The German Shepherd Dog (GSD, also known as an Alsatian) is a large breed dog that originated in Germany. Dating back to 1899, the German Shepherd is a working dog developed originally for herding and guarding sheep. German Shepherds are used in police and military roles around the world due to their strength, intelligence and abilities in obedience. Because of their loyal and protective nature, German Shepherds also make excellent family protectors.
Max von Stephanitz, an ex-cavalry captain and former student of the Berlin Veterinary College, has been credited with developing the German Shepherd Dog breed that we know today. Von Stephanitz was attending a dog show when he was so taken by a dog-named Hektor Linksrhein. It wasn't just the strength of the dog but his intelligence and loyalty too that cause Max von Stephanitz to purchase him immediately.
After Von Stephanitz purchase Hektor, he founded Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (Society for the German Shepherd Dog). Von Stephanitz renamed Hektor to Horand von Grafrath. Horand became the first dog added to the society's breed register and also hold the genetics that all German Shepherds today have drawn from.
Von Stephanitz named the breed Deutscher Schaferhund. In English it translates to German Shepherd Dog. It makes sense, since the originally purpose was to herd and protect sheep. The UK Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 1919.
At the end of World War I, Deutscher Schaferhund as the breeds name was thought to harm the breed's popularity due to the anti-German era. Therefore, the UK Kennel Club renamed the breed to the Alsatian Wolf Dog. After much pressure from dog enthusiast in 1977 the clubs changed it back to German Shepherd Dogs.
Schutzhund is a German word meaning "protection dog". It refers to a sport that focuses on correct working temperament and ability in the German Shepherd breed. Originally, these dogs were herding dogs. Germany encouraged breeders to promote the use of their dogs as police and military dogs. The Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (SV), the parent club, became concerned that this would lead to careless breeding and undesirable traits such as mental instability, so it developed the Schutzhund test.
Since that time, many countries have adopted Schutzhund, not only as a test but also for sport. More people participated just for the sheer enjoyment of seeing if their personal dogs could be trained as effectively as "professional dogs". Now, tens of thousands of people participate in the sport each year.
Schutzhund tests three specific areas of a dog's training and behavior.
Phase 1: Tracking
Tracking is an activity that bring you to the very essence of what a dog is. Scent work is a partnership in which you are asking the dog to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. AKC Tracking Regulations state, "Tracking, by its nature is a vigorous non-competitive outdoor sport. Tracking Tests should demonstrate willingness and enjoyment by the dog in his work, and should always represent the best in sportsmanship and camaraderie by the people involved." A good tracking team (dog and handler) live and breathe those words. It is non-competitive in the sense the team is againist the track not another team. Tracking demonstrates the dog's ability to recognize and follow human scent, a skill that is useful in the service of mankind. It is for search and rescue or police work but more than that it is enjoyable for you and your dog. You will learn to trust your team mate and in his abilities... Blindly because you can't see scent.
Phase 2: Obedience
Obedience is an essential phase of a Schuzthund. The obedience phase demands teamwork between dog and handler and requires precision and skill. The dog is judged not only on the accuracy and correctness of the exercise but on the willingness the dog performs. The dog must demonstrate accuracy, speed and a willing attitude. All of the obedience exercises are tests of the dog's temperament, structural efficiencies, and its willingness to work. This phase also tests the handle's ability to train their dog.
Phase 3: Protection
The protection phase is the most mis-understood but also one of the most watched. This phase does not teach your dog aggression or to bite. Dogs are born knowing how to bite, just as people are born knowing how to hit and kick. This phase of schutzhund teaches the dog control and to be stability and responsiveness. By exposing the dog to different threats under carefully controlled circumstances, he also learns how to respond to that threat appropriately. Thus he is better able to discern a true threat and respond accordingly. He is also less likely to make a mistake and perceive a threat where none exists. Schutzhund training also helps give a dog more clarity and better judgment.
