History and General Aspects of the German Shepherd
The history of the German Shepherd dog starts back in the 19th century. Originating from the Alsace-Lorraine region in France, which was at that time part of Germany. The breed came about by the cross-breeding of rural Germany herding dogs. Max von Stephanitz, a passionate animal lover, and ex cavalry officer is credited as being the originator and is considered to be the father of this breed.
The variety that is closest to Max von Stephanitz version is the West German Working Shepherd. These dogs are usually black and red and sometimes black and tan and they mainly come from German show lines. Their top line is different from the American Show line, and in shows, they are judged based on side-gait. The working lines are distinctive from show lines through dogs’ phenomenal genetics and temperament. The dogs in all three working branches, East German, West German and Czech working lines are agile, intense dogs, with a large bone structure, head and darker pigment.
There are several types of German Shepherd Dog breed lines which have developed, each with distinct styles and differences between them: in addition to the German and Czech line already mentioned these also include the American and Canadian Show Shepherd Dog and the working type and pet German Shepherd Dog.
German Shepherds have a wedge-shaped head, well proportioned with the size of the body, with the forehead slightly arched and a straight nasal dorsum ending with a black nose. The breed has 42 strong teeth and well-developed jawbones with a strong dental ridge, where the teeth are deeply embedded. Their eyes are almond-shaped and medium size, usually dark colored. The ears are erect, aligned and upright, with a facing forward auricle. Their strong neck is well muscled in a healthy dog, and does not have loose skin.
The breed is also known as a ‘trotting’ breed – so called due to the gait and angle of joints. The breed standards have historically noted that the dog’s back should be ‘slightly’ or even ‘moderately’ sloping versus being flat. Dogs in the show ring are typically presented for judging in a stacked position, where their hind legs are off-set, that is one behind the other, rather than standing square. This is said to demonstrate or accentuate the angulation of the joints.
There is much discussion across the German Shepherd world in regard to back and spine formation, and what a healthy and “normal” top line German Shepherd should be. The older breed lines and more traditional dog will have a straight back, as seen in Working Shepherds and general pet dogs. Looking at modern breeding and in particular it seems for the show circuit we see the distinctive sloping or ‘roach’ back favored by show judges. Much comment has been made about the disadvantages to the dog’s health with this sloping back, and the suffering experienced by the dog.
Once you have decided to bring a German Shepherd into your life we recommend you complete some research to find a suitable breeder that matches your needs. If at all possible meet the puppy’s parents, or the bitch at the very least, to review their temperament, and so you have an informed decision about your purchase and future companion. Any reputable breeder will be happy to let you see their dogs and answer any question, concerns and queries you may have. Beware puppy farms at all costs. You may also wish to check the German Shepherd Dog pedigree database to further understand the bloodline. And it goes without saying that you should always avoid puppy farms
German Shepherd dog breeding, training, and care is not without their challenges, but the rewards are enormous as any GSD owner will testify. If you are prepared to dedicate the proper time to do your research about a good German Shepherd breeder, complete ongoing training, and undertake proper GSD care – you will reap the rewards many times over.
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