Originally, the word “shepherd” was thought of as a shepherd’s dog. He helped the shepherd watching over the flock. So he made sure that no animal ran away from the herd and also defended the herd, for example against wolves. They are therefore also called shepherd dogs, herd dogs, or herd guard dogs.
Today, when most people think of a German Shepherd, they think of a specific breed of dog, the German Shepherd. In short, one often simply says “shepherd dog”. Man bred the German shepherd from herding dogs. That was a little over a hundred years ago.
What is typical of the German Shepherd Dog?
A club has defined exactly what a German shepherd should look like: it is medium-sized and has strong muscles. It shouldn’t have any fat on it and shouldn’t appear clumsy. The hind legs take particularly long steps. That’s why he runs fast and has a lot of stamina. His shoulders are higher than the pelvis.
His head is pointed, his forehead rather flat. The nose must be black. The ears are erect. They must not hang down. In addition, the opening must be in the front, not on the side. The tail, on the other hand, should not stand up, but usually, just hang down. Under the hair, he wears a dense, warm undercoat. A significant portion of the coat should be black. Some gray or brown is also allowed.
The German shepherd should have strong nerves and remain calm even in the face of danger. So he mustn’t be nervous. That takes a lot of self-confidence. He should be benign and not attack anyone on his own initiative and for no reason.
Some German Shepherds do not meet all of these requirements. For example, there are rarely even white juveniles. They can learn anything they should learn. But because their color is wrong, they are not allowed to take part in exhibitions. They are also not considered purebred German Shepherds.
What is the German shepherd suitable for, or not?
A German shepherd dog should be able to take on various tasks: It should be able to accompany people and guard or protect things. That is why he is often used by the police, but also by customs and even in the army.
Today it is also the most common avalanche search dog. It is narrower than St. Bernard which was used in the past. That’s why he can better dig his way through the snow masses and save people.
The shepherd is not really a family dog. He is not a cuddly toy and needs a lot of exercises. He’s only really playful when he’s young. As he gets older, he seems more serious.
How is the German Shepherd Dog breed?
Most German Shepherds go back to three parents: The mother’s name was Mari von Grafrath. The fathers were Horand von Grafrath and his brother Luchs Sparwasser. Their offspring were bred to each other. Only rarely were other dogs crossed. One association made sure that the German shepherd dog really remained purely “German”.
This appealed to many of the top military commanders. Already in the First World War, some of them kept a German shepherd. During the Second World War, this was reinforced. The purebred German breed was a symbol of Nazism.
Today, the Association for German Shepherd Dogs pays close attention to breeding. The association specifies exactly what should apply to a shepherd dog. He also keeps a list of all recognized shepherd dogs. There are now more than two million animals.
Again and again, attempts have been made to cross the German Shepherd Dog with other animals in order to get even better dogs. Crossbreeding with wolves was also attempted. For example, this is how the Czechoslovakian Wolfhound came into being. However, the young animals did not get any better. But there are other intersections. This resulted in new dog breeds that can be used for certain purposes.
What other shepherd dogs are there?
A shepherd dog must be alert and smart so that it can herd the flock on its own. He should be able to run for a long time and sometimes put in a quick sprint. In addition, he must be big and strong, at least enough to be able to hold his own: against sheep or other herd animals, but also against attackers such as wolves. After all, shepherd dogs have a particularly well-suited coat: the outer hair is rather long and keeps out the rain. They wear thick wool underneath, especially in winter, which keeps them warm.
Some Shepherd Dogs look quite similar to the German Shepherd Dog. An example of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. It was bred around the same time as the German Shepherd Dog. But the Belgian breed club has other goals. The Belgian Shepherd appears a little lighter and raises its head more. He was bred in four different groups. Especially the fur is very different from them.
Another well-known herding dog is the Border Collie. He was bred in Great Britain. Its head is slightly shorter, its ears hanging down. His hair is quite long.
The Bernese Mountain Dog comes from Switzerland. Senn is a Swiss word for a shepherd. He’s significantly heavier. His hair is quite long and almost all black. He wears a white stripe over his head and chest. The paws are also partly white. Some light brown is also often included.
The Rottweiler was also bred in Germany. His hair is short and black. He is only a little brown on his paws and muzzle. In the past, their ears and tail were cut short to keep them from hanging down. This is now banned in many countries. He is very popular with the police because burglars are particularly afraid of the Rottweiler. However, many Rottweilers have bitten other dogs or even people. Their keeping is therefore prohibited in certain areas or the owners have to attend certain courses.