German Shepherds are known for their intelligence. They are considered the third most intelligent breed. GSD can learn various tasks and learn exceptionally fast. They can interpret instructions better than other large breeds. When training a German Shepherd, he/she usually will offer things they know in trying to figure out what you are asking of them.
German Shepherds temperaments should be self-assured with an eagerness to please. They are loyal by nature and bond extremely well to their families. German Shepherds need to be well socialized and respond very well to positive training methods. German Shepherds can get over protective if not properly socialize. Sound temperaments are a must in the German Shepherd Breed.
Most German Shepherds are active dogs and need exercise regularly. They do well in many dog sports such as schutzhund, agility, herding, tracking, etc. If getting involved with a sport doesn't appeal to you... ball, hiking, bike riding, etc are all activities that German Shepherds enjoy. They also enjoy being with their pack (family) and can be very content watching a movie with them.
German Shepherds are classified in the Herding Group after all they were originally bred to herd sheep and other livestock. The same traits that make the german shepherd such a versatile breed are also what makes it an outstanding herding dog.
The core trait of all successful herding dogs is intellect. After training, they make their own decisions based on that information, their instincts and the circumstances. This makes them wonderful family pets and intelligent companions.
Herding is commonly referred to as the controlling of livestock but it is so much more. The German Shepherd after learning how to train livestock (yes, I said train) can only than successfully herd. The dog has to teach the livestock a set of rules. Rules like only move when the dog instructs, to stop on command and even not to cross a boundary . German Shepherds teach these rules by inflicting consequences if rules aren't followed. The dog can do this by blocking the livestock or gripping and holding the livestock. If the dog isn't strong and smart enough to enforce the rules the livestock will ignore him and chaos will follow.
Herding German Shepherds do not think of their livestock as prey but see them as their charges. German Shepherds respect the well being of the livestock. and will protect them.
Due to fencing pastures, herding dogs aren't in very high demand by farmers but Herding as a sport is starting to grow. Clubs are being formed all over the United States for people wishing to participate in herding as a sport or activity to do with their companions.
June 1997 Revisions
Translated by Fred Lanting, SV Conformation Judge Reprinted from Schutzhund USA Magazine Shepherd Dog
FCI Standard #166; replaces 23 March, 1991 edition
FCI Classification: Group 1 - Guardian and Driving dogs;
Section 1 - Shepherds' dogs with working titles.
Versatile use: Guardian and Service (Working) Dog
Short historic overview: Since the official establishment in Augsburg, within the German Canine Association known as the VDH (German "Kennel Club"), the parent club of the breed, the Club for German Shepherd Dogs (SV), is responsible for the breed Standard of the German Shepherd Dog. The Standard was set up in the first membership meeting in Frankfurt on 20 September 1899, upon the suggestions of A. Meyer and M. von Stephanitz. At the 6th membership gathering on 28 July 1901, the 23rd meeting in Koln on 17 September 1909, the conference of the executive committee and board in Wiesbaden on 5 September 1930, and the breed committee and board of directors meeting on 25 March 1961. As part of that one, the World Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs (WUSV) was involved with the work. At the WUSV conference on 30 August 1976 they agreed on another revision, and on 23/24 March 1991 assumed full powers by way of resolution of the executive and advisory committees. [The current version was adopted in 1997.] The German Shepherd Dog, whose systematic breeding was begun in the year 1899 with the founding of the Club, is from the former Central and Southern German stocks then available. They were bred and descended from guardian dogs with the objective of creating a working dog predisposed to high performance. To reach this goal, the breed Standard of the German Shepherd Dog was determined, with reference both to the bodily construction as well as to the essential nature and character traits.
