The German Shepherd is a breed of working dog that originated in Germany.
It is a breed of classic beauty and possesses superior intelligence.
The German Shepherd is highly adaptable, energetic, curious, strong, and dependable.
It is also known for its protectiveness, and therefore makes a very affective watchdog and will not back down if he feels that he or his loved ones are being threatened.
The German Shepherd descends from the family of German herding dogs that, until the late 19th century, varied in type from district to district.
In the end of the 1800s, a German cavalry officer, Captain Max von Stephanitz, made it his mission to develop the ideal German herder. Von Stephanitz and like-minded breeders crossed various strains from the northern and central districts of Germany, resulting in the ancestors of today’s German Shepherd.
The breed was named Deutscher Schäferhund by von Stephanitz, literally translating to “German Shepherd Dog”. The breed was so named due to its original purpose of assisting shepherds in herding and protecting sheep.
Von Stephanitz co-founded the world’s first club devoted to German Shepards and spent 35 years promoting and refining the breed.
In 2018, a genetic study found that just prior to 1859 a broadly distributed European herding dog had given rise to the German Shepherd, the French Berger Picard, and the five Italian herding breeds: Bergamasco Shepherd, Cane Paratore, Lupino del Gigante, Pastore d’Oropa, and the Pastore della Lessinia e del Lagorai.
The average lifespan for a German Shepherd is about 9 to 13 years.
German Shepherds are medium to large-sized dogs.
Males are from 60 to 65 cm (24 to 26 in) tall at the shoulder and weigh between 30 and 40 kg (66 and 88 lbs).
Females are from 55 to 60 cm (22 to 24 in) tall at the shoulder and weigh between 25 and 32 kg (49 and 73 lbs).
Its coat is of coarse, medium-long outer hair and shorter, dense inner hair and ranges from white or pale gray to black and is often gray and black or black and tan. Rarer color variations include the sable, pure-black, pure-white, liver, silver, blue, and panda varieties.
The German Shepherd is the second-most registered breed by the American Kennel Club and seventh-most registered breed by The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom.
German Shepherds are a popular selection for use as working dogs. They are known for being easy to train and good for performing tasks and following instructions. They are especially well known for their police work, being used for tracking criminals, patrolling troubled areas and detection and holding of suspects. Additionally, thousands of German Shepherds have been used by the military.
In the book The Intelligence of Dogs, author Stanley Coren ranked the breed third for intelligence, behind Border Collies and Poodles. He found that they had the ability to learn simple tasks after only five repetitions and obeyed the first command given 95% of the time.
German Shepherds have been featured in a wide range of media. In 1921 Strongheart became one of the earliest canine film stars, and was followed in 1922 by Rin Tin Tin, who is considered the most famous German Shepherd. Both have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Adolf Hitler acquired a German Shepherd named “Prinz” in 1921, during his years of poverty, but he had been forced to lodge the dog elsewhere. However, she managed to escape and return to him. Hitler, who adored the loyalty and obedience of the dog, thereafter developed a great liking for the breed.
During the first half of the 20th century, the Shepherd Dog came to be strongly identified with Imperial and Nazi Germany, because of the breed’s association with purity and militarism. Part of the Axis agenda was deliberately breeding German Shepherds to embody the spirit of Social Nationalism.
The breed was officially known as the Alsatian in the UK from after the First World War until 1977 when its name was changed back to German Shepherd.