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German Shepherd Facts You Need to Know

by David W.
German Shepherd Facts

These strong and intelligent dogs have taken the favorite place in the hearts of dog lovers all over the world. It has become the number two popular dog breed in the USA and entered the 10 favorites in other countries. 

German Shepherds appeared in Germany in 1899. It was Captain Max von Stephanitz who established the breed and named it Deutsche Schaferhunde. The prominent breeders continued this tradition, and, by picking out only the best dogs, developed the breed with such amazing qualities as courage, loyalty, agility, and strength. GSDs have a perfect appearance that is recognized and loved by everybody. 

There are many interesting facts about German Shepherd dogs you may not know. It will be fascinating for everybody to learn more about their history, everyday routines, methods of training and education, and much more. We have compiled the information about German Shepherds that explains why this breed is popular and appreciated all over the world.

The Breed Was Developed for Herding

German Shepherd Herding Sheep

Initially, the breed was meant to look after sheep flocks and herding them. The sharp reflexes and immense running speed are the main qualities needed for this job. These qualities were noticed in certain dogs and developed successfully. German Shepherds can be as fast as 32 miles per hour. Trotting is a characteristic feature of their run, and they can do it at the speed of an average of 20 miles per hour.

The first person who noticed these qualities in the dogs as well as their great wolf-like appearance was a German Cavalry officer, Captain Max von Stephanitz, who bought such a puppy for his farms when retired and started the official history of this amazing breed.

Impressive Sense of Smell

All dogs are much better at smelling odors than humans – actually, 10 to 100 thousand times better, depending on the breed. It happens to owe to millions of receptors in their nose and brain. Though, one of the most outstanding German Shepherd dog facts is that, even in comparison with other breeds, German Shepherds are unique here. That is why these dogs are so often used in police and other jobs that require accurate detection, such as looking for bombs and drugs, rescuing, searching, and tracking.

Are These Dogs Smarter Than Humans?

You may suspect that your German Shepherd is smarter than you are. It is one of the German Shepherd fun facts you need to consider. It can learn something new only after several repetitions. These dogs are always ready to communicate and cooperate with people and please their owners. They do best in Obedience Competitions. 

If you train and educate your dog properly, you will see that their intelligence is fantastic. Provide your puppies with brain-stimulating toys, a lot of positive reinforcement, and challenging games, and you will be able to completely rely on its quick and intelligent decisions in any situation.

What Is Schutzhund?

GSD Schutzhund Training

The word ‘Schutzhund’ means a ‘protection dog’. This sport was invented especially for German Shepherds to demonstrate their outstanding abilities. The aim of this competition is to check the qualities of a dog with a series of difficult tests that involve intelligence, protective instincts, courage, desire to work, perseverance, and trainability. The sense of smell is a central part of testing, of course. The strong bonds with their trainers play a great role in achieving success in this sport. 

So, there are many organizations around the world that include the best dog trainers and the most prominent Shepherds to compete.

High Desire to Protect

Among many very important German Shepherd facts and tips, let’s consider that German Shepherds are strong, self-confident, and fearless. They are great as watchdogs and guardians because they are always alert to unexpected situations and ready to act. However, they are indifferent to strangers who are not hostile. 

These qualities are pretty beneficial both to the dog and its owner. The latter, however, should be very responsible because developing these qualities requires a lot of training and socialization practices. 

The Breed Has Many Names

While we usually refer to these dogs as Shepherds or German Shepherds, the official name of this breed is the German Shepherd dog. The word ‘dog’ is included in its name to distinguish these canines from humans who take care of sheep and cows. 

Though, the breed has another name in Germany. It is well-known as a Deautscher Shaferhund. The name ‘Alsatian’ is widely used in Ireland and England. The Berger Allemand is one more name.

The breed is pretty popular in the United States. That is why Americans decided to take away the first part ‘German’ in 1914. Since 1917, the AKC (American Kennel Club) officially had referred to these dogs as Shepherd dogs. However, there was a sort of confusion, so the Club decided to restore the initial version (German Shepherd dogs) in 1930.

German Shepherds Are the Best Companions

If you are a German Shepherd owner, you will never feel lonely. One of the most amazing German Shepherd facts is that your loyal four-pawed friend will always be by your side. These dogs are loving and faithful to their owners, though aloof or even aggressive to strangers. Families highly appreciate their affection and dedication to kids. Your dog hates to be alone, so they are ready to play with and protect your children all day long.

German Shepherds Were the First to Help the Blind

German Shepherd and the blind woman

The fact is interesting because we usually associate this role with Retrievers or Labradors. However, it is true that a German Shepherd dog was the first guide dog in history. In 1929, Mrs. Harrison Eustis set up the foundation ‘The Seeing Eye’ to train German Shepherds to guide the blind. 

