Meet the German Shepherd Dog

Breed Profile:

The German Shepherd is well known for his intelligence, trainability, devotion and loyalty. As one of the most versatile of dog breeds, not only is the German Shepherd an exceptional family companion and protector, he is often the breed of choice to work as a service dog, police dog, military dog, search and rescue dog, drug and bomb detection dog, as well as a herding dog and tracking dog, among others. He also excels in all types of dog sports, including agility, obedience, and schutzhund to name a few.

The German Shepherd has a stable and sensible temperament clearly showing a sense of self-confidence. The breed is a natural protector of home and family and as such, strangers may be regarded with indifference and some suspicion. However, the well bred German Shepherd that is properly socialized and trained, should not be aggressive.

Because of the breed’s high intelligence, devotion and loyalty, he requires regular physical and mental exercise. He does best when given a job to do and should always be allowed to live among his family.

  • Wisky Vom Gleisenauer Schloss
    Last Mountain Kennels - www.lastmountainkennels.com
    Photo by: Jess Hanson Photography
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LastMountains Catrina Bred by: Last Mountain German Shepherds - www.lastmountainkennels.com Photo by: Jess Hanson Photography

LastMountains Catrina
Last Mountain German Shepherds
www.lastmountainkennels.com
Photo by: Jess Hanson Photography

A Few Facts

~ Known as:
        German Shepherd Dog;
        GSD;
        Alsatian;
        Deutscher Schäferhund

~ Average Lifespan: 10 to 13 years

~ Ideal Height at the Shoulders:
        Males – 25 inches (64cm);
        Females – 23 inches (58cm)

~ Average Weight:
        Males – 75-85 lbs (34-39 kg);
        Females – 60-70 lbs (27-32 kg)

Divon Kennels - www.divonkennels.ca

Divon Kennels – www.divonkennels.ca

A Bit of Breed History:

Compared to many other dog breeds, the German Shepherd is a relatively new breed in that standardization only began in 1889 by Captain Max von Stephanitz. During a dog show in Karlsruhe, Germany, a “medium-sized yellow and grey wolflike dog” named Hektor Linksrhein caught Captain von Stephanitz’s attention. He was so impressed with the dog that he bought him, renamed him Horand von Grafrath and made him the first registered German Shepherd Dog.

Captain von Stephanitz founded the Verein für Deutsche Schaferhunde (SV) e.V. (German Shepherd Dog Club) and after a short period of time, achieved the standardization of type and form for the breed. The standard was developed based on mental stability and utility with the Captain’s motto being “Utility and Intelligence.”

With some fear that the breed would decline in popularity during industrialization, von Stephanitz, with the cooperation of Police and Working Dog clubs, developed various tests in tracking, obedience and protection work. This was the start of the current day Schutzhund trials. He also persuaded authorities to use German Shepherds in various roles including police work and during the war as messengers, supply carriers, sentinels, tracking dogs and guard dogs.

The German Shepherd Dog Club of America was formed in 1913 but, in 1917, with World War I ongoing and all things German not being well perceived, the breed’s name was changed to the Shepherd Dog and the club became the Shepherd Dog Club of America. In the U.K., the breed’s name was changed to the Alsatian. The German Shepherd Dog Club of Canada was formed in 1922.

"I WILL LIVE AND DIE FOR YOU BECAUSE I AM A SHEPHERD!" www.workinggermanshepherds.info

“I WILL LIVE AND DIE FOR YOU BECAUSE I AM A SHEPHERD!”
www.workinggermanshepherds.info

After the end of World War I and as a result of the various movies made with Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart, the popularity of the breed soared. With this gain in popularity, breed quality was being compromised by those wishing to profit. Fortunately, there were still some good breeders who were vigilant in ensuring that the breed’s quality was maintained. In 1922, Germany introduced a system of breed surveys whereby dogs were graded and given a recommendation for or against breeding. This did not however catch on in North America largely due to cultural differences. However, German dogs were readily available for importing into North America to help with maintaining the standard.

By the start of World War II, German Shepherds were widely sought after and once again commonly used as mine detectors, sentinels, messengers, guard dogs and for other services.

By the mid-1980s, it was apparent that the breed had taken a separate course in Germany and America. Although both have evolved closely, there are differences in looks, movement, style and structure. Both American and German bred dogs have desirable as well as undesirable characteristics. In Germany, breeding is controlled by the SV while in America, breeders have the option to pursue their own views and bloodlines from within or outside North America.

For more indepth reading on the history of the breed, see The History of the German Shepherd Dog from the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, Founding Breeders – First Sieger from the German Shepherd Schutzhund Club of Canada, and The German Shepherd Dog – Breed History from the Nova Scotia German Shepherd Dog Club.

Did you know?

· The German Shepherd is one of the most popular breeds in North America — For the past several years, the breed has been ranked 3rd most registered by the CKC and 2nd most registered by the AKC.

· Two movie-star German Shepherds, Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart, were largely responsible for the breed’s sharp rise in popularity after the first World War.

· In his book “The Intelligence of Dogs”, author Stanley Coren ranked the German Shepherd as the 3rd breed for intelligence (behind the Poodle and Border Collie).


For more information about the German Shepherd Dog breed, see www.canadasguidetodogs.com/germanshep. For a list of breeders, see the Breeders page as well as the Breed Clubs page, and be sure to check out the Breed Rescues page where German Shepherds are occasionally available for adoption.