The German Shepherd Dog is a medium-size, slightly stretched, strong, and well muscled, with the "bone" dry and firm in the over-all construction. Important measurements and proportions The withers height for males is 60 to 65 cm; that of bitches is 55 to 60 cm.* The length of torso exceeds the measure of the withers height by about 10 - 17 %. The German Shepherd Dog must be, in its essential image, well-balanced, firm in nerves, self-confident, absolutely calm and impartial, and (except in tempting situations) amiable. He must possess courage, willingness to fight, and hardness, in order to be suitable as companion, watchdog, protector, service dog, and guardian.
The head is to be wedge-shaped, large but in proportion to the body, with length about 40% of the dog's height at the withers, without being clumsy or overly long. It is dry in its general appearance, and moderately broad between the ears. The forehead is seen from in front and from the side to be only little arched, and without central furrow or with only a slightly implied one. The proportion of back-skull to fore-ace is 50:50. The breadth of back-skull corresponds approximately to its length. The top of the head (seen from above) from the ears to the nose is a fairly continuous wedge-shaped taper, with a slanting but not too-sharply defined stop. Upper and lower jaws are definitely strong. The muzzle is straight, neither a saddle shape nor an arch being desired. The lips are tight, closing well, and of dark color. The nose must be black. The teeth must be strong, healthy and complete (42, conforming to the established rule). The German Shepherd dog has a scissors bite; i.e., the incisors must mesh in a scissors bite whereby the incisors of the upper jaw intersect like scissors with those of the lower jaw. Level (pincer), over-, and under-bites are faulty, as are large gaps between the teeth (interrupted arrangement). Likewise incorrect is a straight line of the incisors. The jawbones must be strongly developed, so that the teeth can be deeply embedded in their places. The eyes are medium in size, almond-shaped, somewhat slanted, and not protruding. The color of the eyes should be as dark as possible; light, piercing eyes are not desired, as this detracts from the dog's expression.
The German Shepherd Dog has pricked ears of medium size, which are carried upright and neither pointing outward nor inward; they taper to a point and are held with the opening of the shell facing forward. Tipped over and hanging ears are faulty. Ears laid back during gating and/or relaxation are not faulted.
The neck should be strong, well muscled, and without loose skin at the throat (dewlap). The head is held such that the neck is at an angle of approximately 45 degrees from the (horizontal) torso.
The over-line proceeds from the neck, continuing over the high, long withers and over the straight back through the slightly sloping croup without abrupt change. The back is moderately long, firm, strong, and well muscled. The loin is broad, short, powerfully fashioned, and well muscled. The croup should be long and slightly sloping (approx. 23Ã‚Â° from the horizontal) and without a break in the over-line as it continues over the tail-set. The chest should be moderately broad, its underline as long as possible, and pronounced. The depth of chest should be about 45 % to 48 % of the dog's height at the withers. The ribs should widen out and curve moderately. Barrel-shaped chests or slab-sided appearance are equally faulty. The tail extends at least up to the hock joint, but not beyond the middle of the metatarsus. Its hair is somewhat bushy on the underside. It is carried in a gentle hanging curve when relaxed, and is lifted more in excitement and in movement, though not over the horizontal. Surgical corrections are forbidden.
The front limbs are seen from all sides to be straight, and from the front view are perfectly parallel. Shoulder blade and upper arm are of equal lengths accumulated and firmly attached to the torso with medium-strong muscling. The angle between shoulder blade and upper arm amounts to, in the ideal case 90Â°, but as a rule is 110Â°. The elbows, either when standing or moving, may not be turned out; likewise not pinched together. The forearms in the standing dog are seen in all views to be straight and perfectly parallel to each other, dry, and firmly muscled. The pastern has a length of approximately 1/3 that of the forearm and has an angle of approx. 20Â° to 22Â° to this. Both a slanting pastern (more than 22Â°) as well as a steep pastern (less than 20Â°) are harmful to working suitability, particularly endurance. The paws are round, well closed and arched, the soles hard, but not inflexible. The nails are sturdy and of a dark color.
