Breed Profile: A German Shepherd

The most striking features of the correctly bred German Shepherds are firmness of nerves, attentiveness, unshockability, tractability, watchfulness, reliability and incorruptibility together with courage, fighting tenacity and hardness.

– Max von Stephanitz

Breed Group: Herding Group (Working Group)
Lifespan: 9-13 years
Temperament: Steady, Fearless, Dedicated
Characteristics: Intelligent, Loyal, Instinctive, Versatile, Intelligent, Confident, Agile, Protective, Strong
Colors: 11 colors
Markings: None
Origin: Germany

Background: Though the breed can trace its ancestors to a diverse group of shepherding and farm dogs in Germany, the distinctive breed didn’t begin until 1889 when Captain Max von Stephanitz began the standardization.  According to GSDCA, the calvary officer purchased a wolflike canine that was “powerful and possessed endurance, steadiness, and intelligence.” This dog was purchased by von Stephanitz, renamed Horand von Grafrath, and became the first registered German Shepherd Dog.

The first GSD was registered with the AKC in 1908, and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America was born in 1913 (though it was renamed Shepherd Dog Club of America when the U.S. entered WWI). The end of WWI brought a rise in popularity for the breed, as some returning soldiers brought shepherds with them – and others told tales of the dogs’ work with the Red Cross, and at the front.

The dog was sought after during the Second World War, and employed by both sides as mine detectors, sentinels, guards, and more. In America, Dogs for Defense was formed, providing thousands of dogs to the army. Read more about the fate of the GSD after WWII here.

Today, the GSD is distinguished for its versatility and is the 2nd most popular breed in the United State – largely due to its loyal nature and good guarding skills.

german shepherd

Fun Fact: The German Shepherd can retain training for a number of special services, and is often utilized as police dogs, service dogs, and agility dogs.

Generally considered dogdom’s finest all-purpose workers, German Shepherd Dogs are large, agile, muscular dogs of noble spirit and high intelligence.

– AKC

Profile on the breed, as gathered from the AKC and German Shepherd Dog Club of America websites.


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