All Things Dog

How “German” is the German Shepherd?

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German Shepherds have become so popular all around the globe, it makes you wonder just how “German” this breed really is. Many people may not have even wondered about the breed’s German heritage. When you think of the German Shepherd, the first things that come to mind are the traits that have made these dogs prized the world over: loyalty, courage, intelligence, and strength. But let’s take a moment to explore the importance of Germany in the breed’s development.

The German Connection

Here are a few Germanic facts about the breed’s development:

  • 1891—The Phylax Society is established in Germany by a group of dog lovers who wanted to standardize native German dog breeds.

  • 1899—Captain Max von Stephanitz (considered by many to be the father of the breed) visits a dog show and is so impressed by the shepherd dog he sees, he purchases one.

  • 1899—The first German Shepherd society is formed by Captain von Stephanitz, the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (or SV).

  • Over the next decades, the SV—under Captain von Stephanitz’s direction—conducts breeding programs that help establish many of the fixed qualities we associate with the breed.

  • During World War I, Germany used German Shepherds as messenger, rescue, and sentry dogs.

  • United States and British servicemen fighting in World War I witnessed firsthand the breed’s qualities. They then brought German Shepherds home with them.

  • What’s in a name?

    As you can see, the breed’s German heritage is important in the development of the breed. However, if you’re looking for a dog that uniquely combines strength, loyalty, courage, and intelligence, it may not make a difference to you where the breed originated. All you need to know is that the German Shepard is the dog for you.

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