German Shepherd Dogs often make good-natured pets, although their personalities can vary, with some being calm and watchful/observant while others are energetic. Intelligence and alertness are common traits of German Shepherds, whose behavioral strengths are often reflected in their use as service dogs for law enforcement, search and rescue, and disability assistance dogs. These same strengths mean that pet German Shepherds, including those who just have German Shepherd as part of their background, may benefit from physical and mental stimulation. They are eager to learn and respond well to reward-based training of obedience concepts, which strengthens their bonding with their family.
The modern day German Shepherd breed is a cross between the long-haired, short-haired and wire-haired shepherd dogs of the German regions of Wurttemberg, Thuringia and Bavaria. Initially bred for herding, due to their strength, intelligence and excellent temperament, they became popular as guard dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, police dogs and military dogs. Max Emil Von Stephanitz sought to protect and refine the German Shepherd breed at the end of the 19th Century. German Shepherds were used as German police and military dogs during World Wars I and II. Allied soldiers during World War I took notice of the Shepherd's use as messenger dogs or search and rescue dogs as they were very good at locating wounded soldiers. Some soldiers introduced the breed to their home countries and the popularity of the German Shepherd took off, making it one of the most popular breeds in the world today. The German Shepherd Dog was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1908.