The King of dogs.

A reflection on the history of the German Shepherd dog.

Yesterday’s account of getting to know GSD Duke a little better caused me to find a post that had been sitting in my Drafts folder for a couple of years.  It was about a piece published in The New York Times, Sunday Review, October 8th, 2011 under the heading of Why German Shepherds Have Had Their Day.

Why German Shepherds Have Had Their Day


SUCCESS can be a drag. You yearn for it, strive for it, and then, when it finally arrives, it sets off repercussions you never anticipated that sometimes undo that success.

Take the German shepherd. Originally bred to the exacting standards of a German cavalry officer, it became one of the 20th century’s most popular working breeds. But in recent years that popularity, and the overbreeding that came with it, has driven the German shepherd into eclipse: even the police in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, who had relied on the dogs for years, recently announced they were replacing them with Belgian Malinois, because the less-popular Malinois were hardier and more reliable.

But there is good news about this bad news, if you are a lover of the breed, because less visibility, especially in inspiring roles as public servants, is likely to mean less demand for the dogs. That means less reason to produce too many puppies, which is the best thing that can happen to any purebred dogs.

The article continued with the history of the breed.  But rather than stay with the NYT piece, for more about the breed history I’m going to cross over to the website of the British charity, German Shepherd Dog Rescue (GSDR). They have a comprehensive account of the History and Origins of the Breed.

History and Origins of the German Shepherd Dog

A brief insight into the development of the breed


The German Shepherd breed appeared late at the end of the 19th century in Germany and they were first exhibited at a show in Hanover in 1882. They were not like German Shepherds as we know them today though being rough coated, short tailed and rather resembling mongrels. The German Shepherd Dog as we now know it didn’t really appear until after the Second World War.

The breed was actually created by the cross breeding of working sheep dogs from rural Germany by an ex cavalry officer called Max von Stephanitz whose aim was to create a working dog for herding which could trot for long periods.

A breed standard was drawn up and the first breed show took place in 1899 following which the GSD became firmly established across Germany. In 1906 the first dogs were exported to the USA .

Since then, the breed has grown enormously in popularity and is now one of the most popular pedigree breeds in the UK as a pet as well as being the favourite working breed for many forces, especially the police. They are widely used for security purposes because of their strong protective instincts.

Many people in the UK still call these dogs Alsatians which may partly be due to the fact that when they were first bred, the Alsace region of France, where these dogs were very popular, was part of Germany . I still get people who think that Alsatians are the traditional short coat black and tan dogs and that German Shepherds are the long coated dogs that have become popular.

GSD’s make wonderful family pets and will protect family and home.

These dogs are highly intelligent and will show undying devotion to their master but they are dogs that need company and stimulation to be at their best. It is however, important to remember that this is a working breed and that they do have certain characteristics that some people might find difficult to live with. The German Shepherd should be steady, loyal, self assured, courageous and willing and should not be nervous over aggressive or shy. Nervous aggression is something that we are now seeing more often as a result of bad breeding. It is sad but there has always been indiscriminate breeding of German Shepherds right from the start, which has lead to problems with temperament and health.

Before leaving the GSDR website, please read more about this important charity, “We are one of the longest standing and largest German Shepherd rescues in the UK.” and if there is any way at all that you can help, please, please, please!  (And fellow bloggers, consider a post spreading the word about this wonderful charity and these most magnificent of dogs.)

So a few memories of German Shepherds closer to home.


Young Pharaoh 12th August, 2003 when he was just 10 weeks old.


We are friends for life! Each for the other.


Pharaoh, ten-years-old, and King of his Castle!  Taken on the 3rd June, 2013 at our home in Oregon.


 The arrival of young Cleo!

I suspect Pharaoh is explaining to Cleo that there’s only rule of the house – his rule!

Picture taken April 7th, 2012

Little Sweeny and Cleo

From puppy to Big Dog!  Cleo resting where she shouldn’t be! February, 2013.

What magnificent animals they are!

8 thoughts on “The King of dogs.

  1. from words to photographs, it has been a pleasure
    wandering through your thoughts!
    Pharaoh is so majestic and Cleo is a darling!
    Thank you for sharing
    Take Care…


      1. you are so welcome…
        I had fun and learned as I did!
        a great combination for the day….


    1. Oh Sue, if only you could know the joy and deep peace they bring us. For instance, writing this at 6am. The house is still asleep. Dhalia and Sweeny are asleep on the bed; Sweeny curled up close to Jean, Dhalia close to me. For most of the night I slept with an arm around Dhalia. The bond is indescribable!


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