What do you see when you look at a dog? I see a friend and companion who is loyal and offers unconditional love. And few breeds live up to those qualities like German Shepherds. Considered to be one of the most popular breeds in the world, German Shepherds have their origins as working dogs. This has carried on in the modern day as they are used for police work, tracking criminals and patrolling troubled areas. They are also used in the military, being trained to parachute from aircrafts.
A German Shepherd’s ability to be used as a work dog comes from their intelligence. They’re able to learn simple tasks after five repetitions and coupling it when their strength makes them ideal rescue dogs. The breed has an active, eager temperament and are curious about exploring new places. If not socialised correctly they can become over-protective of their family so it’s recommended they are introduced to other people in their early years.
There has been an ongoing debate about the modern German Shepherd straying from Max von Stephanitz’ ideology of being bred specifically as a working dog. Stephanitz has been credited as developing the breed as it’s currently known, beginning with standardisation in the 1890s. The criticism comes from German Shepherds being bred for shows and The Kennel Club is in dispute with GS breed clubs over the issue. The show breeds have been developed with a sloping back that causes a poor gait and may lead to a greater risk of hip dysplasia. Working German Shepherd breeds retain the traditional straight back.
German Shepherds suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, which can lead to the dog experiencing a lot of pain in later life. I’ve sent a recent example of this in a young German Shepherd called Reggie who I help to look after at Manchester Dog Care. Reggie is a happy and playful puppy, but his back legs are already starting to slope and it’s a shame to see such a beautiful dog go through that at a young age.
The British Association for German Shepherd Dogs is an organisation that wants to promote awareness for the breed. They give regular training classes on how to bring up GS puppies and socialise them properly. They also run competitions so proud owners can demonstrate what their dogs are capable of.
German Shepherds have become popular for a reason. They are intelligent, loyal and playful. Any family would be lucky to have one.