German shepherds are among the most recognizable dogs in the world. They can be spotted on the streets of cities or in the woods, or even places as extreme as the desert or tundra. Most people know that they make great companions, guard dogs, therapy pals, and police dogs. But there is so much more to this breed!
Check out this list of 15 lesser-known facts about German Shepherds. You may be shocked and surprised to learn that the amazing animals are actually even more incredible than we think!
1. They go by many names around the world.
The official name of the breed is German shepherd dog. But in Germany, they are called ‘Deutscher Shaferhund.’ In England and Ireland, the dog is often referred to as an Alsatian, and sometimes they are called Berger Allemands! In 1917 the American Kennel Club removed ‘German’ from the breed name, but they put it back in 1930.
2. The first-ever dog to help the blind was a German shepherd.
Today, dogs of many breeds aid people with all sorts of special needs. ‘The Seeing Eye’ was the first foundation to train dogs for blind people. They started in 1929 and eventually determined that German shepherds are better suited for police work while Labradors and Retrievers are the best dogs to guide the blind
3. There is a sport that was invented specifically for German shepherds
Very few dog breeds can claim their very own sport. Schutzhund, as it’s called, was invented in Germany (of course) to test a German shepherd’s many natural abilities – such as the desire to work, their intelligence, courage, the bond with their handler, general trainability, and much more. Today the sport includes many breeds, but we still think German shepherds are the best!
4. They are the second most popular dog in the USA
Of the millions of dog lovers in the United States, each has their personal favorite breed. But due to the diverse abilities of German shepherds to both work and be furry companions, these dogs outnumber almost every other breed in the country!
5. German shepherds are the third smartest dog breed
Second in overall popularity, German shepherds are also ranked third in intelligence! These impressively witty animals are often compared in mental capacity to young children of around 4 to 5 years of age. They are recorded as being able to learn new tricks in about 5 repetitions.
(Some might argue that’s even better than a 5-year-old!)
6. German shepherds fought in both world wars!
These dogs were sent to aid their human soldier companions on both fronts of the war. They worked in search and rescue, as bomb-sniffing dogs, and some were even trained to parachute from airplanes!
7. ‘Filax of Lewanno’ Was a War Hero
Of the German Shepherds that made a contribution to WW1, Filax of Lewanno was greatly recognized for his efforts. At the 1917 Westminster Dog Show, he was recognized for rescuing 54 soldiers! That’s a good boy.
8. Only one German shepherd has won ‘best in show’ at the Westminster Dog Show
That’s right. Even though these dogs are so prized and beautiful, only one has ever taken home the title. His name was ‘Covy Tucker Hill’s Manhattan,’ – and in 1987, he became the only dog from the herding group to ever win!
9. German shepherds are classified as a large dog breed.
These dogs vary so much in size, coat, weight, and behavior that it may be a tough guess as to how they are categorized. Officially, however, they are large dogs in terms of events like contests.
10. There are eleven recognized colors of the breed
Most people picture German shepherds as black and tan, but there are in fact 11 specific variations of color among this breed. These include black, white, liver, sable, black and cream, black and red, black and silver, bi-color, gray, and blue.
11. Bringing a white German shepherd to a dog show would get you disqualified
While many owners enjoy dogs with unique coats and patterns, white Germans shepherds and other unusually coated breeds are considered flawed among dog show judges.
12. Many other breeds descend from the German shepherd
There have been breeders who have made modifications to the line of German Shepherds to specialize their dogs for various conditions. One example is the East-European shepherd, which was specifically created by the USSR for military tasks in the extreme cold. There are at least 4 other related breeds, but few are officially recognized. Some are even part wolf!
13. Orthopaedic conditions are common in German shepherd dogs
Due to their genetic makeup, these large dogs are prone to hip and back issues. This is something that is important to consider when adopting dogs who may have to do lots of work. Many types of issues can be improved with a consistently healthy and diet rich in vitamins and minerals.
14. This breed is popular around the world
These dogs are still extremely popular in Germany. This makes sense as it is their country of origin! Approximately 15,000 German Shepherd puppies are born there every year- adding to the 250,000 purebred dogs already living there.
15. There is a club just for senior German shepherds
That’s right! If you have an older dog or know someone who does, this is surely good news! “The Thirteen Club” founded by the German Shepherd Club of America officially recognizes dogs 12 years and up.
Do you know any other cool facts about German shepherds? Be sure to share them in the comments!
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