The German Shepherd dog is one of Britain’s most popular breeds, and with good reason. They have a long and noble history – from their creation by a German cavalry captain, Max von Stephanitz in the 1800s as herding dogs through to the first world war, when 48,000 were enlisted in the German Army.
Probably one of the most popular breeds of dog worldwide, they’re familiar to most of us not simply as pets but as a working breed used by the police and army, although the Kennel Club of Great Britain still classifies the German Shepherd as a pastoral breed.
Curious and intelligent
German Shepherds were bred to be curious and intelligent, and these traits make them highly adaptable working dogs. They’ve been used as guide dogs, for search and rescue and as drug detection dogs, but those traits also make them ideal for competitive obedience. German Shepherds make excellent guard dogs as they are extremely loyal to their owner or handler.
Strong and athletic
The German Shepherd is strong and muscular, with a sturdy, well proportioned, slightly elongated body. With bright, intelligent eyes and pricked ears, this breed is as handsome as it is intelligent. German Shepherds can be double coat, plush coat and longhaired and are usually black and tan or all black. Don’t be fooled by unscrupulous breeders who try and charge high prices for white dogs – this type of coat is considered to be a breed fault.
Are they the right dog for me?
Protective and loving, the German Shepherd is alert, courageous and obedient. They are an ideal family dog, so long as they are socialised properly with children. They’re also a great fit with singles and couples who love the outdoor life and are prepared to give them the exercise they need. Like the first canine film star, Rin Tin Tin – a puppy found on a first world war battlefield – these are action dogs who require good training to get the best out of the breed.