The history of this organization started with Morris Frank who was blind himself. He heard that special dogs are trained in Switzerland to help the men who lost their sight during WWI. He contacted Mrs. Eustis to ask for such a dog. Since then, many other former soldiers and visually impaired people received help from the foundation, and it developed rapidly. German Shepherds guided such people around the house and in the external environments quite effectively. 

Other breeds became popular in this role much later because the research proved that they had better qualities for it.

The Most Mouthy Breed Ever

German Shepherds are well-known for their ability to take everything they can reach in their mouths. It is natural for them to bite and chew all the things around. It is due to their instincts and herding heritage. That is one of the fun facts about German Shepherd dogs.

However, it is not always the best way to behave, so you need to teach your doggy properly not to chew your shoes, clothes, or furniture, never pick up things from the ground while walking, and, of course, not to bite. Try to direct their instincts on the proper road.

Shedding Is Immense

If you have a GSD, your everyday life is full of hair. You find it on the furniture, on the floor, in the drawers, and even in your meals. The standard German Shepherd has a double coat to protect it from the elements. 

One of the most useful German Shepherd puppy facts is that it is medium length and as thick as possible. That is why your pet will shed continuously. In addition, it will change its undercoat completely. It happens in spring and autumn. 

To avoid the mess, you need to regularly brush and groom your dog. You will have hair on everything, but it will be in smaller amounts.

GSD Is the Most Versatile Breed of All

German Shepherds were bred as working dogs. Their bodies are ideal for hard jobs. It means that your dog will perform perfectly in everything you ask it to do. They do very well at different kinds of sports such as agility, therapy and service work, scent work, and rally. 

You should contribute to their excellent performance through proper training and patience. You will receive a universal helper. Even if your dog does not work in the police or is involved in rescuing people, others will think that it can do all these things easily.

The Third Place for Intelligence

GSD working on a laptop

You may not even know how smart your German Shepherd is. However, the research shows that it occupies a third place for its intelligence after Poodles and Border Collies. However, your dog’s intelligence is pretty individual. 

The research also proves that these dogs can do a new task only after five repetitions. They also follow the commands correctly in 96% of cases. That is why they are widely used in the police and army.

German Shepherds Are Fantastically Active and Agile

Your dog is not a couch potato at all. As an owner, you know well that your pet does not like remaining still at all. You need to go for walks with it all the time, play a lot of games, and exercise as much as possible to help it be in good health and working condition. 

If a German Shepherd does not spend its energy on something useful, it will find other ways to do it that are completely not desirable. So think well before you adopt this dog as your family member. It is perfect for active people who love jogging, swimming, riding a bike, and doing all sorts of exercises.

German Shepherds Come in 11 Officially Recognized Colors

You may think that the most common color for a German Shepherd is black and tan. However, there are 10 more colors recognized as a standard. They are:

  • black; 
  • sable; 
  • steele blue;
  • black and red;
  • gray; 
  • white;
  • bi-colored; 
  • black and cream;
  • liver; 
  • panda.

However, you need to know that light colors in German Shepherds are undesirable. They can lead to disqualifications from shows and competitions. The most often disqualified colors are liver, blue, and white. Though, these dogs can participate in obedience and agility competitions because such classes do not require any conformation evaluation.  

Several Breeds Have Originated from German Shepherds

These dogs have such amazing qualities that they were used to create some other breeds on their basis. For example, they developed the Czechoslovakian Vlcak on the basis of 48 German Shepherds and 4 Carpathian wolves. 

The Kind Shepherd breed, which is, unfortunately, not recognized by kennel clubs, also comes from German Shepherds, as well as the Shiloh Shepherd. 

The Berger Blanc Suisse that is also named the White Swiss Shepherd dog is one more example, and it is recognized by the FCI. 

The East-European Shepherd was developed in the former USSR to serve in the military and do hard work in Siberia and Arctics. It has a third coat layer to protect the animal from severe cold.

Final Thoughts

All the unique features of a German Shepherd and its amazing working abilities cannot overshadow its great role as a family member. However, these dogs are not quite suitable for those who want to own a dog for the first time. You need to know a lot about this breed before adopting an animal. 

We hope that this article with a set of German Shepherd facts has introduced you to the world of German Shepherds, and you will love your intelligent, loyal, and protective friend as much as we do. 

No breed can beat German Shepherds in loyalty and obedience if it is well-trained and carefully treated. So, try to learn more and make your pet a fascinating part of your life.

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