The German Shepherd is one of the most popular breeds, ranking second to Labrador Retrievers. However, they may not be the first choice for first-time dog owners because of their high demand for physical activities and their incredible strength.
They need to be socialized at an early age to avoid untoward incidents due to the owner’s lack of discipline and control.
Here are some interesting facts about them:
- They were founded by a German national. A man named Von Stephanitz met a dog named Hektor Linksrhein during a dog show back in 1899. He was so impressed by the dog’s features that he immediately bought him. He changed the dog’s name to Horand von Grafrath. Horand became the very first German Shepherd dog recorded and became the father of all the German Shepherds today.
- They were initially trained to be sheep-herders. Back in the day, their main purpose was the protect flocks of sheep against predators. German Shepherds to this day maintained the same obedience towards their trainers and protectiveness of their owners.
- They once struggled to stay relevant. As Germany became more developed, the need for sheep-herders also began to decline. Fearing that the breed would soon become irrelevant, Von Stephanitz began introducing German Shepherds to the police force to demonstrate the breed’s skillfulness and trainability. The demand for the German Shepherds soon increased and their skills were slowly recognized and utilized by police forces.
- Panda Shepherds are the rare kind of German Shepherds. A typical German Shepherd displays no white markings. However, due to genetic mutations, white-furred variety of German Shepherds were produced. Unfortunately, their white marks are considered “fault,” therefore they are not allowed to participate in dog shows. Nevertheless, Panda Shepherds are just as intelligent and hardworking as their fellow German Shepherds.
- They have outer coats that continually shed. German Shepherds have a double coat that protects them and helps them adapt to different weather conditions. Their outer coat knows no season and sheds all year round, and is one of the reasons why they are considered as high maintenance dogs.
- Some German Shepherds get dwarfism. Due to a rare genetic defect, some German Shepherds could possibly develop pituitary dwarfism and remain puppy-sized for the rest of their lives. Selective breeding should be observed amongst dog breeders to eliminate or minimize dwarfism and other kinds of genetic defects.
- They are highly intelligent. German Shepherds are known for their trainability, which is why they are often chosen as a part of police k9 and in different search and rescue operations. It is said that they could immediately pick up simple commands after only 5 practices.
- For a while, they were known as “Alsatians”. When the second world war ended, anything that has something to do with the Germans or its name triggered unpleasant memories and negative reactions. So for a while, the name “German Shepherd” was changed to “Alsatian.” In 1977, they reverted back to the original name and remained the same since then.
- They have a shorter lifespan compared to other dog breeds. The average lifespan of German Shepherds is 10.9 years, which is notably shorter compared to other dog breeds like Shih-Tzus whose average lifespan is 12 years. This is because of some serious genetic issues that could negatively impact their overall health.
- They are one of the most searched dog breeds in youtube. They have more than half a million videos in youtube, and many of these videos feature impressive tricks they could perform and their special bond with humans.
Although German Shepherds are well-known for their discipline and obedience, their breed is not for everyone. Aside from the fact that they are huge and strong, they are considered high-maintenance dogs because of their great demand for exercise and the attention they need for training. If you think this breed is for you, you must be ready to dedicate a huge chunk of your time for them. In the end, their usefulness makes all efforts and sacrifices worth it.