Think you know everything there is to know about the German Shepherd? Here are 15 German Shepherd facts you probably didn’t know.
1. Max Von Stephanitz
Do you know his name? Well you should – he is considered to be the father of the German Shepherd breed. In 1899, breeder Max von Stephanitz, took notice of a wolf-like dog with black and yellow markings at Dog show in Western Germany.
He was impressed by the dog’s intelligence and discipline, he chose to purchase the dog and changed its name from Hektor Linksrhein to Horand von Grafrath. Max von Stephanitz started the German Shepherd Dog Club and created the guidelines for the breed’s standard. The motto for the new breed was “utility and intelligence“; good looks was not a priority.
In the years to follow Germany became more industrialized, and von Stephanitz was quick to realize that the needs for the German Shepherd might decline. To ensure that the breed would continue to be relevant, he worked with police and other service workers to ensure a place for the dogs in the working force. Since the breed was bred to be highly intelligent and athletic, they were the perfect fit. Max von Stephanitz is the reason the German Shepherd is used worldwide as a world-class working dog.
2. Why Is It Called A German Shepherd DOG?
The German Shepherd Dog is one of the few breeds whose official name actually includes the word “dog”. This is a bit weird – or isn’t it? The word “dog” was added so people understood whether you were talking about a human German Shepherd (someone who tends the livestock), or the dog helping him.
3. You Don’t Want to be bitten
German Shepherd’s bite has 238 pounds of force – a human’s bite has just 86! Yet another reason the breed was excellent to work as a Police dog. No one runs away from a German Shepherd twice.
4. The average lifespan of German Shepherds is 10.95 years
5. Schutzhund (Guardian Dog)
The sport was developed in the 1900’s with the German Shepherd Dog in mind – according to the United Schutzhund Clubs of America. “It was designed to test the natural instincts of the breed and to weed out the dogs that were either unstable or untrainable.”
6. Large Dog
You probably already knew that. But even though German Shepherds are quite thin the first two years of their life, they quickly grow a huge muscle mass. They’re large and powerful dogs, ranging from 22 to 26 inches and usually between 50 to 90 pounds, with females on the lower end of the spectrum. If they’re not properly trained, they can easily throw down an adult male to the ground.
7. Mr. Popularity
The German Shepherd Dog is the 2nd most registered dog in the United States. The reason is probably found in the breed’s diversity – they are popular as a family, guard, performance, show, military, police and service dogs. It can pretty much do everything.
8. Popular All Around The Globe
The German Shepherd isn’t just popular in the United States. German Shepherds is a very famous Dog around the globe. There are 250.000 purebred German Shepherd Dogs in Germany alone, with about 15.000 puppies born each year. GSD is a rare breed to have even a World Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs.
German Shepherds LOVE their owners, but they aren’t keen on strangers. However, a properly trained and socialized German Shepherd aren’t aggressive with strangers. But they will let it be known that they don’t want strangers lurking around its families territory.
10. Very Protective
In addition to being a bit standoffish with strangers, German Shepherd belts out a vicious-sounding bark when anyone knocks on your door (unless their owner shows them that it is expected). GSD’s won’t hesitate to protect its packs members. They’re especially – and sometimes to a fault – protective of children.
11. Filax of Lewanno, A Great Hero
There are lots of tales of heroic German Shepherds in the breed’s short history. And one of them is of Filax of Lewanno. He was honored at Westminster in 1917 for bringing 54 wounded soldiers to safety in WW1.
12. First Guide Dog
Dorothy Harrison founds “The Seeying Eye” in 1929, which started training German Shepherds to use as guide dogs for the blank. Morris Frank, a blind man, read about what Mrs. Harrison was doing and wrote to her that he wanted one of those dogs and that he wanted to help spread the word about these types of dogs in the US. Read the entire story at heroic German Shepherds.
Before Rin Tin Tin, there was Strongheart. A male German Shepherd who became one of the earliest canine film stars. Trained in Germany as a police dog and serving in the German Red Cross, he was brought to the US at the age of 3 by filmmakers Launce Trimble and Jane Murfin.
Strongheart starred in lots of movies, as well as a 1925 adaption of White Fang. A number of these were very successful and did lots to increase the popularity of the German Shepherd breed. He was a beloved celebrity in his day, and there is no doubt that Strongheart paved the way for the much better remembered Rin Tin Tin.
Fun fact, Strongheart and his mate, Lady Julie, had lots of puppies and their line still exists to this day.
14. The Word “German” Was Removed
In 1914, the German Shepherd breed had become so popular in the US that there was the talk of changing the name to “shepherd dog” or “sheepdog” – dropping the German. In fact, this did happen in 1917 where the AKC removed the word “German” in front of the breed’s name. However, it was changed back in 1930 by the members of the Breed’s club.
15. GSD in different Colors
You might think you know all the colors of the GSD. You’re probably familiar with the original black & tan, black, or white, BUT the AKC actually recognized eleven colors – the ones just mentioned as well as: bi-color, black & cream, black & silver, black & red, blue, gray, silver and savle.
And to top it all of, there is actually something called “Panda Shepherds”. They look incredible.