German Shepherd Dog (GSD) Dogs 101
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Confident, Courageous, Smart: just a few words
used to accurately describe the German Shepherd
He is world-renowned for his skillful intellect
and his noble character.
He’s a large, agile and muscular dog, often
considered dogdom’s finest all-purpose working
Let’s see what we can discover about the
German Shepherd Dog.
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The German Shepherd Dog is one of the few
breeds who official name includes the word
So people knew when you are talking about
a German shepherd human, who tends the livestock,
or the dog helping him.
The breed’s original German name is Deutscher
Schäferhund, which literally translates to
“German Shepherd Dog”.
Former German Calvary Captain Max von Stephanitz
is considered the “father of the German
Sheppard Dog breed.”
In 1889 he started to standardize a breed
of shepherd dogs after seeing a “medium-sized
yellow-and-gray wolf-like dog” that caught
Although originally bred to be a sheep herding
dog, Stephanitz began focusing on different
traits as Germany became more and more industrialized.
Making good use of his military connections,
von Stephanitz convinced the German government
to use the breed for police and military work.
Today, the German Sheppard Dog is the second
most registered dog breed in the United States.
This is most likely due to his diversity.
He finds himself in many roles, including
family, guard, performance, police, military,
and service dog.
There isn’t much this amazing dog can’t
Synonymous with intelligence, the German shepherd
dog was ranked third when AKC judges rated
over 100 breeds on intelligence.
He’s easy to train, learning many simple
commands in as little as five repetitions.
There are few dog breeds whose fans don’t
call them “intelligent,” but in the case
of the German Shepherd Dog, that’s probably
The German Shepherd is a smart, active dog
who will do best with a smart, active owner
able to give him focused attention, exercise,
training, and lots of one-on-one time.
And despite his intelligence and ability to
learn, he is also strong-willed and not a
great candidate for new or timid dog owners.
The First Global Conflict helped to increase
the breed’s popularity in the United States.
American servicemen saw what the breed was
capable of and many brought dogs back home.
Although German Shepherds made their way to
the United States before the war, it wasn’t
until afterward that the breed became popular
in the U.S.
In 1917 the AKC removed the word “German”
from the breed’s name.
It remained that way until 1930 when members
of the club voted to change it back.
In England, he was renamed the Alsatian Wolf
Dog, after the German-French border area of
Famous Hollywood dog Rin-Tin-Tin is said to
be “America’s First Rescue Dog.”
He was awarded the American Humane Association’s
first Legacy Award in 2011.
He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of
Rin Tin Tin was a five-day-old puppy plucked
from a bomb-riddled kennel in France by an
American corporal from Los Angeles.
The corporal took the puppy home, trained
him, and turned him into one of Hollywood’s
most recognizable four-legged stars.
Rin Tin Tin appeared in 26 movies and helped
popularize the breed in America.
Before Rin-Tin-Tin hit the silver screen,
there was Strongheart.
He was one of the earliest canine stars.
He starred in six movies and also has a star
on the Walk of Fame.
Strongheart’s films did much to encourage
the popularity of the German Shepherd breed.
Strongheart and his mate, Lady Jule, had many
offspring and their line survives to this
In 1929, Mrs. Dorothy Harrison Eustis founds
“The Seeing Eye” to train German Sheppard
dogs for use as guides for the blind.
The history of The Seeing Eye began in Europe
in the 1920s when Eustis who moved to Vevey,
Switzerland, from the United States to set
up a breeding and training facility for German
Eustis bred and trained police dogs to be
intelligent, strong, and responsible.
She was helped by Jack Humphrey, an American
trainer, and geneticist.
He and Eustis developed their own scientific
approach to breeding and training, setting
the stage for service dogs of all kinds.
American breeding of German Shepherds wasn’t
In the United States, the dogs were bred to
win dog shows, and breeders put more emphasis
on looks and on the dogs’ gait than his ability.
At one point, the U.S. police departments
and military began importing German Shepherd
working dogs, because homegrown German Shepherds
were failing performance tests and plagued
by genetic health conditions.
In the past few decades, some American breeders
have begun to put the emphasis back on the
breed’s abilities rather than just appearance,
importing working dogs from Germany to add
to their breeding programs.
It’s now possible to buy American-bred German
Shepherds that live up to the breed’s reputation
as a capable working dog.
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