In 1899, Von Stephanitz, a former student of the Berlin Veterinary College, attended a dog show and bought a dog named Hektor Linksrhein, who was the product of selective breeding and could easily be designed into the 'working' dog he desired. He changed the name to Horand von Grafrath and went on to establish the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde or Society for the German Shepherd. This made Horand the first German Shepherd Dog on the official registry.
Some Interesting Facts
This dog breed is known for its strength, obedience, and intelligence. On account of these inherent attributes, the animal is successful in the police and military, across the globe. Historical records highlight that in the 1800s, this canine was scientifically bred by the Phylax Society, in 1891, to preserve herding traits. These dogs protected flock and made optimum use of their keen sense of smell. They were not only able to perform very well in their task, but were also easily differentiable by appearance.
During World War I and World War II, the breed gained international recognition when soldiers spoke highly of the animal. A full-grown German shepherd is an excellent human substitute when it comes to herding and protecting sheep, and was also efficiently trained to identify soldiers among debris and within trenches. However, after the First World War, the word 'German' was believed to affect the canine's popularity, and hence the UK Kennel Club renamed the breed 'Alsatian Wolf'.
This breed can grow to anything between 55 and 65 centimeters and can weigh up to 40 kilograms, at the ideal height of 63 centimeters. The domed forehead and square muzzle set the animal apart from others. The other physical attributes of the dog include a black nose, sharp bite, lively eye-expression, large ears, long neck, and a bushy tail. The common coat colors are combinations of tan or red with black. This breed has an outer coat that is essentially shed, and a thick undercoat.
Shepherds are the third most intelligent canines, after Poodles and Border Collies. They display an amazing ability to memorize simple tasks with the least repetition of commands. On account of their agility and strength they are the first choice as search and rescue dogs used by the police. The canines are highly self-assured and great around children. Their inherent willingness to learn, and their loyalty make them good pet dogs. In time, this breed develops an over-protective bond with the family. The breed does not befriend easily and is not easily distracted.
The common ailments that affect it include dysplasia of the hip or elbow, arthritis, and a number of ear infections. The latter is mainly due to its large ears that are always held high and wide open. The normal age span is anything between 7 and 10 years. This animal does display a tendency to bloat if the diet is not monitored and the treats are mostly fatty. On a well-planned diet, this animal's active nature and vigilance is well put to use within the work carried out for tracking criminals, cornering suspects, patrolling distress areas, scout duty, and identifying booby traps.
German Shepherds have even made it big in the entertainment industry. Strongheart starred in a number of Hollywood films and paved the way for the popularity of Rin Tin Tin. Both these beauties feature on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Movies like K-9, I am a Legend, The Hills Have Eyes and Downfall have immortalized this breed.