German Shepherd temperament & characteristics. GSD history & origin

Popular throughout the world, the German Shepherd (or GSD) is considered one of the most famous German dog breeds. With its excellent traits, the German Shepherd is raised for various types of work, including police, military or protecting roles.

German Shepherd temperament & characteristics. GSD history & origin

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German Shepherd history

The first German Shepherd in the world, Horand von Grafeth, was bred by Captain Max von Stephanitz. At first, the Captain intended to use his new breed for herding purpose, which soon became unnecessary within the context of the rapid industrialization and military development in Germany at that time. It was when he found this breed extremely ideal for serving in military and police forces.

Thanks to his connections in the military, he convinced the German government to use his dog breed as military working dogs. During World War I, these dogs were used as rescue dogs, messenger dogs and guarding dogs.

With its first appearance in America in the 19th century, the German Shepherd had a very bright future ahead. They were widely used in US military and police forces at the time. They were brought to Europe for fighting and rescuing purposes in World War I.

After World War II, the German Shepherd began to get popular all around the world and started dividing into several different lines. The most famous was the GSD, followed by the American Shepherd, then the French, the Belgian, the Austrian and the Russian Shepherd.

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German Shepherd temperament & characteristics. GSD history & origin

Purebred German Shepherd Characteristics

Modern GSDs have become very different from their original ancestors. In Western countries, people are more interested in the dogs’ aesthetics than their intelligence and their working ability, which was the original idea behind this breed. Modern GSDs that are considered purebred must possess the following features:

Height and weight. The height is from 55 to 65 cm with the ideal height for adult males being 63 cm, and for females being 60 cm according to AKC standards. The weight should be from 22 – 40 kg.

Head and face. The head is small with short facial hair. The snout is square, long. The nose is big and black. The jaws are strong and firm. The eyes are usually dark brown and medium in size. The ears are upright and large.

Body. As strong as their muscles are, they still look elegant with calm movements. Their high neck is up high when standing or walking, but gets lower when running to reduce air friction. This principle is similar to how wolves maximize their speed.

German Shepherd temperament & characteristics. GSD history & origin

– Color. Purebred GSDs come in a variety of colors, with the most common being tan/ black and red/ black with many variations. Rarer colors are sable, pure black, pure white, liver (dark orange), and blue. Pure black and sable GSDs are rare and well loved, while blue and liver-colored ones are considered defective. The white color is instantly disqualified and considered substandard.

German Shepherd Temperament

The GSD is a very intelligent (according to the AKC, the GSD is the third smartest dog breed, after the Border Collie and the Poodle), absolutely loyal with an excellent ability to follow commands. All those traits are also the reasons why this breed was originally created. German Shepherds are able to learn simple commands after only several attempts. They also learn complex commands faster than other German breeds such as the Rottweiler or the Doberman.

German Shepherd temperament & characteristics. GSD history & origin

Among large dog breeds, the GSD is considered easier to approach. They are affectionate, loyal and friendly. As working dogs, they like running around and heavy work activities. If they are locked inside for too long, they can become hyperactive, but they will not destroy things or try to escape like the Alaska, the Husky or the Samoyed. They are highly aware of protecting their territory and their owner’s property. However, sometimes they can be a little over the top.

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