The position of the hind legs is slightly toward the rear, and viewed from behind the hind-legs are parallel to each other. Upper thigh and lower thigh are roughly of equal length and form an angle of approximately 120Â°. The thighs are powerful and well muscled. The hock joints are sturdily built and firm; the metatarsus is vertical from the hock joint. The paws are closed, slightly arched, the pads hard and of dark color, the nails sturdy and arched, and also dark.
The German Shepherd Dog is a trotter. The limbs must be so harmonious with each other in length and angulation, that without creating much undulation of the top-line, the hindquarters can push the torso forward in such a manner that the stride matches that of the forequarters. Every tendency toward over-angulation of the hindquarters decreases the firmness and the endurance, and with that the working ability. With correct structural proportions and angulation, a far-reaching, ground-covering, level gait results, which conveys the impression of effortless forward movement. With the head thrust forward and tail slightly lifted it presents, in a fairly level, balanced, and smooth trot, one uninterrupted, gently flowing over-line from the tips of the ears over the nape and back, through to the end of the tail.
The skin is (loosely) contiguous without, however, forming folds.
Condition of the hair . The correct type of hair-coat for the German Shepherd Dog is the Stock-hair (straight, harsh topcoat) with undercoat. The topcoat should be as tight as possible, straight, harsh, and lying closely and firmly. On the head between the ears, on the front side of the legs, and on paws and toes it is short. At the neck somewhat longer and more abundant. On the backs of the legs the hair grows longer as far down as the wrist, and correspondingly down to the hock. At the backside of the thighs it forms moderate trousers.
Black with reddish-brown, brown, tan, and/or light gray markings. Solid-black. Sable with dark overcast. Black saddle and mask. Inconspicuous, small white chest markings, likewise light color on the insides, are allowed but not desirable. The nose bulb must be black in all colors of the breed. Missing mask, light (piercing) eye color, as well as light to whitish markings at chest and under/inner sides, light claws, and red-tipped tail are to be considered as deficient pigment. The undercoat has a light gray color. The color white is not permitted.
Males: Withers height 60 cm to 65 cm; weight 30 kg to 40 kg Females: Withers height 55 cm to 60 cm; weight 22 kg to 32 kg Testicles Dogs should display two evidently normally developed testicles, situated in the scrotum. Faults All deviations from the above-mentioned points should be considered as errors, the severity of fault appraisal being strictly in proportion to the degree of the deviation. Major Faults Anything that departs from the Standard and known characteristics of the breed in relation to the suitability for work; Ear faults: held out to the side; low-set; tipped over; overset (tipped toward each other); weak; Considerably lacking in pigment; Considerable deficiency in overall firmness.
All deviations from the scissors bite and the formation of the teeth that are not dealt with in the following list of specific faults. Disqualifying Faults (also ineligible for breed survey): a) Weak character, biting, nervous; b) Demonstrated severe hip dysplasia c) Cryptorchidism (unilateral or bilateral), clearly unequal or stunted, atrophied testicles; d) Deformed ears or tails; e) Dogs with deformities; f) Dentition faults involving the absence of: one P-3 and another tooth, or one fang (canine), or one P-4, or one Molar-1 or Molar-2, or any total of three or more teeth; g) Incisor (bite) irregularities: overshot by 2mm or more, undershot, or pincer bite (even or level in entire incisor area); h) Oversize by more than one centimeter; i) Albinism; j) White haircoat even if the dog has dark eyes and nails; k) Langstockhaar (topcoat long, straight, soft, not lying tightly; with undercoat present; flags (feathering) on ears and legs, bushy trousers, bushy tail with formation of flags on the underside); l) Langhaar (topcoat long, soft; without undercoat, generally parting in the middle of the back; flags at ears, legs, and tail).
*Dogs are 60-65 cm (23.6 to 25.6 inches) and 30-40 kg (66-88 lbs.); bitches 55-60 cm (21.6 to 23.6 inches) and 22-32 kg (481/2 to 701/2 lbs.).