Is a German Shepherd the right dog for you?
German Shepherds, also known as Alsatians, are a well-known and respected breed of dog known for their intelligence, trainability, and loyalty. These versatile and hardworking dogs have a rich history and have been used as police, service, and therapy dogs, as well as family pets. In this article, we will share 13 interesting facts about German Shepherds, including their origins, physical characteristics, and unique personality traits. Whether you’re a German Shepherd owner or simply a fan of this beloved breed, these facts will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation for the German Shepherd and its special place in the world of dogs.
In the 1850s, Germany saw the
emergence of a movement to standardize dog breeds, driven by the need for farmers and herders to have the most suitable shepherds for their flocks and farms. However, a major challenge faced by breeders at the time was the lack of a reliable way to determine a dog’s working characteristics. This often resulted in wasted time and money as dogs were trained but ultimately not suitable for the intended job.
The Movement to standardize dog breeds
in 1850s Germany ultimately failed due to a lack of consensus among local cities and towns about which traits were most important, leading to the proliferation of numerous “regional” dog breeds. In 1891, the Phylax Society was established with the goal of standardizing these local breeds in Germany. However, persistent disagreements over breed standards ultimately led to the society’s demise after only three years.
It wasn’t Until 1899
when a man named Max von Stephanitz began the Society for the German Shepherd Dog and added its first dog named Horand von Grafrath to the breeds register. It was here that von Stephanitz began meticulously breeding German Shepherds with desirable working traits and the first breed standard was born.
In Landmark Research on Modern Dog Breed
development, the German Shepherd has been shown to share the most DNA with an ancestor of the following breeds:
The German Shepherd Dog was
was originally bred to herd sheep but due to their intelligence, strength and trainability have since become the dog of choice for military and police work. Today, GSD’s share the spotlight with Belgian Malinois as the top police/military dog. Other breeds seen in this job are Doberman Pinschers, Bloodhounds and Rottweilers.
The German Shepherd is a medium-large size dog
with males weighing up to 90 pounds and females a bit over 70 pounds. They can reach a height of 26 inches. According to FCI breed standard, “Colours are black with reddish-brown, brown and yellow to lightgrey markings; single-coloured black, grey with darker shading, black saddle and mask.”
What About a White German Shepherd?
Although white is a coat color that DOES appear in German Shepherds, it is NOT a color recognized by German Shepherd breed standard. In fact, FCI breed standard states, “The colour white is not allowed.” These white dogs are not albino, they are the result of a recessive masking gene that does NOT cause any additional health complications. The Berger Blanc Suisse or White Swiss Shepherd is a separate breed recognized by the FCI.
The AKC Conducts Dog Racing Trials
each December in Orlando, FL. called the Fast CAT Invitational. This is a 100 yard race where dogs run individually chasing a lure. The average time for German Shepherds was a little over 24 mph. The fastest recorded time was by a female GSD named Caradoc’s The Wicked at 32.89 mph!
Growing Up German Shepherd
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The CBARQ Dog Temperament Research
study, conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, is a giant study of over 300 dog breeds and 60,000 individual dogs. In this study, the GSD’s ranked high in aggression towards other UNFAMILIAR dogs. Essentially, this means a GSD is likely to meet the entrance of another dog into their territory with barking, growling and/or bearing of teeth. In extreme cases, they may try to snap at, lunge or bite the other unfamiliar canine.
In this Same Research
the German Shepherd ranks 16th out of 124 breeds in trainability. Essentially, this means they are generally eager and willing to learn new commands and obey them quickly without distraction.
In the Landmark Book
entitled, “The Intelligence of Dogs”, professor Stanley Coren researched and documented the intelligence of over 130 different dog breeds. In his book, the German Shepherd ranks 3rd out of 130 breeds in working/obedience intelligence. Essentially this means they will learn new commands in 5 or fewer repetitions. This puts them in the “brightest dogs category”. In contrast, the lest intelligent breeds will require 80-100 repetitions to learn and follow the same commands!
Which breeds are 1 and 2?
1. Border Collie
2. Standard Poodle
While German Shepherd’s are a Robust
breed, with an average lifespan of 9-13 years, there are certain health conditions that effect them:
Hip and/or Elbow Dysplasia
The German Shepherd Dog Breed Club
of America offers a certificate to German Shepherds that are twelve years of age or older as a proud member of the The Thirteen (13) Club.