The German Shepherd


The large sized dog known as the German Shepherd originated in Germany in 1899. Known as the Alsatian in parts of Europe, the breed is among the world’s most recognized breeds and is one of the top 10 most popular breeds in America.

With the growing number of large industrialized cities in Germany, the predator population was no longer a threat and rendered sheepdogs unnecessary. Max von Stephanitz, an ex-cavalry captain and former student of the Berlin Veterinary College, was an ex-member of the Phylax Society who firmly believed dogs should be bred for working. He admired the intelligence, strength and ability of Germany’s native sheepdogs, but was unable to find any single breed that met his requirements as the perfect working dog.

Max von Stephanitz

Max von Stephanitz

Horand von Grafrath SZ1 aka Hektor Linksrheim

Horand von Grafrath SZ1 aka Hektor Linksrheim

Captain Max von Stephanitz set the standard in the beginning with a mid-sized yellow and gray wolf-like dog named Hektor Linksrhein. Von Stephanitz renamed the dog Horand von Grafrath, who is known to be the first German Shepherd.

Horand became the centre-point of the breeding programs and was bred with dogs belonging to other society members that displayed desirable traits. Fathering many pups, Horand’s most successful was Hektor von Schwaben. Hektor was inbred with another of Horand’s offspring and produced Heinz von Starkenburg, Beowulf and Pilot, who later fathered a total of eighty-four pups, mostly through being inbred with Hektor’s other offspring. This inbreeding was deemed necessary in order to fix the traits being sought in the breed. Beowulf’s progeny also were inbred and it is from these pups that all German Shepherds draw a genetic link. It is believed the society accomplished its goal mostly due to Von Stephanitz’s strong, uncompromising leadership and he is therefore credited with being the creator of the German Shepherd Dog.

The AKC recognized the breed in 1908. Due to anti-German sentiment after WWI, the UK Kennel Club changed the name, registering it instead, as the Alsatian Wolfhound. The shortened name, Alsatian, was used until 1977 when the name German Shepherd was finally restored. Typified by the well-known literary and film star, ‘Lassie,’ this loving family companion is curious, intelligent, protective, energetic and make excellent police, military and guard dogs.

Lest we forget, they make good Hollywood actors. Rin tin tin appeared in many movies and is considered one of the most famous dogs in show business. At the height of his career, he received it is said 10,000 letters a week.

 Group photo of the 35th Aero Squadron with their famous mascot "Rin Tin Tin", Gengault Aerodrome, Toul, France, November 1918

Group photo of the 135th Aero Squadron with their famous mascot “Rin Tin Tin”, Gengault Aerodrome, Toul, France, November 1918

They are used for search and rescue. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers, they risked their lives crawling thru small unstable crevices looking for survivors and comforting rescue workers.

The German Shepherd is an incredibly versatile dog and excels at most anything that he is trained to do. They make excellent guide and assistance dogs for the handicapped. They are used as search and rescue, herding, drug detection at airports, disability assistance, military, or as police dogs. They are competitive, obedient and one of the most faithful dogs you could ever hope to own. The german shepherd is the second most popular breed in the United States The number one is Labrador Retriever.



While the German Shepherd is extremely loving with their owner, they are aloof and suspicious of strangers. If properly socialized and trained well, they are not aggressive, but they are territorial. They are serious, calm, and faithful to a fault, as they will not hesitate to give their life to protect their owner.

These dogs adapt well to apartment living,  however, do not leave them alone for long periods of time, as they can become anxious and bored. They are extremely sensitive and with their coats tolerate the cold weather well.

Very affectionate with family and love kids. They are friendly towards strangers, however, can be very protective of their owners.


The German Shepherd should be brushed daily as they shed constantly. They do not require too many baths, as skin irritation may develop due to oil depletion.

Teeth, Ears, and Nails

Brush the teeth at least two to three times a week to avoid tartar buildup and gum disease. Be sure to trim the claws and check the ears regularly.

Breed Specifications

Muscular and sturdy, the German Shepherd has a strong and well-proportioned body that is slightly elongated. German Shepherds are medium to large-sized dogs. They may have any one of three varieties of coats, plush, longhaired (rare) or double coat. The coat colors are usually black with sable or tan. They may also be blue, white, liver or all black, but these are considered faults by many standards. They have a domed forehead, a long square-cut muzzle with strong jaws and a black nose. The eyes are medium-sized and brown with a lively, intelligent and self-assured look. The ears are large and stand erect, open at the front and parallel, but they often are pulled back during movement. They have a long neck, which is raised when excited and lowered when moving at a fast pace. The tail is bushy and reaches to the hock.The breed standard for males is around 24-26 inches tall, the females 22-24 inches tall and the weight range for males is 66-88 lbs and 49-71 lb for females Litter size is most often between 5-10 pups.


Buyer Beware

Some things to think about before choosing a German Shepherd for a pet or companion:

  • German Shepherds may suffer from a variety of allergies.
  • May suffer from chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy (CDRM)
  • They have tendencies to develop behavior problems such as separation anxiety.
  • They are prone to suffer from hereditary diseases such as elbow or hip dysplasia.
  • They require plenty of exercise and crave challenges as boredom and inactivity may lead to negative behavior.


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