The German Shepherd Dog- Tattoos

Lately, I have been writing a third part to my article about the different lines within the German Shepherd dog breed, where I will mention other varieties within the breed and some breeds which have developed from it.

I recently got a little sidetracked when I joined a couple German Shepherd dog forums and after discussing the fact that GSDs are tattooed and getting so many answers from owners, breeders and fans of these breed which had no idea how this worked and in many cases doubted the fact that these dogs had to be tattooed, I thought it was probably a good idea to write about this now, and continue with the other article in a few days.

Let’s clarify a few things first. All German Shepherd dogs that were born in the United States on or after January 1st 2005 must have a tattoo, preferably in the right ear; or microchip identification. They should be at least five numbers or letters, or any combination of numbers and letters. Tattoos may be a unique tattoo number of the owner's choice, or a 7-digit tattoo may be obtained from the USA organizations. These tattoos must be verified by a licensed veterinarian and the tattoo or microchip number must be certified on their original 4-generation pedigree. The purpose of this is to record the permanent identification of all German Shepherd Dogs born in the United States.

All over the world (except for very few countries, including the US) national registries abide by the rules set by the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale); which is a world canine organization whose main objective is to promote and preserve purebred dogs and links all dog clubs worldwide in order to have uniform breed standards.

The SV (Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde- the German Shepherd Dog Club in Germany) which is the parent club of the breed and the largest and most active breed-specific club in the world is a member of the WUSV (World Union of SV's) and the WUSV in turn is a member of the FCI. The WUSV mainly serves as a link to the SV in Germany and connects other German Shepherd clubs around the world to the FCI.

Due to the fact that the AKC doesn't follow the rules set by the FCI, the USA (United Schutzhund Clubs of America) is the main entity in the US dedicated to protecting and preserving the German Shepherd dog. Through its WUSV membership, the USA has established itself as the only German Shepherd breed registry in the US that complies with international (FCI) rules and promotes an SV/USA registry. The USA requires that all dogs are tattooed between six and eight weeks of age.

If a GSD is only registered in the AKC it probably doesn't require a tattoo, but as I have mentioned in previous posts, German Shepherd dogs that are not registered in a national registry that abides by the rules of the FCI haven’t necessarily been bred according to the breed's standard.

The reason why the German Shepherd dog is still one of the world's most popular breeds after more than 100 years is because of rules like this, which help make sure that all German Shepherds are bred according to the breed's standard.


  1. I really do appreciate this blog post and this blog in general for that matter. I am an owner of a German Shepherd Dog myself and from past experiences until now I have learned a whole lot. Everything from purchasing my first GSD from a puppy mill which was a mistake to one of my best choices which was purchasing a full bred FCI dog. I love that I have this blog to go to if I need to read up on anything. There's alot of usful info on here from someone who knows what they're talking about.
    I also am glad that the (FCI) rules and promotes an SV/USA registry and that the USA requires that all dogs are tattooed between six and eight weeks of age. My dong is one of many with a tattoo and microchip.


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