LEARN – History of the German Shepherd Dog

Dogs are the faithful companion, and they have accompanied human beings for almost 40,000 years. Scientists have found that the dogs are generally domestic and wild; they both share a common wolf ancestor. Most of them have trained temperaments. They safeguard their territories. Through their body position, movement, and facial expression, they convey a strong […]
German Shepherd Adult dog and a German Shepherd Puppy
German Shepherd Dogs

Dogs are the faithful companion, and they have accompanied human beings for almost 40,000 years. Scientists have found that the dogs are generally domestic and wild; they both share a common wolf ancestor. Most of them have trained temperaments. They safeguard their territories. Through their body position, movement, and facial expression, they convey a strong message to other species. Humans even recognise some of the expressions. Dogs communicate with a cacophony of sounds, and it includes barks, whines, and growls.

Recognising the German Shepherd

They are a medium-sized working dog that has its origin in Germany. These dogs are between 21 and 25 inches at the withers, and the ideal height is 24 inches. For males, the weight is around 30-40 kilograms, and for females, it is about 22-32 kilograms. This breed is officially recognised as the German Shepherd Dog (GSD). After the First World War, its name changed to German Shepherd. 

German Shepherd is known for its intelligence, obedience, and trainability. They are the second most registered breed by the American Kennel Club and seventh by the United Kingdom Kennel Club.

German Shepherd features a domed temple, long square-cut mouth, and a black nose. They have strong jaws. Their eyes are brown with lively and self-assured looks. This breed of dogs has large ears, but they stand erect, and when in motion, they often pulled back. Their long neck get’s raised when excited and lowered when moving at a fast pace. The tail of these dogs is bushy and reaches the hock. They come in a variety of colours, and the most common are tan-black and red-black. 

Some of the variants are:

  • East-European Shepherd
  • King Shepherd
  • Shiloh Shepherd
  • White Shepherd
  • White Swiss Shepherd
German Shepperd with text 1859 to the Modern day
HISTORY 1859 to the Modern-day

History

The genetic research proves that European herding dog gave rise to the German Shepherd in 1859. The dogs were mainly reared to maintain the traits of herding dogs and assist farmers in gathering the sheep and protecting the flocks from the predators. This practice was observed locally in Germany. This breed is known for its speed, strength, and a keen sense of smell. However, the dogs differed significantly in their appearance and skill from one locale to another.

1891

A dog club was set up in the year 1891 to come up with a standard German Shepherd dog breed. The club was named Phylax Society. Three years later the society was disbanded due to ongoing conflict, due to the trait of the dog that should be promoted Phylax Society.

Soon people got inspired to pursue the standardising of the dog breed independently. With the advent of industrial cities, the predator population began to decline. The awareness of the sheepdogs as a versatile and smart nature came into notice.

1899

Max von Stephanitz, a captain of an ex-cavalry, a former student of the Berlin Veterinary College, and ex-member of Phylax Society, believed that dogs should be reared for working. While taking part in a dog show in 1899, he noticed a dog named Hektor Linksrhein. He was thrilled with the dog’s strength and was amazed by its loyalty and beauty. Later, he purchased the dog and changed its name to Horand von Grafrath. 

Max founded a new society for the German Shepherd Dog with the name Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde. Horand was announced as the first German Shepherd Dog breed. Max was later credited for being the creator of this breed.

1920

Honard was part of several breeding programs and gave birth to many pups. His successful offspring was Hektor von Schwaben. Hektor produced Beowulf, and it is from here all the German Shepherd draw a genetic link. During the first half of the 20th Century, this breed of dogs was strongly associated with the Nazi’s. They became famous for their association with purity and militarism. Once Hitler bought a German Shepherd Dog in 1921, but due to his poverty, he had to leave it elsewhere. However, it managed to return to him.

The German Shepherd Strongheart became the earliest canine film stars, and Rin Tin Tin followed him. They both are inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. During this time, the United Kingdom Kennel Club had accepted the registration of 54 German Shepherds. In Switzerland also under the leadership of Dorothy Eustis, several German Shepherd females were trained.

