5 Facts You Didn’t Know About German Shepherds

Majestic, noble, loyal, courageous, intelligent, willing: German Shepherds.

These gentle souls are not often described as cute and cuddly, but rarely will you find a friend as fiercely dedicated to you and as ferociously devoted to fending off your foes. German shepherds are as beautiful as they are smart and as faithful as they are defensive. These gorgeous guardians are partners to those who protect and serve, companions for the lonely, vigilantes of the home, and helpers to the handicapped. These committed K-9s are a thing to be marveled. Here are five things you may not know about German shepherds.

  1. They were originally bred to be herding dogs.

A relatively new breed, German shepherds were bred to herd flocks all day. In the late 1880s, Captain Max von Stephanitz crossbred working sheep dogs in rural Germany in order to create a herding dog that could trot for long periods of time. Through cross breeding, the German Shepherd Dog was created.

  1. They are still known as Alsatians (Alsatian Wolf Dogs) in Great Britain and parts of Europe.

When German shepherds were first created, they were given the name “Deutsche Schäferhunde,” which translates to “German Shepherd Dog.” In 1914, when World War I began for Britain, all things German took on a negative association. Because of this, the name of the breed was changed to the Alsatian. Later, after World War II, the name was changed again to the Alsatian Wolf Dog, to remove the Hitler Germany connection.

Bonus fact: These dogs were first introduced to America in 1906 and quickly became very popular. However, in 1917 when America joined World War I, anything associated with Germany was, again, frowned upon. As a result, the American Kennel Club changed the name of the breed to the Shepherd Dog. That said, after World War I, German shepherds again became very sought after due to the German’s use of them as war dogs.

  1. There is a difference between American-bred and German-bred German Shepherds.

American- bred German shepherds are bred with the show ring in mind. This bloodline is focused mostly on appearance and movement- how a dog will show at a competition. They are not bred for working and only in some cases will they be successful working dogs.

German (European)-bred German shepherds are bred with a focus solely on working ability. Temperament is of utmost importance, since this bloodline produces herding dogs and working police dogs. In fact, most dogs used for police K-9 work are exported from Europe for use in the United States.

  1. They are the third most intelligent dog breed in the world.

When it comes to trainability as a measure of intelligence, German shepherds take the 3 spot, coming in behind Border Collies at number 1 and Poodles at number 2.

  1. They can be highly

German shepherds are the leading police, guard, and military dogs in the world.  They can be trained to be savage protectors and dangerous enemies or gentle leaders for the blind and compassionate friends for children in need. These animals have the capacity to be remarkably trained, however they don’t do well alone. Their brilliant minds are not meant to be bored and alone for long periods of time.

These magnificent animals have the potential to be the most dependable friend you’ve ever had or the most aggressive weapon you’ve ever seen. They are powerful creatures that require lots of training, patience and love.  However, equipped with the right knowledge and understanding of this breed, owning a German shepherd could be the best experience a person could have.


For some advice on how to train your K-9 companion, check out The Dog’s Way, Creative Dog Training, or It’s A Doggy Dog World podcasts.


By: Cassie Sclafani

Photo courtesy of Flickr