The German Shepherd Dog is one of the most popular breeds in the world. It consistently rates among the most common household pets in the US and UK, predominantly due to its vast intelligence, loyalty and obedience. Below are some interesting facts about a popular, but often misunderstood breed.
Today, German Shepherd Dog’s are used in numerous countries as police dogs. Due to their breeding, the German Shepherd enjoys working with humans and loves to be active. However, it is partly due to its work as a police dog that the breed has a fearsome reputation. Although they make splendid working dogs, they are equally suited to family life and can be wonderful companions.
As the name suggests, the German Shepherd Dog has its origins in Germany as a herding animal. However, until the 19th century, there was no standardization of dog breeds in Europe. An advocate of standardization, Max von Stephanitz, had very clear views about the physical form and character traits of the ideal working dog. By chance, he found the dog that matched his ideal, purchased it and used it as a breeding animal. Stephanitz founded the German Shepherd Dog Society and is credited with creating the breed.
Through a careful breeding program, Max von Stephanitz’s first German Shepherd, Horand, produced numerous pups. This second generation was also selectively bred, leading to the birth of Beowulf, who is an ancestor of all subsequent German Shepherd Dogs.
Compared with most breeds of dog, the German Shepherd is a relatively modern addition. Established in 1899, the breed was not recognized by UK Kennel Clubs until 1908.
The breed’s popularity exploded after the conclusion of the First World War. Returning soldiers spoke very highly of the breed, which led to a dramatic rise in the number of German Shepherd Dogs in the UK.
Ironically, after World War 1, an epidemic of anti-German sentiment led to the UK Kennel Club changing the name of the German Shepherd Dog. Shortly after the war, the breed was registered under the name Alsatian Wolf Hound. However, the name was soon shortened to Alsatian and adopted by many Kennel Clubs around the world. It was not until 1977 that the name German Shepherd Dog was restored.
The German Shepherd can be found in a variety of colors. The most common color combinations are tan and black or red and black. However, it is also possible to have all black, all white, blue, brindle, sable, liver and panda.
In some quarters, the all white German Shepherd is not deemed acceptable, because its color would not allow it to herd effectively or be seen in wintry conditions.
According to Kennel Club specifications, the German Shepherd Dog should have a long muzzle with a black nose, medium sized eyes that are brown in color and large erect ears. Other noticeable features of the German Shepherd Dog is the bushy tail, which should reach to the hock and the long neck, which is outstretched when the dog is excited.
Max von Stephanitz was very particular about which dogs he bred and was implicit that defects should be bred out quickly. Today, however, with a lack of breeding regulations, some terrible defects have crept into the breed. Subsequently, hip dysplasia, missing teeth and a number of other ailments can affect the German Shepherd Dog.
Despite their fearsome reputation, the evidence for aggression in German Shepherd Dogs is refuted by reputable source, including the American Veterinary Medical Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most owners find that the German Shepherd is docile, loyal and obedient. If properly trained, they are happy to share their home with other animals and although naturally wary of strangers, a German Shepherd is not viscous or aggressive by nature.
If you’re looking for a loyal, devoted and loving family pet, you can’t go far wrong with a German Shepherd. However, prospective owners are advised to research the breed and ensure that you can provide the right home for a dog.