You’ve seen them on screen, in your neighbourhood, accompanying police and military officers, always looking sharp, powerful, and loyal. These dogs are known for their intelligence, discipline, and devotion. Yes, you’re right! We’re talking about German Shepherd dogs. They excel at anything they’re trained to do: guide the handicapped, police and military work, search and rescue, drug detection, and much more. These dogs have so many exemplary qualities that it’s hard to put a finger on just one.
If you want a dog as your faithful companion, check out these interesting facts about German Shepherds that might help you make the right decision:
The German Shepherd dog, also known as the Alsatian in Great Britain and parts of Europe, is among the top 10 most popular dog breeds in the U.S., and one of the world’s most recognizable breeds.
Even though we’re all well aware of their popularity, this breed has only been around for a little more than a century.
In 1899, breeder Max von Stephanitz took notice of a wolf-like dog with black and yellow markings at a dog show in Western Germany. Impressed by the dog’s intelligence and discipline, he chose to purchase the dog.
Later on, he set up the German Shepherd Dog Club and established guidelines for the breed’s standard. “Utility and intelligence” was the new breeds’ motto.
To sustain their growing popularity, he reached out to police departments, service workers, and German army officers, advertising German Shepherds as athletic, tireless, loyal, fiercely protective, obedient, highly intelligent, and trainable.
During World War I, Germans used the dogs to bring first aid to wounded soldiers after the battle, to stay near mortally injured soldiers and keep them company, deliver messages, or just as guard dogs.
The German Shepherd Filax of Lewanno was honoured at Westminster in 1917 for bringing 54 wounded soldiers to safety in WWI.
Americans were so impressed with these canines that they brought some home and soon they became wildly popular.
German Shepherds were the search and rescue dogs in the ruins of the World Trade Centre after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking for survivors and comforting rescue workers and families.
They’re considered as the third smartest dog breed because they’re able to understand a new command after only five repetitions and follow the first command given to them 95% of the time.
After the world wars, the American Kennel Club started calling them Shepherd dogs, and the English called them Alsatian wolf dogs. That name was used until 1977, but some people in Europe still refer to them as Alsatians.
Only a small number of German Shepherds can have pituitary dwarfism, staying puppy-like forever. Even though they look adorable the condition means a lot of health problems.
Originally bred to herd flocks all day, these are high-energy dogs that need a lot of activity and exercise.
The German Shepherd isn’t the breed for you if you’re away from home frequently or for long periods of time. When left alone, they can become anxious or bored. They must be kept busy learning, playing, and working.
German Shepherds can be reserved and suspicious of strangers.
You don’t want to be bitten! The German Shepherd’s bite has 238 pounds of force (108 kg.). In comparison, a human’s bite has only 86 (39kg.)!
German Shepherds are quite thin the first two years of their life but they quickly grow a huge muscle mass. They’re large and powerful dogs, ranging from 22 to 26 inches (56-66 cm) and usually between 50 to 90 pounds (23-41 kg.).
The average lifespan of German Shepherds is 10.95 years.
Pet German Shepherd dogs, with no special training, have been known to take bullets for their owners, run through the wilderness to get help and dive into raging waters to drag drowning children to safety.
These dogs shed a lot so their nickname is the “German shedder.”
Strongheart, a male German Shepherd became one of the earliest canine film stars. Trained in Germany as a police dog and serving in the German Red Cross, he was brought to the US at the age of 3 by filmmakers Launce Trimble and Jane Murfin. Strongheart paved the way for Rin Tin Tin.
Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd rescued from the WWI battlefield. His saviour, an American soldier named Duncan Lee, trained the dog to work in silent films. The dog became an enormous Warner Bros star.
At the height of his stardom, Rin Tin Tin got 10,000 fan letters a week.
In the mid-’80s, Dutch director Whim Schipper developed a play that starred six German Shepherds. The dogs had acting lessons in Amsterdam and were given treats as motivation to act.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about German Shepherds that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!