Dogs 101: German Shepherd Dog (GSD) – Animal Facts
Confident, Courageous, Smart: just a few words used to accurately describe the German Shepherd Dog. 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 dog.
Let’s see what we can discover about the German Shepherd Dog.
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10. The German Shepherd Dog is one of the few breeds who official name includes the word “dog.” 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”.
9. 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 his attention.
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.
8. 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 do.
7. 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 an understatement.
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.
6. 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.
5. 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 Alsace-Lorraine.
4. 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 Fame.
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.
3. 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 day.
2. 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 shepherds. 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.
1. American breeding of German Shepherds wasn’t well regulated. 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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