The German Shepherd Dog is the second most popular dog breeds in the United States next to the Labrador. It’s because this breed is intelligent and capable of working as well. It is a versatile dog breed that can excel at most anything it is trained to do such as police and military service, assistance for the handicapped, drug detection, search and rescue, and as a faithful companion as well. Let us know more about the origins and characteristics of the German Shepherd Dog.
During the 1850s in Europe, attempts were made to standardize breeds. Dogs were bred to preserve qualities that assisted their jobs such as herding sheep and protecting flocks from predators. In the local communities of Germany, breeding was done to selected dogs that they believed had the skills necessary for herding sheep like speed, strength, intelligence, and keen senses of smell. This resulted to dogs that were able to do such things however, they differ significantly, both in appearance and ability from one locality to another.
In 1891, the Phylax Society was formed with the intention of creating standardized dog breeds in Germany to combat the differences. However, it disbanded after three years because of an ongoing internal conflicts about the traits in dogs that the society should promote. Some of the members believed that the dogs should be bred solely for working purposes while others believed that they should be bred for appearance. Even though the society was unsuccessful, it had inspired people to pursue standardizing dog breeds independently.
One ex-member of the society named Max von Stephanitz, a former cavalry captain and former student of the Berlin Veterinary College believed strongly that dogs should be bred for working. In 1899, he attended a dog show with a dog named Hektor Linksrhein. It was a product of few generations of selective breeding and Hektor completely fulfilled what Von Stephanitz believed a working dog should be.
He was pleased with how strong the dog was and he was also taken by its loyalty, intelligence, and beauty that he immediately purchased it. After purchasing Hektor, he changed the name of the dog to Horand von Grafrath. After that, Von Stephanitz founded the Society for the German Shepherd Dog. Horand was the first German Shepherd Dog and was the first dog that was added to the society’s breed register.
Horand became the center-point of the breeding programs. He was bred with dogs that belong to other society members that displayed desirable traits. He fathered many pups but his most successful was Hektor von Schwaben which was inbred with another of Horand’s offspring and produced Beowulf. Later on, Beowulf fathered a total of eighty-four pups mostly through being inbred with Hektor’s other offspring.
In 1919, when the UK Kennel Club first accepted registrations for the breed, there were fifty-four dogs that were registered and it had grown to over 8,000 by 1926. It was during the decline of the World War I that the German Shepherd Dog breed gained international recognition after returning soldiers spoke highly about the breed. Animal actors Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart also helped in popularizing the breed further.
In the United States, the first German Shepherd Dog registered was Queen of Switzerland. However, its offspring suffered from defects which resulted to poor breeding. This had caused the breed to suffer a decline in popularity in the late 1920s.
The popularity of the German Shepherd Dog increased again after a German Shepherd named Seiger Pfeffer von Bern became the Grand Victor in American Kennel Club dog shows in 1937 and 1938. In 1993, it became the third most popular dog breed in the United States. And in the present time, it’s the second most popular in the US.
Characteristics of a German Shepherd Dog
Average height:1 foot and 10 inches – 2 feet and 2 inches tall
Average weight: 75 to 95 pounds
The German Shepherd Dog belongs to the herding dogs breed group and they can live from 10 to 14 years. Males can grow from 24 to 26 inches tall while females on the other hand, can grow from 22 to 24 inches tall. Both males and females can weigh from 75 to 95 pounds.
German Shepherd Dogs have medium-length double coats which can protect them from rain and snow. Their coats are also resistant to picking up burrs and dirt. Their outer coats are usually dense with straight hair that lies close to the body which are sometimes wavy and wiry. They come in different colors and patterns such as black, black and cream, black and red, black and silver, black and tan, blue, gray, brown, sable, and white.
German Shepherd Dogs are aloof but they are not usually aggressive. They are reserved and does not make friends easily, but once they do, they are very loyal. They are also excellent watchdogs because they are strong and protective. They are very easy to train because they are highly intelligent dogs. The only thing they are not good at is being left alone for long periods of time.
They can also be great companions for children if they are well trained and had plenty of exposure to kids as a puppy. In fact, some say that German Shepherd Dogs are a cross between a babysitter and a cop, both gentle with and protective of the children and his family. They can also live peacefully with other dog breeds and pets as long as they were taught to do so from puppyhood.
Caring for a German Shepherd Dog
Since German Shepherd Dogs are originally bred to herd flocks all day, it means that they are built for action and they have lots of energy to burn with daily exercise. Their bodies and minds need to be exercised through activities like jogging and agility training.
German Shepherd Dogs shed all-year round that’s why if you want one, be prepared for hair all over your house. To prevent or minimize this, brushing them two to three times a week will help. You shouldn’t bathe them often because that can strip the coat of oils that keeps their hair healthy. Even though they are shedders, they tend to be fairly clean and odorless.
They also love to chew, therefore, giving them sturdy and safe dental chew toys and bones would help keep their teeth clean. You can also brush their teeth using a soft toothbrush to keep their gums and teeth in good shape.
For German Shepherd Dogs, the recommended daily amount of food is 3 to 4 cups divided into two meals. The amount of food to be given depends on your pet’s size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level.
German Shepherd Dogs are indeed amazing. If you’re looking for a great watchdog and a loyal friend, a German Shepherd Dog might be the one you need.