The origin of the German Shepherd Dog breed goes back to Germany when Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz (the German dog breeder who is credited with having developed the GSD) named the dog Deutscher Schäferhund, literally translating to "German Shepherd Dog." The breed was so named due to its original purpose of assisting shepherds in herding and protecting sheep.
Our dogs are descendants of some of the lines that originate in Germany. The pronounced difference between the American line and German line is the extreme angulation of the hindquarters. The body has more of an angle from the front to back on the American Bloodline. This sloped back gives the dog a "flying trot" which is the desired movement in the show ring. American German shepherds are also slightly taller and longer than their German counterparts. The Geman and European line dogs are instead bred more for working. Many are Schutzhund tested in order to identify certain traits that are desirable in the dog. The German lines are usually darker in color than the American breeds who have the traditional black and tan saddle pattern. Both lines have similar temperaments and knowing the difference between the two lines may help you decide which one is right for you.
The American Kennel Club describes the German Shepherd Dog as a large, agile, muscular dog of noble character and high intelligence. Loyal, confident, courageous, and steady, the German Shepherd is truly a dog lover's delight. German Shepherds will be gentle family pets and steadfast guardians, but there is a “certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.”
In summary, the common characteristics common to most German Shepherds are as follows:
- High intelligence (consistently ranked among the top 3 most intelligent dog breeds)
- Able to learn commands for many tasks
- Willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones
- Gentle family pets
- Steadfast guardians
- Love children and make great family dogs when they are given early socialization and training
- Never shy or nervous if not abused
- Not inclined to become immediate friends with strangers
- Protective of their owners
Schutzhund (German for "protection dog") is a dog sport that was developed in Germany in the early 1900s as a breed suitability test for the German Shepherd breed. The test would determine if the dog displayed the appropriate traits and characteristics of a proper working German Shepherd.
Schutzhund test identifies dogs that the following traits:
- Strong desire to work
- Strong bond to the handler
- Sense of smell
Our dogs come from a long line of Schutzhund tested dogs and demonstrate the traits above that we desired when we decided to have German Shepherds in our family. We believe these are by far one of the best dogs a family can have.
Having said that, we also believe that GSDs are not a dog to have in your back yard as an ornament. Our dogs are extremely social. They are with us at home wherever we go. Years ago we rescued a 3-year-old GSD that was raised in a fenced-in area. She was hard to approach and slightly aggressive. When we brought her home, Stephen worked with her to build a bond. Within one month of constant companionship from Stephen and the kids, her personality drastically changed. She turned out to be one of the best dogs we ever had.
We hope you find the dog you are looking for. For more information on GSDs and other breeds, check out the American Kennel Club website. They do a great job of defining the characteristics of many breeds so you can find the breed that best fits you and your family.