As the names suggest, this is a dog breed from Germany. In the 1800s many local German farmers and shepherds were trying to bred a perfect dog for herding with keen senses, high intelligence, versatility and great athleticism. In their breeding, they used already existing local shepherd dogs, but also foreign, mostly french and italian shepherds, such as Berger Picard. The results of the breeding were amazing working dogs, but because they were bred by many local communities, they differed a lot, both in appearance and ability, from one locality to another, so it was impossible to standardize them.
2) Max von Stephanitz
The man who is credited for establishment and further development of the German Shepherd we know today is Captain Max von Stephanitz. He was impressed by a one wolf like dog with yellow and black markings at a dog show. According to the Max von Stephanitz, this was a perfect working dog type, supple and powerful, and possessed endurance, steadiness, and intelligence. He decided to buy this dog, who was named Hektor Linkshrein, but Max von Stephanitz later changed his name to Horand von Grafrath. In 1899, German Shepherd Horand became the first officially registered GSD.
You can find a lot of cool and funny slogans about German Shepherds on the internet, but the first official GSDs motto, that stems from Max von Stephanitz was Utility and Intelligence, which fits perfectly to the breed.
According to the official breed standard, you can find this breed in two coat types – medium and long. The longhaired variety is rarer. The coat is always a dense doublecoat which is protecting the dog from harsh climate and enables them to withstand even colder temperatures. Most common color is tan with saddle back and mask, but you can also find this breed in black with reddish-brown, brown and yellow to light grey markings; single-coloured black, grey with darker shading.
5) Panda Shepherd
There are also some extremely rare color variations, from which many are not officially recognized. Those include pure white, silver, blue, liver or sable. Maybe the most interesting color variation has a so called Panda Shepherd, which is a normal German Shepherd dog that exhibits a rare genetic mutation that causes this interesting and i would say great looking color variation.
Speaking of coat, i must mention the shedding, because you should be prepared for it. German Shepherds shed a lot and they shed all the time. Some people have a nickname for them – the German Shedders. If you want GSD, be ready for a lot of vacuuming and brushing.
Today, herding is not that needed anymore, but that does not mean, the German Shepherd lost its purpose. Its quite the opposite and its mostly thanks to the extraordinary intelligence, trainability and versatility of German Shepherd. They found utilization as service dogs, protection and guard dogs, police and military dogs, search and rescue dogs and, of course, as amazing companion dogs.
8) First service dogs
It is believed, that the first seeing eye dog was the German Shepherd named Buddy, who helped a blind person Morris Frank in 1920s and 1930s. And even today, German Shepherd is one of the few breeds regularly serving as seeing eye dogs.
9) Sense of smell
German Shepherd is also the number one choice for police and detection work, drug sniffing, search and rescue and they make good trackers. To be good at those jobs, intelligence and trainability is not enough. They also need great nose and German Shepherds have one of the best sense of smell of all dogs. These dogs love to sniff and you should let them to sniff on your outdoor walks!
The German Shepherd is naturally loyal to its owner, family and territory and they are protective of their loved ones. These dogs are very brave and courageous and they will not be afraid of any predator, thief or any other danger. Thanks to that, they can be easily trained for protection work, but if you want your GSD just as a companion dog, early socialization with strangers is essential, so they dont become overprotective.
As you can probably expect, the GSD is very active dog breed. They definitely need daily outdoor walks, hikes or jogs. Because they are intelligent, they also need some mental stimulation as well. Some dog work is best, it can also be some fake job, such as longer training sessions, task oriented playtimes or puzzle toys. You can also try doing some dog sport with German Shepherds, such as obedience trials, herding trials, schutzhund or tracking.
There is a several different lines of German Shepherds. To mention some, there is a West German and East German working line, Czech working line, West German Show line and American show line. Not only that there is a different lines, there are also diffenrt variants based on the German Shepherds with different names. Those varients are sometimes even recognized as completely separate breeds. Those include the East European Shepherd, Shiloh Shepherd, King Shepherd and White Swiss Shepherd Dog. If you are interested in those variants, you can find separate videos about all of them on this Rocadog channel.
The GSD is just incredibly smart dog, continuosly ranking among the smartest dogs on the planet in almost all articles, rankings and studies. They also have high desire to please, which makes them highly trainable. These dogs are capable of learning a lot of different trick and commands and being absolutely obedient. Of course, just like with all dogs, patience, consistency and rewarding good behaviour is a key for raising an obedient companion.
14) The 13 Club
The average German Shepherds lifespan is not the highest, and it is between 10-13 years. For those who are above 12 years old, there is a special senior club called the 13 club, which is ran by German Shepherd Club of America. Any owner of German Shepherd above 12 years of age can fill out the application, become the member and receive a certification.
This is medium to large sized dog breed. On the first sight, they are athletic and powerful and the average height is between 55-65 cm, which is 22-26 inch. The weight is usually between 22-40 kgs, which is 49-88 pounds. The females are naturally slightly smaller than males.
16) Famous GSD
Since this is one of the most popular of all dog breeds, its no wonder they appeared in many tv shows and movies. For me, the most famous GSD is definitely the Inspector Rex. Other famous GSDs would be Rin Tin Tin, Strongheart or Bullet the Wonder dog. There are also some real life famous GSDs, mostly those who saved or helped a lot of people. For example the retired police dog Finn or serach and rescue dog Apollo, who helped find helped finding survivors after the September 11 attacks.
Sometimes, German Shepherds are reffered to as Alsatians. It is because the two world wars. After the second world war, anything associated with the word German was not very popular, which is why people in England decided to change their name to Alsatian Wolf dog. But today, the original name – German Shepherd – is more popular.
18) Modern breed
The modern German Shepherd breeders are sometimes criticised for changing the dog from working breed to showring breed. And there is definitely a visible difference between the original 1890s dogs and present dogs. The dogs we have today are taller, bulkier and they have the typical sloping back, which was not common in the original breed. But from my experience, not all the German Shepherds are like that, some are definitely very athletic and they do not have this sloping back.
The grooming needs of German Shepherds mostly contains of regular brushing, which will remove the dead hair and minimize the shedding. Other than that, these dogs can keep the coat in good condition by themselves. You should also regularly check their eyes, ears, tails and teeth and clean them or clip them if needed.
As i already mentioned earlier, the average lifespan of German Shepherd is between 10-13 years. Sadly, they do suffer from some serious health issues. The most common is definitely hip and elbow dysplasia. Other health concerns associated with this breed include congenital heart defect, degenerative myelopathy, von willebrands disease and disease of the pancreas.