Since 1899, German Shepherd dogs have been highly prized for their loyalty, bravery and intelligence. From the very first registered German Shepherd, Horand von Grafrath---an exceptionally intelligent, agile dog with instinctive herding ability---came a breed standard that has been preserved for over a century through careful selective breeding. These characteristics, combined with an easygoing yet eager demeanor, have made German Shepherds popular world wide as service dogs and faithful companions.
The originator of the German Shepherd was Cavalry Captain Max Emil Frederich von Stephanitz. While attending a dog show in Germany in the late 1800s, a herding dog named Hektor Linksrhein caught the captain's attention. Intelligent and strong with innate herding ability, endurance and agility, Hektor had many of the qualities Stephanitz had been searching for in a working dog. He purchased Hektor and renamed him Horand von Grafrath. Stephanitz then bred Horand to carefully selected female dogs of similar type. Horand von Grafrath became the foundation sire of the German Shepherd breed we know today.
According to the Westminster Kennel Club the German Shepherd was known as the German Sheep Dog from 1908 to 1918 and as the Shepherd Dog from 1919 to 1931. Because of anti-German sentiment during World War I, it was feared that the name German Shepherd would not be looked upon favorably. In 1919, the English Kennel Club gave the breed a separate register and changed the name to the Alsatian, after Alsace, a region in France. In 1977, the British Kennel Club authorized the breed's name to be changed back to the German Shepherd.
Around 1925, a trend toward the breeding of squarish, over-sized dogs with less than stable temperaments alarmed Stephanitz and he realized that changes needed to be made. In 1925, Stephanitz selected Klodo von Boxberg, a shorter, longer bodied dog with a lengthy gait, as world champion. This dog would become the catalyst for changes, a sire whose qualities Stephanitz wanted to see passed along in subsequent generations. Klodo was imported to America that same year and became an influential sire of German Shepherds dogs in North America.
During World War II, German Shepherds were widely employed as guard dogs, mine detectors and messengers by both the German and American forces. Dogs for Defense was organized in America and the German Shepherd was one of seven preferred breeds of dogs used by the military as guard dogs. German Shepherds were highly valued for their loyalty and ability to stay on task as well as their neutral coloring, which made them inconspicuous. Dogs with extensive white or light-colored areas were not accepted into the program.
The original German Shepherds were working dogs with a natural herding sense; this trait and others, such as their courage and intelligence, their loyalty, agility and even tempered dispositions, have been carefully preserved throughout the breed's history. As a result, German Shepherds have become more than mere working farm dogs. Their abilities have been put to practical use in law enforcement, as guide dogs for the blind, as animal actors in television and film and as treasured family protectors.
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Blog Article presented by: Jill Pavel