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German Shepherd History

On April 22, 1899, Max von Stephanitz and his friend Artur Meyer, together with nine others, formed the "Verein für Deutsche Schaeferhunde" (German Shepherd Dog Society), known by most Germans and most dog lovers around the world simply as "SV".


His quote "A pleasing appearance is desirable, but it can NOT put the dog’s working ability into question"! And to be certain he wouldn’t be misunderstood, he coined the phrase: 

"German Shepherd breeding is Working Dog breeding, or it is not German Shepherd breeding"

The German Shepherd Dog was developed in the 19th century in Germany. There were a lot of different  shepherd dogs in Germany, but there was not any recognized breed of these dogs. 


In the 1890s, Captain Max von Stephanitz, a young German cavalry officer, decided to develop a national breed of shepherd dogs. Max von Stephanitz was a very educated man, fond of shepherd dogs and appreciated very high their working abilities. He is known as the father of the breed. April 3, 1899 is considered to be the birthday of The German Shepherd Dog. 

On that day Max von Stephanitz purchased a herding dog at a dog show. The dog's name was Hektor Linksrhein (later named Horand von Grafrath) and it became a forefather for present German Shepherd Dogs and the first registered GSDs. Horand von Grafrath won the first German Shepherd Dog show that was held by Max von Stephanitz. 


He founded the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde, the German Shepherd Dog breeders' 

organization and was named its first president. His efforts were not in vain. The German Shepherd Dog quickly became popular. They proved to be very diversified dogs. GSDs are widely used in police and military work. They earned the reputation as good family companion as well. The German Shepherd Dog became the first dogs used as Guide Dogs for the blind. The German Shepherd Dog is intelligent, agile, loyal, self-confident, protective of his home and property. They are fearless, but not hostile. These dogs are active, quick to learn and fond of training and challenges. German Shepherds should be socialized at an early age and trained after 7 months of age. They are very sociable and need attention.

The German Shepherd does well in apartment living provided they are mature, trained, and have plenty of exercise. German Shepherd pups require a more open enviroment for proper development. The German Shepherd Dog needs require regular combing and 

occasional baths. The life expectancy is around 13 years. The breed is recognized by NADSR, CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, KCGB, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, GSDCA, SV, United Schutzhund Clubs of America.



A commonly found error in internet searches for the German Shepherd is the spelling of the name as German Sheperd. Quite often people will search for German Sheperd puppies, German Sheperd dogs, German Sheperd canines, German Sheperd breeders, and German Sheperd pups or

puppies. Some search engines will not give notice to correct spelling. This paragraph exists for that purpose.




General appearance


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. 23° 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.


Limbs Forehand


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 90°, but as a rule is 110°. 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. 20° to 22° to this. Both a slanting pastern (more than 22°) as well as a steep pastern (less than 20°) 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.


Hind quarters


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 120°. 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.


Dentition faults:


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


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