It is believed that the German Shepherd breed came to life in 1899. In fact, this is only the starting point – similar dogs existed before. A professional military man named Max von Stephanitz, who is given credit for the creation of this breed, simply bought his first dog at an exhibition. Subsequently, he standardized the breed and created a successful breeding program.
The first individual was a cross between a wolf and a dog, and Von Stephanitz crossed his male bought at the exhibition named Hector Linksrein with the best local shepherd dogs. A little later, he renamed the purchased dog. He named it Horand Von Graphet. Stephanitz traveled all over Germany in search of the best dogs, analyzing their character and appearance in detail.
He also studied the methods of breeding programs from British breeders, as they had many hundreds of years of experience, and they achieved significant results in breeding many breeds. At first, he wanted to create a shepherd dog that would combine all imaginable and unimaginable best qualities, however, he started understanding that the world around him was constantly improving and agriculture is no longer as important as it was 20 – 30 years ago.
For this reason, he decided to go down the path of performance characteristics for the breed. On the eve of the First World War, he managed to negotiate a deal with the government to use his dogs in test mode in some official government structures. Firstly, it was the police, and secondly the border guard.
Since the start of the First World War, these dogs have served as rescuers, guards, couriers, watchmen, and even helpers in transporting ammunition and food to the front lines. The scope of the German Shepherd was extremely wide already from the very start. The German Shepherd breed was added to the British and American registries after World War I, although confusion on how to name this breed continued in England until 1977.
The German Shepherd is a large dog with a massive and muscular build, a voluminous chest, and a powerful long neck. They have erect ears and an elongated and square muzzle. Their limbs are of medium length and the tail is fluffy, saber-shaped.
For many people around the world, the German Shepherd is to this day an example of what an ideal dog should be like. They have extremely high intelligence – there are only a few breeds in the world that could compete with the German Shepherd in this regard. Sometimes it may seem to you that you are communicating with a person, not a dog. Despite their inability to speak, they still manage to convey their feelings and reactions through their facial expressions, voice, and body language.
The German Shepherd perfectly understands a person, and when it comes to its owner, it will often understand him even before he has expressed his desire. It takes them some time to introduce a new person in their circle of friends but if this person gets in, the dog will remember him for a very long time.
The owner is a different story. He is the king, a god, and the highest living being in the mind of the German Shepherd. Thanks to their intelligence, they can be taught almost anything – from helping blind people to detection and bite work.
It is impossible to list every area in which the German Shepherd is involved today. It is one of the most popular dog breeds on the planet. These dogs really love to work. They get sad and unhappy if they have to live an inactive lifestyle and are tethered to a chain.
They need a job and their owner to be happy. German Shepherds are great with children and make great family companions. They should be introduced to other animals at an early age to reduce cross-species and inter-sex aggression.
If you have the opportunity, try to provide your animal with regular exercise and training. These dogs often perceive strangers through the prism of their relationship with the owner – by default, they take responsibility for their family, and if a stranger shows aggression, they can defend and even attack without warning and command.
Training a German Shepherd is easy. These dogs have practically no stubbornness, and this breed loves the process of training and acquiring new skills. But you need to start from an early age – about six months. You need to be consistent, patient, and kind, as well as strict when necessary. Don’t forget to use rewards and spoil your pet with treats if he successfully completes a task.
Brush your German Shepherd’s coat twice a week. Trim its nails three times a month, and always keep your pet’s eyes and ears clean. Bathe the dog about 1 – 2 times a week.
The German Shepherd breed, like all other breeds, is prone to certain diseases, here are the most common ones:
- Hip dysplasia;
- Elbow dysplasia;
- Expansion of the stomach (bloating, volvulus);
- Degenerative myelopathy;
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency;