20 Amazing Facts Every German Shepherd Dog Owner Should Know

German Shepherd Dogs were originally bred for police work back in the late 1800s. As you may know, German Shepherd Dogs are the second most popular dog breed in the United States, and it is easy to see why. They are intelligent, energetic, and affectionate. These qualities make them excellent companions for humans.

In this post, we want to share with you 20 amazing facts you as a GSD owner should know. With this list, all German Shepherds Dog owners would be proud of their beloved GSD.

1. Meet the Father of GSD – Max Von Stephanitz

Do you know his name? Well, you should – he is considered to be the father of the German Shepherd breed. In 1899, breeder Max von Stephanitz, took notice of a wolf-like dog with black and yellow markings at a dog show in Western Germany. (www.gsdca.org)

He was impressed by the dog’s intelligence and discipline, he chose to purchase the dog and changed its name from Hektor Linksrhein to Horand von Grafrath. Max von Stephanitz started the German Shepherd Dog Club and created the guidelines for the breed’s standard. The motto for the new breed was “utility and intelligence“; good looks was not a priority.

In the years to follow Germany became more industrialized, and von Stephanitz was quick to realize that the needs for the German Shepherd might decline. To ensure that the breed would continue to be relevant, he worked with police and other service workers to ensure a place for the dogs in the working force. Since the breed was bred to be highly intelligent and athletic, they were the perfect fit. Max von Stephanitz is the reason the German Shepherd is used worldwide as a world-class working dog.

2. The Dog With a “Dog” in Its Name

The German Shepherd Dog is one of the few breeds whose official name actually includes the word “dog”. This is a bit weird – or is it? The word “dog” was added so people understood whether you were talking about a human German Shepherd (someone who tends the livestock), OR the dog helping him.

3. You Don’t Want to Be Bitten

German Shepherd’s bite has 238 pounds of force — a human’s bite has just 86! Yet another reason the breed was excellent to work as a police dog. No one runs away from a German Shepherd twice.

Related post:

Can a German Shepherd Dog Kill You? (With Stats and Real Cases)

4. The Average Lifespan of German Shepherds Is 10.95 Years

And if your German Shepherd has turned 12 years old, he or she is eligible to be a proud member of The Thirteen Club. This is a special club through the German Shepherd Dog Club of America and all it takes to join is to fill out the application form.

Related post:

How to Extend Your German Shepherd Life Span? [5 Tips You Must Know]

5. Schutzhund – A Sport for GSD

The sport was developed in the 1900s with the German Shepherd Dog in mind – according to the United Schutzhund Clubs of America. “It was designed to test the natural instincts of the breed and to weed out the dogs that were either unstable or untrainable.” (www.germanshepherddog.com)

6. Large Dog

You probably already knew that. But even though German Shepherd puppies are quite thin the first two years of their life, they quickly grow a huge muscle mass.

They’re large and powerful dogs, ranging from 22 to 26 inches high and usually between 50 to 90 pounds, with females on the lower end of the spectrum. If they’re not properly trained, they can easily knock down an adult male to the ground.

7. Mr. Popular

The German Shepherd Dog is the 2nd most registered dog in the United States. The reason is probably found in the breed’s diversity – they are popular as a family, guard, performance, show, military, police, and service dogs. It can pretty much do everything.

The German Shepherd isn’t just popular in the United States. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of German Shepherds around the globe. There are 250,000 purebred German Shepherd Dogs in Germany alone, with about 15,000 puppies born each year. There is even a World Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs. (https://www.schaeferhunde.de)

8. A Very Protective Guard Dog

In addition to being a bit standoffish with strangers, German Shepherd belts out a vicious-sounding bark when anyone knocks on your door (unless their owner shows them that it is expected).

GSD’s won’t hesitate to protect their pack members. They’re especially – and sometimes to a fault – protective of children.

9. Filax of Lewanno, A Great War Hero

There are lots of tales of heroic German Shepherds in the breed’s short history. And one of them is of Filax of Lewanno. He was honored at Westminster in 1917 for bringing 54 wounded soldiers to safety in WWI.

10. The First Guide Dog in the US

Dorothy Harrison founds “The Seeing Eye” in 1929, which started training German Shepherds to use as guide dogs for the blind in the US. Morris Frank, a blind man, read about what Mrs. Harrison was doing and wrote to her that he wanted one of those dogs – and that he wanted to help spread the word about these types of dogs in the US.

11. WW I Promoted German Shepeherd Dogs

In 1914, at the beginning of World War I, German Shepherd Dogs began serving with the German Military. They performed a number of tasks on the battlefield and within the ranks of the German Army. These new dogs served as sentries, messengers, and ammunition carriers.

They proved themselves especially capable of aiding wounded soldiers on the battlefield. They even led injured and blinded soldiers off the battlefield to safety and medical attention.  (Source)

12. The Word “German” Was Removed And Added Back

By 1914, the breed was so popular in America that there was talk of changing the name to “sheepdog” or “shepherd dog” – dropping the German attribution. In 1917 the AKC does in fact remove the word “German” in front of the breed’s name. It remained that way until 1930 when members of the Breed club voted to change it back. (www.gsdca.org)

13. German Shepherds Can be Affected With Dwarfism

Luckily it is rare, but some German Shepherds can have pituitary dwarfism, and as a result, the German Shepherd will look like a puppy forever. Even though this sounds kind of amazing – the condition is often accompanied by a whole slew of health problems.

german shepherd facts

14. Rin Tin Tin – The GSD Everybody Knows

Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd rescued from the World War one battlefield. His savior, an American soldier named Duncan Lee, trained the GSD to work in silent films. Rin Tin Tin was a huge star, and extremely popular, that Warner Bros, would create a Rin Tin Tin movie whenever it needed money.

It’s been a long lasting rumor that Rin Tin Tin was voted best actor of the first Academy Awards in 1929. Susan Orlean, the author of “Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend” suggests that the award went to Emil Jannings simply because he was human. “In terms of popularity, Rin Tin Tin didn’t have a peer,” Orlean told The Guardian. “He was a huge star around the world. […] I can’t imagine that Emil Jannings was opening films, but Rin Tin Tin certainly did.”

Finally, he was awarded the American Humane Association’s first Legacy Award in 2011. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

15. Lots of Different Colors

You might think you know all the colors of the GSD. You’re probably familiar with the original black & tan, black, or white, But the AKC actually recognized eleven colors – the ones just mentioned as well as: bi-color, black & cream, black & silver, black & red, blue, gray, silver and white.

And to top it all of, there is actually something called “Panda Shepherds”. They look incredible.

german shepherd facts

17. Six German Shepherds Featured in a Sold-Out Play

In 1986, a Dutch director by the name of Whim Schipper created a play that starred six German Shepherds.

Entitled “Going to the Dogs“, the play featured a traditional family plot: The daughter brings home a new boyfriend, and love, jealousy, and parental worries come into play. It premiered on 19 September to a sell-out audience in the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam .

The GSDs received drama lessons from the Amsterdam police and were motivated to act with treats.

18. The 3rd Most Intelligent Dog in the World

German Shepherds are one of the smartest dog breeds on the planet, you probably already knew that. But did you know that they ranked 3rd when more than 200 AKC judges rated over 100 breeds on their intelligence.

Border Collie is number one, and Poodle comes second. (Source)

19. Associated with Hip Dysplasia

German Shepherd can have many types of medical conditions, but the most common is hip dysplasia. The debilitating condition is usually the result of poor breeding practices. Always ask to see an “Orthopedic Foundation for Animals” when you get a puppy from a breeder.

20. GSD Won Westminster Twice

Being widely popular in the United States, you would think the German Shepherd Dog, as a breed would have lots of “Best in Show” titles at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Well, It only happened twice.

The German Shepherd CH Covy-Tucker Hill’s Manhattan, nicknamed “Hatter,” was the winner in 1987.

A German Shepherd Dog known as “Rumor” was awarded the coveted Best in Show title in 2017.  (Source)

That’s all folks. Which one amazed you the most? Or do you know something I don’t that should be on this list. Let me know in the comment section.