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A Little History on the
German Shepard Dog

    The German Shepherd Dog is a fairly recent breed in the breeding history of dogs, having been developed almost entirely in the 1900s. On April 3, 1899, Max von Stephanitz attended one of the earliest dog shows for all breeds ever held in Germany. On that day, von Stephanitz purchased a herding dog he observed at the show, and he decided to form the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde,( S.V.). Max von Stephanitz was named the organization's first president and remained so until his death in 1936. The dog he purchased that day, Horand von Grafrath, was designated S.Z.1, the first German Shepherd Dog to be registered with the Verein. The Verein became a driving force in the canine world and the largest specialty club.

    The Verein started to keep a stud book immediately (marked by an S.Z. number) and began to circulate a semi-monthly newsletter. It held annual "Sieger" shows at which one dog and bitch were selected as Sieger and Siegerin. The Verein and von Stephanitz held a watchful eye on German Shepherd Dog breeding throughout Germany, holding jurisdiction on which dogs and bitches could be used for breeding, which could be bred to one another, the number of puppies that could be kept and raised from each litter, age limitations on breeding stock and the number of breedings a stud dog could have in one year.

    Max von Stephanitz and the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde ( SV ) had a goal to develop a dog of uniform structure and working ability. Under the guidance of Rittmeister Stephanitz began the formation of the modern day German Shepherd Dog.

    Though herding was the German Shepherd Dog's original purpose, von Stephanitz recognized the importance of expanding the breed's usefulness in other directions and persuaded the government to use the German Shepherd Dog in police and military work. The German Shepherd Dogs was used extensively by the police, military and went on to become the first dogs used as Guide Dogs for the blind.

    The German Shepherd Dog lost some popularity in the United States during each of the World Wars, but recovered directly after. The popularity is attributed to his outstanding characteristics which are sound nerves, alertness, self-confidence, trainability, watchfulness, loyalty and incorruptibility, as well as courage, fighting drive and hardness. This makes him ideal to be a superior working dog in general, and in particular to be a guard, companion, protection, herding dog, and most of all an excellent overall pet.

    The German Shepherd Dog as we know him today is a versatile working dog capable of performing a wide variety of tasks. 


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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 04, 2002