  • Nicklaus' Avanti (Vinnie) with puppies from one of his litters.. he is a great dad.
    Gableridge Greman Shepherds - www.gableridge.com
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“Untiring, always zealous for duty, always attentive, always ready to serve, such is the character of our shepherd dog.”

— Captain Max von Stephanitz
Helliah Von Der Sinburg

Helliah Von Der Sinburg
Quellen Quality Shepherds
www.quellen.ca

Howlin Good Times

Wolvesden Kennel
– Howlin’ Good Times
www.howlingoodtimes.com

Divon Kennels

Divon Kennels
www.divonkennels.ca

Mottopride Shepherds

Mottopride Shepherds – www.mottopride.ca
Photo by: Krystle Wilson


Famous German Shepherds

Here are just a few of the countless German Shepherds who have become famous for one reason or another — From heroic acts to movie star celebrities, German Shepherds really do it all!

Trakr

Trakr the German Shepherd was named one of the most heroic dogs ever by Time Magazine for his efforts after the attacks at the World Trade Center and was credited with locating the last survivor found beneath the rubble. At the time, he was a retired Police Dog from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He and his trainer, Police Officer James Symington drove 15 hours to help in the recovery efforts. (Ref: Time Magazine)

Bruno

A nine-month old German Shepherd named Bruno, from Newfoundland, was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame in 1996 for his heroic act of saving the life of 11 year old Donnie Skiffington after he was thrown from his bicycle and landed in a ditch. While the boy lay unconscious and bleeding, Bruno licked Donnie’s face until he regained consciousness. He then began to pull him by the shirt collar towards home.

Tracker

Tracker, a ten-year-old German Shepherd from Sudbury, Ontario, owned by Sergeant Larry Bigley, was the inspiration behind the “Service Dog of the Year” Award. During the seven years that Tracker served in the Sudbury District, he was involved in about 500 searches for missing persons, criminals, drugs and security details.

Appollo

In March 2002, Appollo, a NYPD German Shepherd was awarded the Dickin Medal* on behalf of all the search and rescue dogs who participated in the rescue operations at the World Trade Center site and the Pentagon following the September 11th attacks. The citation for the award is as follows:

“For tireless courage in the service of humanity during the search and rescue operations in New York and Washington on and after 11 September 2001. Faithful to words of command and undaunted by the task, the dogs’ work and unstinting devotion to duty stand as a testament to those lost or injured.”

Appollo also received the AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence (ACE) in 2001 and was honoured for his work at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2002 in which he and several other dogs from the NYPD’s K-9 unit participated.

* — “The PDSA Dickin Medal is the highest award any animal can receive whilst serving in military conflict. It is recognised worldwide as the animals’ Victoria Cross. Instituted in 1943 by PDSA’s founder Maria Dickin CBE, it acknowledges outstanding acts of bravery or devotion to duty displayed by animals serving with the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units in any theatre of war throughout the world.” — For more information on the Dickin Medal, see www.pdsa.org.uk

Nellie

Nellie, a six year old German Shepherd from Vienna, Ontario travelled three kilometers back to her home to get help for 78 year old Ken Emerson, who lay injured after his tractor had overturned and crushed his pelvis. When Nellie arrived home, Mrs. Emerson noticed a strip of her husband’s shirt was wrapped around the dog’s collar as a message and so she immediately sent for help. Nellie was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame for her heroic act in 1994.

Ty

In 2015, K-9 Ty Ty Road RN CGC, an eight-year-old German Shepherd handled by Melissa Frye of Southport, Florida, earned the AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence (ACE) for his heroic work as a Search and Rescue Dog. Ty is cross-trained in human remains detection as well as live find search and disaster work. Over the course of his six year career, Ty was the go to dog in his department for recovery searches and helped bring closure to families that have lost loved ones. He was deployed in over 60 missions with great success.

Bullet

Bullet was a German Shepherd Dog owned by Roy Rogers. Not only was he a family companion but he also starred as himself in the “Roy Rogers Show” and was featured in more than 100 movies.

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin and his descendants have delighted and entertained worldwide audiences for over 80 years. Rin Tin Tin is still one of the most famous and recognized names in German Shepherd Dog history.

Strongheart

Etzel von Oeringen, or better known as Strongheart, was the first German Shepherd to appear in motion pictures. He appeared in several movies, including a 1925 adaptation of White Fang. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Littlest Hobo

The Littlest Hobo, starring a dog named London, was originally created by Dorrell McGowen for a television movie in 1958. Following the huge success of the movie, a television series was filmed in black and white between 1963 and 1965, with a total of 65 episodes. The series was remade in 1979 and became a familly favorite for many years. Although several dogs were used over the years to play the part of London, all were very well trained German Shepherds.

Acknowledgement

We would like to acknowledge and thank the many people who provided us with photos of their beautiful dogs to use in this German Shepherd Spotlight page:

All photos are copyright to the dog owners or as indicated and used here with permission. It is strictly forbidden to copy, reproduce or otherwise use any of the photos without prior permission from the copyright holder.

  • LastMountains Gracie
    Last Mountain Kennels - www.lastmountainkennels.com
    Photo by: Jess Hanson Photography
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