German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds the world over and have consistently been so for many years. Extremely loyal and intelligent, the GSD is not only a great choice as a family pet, but they are extremely versatile in a working environment too. Over the years, the breed has been used by police forces in many countries, they play a vital role in the army all due to their intelligence, alertness, resilience, stamina and extraordinary scenting skills.
Loyal and courageous, the German Shepherd is an elegant and proud looking dog that soon lets their owners know when anyone is around. Because they are so intelligent, they need to be given lots of mental stimulation and physical exercise to be truly happy, well balanced dogs. They also need to be correctly trained and handled with a firm and gentle hand so they know who is alpha dog. They are never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who to look to for direction and guidance.
The German Shepherd we see today was first established at the end of the eighteenth century in Germany by a cavalry captain named Max von Stephanitz who spent thirty five years promoting the breed. He encouraged the police force in his native country to use German Shepherds in their line of work. During the First World War, thousands of these dogs became part of the German army.
German Shepherds were originally bred as herding dogs that guarded flocks, but the demand for them decreased over time which is when Max von Stephanitz stepped in to promote the breed's other skills while at the same time honing in on specific traits, namely their stamina, strength, speed, intelligence and eagerness to please and work.
By the late eighteen hundreds the first Breed Dog Club was set up in Germany called the Phylax Society, (Phylax being Greek for 'Guardsman'). The aim was to standardise the breed countrywide, one prominent member being Max von Stephanitz. When the first club disbanded, he set up the Society for the German Shepherd Dog and his own GSD Hektor was the first dog to be registered. He changed his dog's name to Horand von Grafrath and used him in breeding programmes to produce well-bred, strong and resilient German Shepherds, namely the ancestors of many German Shepherd lines that are around today.