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The German Shepherd: Breed History

The German Shepherd breed History.

By Paige Published 6 months ago 4 min read
An Older GSD circa 1920s

The German shepherd is a medium to large breed of dog. They are a herding breed developed by Max Von Stephanitz A German military captain in the late 1800s.

The first German shepherd was a dog named Horand von Grafrath. (Later changed to Hektor Von He looked very different than the German shepherds we know today.

Max helped create the breed standard as well as the German shepherd club in Germany called the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (S.V.) This version of the breed standard however is different than the UK's or the US Standard. There are similarities in all breed standards but the wording of each standard is different from one another.

He also was involved in the development of the sport for German dogs. Know to most as Schutzhund tests the dog's tracking, obedience, and protection abilities. The sport has since opened up to breeds other than just the German shepherds.

Now it's not just a breed test but also a fun sport for others in the Dog community to participate in.

German shepherds according to the AKC. Male German shepherd height is 24-26 Inches and female height is 22-24 inches. Males should weigh between 65-90 Pounds and females should weigh between 50-70 pounds.

The AKC standard of the German shepherd states that. "The first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong,

agile, well-muscled animal, alert and full of life. It is well balanced, with harmonious

development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and

presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It looks substantial and not spindly,

giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any

look of clumsiness or soft living. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility, difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Secondary sex characteristics are strongly marked, and every animal gives a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex."

This discusses how the dog should look upon first impression. The standard also describes proper temperament.

It states

"The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not

hostile, expression, self-confidence, and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate

and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and

showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised,

but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as

companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may

demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be

nervous, looking about or upward with an anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, such as

tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character. Any of the above deficiencies in character which indicate shyness must be penalized as it's a very serious fault.."

The German shepherd is a tough hardworking dog. That love to work and are very loyal. That was what Von Stephaniz wanted in a good versatile breed. He wanted a dog that could work in all conditions. All the traits of today's German shepherds were created by them starting as herding dogs herding sheep, cattle, and other farm animals.

He created one of the best sheepherding dogs and was a judge in multiple German conformation shows (Also known as Seiger shows.) for the GSDs.

He is known as the father of the German shepherd. He was able to help create a dog breed built for way more than just its original purpose. He was able to create a wonderful dog that can be more than just a pet. Since we don't really need German shepherds for herding anymore. They are now used as military dogs, police dogs, service dogs, and countless other jobs.

That Stephaniz could have never imagined when he first created the breed long ago. The AKC accepted the GSD as a breed in 1908. It wasn't super popular at first. Especially during ww2. But German shepherds such as Strongheart and Rin tin tin helped boost the breed's popularity in the United States.

Strongheart with his owner Lawrence Tremble

Rin Tin TIn

Another famous German shepherd Is Buddy (Originally known as Kiss) She was the first Guide dog paired with Morris Frank of Nashville Tennesee in the late 1920s. After they succeded with their training with Dorothy Eustis In Switzerland. They returned to Nashville on June 11th, 1928. Morris and Buddy worked together until Buddy passed. After she passed. He named every German shepherd guide dog after her because she had meant so much to him.

Buddy and Morris worked together and show how much a seeing-eye dog could help a blind person.

(Guide dogs were only for blinded soldiers of ww1 before the seeing-eye)

Dorothy trained German shepherds as police dogs before she started working with Frank. Then she helped him with the seeing eye foundation.

One of the many accomplishments they had was successfully crossing a busy New York intersection. And they started The Seeing-eye. The first guide dog organization in the US. They were located in Nashville for a while until they eventually moved to Morristown New Jersey. Where it still stands today. They still use GSDS but have expanded to include Golden Retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and mixes of the two dogs.

Morris Frank and Buddy

Buddy and Morris Circa !930s

German shepherds are very happy and loyal dogs when given a job to do. They can also make great pets when given a good physical and mental outlet. Such as dog sports, working as a Search and rescue dog, a service dog, therapy dog, Police or military dogs,or puzzle games. German shepherds are great dogs ad if you give them a job they can be great companions.

Photo credit: American Kennel Club.

Photo Credit AKC

Photo Credit AKC

Photo Credit AKC

Frank and Buddy Circa 1930s

Photo Credit AKC


About the Creator


Hi, I'm Paige and I love to read and write. I love music and dogs. I mostly will write about my favorite things like dogs and music. I've been a writer for a few years now :)

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