German Shepherds
The German Shepherd dog is highly intelligent, protective, and a wonderful companion. They are a very versatile dog. You can find them working as police dogs, bomb sniffing dogs, herding dogs, and just your average family dog.
The modern German Shepherd evolved from early herding dogs who helped shepherds with their flocks. These dogs were dependable, light-gaited, and could withstand most weather conditions.
In 1891, a group of Germans formed the Phylax Society. The members of the Phylax Society were great admirers of the early herding dog. Their purpose in forming the organization, was to standardize the different varieties of sheep herding dogs. They wanted a breed of dog that was native to Germany, with a certain distinct appearance, and a strong character.
The Phylax Society lasted only three years, due to the conflicts over which trait?s the breed should possess. Some members thought the dogs should be bred solely for working purposes, and others thought they should be bred for appearance. After the society disbanded, one member, Captain Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz continued with the Phylax Society?s original vision. Many consider him the be the single driving force in establishing the German Shepherd Dog as a pure breed.
The original dog of the breed was discovered by Capt. von Stephanitz in 1899. This dog was agile, alert, and strongly adapted to his working environment. Capt. von Stephanitz considered this dog to have all the qualities he was looking for in the German Shepherd breed, and immediately purchased him. He named the dog Horand von Grafrath, and he registered him as German Shepherd Dog, S.Z. 1. Horand became the first entry in von Stephanitz?s new organization, Verein fur Deutsche Schaferfunde. This organization became the largest individual breed club in the world.
German Shepherds were bred to be the ultimate herding dog. They were meant to not only herd animals, but to protect them as well. Other herding dogs, such as the Corgis and Border Collies take direction from humans. But the German Shepherd is able to work without any command, they seem to have the ability to know what to do and when to do it.
By the early 19th century Europe was changing, and the need for sheep-herding dogs was starting to decline. But von Stephanitz had an idea that would keep the German Shepherd dog working. With the dog?s keen intelligence and versatility, von Stephanitz thought they should be employed as military and police dogs. The military didn?t think much of the idea, and declined. But after seeing how well they performed for the police, the military decided to take on a few dogs and give them a try. They were so impressed that the German Shepherd became the preferred dog of the military.
Captain von Stephanitz developed a training program known as Schutzhund. Schutzhund tests the dogs ability to track, perform obedience moves, and to protect on cue. This training is invaluable to dogs who work with the police or the military.
During World War I the German Shepherd dog became such an important member of the German military, that soldiers from other countries were beginning to take notice of this incredibly intelligent service dog.
In the United States, during World War II, the German Shepherd dog was recruited to help out. They were trained for jobs such as scouting, patrolling, mine-detecting and messenger service.
The German Shepherd also performs an invaluable service to many police departments. The dog?s cool demeanor and high intelligence make them an excellent candidate for working around crowds. And their keen sense of smell gives them an upper hand with search and rescue work, along with bomb and drug detection.
Service work is another area where the German Shepherd excels. They have worked as service dogs to the blind. The dogs will assist a blind person by basically just making sure their master is safe. They assist the hearing impaired by being the ears for their master. They will alert them to things such as a doorbell ringing, or a fire alarm going off. German Shepherds have also been known to work with people who have epilepsy. The dogs are able to detect when their owner is going to have a seizure, and will try to keep that person in a safe situation. They also work as therapeutic dogs by visiting nursing homes and interacting with the residents. Some therapists have used German Shepherds to work with children who have been traumatized. The