German Shepherd Dog Breed – History, Health, Characteristics


As with most breeds of dogs the German Shepherd Dog also once known in the UK as the Alsatian was developed by the melding of various types of dogs towards the end of the 19th century from different regions of Germany, Austria, and France and was developed for herding, guarding & showing.

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History of German Shepherd Dog

It wasn’t until 1899 when the founding club Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde was formed that the German Shepherd Dog came into being, the first elected president of this club and probably the most well known was Max von Stephanitz and was the president until the mid-1930s.

Von Stephanitz along with his colleagues and fellow breeders went on to develop the breed to a point where a breed standard was necessary to which all pedigree dogs should conform and the standard used today has changed little, though with likes and dislikes in the show ring various points have changed.

All four limbs of the German Shepherd should be strong, sturdy & sound and in no way should be showing sickle (cow) hocks in hind movement.



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The German Shepherd Dog gives the impression of constant vigilant alert to every sight and sound and missing nothing. In earlier years it was preferred that the German Shepherd Dog, whilst fearless had a suspiciousness of strangers but these days a friendlier response is preferred as a solid foundation for further training as well as being a reliable family member.

The German Shepherd Dog has highly developed senses making it one of the most versatile breeds worldwide and is used today in all walks of life from the well-known use in our Police Forces along with the Army, RAF, Security, Search and Rescue to Guide dogs, PAT dogs as well as their original herding and guarding roles and finally our most importantly our companion.

It has numerous abilities and a strong willingness to learn which makes it a very popular breed for the different sports in the dog world not only for showing but to compete in Obedience, Working Trials, Schutzhund and Agility these competitions use the dogs abilities in searching, chase and detaining, scent, resilience, tirelessness, intelligence, stamina, and agility.

The German Shepherd Dog requires leadership and would soon use an opportunity of taking advantage over a weaker human leader so respect, as well as love from your GSD, is essential for owners to establish.


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Most breeds are prone to certain health problems some of which are hereditary, there are various health tests available that reputable breeders will do before breeding.

The main German Shepherd Dog health issues are as follows: Hip dysplasia, Elbow dysplasia, Haemophilia ‘A’, Pituitary Dwarfism, Epilepsy, (No carrier status test available to date, 2010).

All of the above have the relevant tests in place (except for an Epilepsy carrier test) and are available for every breeder /owner to use. All breeders should use these tests honestly for the betterment and the health of the German Shepherd Dog.

Reputable breeders will have had the tests carried out and will be more than happy to show you any results and certification for the parents of any puppies they are selling.


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