The German Shepherd is large-sized dog that originated in Germany, its a relatively new breed of dog, with their origin dating to 1899.
They were developed originally for herding sheep, but because of their intelligence, strength and obedience they have been used for many other types work including roles in the police and military.
German Shepherds are very popular in both the UK and the United States.
Attempts were made during the 1850's to standardize the breed, dogs were bred to preserve traits that helped them in their job of herding and protecting sheep. This was practiced within local communities and the results were dogs with the necessary skills such as intelligence, speed, keen sense of smell and strength needed for herding sheep. This resulted in dogs that could perform everything that was needed of them but they differed significantly both in ability and appearance from one village to another.
Germany became more industrialized, cities grew larger and the predator population began to decline rendering sheepdogs unnecessary. Max Von Stephanitz, firmly believed dogs should be bred for working, he admired Germany's native sheepdogs but couldn't find any one single breed that he felt was the perfect 'working' dog.
In 1899, he was shown a dog at a dog show called Horand Von Grafrath, which he purchased immediately, this dog Von Stephanitz believed this was exactly how a working dog should be and he set up the 'Society For the German Shepherd Dog'. Horand became the centre-point of their breeding programs.
These large sized dogs, have a domed forehead, long square muzzle and black nose. They have a scissor-like bite with a strong jaw, with medium sized brown eyes and large erect ears. They also have a long neck and a bushy tail.
German Shepherd can be a range of colours, tan/black and red/black is the most common but there are rarer varieties such as the sable, all-white, all-black, liver and blue varieties.
They have a double coat, an outer coat that sheds all year round and a thick undercoat.
German Shepherds were bred specifically for their intelligence, they are able to quickly learn various tasks and interpret instructions better than other large breeds. They are highly active, self-assured and curious dogs which makes them excellent guard dogs... but they also make great family dogs as well.
Many of the health issues that German Shepherd suffer from are a result of the inbreeding practiced early in the breeds life such as hip & elbow dysplasia and arthritis.
The German Shepherd is suited to many, many working roles and are well known for their police work and also for being used in the military. There also used in a variety of scent work roles, as guide dogs and are still used in some countries to herd sheep.
ARAS Dog Rescue - http://www.arasrescue.com/
Fireside K9 - Independent Charity For Retired Police Dogs - http://firesidek9.org/
UK German Shepherd Rescue - http://www.ukgermanshepherdrescue.co.uk/Horan Von Grafrath