13 Jolly Facts About German Shepherds

Did you know that Germans Shepherds are the third most intelligent dog breed in the world?

    Imagine, for a second, the ultimate dog. What personality traits would it have? What size would it be? What would its character be like?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up with a mental picture of something quite similar to a German Shepherd.

    If you’re wondering how we came to that conclusion, don’t worry – we’re going to explain it all for you with these astonishing facts all about this beautiful dog breed!

    German Shepherds are a relatively new breed of dog.

    Two German Shepherd puppies

    With their wolfish appearance, it’s all too easy to make the mistake of thinking German Shepherds are an ancient breed of dog.

    It may even come as a surprise to some, but the German Shepherd breed has only been around since the late 19th Century.

    The first German Shepherd to officially be registered was a dog called Horand Von Grafrath.

    The dog had been spotted at a dog show by a man called Max Von Stephanitz, who instantly realized the potential of this particular pooch as a working dog.

    German Shepherds were originally bred for a very specific reason.

    A German Shepherd lay on the ground

    Max Von Stephanitz hadn’t come across Horand Von Grafrath by chance.

    He had been searching high and low for what he thought to be the perfect dog so that he could establish a standardized German dog breed.

    He wished for a dog that would be highly intelligent yet also be incredibly useful.

    When Max bought Horand the German Shepherd, he established the very first German Shepherd Dog Club, with the club’s motto being “Utility and Intelligence.”

    The role of the German Shepherd was quickly changed.

    A German Shepherd looking at his master

    As sheepdogs became less required by the general public, Max quickly realized the need to gain a new target audience.

    Through this decision, German Shepherds really started to shine in the eyes of the public and began upholding the motto of “Utility and Intelligence.”

    Max sold the idea of the dogs as the ultimate service dog to the German government, army, and almost anyone that would listen to him.

    German Shepherds quickly proved themselves too and were adapted to all sorts of different tasks.

    There were many uses for German Shepherds in the First World War.

    A German Shepherd digging

    The German army was one of the first organizations to truly take advantage of the true utility of German Shepherds as service dogs.

    These exceptional dogs were used in various roles, ranging from guard dogs, messenger dogs, attack dogs, and even as first aid dogs!

    A German Shepherd was honored as a war hero!

    A German Shepherd looking directly into the camera

    German Shepherds had their many uses in World War I and II, but not all of them were as great as Filax of Lewanno.

    During The First World War, this awesome German Shepherd brought back 54 injured soldiers from the front lines, saving their lives.

    He was honored in Westminster for his service to his country in 1917.

    These dogs needed a change of name after World War I.

    A German Shepherd with her ears pointing up

    Unsurprisingly, people weren’t all that keen on anything which had the word “German” in it for quite some time after World War I & II.

    After World War I, the UK kennel club decided to rename the dogs as “Alsatian Wolf Dogs,” naming them after Alsace, a region of France that borders Germany.

    On the other hand, the American Kennel Club took a much simpler approach. They merely referred to the dogs as “Shepherd Dogs,” which seemed to be enough to remove any bias placed upon the dogs.

    It wasn’t until 1977 that the UK officially reverted the name to its original form, although they’re still referred to as Alsatians in some parts of the world.

    A German Shepherd saved Warner Brothers from bankruptcy.

    A German Shepherd looking to the right

    After World War I, an American soldier called Corporal Lee Duncan brought a German Shepherd back with him to the US.

    He’d discovered the dog as a puppy in a bombed-out kennel in France and instantly bonded with him, naming him Rin Tin Tin.

    Upon his return to the US, he took the dog to several dog shows, amazing all who witnessed the dog’s physical prowess and incredible temperament.

    With such encouraging reception, Corporal Lee Duncan decided to try and get Rin Tin Tin into the show biz.

    He managed to badger Warner Bros, a failing film studio at the time, into casting Rin Tin Tin as a wolf in the film “Man From Hell’s River.”

    He played his part so well that the film became an instant success – and Rin Tin Tin went on to drag Warner Bros out of bankruptcy!

    Germans Shepherds are the third most intelligent dog breed.

    A German Shepherd showing off his intelligence by walking across tall pillars

    According to Stanley Coren, the author of The Intelligence of Dogs, that is!

    Of all the breeds Stanley worked with, he found German Shepherds to rank third in terms of overall intelligence.

    Stanley ranked Poodles as second and Border Collies as the most intelligent.

    They breed like rabbits, too!

    A German Shepherd with her puppies

    Well, maybe not rabbits… more like German Shepherds?

    Dogs that are a similar size as German Shepherds are officially categorized as a large breed of dog. On average, males can grow up to 26 inches (66cm), while females can grow up to 24 inches (61) tall!

    Being such large dogs, they can have really large litters – German Shepherds are known to have as many as nine puppies from one litter!

    Officially, German Shepherds can only come in 11 different colors.

    Two German Shepherd's in the mountains

    That’s according to the American Kennel Club, at least, which heavily regulates the dog breed in the US.

    The allowed colors are black, tan, white, liver, sable, black and cream, black and red, black and silver, bi-color, gray, and blue.

    No, not the kind of blue you’re thinking – they’re more of a blue/gray mix, but they do have blue eyes!

    No matter what color they are, expect them to shed a LOT!

    A German Shepherd with long hair

    If you haven’t figured it out yet, German Shepherds are BIG dogs! A big dog means a lot of hair, which means dog hair everywhere – and they shed all year round.

    That’s not the end of it either, as German Shepherds also shed their undercoat twice a year, in fall and spring.

    They’re the second most popular breed of dogs in the US.

    A German Shepherd being hugged and kissed

    German Shepherds didn’t really gain popularity in the US until after the First World War. In fact, they weren’t even really known by most, being such a new breed.

    It was in Europe that US troops first saw them in action and admired the breed, but it was at home with dogs like Rin Tin Tin that they truly gained popularity.

    Fast forward to 2020, and the dogs are the second most popular breed in the US, falling shortly behind Labrador Retrievers.

    About 4.6% of all American Kennel Club dogs are German Shepherds, which means there are around 3.5 million of them in the US alone!

    German Shepherds were the world’s first service dogs.

    A German Shepherd on a leash

    The first Seeing Eye dog in the world was Buddy, who aided a man called Morris Frank in his day-to-day activities after they met in 1928.

    Buddy was raised by Dorothy Harrison Eustis, who went on to establish the world’s first service dog school – The Seeing Eye.

    Morris Frank was so appreciative of having Buddy around that he decided to help Dorothy out, signing on as the managing director of the program!


    Well, there you have it – German Shepherds are impawsibly pawesome!

    Not only are they one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, but they’re incredibly adaptable too, not to mention cool looking.

    The only question left really is this – when are you going to get your own?

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About The Author

Shash Wighton
Shash Wighton

Shash is an avid traveler and enjoyer of all good things life can throw his way. These days you'll find him teaching English and writing, while running his own campervan business.

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