About German Shepherds
Loyal and Courageous the German Shepherd has a rich past and a promising future.
Max Von Stephanitz is widely considered to be the father of the
German Shepherd Dog. His main desire was to produce a well rounded, structurely
sound, all around working dog. In 1889 von Stephanitz acquired a dog by the name
of Hektor Linksrhein, von Stephanitz renamed the dog, Horand von Grafrath.
Horand von Grafrath became the first registered German Shepherd Dog.
Utility and mental stability were paramount to von Stephanitz. Beauty
was secondary and in his mind a dog was not worth anything if it lacked intelligence,
temperament and structural efficiency. All the traits that lend to a well rounded
working dog. A breed standard was developed and served to dictate the exact
function and relationship of every aspect of these qualities.
He persuarded different branches of government services to use the
German Shepherd dog as well. The GSD served during both World Wars as Red Cross
dogs, messenger dogs, sentry dogs, tracking dogs, and guard dogs.
In the early 1900's the German Shepherd began to rise in popularity.
Serving in both World Wars the breed was utilized mainly be the Germans. However
the American and British soldiers became quite impressed by the breeds abilities
and some soldiers started to export the breed back to their respective countries.
German Shepherds come in a variety of
coat colors and coat types from
short haird, to plush, to coated (often referred to as long coated.)
Welcome to the United States
In 1907 Mira von Offingen was the first German Shepherd dog to
be exhibited in the United States. Mira was sown by H. Dalrymple of Port Allegheny,
Pennsylvania at Newcastle and Philidelphia.
The first championships awarded to German Shepherd Dogs occurred in 1913.
Also in 1913 the German Shepherd Dog Club of America was formed by Benjamin Throop and
Anne Tracy, with 26 charter members.
The German Shepherd Dog Club of America's first specialty show was at
Greenwich, Connecticut in 1915. However when America entered World War I all things
German were shunned and became "tabu."
As a result the American Kennel Club decided to
change the name of the breed to the Shepherd Dog. The German Shepherd Dog Club of
America also its name and became the Shepherd Dog Club of America.
In England, the name of the breed was changed to the Alsatian.
The German Shepherd Dog Today
Today the German Shepherd is still one of the most popular
dog breeds. Ranking up there at the top with the Labrador Retriever which is
the #1 most popular dog in the world as of this writing.
Around the world German Shepherds are used for herding, Police
and are deployed as Military Working Dogs (MWDs)
on dozens of continents around the world.
One of the most popular misconceptions about the German Shepherd
is they are solely used for protection or Police use. German Shepherds are
and will always be herding dogs. Many German Shepherd fanciers hope
the breed will once again be seen in the fields herding goats, sheep, and
other livestock for farmers.
German Shepherds have come a long way since the days of
Max von Stephanitz. While the breeds popularity has caused many issues
like improper temperaments and structure there is still hope for this
noble breed of canine.
What Does the Future Hold for German Shepherds?
In order to protect the future of the German Shepherd we
must be thoughtful. Breeders throw two dogs together because "they are pretty"
and what we end up with is a less than desirable dog. Thousands of
German Shepherd owners breed to show their kids "the miracle of life" and frankly
these people should be smacked in the mouth for their ignorance and complete
lack of accountability for their actions.
Increasingly breeders and owners are pulling the reigns
down tight around breeding and handling practices. Installing safe
guards that will help stop past mistakes from occurring again. One
of those safe guards has already been applied in Germany for many years
by way of the breed warden program.
The breed warden program requires that all breeders achieve
a level of excellence in their dogs. Breeders not adhering to the regulations
are black listed until the kennel conforms to the regulations. Many fanciers
here in America would love to see such a program installed by the kennel
There are those of us out there that would prefer the German
Shepherd stay out of the pet home and in the field herding, on the street helping
law enforcement, helping search and rescue crews find the lost and frightened, and
on the battle field protecting our soldiers.
When you think about the future of German Shepherds keep
the following in mind ...
"My main "warning-cry" concerns itself with the direction of
the breed, which many breeders - many novices - still subscribe to, a direction that would lead us
off the beaten path, far off of our breed goal; toward breed ruin. In all my articles,
lectures, and judges reports of the last few years, I have desperately tried to point
out that we must cling to the breed standard of the working dog, and I gave reasons why
we must do so - as it was once laid down, as a model of the breed's design. I have
emphasized over and over again that we should not get overly engrossed in details
of outward characteristics, even if they are ever so attractive, when, for the
breeding value of the dog, he must be based entirely and decisively upon the
totality of hard constitution, good health, endurance, authentic working structure
and stable temperament. The vision, the understanding of this standard, is thus
sometimes lost. Many young fanciers have unfortunately hardly ever seen correct
conformation in respect to these dogs. They become intoxicated with appearance
which so often has so little in common with the working dog as he is supposed
to be. In this case, the only thing that helps is trusted faith in the system,
until one's pondering leads to eventual understanding. The belief in what is
well meant - the thoughtful suggestions and guiding principles - are for the
welfare of the breed's future." - Max von Stephanitz 1929
Many fanciers today still become intoxicated with the
outwardly appearance of the breed and they lack the ability to see
past the vanity and into the heart of what makes the German Shepherd
Dog great. Max von Stephanitz wrote this words over 80 years ago and
they are exactly what many "breeders" need to hear today.
The German Shepherd Dog by Max von Stephanitz
More on the History of the German Shepherd
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