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Home > Dogs > 14 Fascinating German Shepherd Facts to Know!

14 Fascinating German Shepherd Facts to Know!

german shepherd resting on the grass

German Shepherds are gorgeous dogs known for their intelligence and for being steadfast and loving. Anyone lucky enough to have had a German Shepherd Dog (GSD) in their life knows what a strong bond can be formed with this breed.

Whether you own a German Shepherd or are just a fan, you might enjoy learning more about them. They have a rich history, and there’s so much to know about these amazing dogs!


The 14 Facts About German Shepherds

1. The first German Shepherd was registered in 1889

The first GSD was discovered in a German dog show. He was a medium-sized dog with gray and yellow fur and a wolf-like appearance, and his name was Hektor. He was purchased by Captain Max von Stephanitz, who changed Hektor’s name to Horand and registered him in 1889. It was Horand that started the breed’s standardization.

German Shepherd Standing
Image Credit: PxHere

2. The German Shepherd was recognized by the AKC in 1908

Just 19 years after the registration of the first GSD, they were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1908. Five years later, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America was formed.

3. German Shepherds started off herding

Captain Stephanitz was interested in breeding the perfect herding dog, which is what he saw in the first German Shepherd. But he also bred the GSD to be versatile, so when World War I started, the dogs quickly became favorites among the soldiers and police.

GSDs were also popular in Germany during WWI, serving as guard dogs, messengers, rescuers, and Red Cross dogs. In WWII, both the Germans and Americans employed German Shepherds.

german shepherd standing on the grass
Image Credit: Pixabay

4. German Shepherds gained fame through Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd in France during WWI and was rescued by an American soldier, who eventually took Rin Tin Tin to Hollywood.

He starred in several movies in the 1920s and became quite famous. This helped to launch the German Shepherd into stardom!

5. German Shepherds were the first service dogs

In 1928, the first seeing-eye dog was a GSD named Buddy, which was trained at a school in Switzerland run by Dorothy Harrison Eustis, an American. Buddy ended up with Morris Frank, who brought his dog to the States, where she proved herself and her skills. Buddy made it possible for seeing eye dogs to become what we know today.

That said, German Shepherds are no longer as widely used in this role; Labs and Golden Retrievers are much more common.

close up of westclose up of western german shepherdern german shepherd
Image Credit: Jumpstory

6. There are 11 standard colors of the German Shepherd

German Shepherds are widely known for their black-and-tan coloring, but there are 10 other colors!

  • Black
  • Black and cream
  • Black and red
  • Black and silver
  • Black and tan
  • Blue
  • Gray
  • Liver
  • Sable
  • White
  • Bi-color

7. German Shepherds shed frequently

GSDs have thick double coats and shed excessively! You’ll find fur on your clothing and practically every surface in your home. It gets doubly worse during the fall and spring shedding seasons.

If you love German Shepherds, you’ll need to do a great deal of cleaning and lint brushing, but these dogs are worth it!

female german shepherd
Image Credit: Emer_Iglesias, Pixabay

8. German Shepherds are extraordinarily smart

German Shepherds are said to be the third smartest breed; the Border Collie is the smartest, followed by the Poodle and then the GSD.

They are easy to train because of their intelligence and devotion to their people.

9. German Shepherds are quite versatile

Considering how smart these dogs are, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re versatile too. They are commonly used as guard and police dogs, but they also work as service dogs and therapy dogs and for scent work. They also excel in dog sports, such as agility, rally, and herding.

german shepherd head tilt
Image Credit: Diego Cervo, Shutterstock

10. German Shepherds have been trained to sniff out the COVID-19 virus

Finland employed dogs, including a German Shepherd, to sniff out COVID-19 in passengers in an airport. The accuracy of dogs detecting the virus has been 90% or more.

11. German Shepherds have a motto

The motto of the GSD is “Utility and Intelligence,” which is a decent description of this breed! That said, we could add “Devoted and Loving and Amazing” to describe German Shepherds even better!

German Shepherd
Image Credit: Osetrik, Shutterstock

12. German Shepherds are exceptionally popular

This breed has been within the top 10 on the AKC’s popularity rankings for decades! The GSD is currently in the number-four spot, with the Lab, French Bulldog, and Golden Retriever taking the first three spots (in that order).

13. German Shepherds make amazing family dogs

GSDs are naturally protective, form strong bonds with their family, and are loving and devoted. As long as they are socialized well, they are also wonderful with young children. But while they can be independent-minded, they don’t do well when left alone for too long or too often.

little girl with two german shepherd dogs in the garden
Image Credit: unclepepin, Shutterstock

14. German Shepherds are a mouthy breed

Since German Shepherds are herding dogs, they tend to use their mouths frequently. This means chewing on almost everything that they find, which is normal behavior for them. But this also means they must be trained when to not bite and chew.


Extra Information About German Shepherds

  • German Shepherds are large dogs that can stand at 22 to 26 inches, weigh 50 to 90 pounds, and have a life expectancy of 9 to 13 years.
  • They are energetic dogs that won’t do well with low-key owners looking for casual daily strolls. GSDs need a minimum of 2 hours of exercise every day, which should also include off-leash time so they can stretch their legs.
  • Due to their double coats, they need brushing at least every few days and daily brushing during the shedding seasons.
  • Since they are confident and independent dogs, they require early socialization and training. GSDs need reward-based, positive training, as their intelligence and devotion enable them to learn quickly.
  • Overall, German Shepherds are healthy dogs, but they are prone to degenerative myelopathyhip dysplasiaelbow dysplasia, and bloat.



Now you know how incredible German Shepherds are!

If you’ve been thinking about adding a GSD to your family, do your research first. As excellent as these dogs are, they aren’t a perfect fit for every family. But if you already have a German Shepherd in your life, you’re lucky indeed!

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Featured Image Credit: 1195798, Pixabay

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