History of the German Shepherd

German Shepherd on a trailThe German Shepherd is a dog breed known for their intelligence, loyalty, and courage. The American Kennel Club lists them as one of the most popular breeds based on AKC registration statistics. They have consistently remained in the top 10 most registered breeds. The German Shepherd is also a popular service dog, due to not only its ability to be trained easily, but also because it can retain that training for many years. But, how did the GSD become the dog breed we know and love? This is the history of the German Shepherd:

Before They Were a Designated Dog Breed

The German Shepherd’s roots lie in several different types of herding dogs in Germany. Each type of dog bore characteristics that made it more adaptable to its specific environment. These early shepherds had varying coat lengths, color, and texture. Even the build was different. However, the core characteristics of intelligence, ruggedness, loyalty, and the ability to perform highly specialized tasks remained consistent in all breeds.

These dogs lived and worked on farms. They were working dogs, herders, and worked with man side by side as a constant companion and an invaluable helper. It wasn’t until around 1881 that these farm dogs began to receive recognition as a breed. It was also at this time that farmers and herders began selectively breeding the herding dogs, which started a gradual progression toward a single breed.

The Standardization of the German Shepherd Dog

Captain Max von Stephanitz was integral in standardizing the breed. In 1889, von Stephanitz was attending a dog show in a village in western Germany. He noted a medium-sized dog that looked strikingly like a wolf. It was yellow and gray with a sloping back, a long, slender muzzle, and supple agility. It was powerful, steady, and had impressive endurance. He noticed that the dog was a “natural” at herding. It seemed as if it were born with the herding ability.

Von Stephanitz purchased the dog and registered it as the first German Shepherd. He also founded the first German Shepherd Dog Club (Verein fur Deutsche Sche Ferhunde, SV) and was its first president. It was not long and von Stephanitz had indeed standardized the type and form of the breed. He established a breed standard that incorporated utility, mental stability, intelligence, structural efficiency, and temperament.

German Shepherds Come to the United States

The breed found its way to the United States in 1907 when it was shown in the open class at Newcastle and Philadelphia in Port Allegheny, Pennsylvania. The German Dog Club of America was founded in 1913. From there, the German Shepherd dog has worked its way into the lives and hearts of farmers, herders, and families the world over.

If this dog breed seems like it could be the right one for you, learn more about what owning this dog is like and check out the available German Shepherd puppies for sale!