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The Fascinating History Of The German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is a breed of dog beloved worldwide for its intelligence, loyalty, and versatility. Whether working as a police or military dog, guiding the blind, or serving as a devoted family companion, German Shepherds have made their mark on society for over a century. But where did this remarkable breed come from, and what led to its development? The history of the German Shepherd is a fascinating tale that spans continents and includes war, politics, and the ingenuity of a few dedicated individuals. Read on to learn more!

The Origin Of The German Shepherd

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd has captured the hearts of animal lovers the world over. So where did this incredible canine come from? The answer lies in Germany in the late 19th century, where a man named Max von Stephanitz stumbled upon a dog with all the traits he was looking for – intelligence, loyalty, athleticism, and a willingness to work hard. Von Stephanitz went on to create the breed you know today as the German Shepherd, which has become a favorite among police departments, military units, and families alike.

History Of The German Shepherd Through The Decades

Since their beginnings in the late 19th century, German Shepherds have been used for a variety of purposes. Throughout the decades, they have served as police dogs, military dogs, search and rescue dogs, service dogs, and of course, loyal family companions. To help you understand a bit more, let’s take a look at their history through the decades.

The 1900s

German Shepherd

The years between 1900 and 1910 marked a critical time in the history of German Shepherds. This period saw the breed rise to prominence as a versatile working dog admired for their intelligence and loyalty. German Shepherds were first recognized as a distinct breed in 1899 and quickly gained popularity as police and military dogs. In 1901, Max von Stephanitz founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (Society for the German Shepherd Dog) and became instrumental in the breed’s development as a working dog.

The 1910s

German Shepherd

The 1910s marked a significant period in the history of the German Shepherd breed in America. The American Review of Reviews published an article that shed light on the capabilities of the German Police Dog, which captured the attention of many. It was during this decade the Westminster Kennel Club show in 1912 saw the exhibition of seven German Shepherd Dogs. The following year, William Neuhoff launched the idea of a club for the breed, which led to the formation of The German Shepherd Dog Club of America at the Westminster Kennel Club show. In 1915, the club held its first National Specialty in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The 1920s

German Shepherd

The 1920s was another decade of growth in popularity, with one particularly remarkable milestone being the success of “The Silent Call” motion picture. Featuring the talented German Shepherd Dog Strongheart, the film ran for over 13 weeks at the Miller Theater in Los Angeles, drawing a massive audience of over 600,000. This clearly indicated the breed’s growing popularity and the public’s fondness for their intelligence, loyalty, and beauty.

The 1930s

German Shepherd

In the 1930s, German Shepherds were gaining popularity as a versatile breed. They were known for their ability to work in various roles, such as police work, military service, and even as household pets. However, the breed faced scrutiny as Germany became more prominent politically. The Nazi party began to exploit the breed’s popularity and attempted to claim them as a symbol of Aryan superiority. This led to the persecution and euthanasia of German Shepherds that did not meet the standards set by the Nazi party.

The 1940’s

German Shepherd

With World War II in full swing, German Shepherds were used for a variety of military purposes. They served as guards, sentries on the front lines, and search and rescue dogs. The breed’s loyalty and intelligence were seen to be invaluable in helping soldiers fight the enemy. However, in other parts of the world, the breed was still viewed with some suspicion due to its association with the Nazi regime.

The 1950s

German Shepherd

The 1950s were an important time for the German Shepherd breed, and one of the contributing factors was the popularity of the television show Rin Tin Tin. This show starred a German Shepherd named Rin Tin Tin as a heroic police dog and captivated audiences around the world. Rin Tin Tin was actually a descendant of a real-life German Shepherd who became famous during World War I for his heroism on the battlefield. The show was incredibly successful and helped spark a renewed interest in the breed after the devastating nature of World War II.

The 1960s

German Shepherd

Over the course of the 1960s, as the breed became more popular in the United States, breeders worked hard to create a more well-rounded dog that could excel not only in law enforcement and military work but also as a loving family pet. Additionally, German Shepherds saw more inclusion in popular media, such as the TV show “The FBI,” further cementing their place in the American consciousness.

The 1970s

German Shepherd

With all the hard work of the preceding decades, the 1970s saw German Shepherds become firmly established as beloved family pets and loyal companions. However, the breed’s popularity also led to overbreeding and poor breeding practices, increasing health issues and temperament problems. These issues caused a bit of a downturn in the breed’s favor, but with responsible breeding and commitment to the health of German Shepherds, this period was a marker for change.

The 1980s To Present

German Shepherd

The 1980s was a true turning point in the history of German Shepherds. While they had long been utilized as police and military dogs, breeders and enthusiasts began to refocus on their versatility and intelligence as family pets. The breed’s popularity grew rapidly through the 1990s, with many families admiring the dog’s loyalty and protective nature. However, with popularity came increased scrutiny as breeding practices and the health concerns of these large dogs came under the microscope.

Today, German Shepherds remain a beloved breed, consistently ranking among the top 10 most popular breeds in the United States. However, responsible breeding and care remain paramount in maintaining their health and continued success as both working and companion animals.

The History Of The German Shepherd Is Truly Fascinating!

The history of the German Shepherd is long and varied. From its humble beginnings in the late 1800s to its current popularity, this versatile breed has seen it all. While times have changed, and their public opinion has shifted over time, one thing remains true: German Shepherds remain one of the most beloved breeds for their loyalty, intelligence, and protective nature. With proper care and responsible breeding, this wonderful breed will continue to be integral to daily life for years to come.

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