1926

In the United Kingdom, the breed had grown to 8000. ‘Queen of Switzerland’ became the first German Shepherd Dog to get registered with American Kennel Club. But her progeny suffered defects due to poor breeding, and its popularity declined in the 1920s. 

1937-1945

The admiration increased after German Shepherd Dog Seiger Pfeffer von Bern won the American Kennel Club’s, Grand Victor. Due to anti-German sentiments, at the end of World War II, its popularity declined. 

At the beginning of World War II, the German Shepherd had worked for Allied and Axis forces, and they had employed them as mine detectors and guard dogs. Even Blind Association in the United Kingdom and the United States trained these dogs for blinded veterans. Before World War II, there was a distinct separation between the American and German lines of German Shepherd dogs. 

However many German lines died during this war. As the two bloodlines were crossed many times, today’s dog represents the mixed features. A number of them were taken by the foreign servicemen who were impressed by their talent.

1955-1964

From the year 1955 to 1964, the German Shepherd appeared as the fictional character Ace the Bat-Hound in the American comic books published by DC Comics. It was the canine crime-fighting partner of Batman and Robin. During this time a German Shepherd named Kantor became a trendy and successful police dog in Hungary. After his death, two novels were published under his name by Rudolf Szamos. One was titled Kantor, the detective, and the other was Kanto in the metropolis.

1966

It descends from American White Shepherds, and it was born in America. Later it was imported to Switzerland.

1975-1977

A television mini-series was created based on Kantor, and it became a popular show of Hungarian television history. It made the German Shepherds the most popular dog breed in the country ever since then. The name Alsatian stayed for a few years; until 1977, the dog enthusiasts forced the British Kennel Club to permit the breed to be registered as German Shepherds again.

1989

A German Shepherd named Charlie Barkin stars in All Dogs Go to Heaven, an animated movie.

1993

In this year the German Shepherd became the third most popular breed in the United States.

1999

An Australian report stated that German Shepherds are the third most likely to attack a person in some Australian locales. After understanding their temperament, it dropped to 38th.

2001

A German Shepherd was part of Urban Search and Rescue Task Force operations to undercover survivors at the site of the collapsed World Trade Center after the 11th September 2001 attacks.

2003

The Disney movie named 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’ London Adventure focuses on a German Shepherd called Thunderbolt. The dog was the hero of the film. During this time White Swiss Shepherd Dog was recognised as a separate breed by Federation Cynologique Internationale.

2007

The Swedish German Shepherds were used during the demonstration on National Day in Stockholm city. A Hollywood movie named ‘I Am Legend’ starring Will Smith as a virologist, and he was accompanied by a German Shepherd known as Samantha. As per the film, New York City was deserted due to a lethal strain of the virus. It portrayed a close bond between the virologist and the dog.

2010

The name Alsatian appeared in parentheses, as a part of the formal breed name till 2010.

2013

It was published that about 15% of the dogs trained by Guide Dogs of America are German Shepherds. A five-year-old German Shepherd Military Working dog was able to locate the hidden explosives during a training process. 

2016

In 2016, the German Shepherd became the most popular breed of the United States. Its physique is well suited for competing in the shows and other dog sports.

Modern Day

Over time the dog slowly developed into a more distinct and beautiful breed with many specific virtues such as sharpness, self-confidence, and adaptability. They are relatively easy to train and good at performing tasks and following instructions. German Shepherd is used to tracking criminals, patrol troubled areas, and detect suspects. Thousands of this breed are used in the military and are trained for scout duty. They are used to warn soldiers about the enemy, booby traps, and other dangerous hazards. 

German Shepherd is useful in explosive and narcotics detection, cadaver searching, and other rescue operations. It is seen that regardless of distraction, they have a keen sense of smell and workability.

These breed of dogs help in disability assistance, aiding hunters, perform police and rescue work. They are known for their intelligent approach. German Shepherd’ helps protect homes and is known as a man’s best friend. If they are not socialised properly, they might become overprotective.

About the Author

Teresa loves animals and travelling around the UK! She currently has two dogs and two cats. She loves caring for and sharing her knowledge of pets. Qualified Dog Groomer and currently studying Canine Behaviour. She has been part of the Dog Friendly Team since 2016

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