maturity
A German Shepherd goes through approximately six stages of maturity. Different breeds take different amounts of time to arrive at the full stage of maturity. German Shepherds take slightly longer than most other breeds. They remain playful and energetic throughout their lives, but as German Shepherd puppies, especially, can be a handful. Note that they are considered puppies until they are three, which is when they stop growing.
1-2 Weeks (Neonatal Stage)
The first two weeks of a German Shepherd’s life are considered the neonatal stage. Puppies are born without a sense of sight or hearing and German Shepherd puppies are no different. At this stage, they will grow exponentially in weight and will pile up on the nutrition.
German Shepherds typically become double their birth weight in the first week of their life. You can take it for granted that they will put on at least 60 grams per day. The puppy needs to get nutrition from its mother at this stage.
2-4 Weeks (Transitional Stage)
Between two to four weeks is the transitional stage for the German Shepherd. This is when the pup begins to open their eyes and has a developing vision. They will also be able to hear by this stage of their life.
These new sense organs will naturally incite curiosity in the puppies, and they will try to explore their surroundings. They will begin to walk a bit and discover the world around them, but their limbs are not strong as yet and the movement will be wobbly.
3 Weeks—3 Months (Socialization Stage)
From week three to up until three months, the German Shepherd will enter the socialization stage. This is the stage the puppy is coming into its own. They will be able to graduate to soft foods and will discover new methods of communication.
This is also a crucial stage because the German Shepherd’s guard dog instincts will begin to kick in. But if you want to have a German Shepherd as a household pet, it will not work out if they are aggressive towards neighbors and strangers who may come by the house.
It can also be dangerous at times because the German Shepherd’s instinct is to protect its family. At this stage, you must ‘socialize’ your puppy and expose them to other animals, people, and environments so that they become used to mingling.
Enlist the help of a trainer if you think you will not be able to control your pooch’s behavior. It is important to get the socialization right, as once the German Shepherd’s personality is fully formed, it will be difficult to train them to behave more amicably. This is also the stage where you need to start housebreaking the puppy.
Around 6 weeks, your German Shepherd puppy will also experience teething. Their puppy teeth will begin to make way for adult teeth, so you should get them chew toys generously to save your furniture legs.
Related: Do German Shepherds Bark a Lot?
3-6 Months (Juvenile Stage)
The juvenile stage lasts from 3-6 months. This is the stage where your puppy will be extremely active and you will find them up to some naughty thing or the other. They will try to assert their independence and will want to explore things around them.
You can be sure that your puppy will not have a very long attention span at this stage, and you will require a lot of patience to see its training through.
This is also the stage where the puppy will grow to at least half its eventual height and weight. By the end of this stage, the puppy will reach its sexual maturity, and will have only about 20 percent more to go to its full physical growth.
Remember to keep working on their training through this stage. German Shepherds are intelligent dogs so they will take to training well. But they are also independent dogs who can be stubborn if rubbed the wrong way. Give them treats and encourage good behavior. They respond best to positive reinforcement.
6 Months—2 Years (Adolescent Stage)
The adolescent stage is a lengthy one. This is the stage in which you have to spay a female German Shepherd, and neuter a male one. At around the eighth month, the female German Shepherd will go into heat and the male will start to mark its territory. Apart from feeling embarrassed in front of your guests because your dog is mounting someone’s leg, you will also help the German Shepherd become more docile.
They will also grow exponentially during this phase and will be almost as large as their fully mature self. However, while they might look like fully grown dogs, they are still puppies at this stage as their mind needs to develop more. The German Shepherd at this stage will still be energetic and jovial and will require plenty of exercise and challenges to prevent boredom.
Related: How High Can a German Shepherd Jump?
3 Years and Beyond (Maturity Stage)
By the age of two or two and a half, your German Shepherd will have grown to its full size. By three, the German Shepherd will also be emotionally mature, therefore completing all the stages of its development.
How Big Do German Shepherds Grow?
German Shepherds are generally medium-sized dogs, but depending on individual dogs, they can also grow quite large. A male German Shepherd will weigh between 65 to 90 pounds, while a female German Shepherd will weigh around 45 to 70 pounds by full maturity. German Shepherds are longer than they are tall and can grow to around 24 to 26 inches in males, and 22 to 24 inches among females.
Of course, these measurements are the average numbers and individual German Shepherds may not meet these criteria perfectly. As long as you have a healthy, strong, and energetic dog, you have nothing to worry about. Just give them the right nutrition and intervene with training at the right time, and you will have a happy household with the loyal pooch.
German Shepherds are extremely athletic dogs so they usually have a slim and lean body. If you find that your German Shepherd is putting on an undue amount of weight, you should try regulating its exercise and diet. If nothing changes, consult a vet. Having said that, they should also not be so thin that their ribs show. You will know you have a healthy German Shepherd when you see one.
German Shepherds make for excellent and loyal pets. They will shower you with affection and positivity when you walk through the door, and will also notify you if they sense any danger nearby. But they do need a lot of care and attention at the right stages of development.
They are independent dogs that do not need a lot of fussing, but you will have to pay attention to their training and development at least in the first three years of their life. Once you have gone through the stages of development with your pooch, they will not require as much attention in terms of training.
The German Shepherd pup has not become a fully grown adult and will take care of itself to a large extent. However, you must keep giving them the physical and mental stimulation they require as they continue to be energetic dogs who love to run around and stay active.