10 Fun Facts You May Not Have Known About German Shepherds

10 Fun Facts You May Not Have Known About German Shepherds
1: The German Shepherd Dog breed was founded in 1899 by a German ex-cavalry captain and former student of the Berlin Veterinary College named Max von Stephanitz. He admired the intelligence of native herding breeds and sought to create a dog who could do virtually any kind of work imaginable. German Shepherds currently do everything from guiding the blind and herding sheep, to bomb detection and criminal apprehension. It's safe to say Captain Max Von Stephanitz succeeded! 

2: Max von Stephanitz also created the breed suitability test/sport of Schutzhund and held the first Schutzhund trial in 1901. Schutzhund, now known as IPO, included 3 phases: tracking, obedience and the protection phase, where the dog was expected to defend it's handler. Max von Stephanitz felt that dogs who could be trained to do those 3 things proficiently were suitable to be bred. Without a Schutzhund or herding title on both parents, breeders couldn't register their puppies as German Shepherd Dogs in Germany. He was definitely strict about his breed. 

3: German Shepherds and Alsatians are the same dog. After the first World War there was a lot of anti-German sentiment in the rest of Europe, leading to German Shepherd Dogs in the U.K. to be called "Alsatians."

4: The U.K. isn't the only place to drop German from the German Shepherd Dog's name. The AKC dropped the "German" in German Shepherd Dog and didn't reinstate it until 1931, when they reverted back to calling them German Shepherd Dogs.

5: The first service dog ever was a German Shepherd Dog named Buddy in the 1920s. She was the first seeing eye dog and was called "a divine gift of freedom" by her handler, Morris Frank. 

6: Reese Witherspoon, Shania Twain, Ben Affleck and Tom Hanks have one thing in common. They've all been German Shepherd Dog owners. Former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman during an interview said that he fell in love with the breed from watching Rin Tin Tin as a child. He later got a GSD of his own and said that his dog was his only running partner that could keep up with him when training for fights! The German Shepherd is the best friend to many people from all walks (and runs) of life. 

7: German Shepherds are one of the most popular dogs in the world, consistently placing in the top 5 for decades. 

8: Is it German Shepherd, or is it German Shepherd Dog? Technically it's German Shepherd Dog. In German the breed is called the Deutsche Schäferhund, which means German Shepherd Dog in English. Max von Stephanitz didn't want you confusing humans who were German citizens and who were shepherds to be confused with his German Shepherd Dogs who were German and also shepherds, but considerably more furry. Nowadays if you say German Shepherd, we all know you mean the dog and not someone dressed in lederhosen with a staff in hand living in Bavaria. At least you're probably not talking about someone in lederhosen. Okay, I admit that adding "Dog" may have been a good idea, especially in 1899.

9: The average lifespan for German Shepherds is 10.95 years. With proper exercise, diet and a little luck, German Shepherds can live several years longer.

10: German Shepherd Dogs are close relatives of Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds. Together, these 3 breeds make up the extreme vast majority of all police and military dogs. Their founder, Max von Stephanitz described German Shepherd Dogs by saying "the most striking features of the correctly bred German Shepherd are firmness of nerves, attentiveness, unshockability, tractibility, watchfulness, reliability and incorruptibility together with courage, fighting tenacity and hardness." Their service history record as police service dogs and military working dogs all over the globe prove that they possess the features that Captain Stephanitz held most dear.

And there you have it. 10 facts you didn't know that you needed to know! 

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