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Facts about The German Shepherd for Kids


The German Shepherd is a breed of medium to large-sized working dog that originated in Germany. The breed’s officially recognized name is German Shepherd Dog in the English language, sometimes abbreviated as GSD and was also formerly known as the Alsatian in Britain.

  • As part of the Herding Group, German Shepherds are working dogs developed originally for herding sheep.
  • Since that time, however, because of their strength, intelligence, trainability, and obedience, German Shepherds around the world are often the preferred breed for many types of work, including disability assistance, search-and-rescue, police and military roles, and even acting.
  • The German Shepherd is the second-most popular breed of dog in the United States and fourth-most popular in the United Kingdom.
  • The breed standard height at the withers is 24–26 in for males and 22–24 in for females.
  • Treatment of the long-hair variation differs across standards; they are accepted but not competed with standard coated dogs under the German and UK Kennel Clubs while they can compete with standard coated dogs but are considered a fault in the American Kennel Club.
  • Coupled with their strength, this trait makes the breed desirable as police, guard and search and rescue dogs, as they are able to quickly learn various tasks and interpret instructions better than other large breeds.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs each year, but bully breeds are less often to blame than many other breeds, including chow chows and German shepherds.
  • The modern German Shepherd breed is criticized by some for straying away from Max von Stephanitz’s original ideology that German Shepherds should be bred primarily as working dogs and that breeding should be strictly controlled to eliminate defects quickly.
  • The Kennel Club, in the United Kingdom, is involved in a dispute with German Shepherd breed clubs about the issue of soundness in the show-strain breed.
  • They are especially well known for their police work, being used for tracking criminals, patrolling troubled areas and detection and holding of suspects.
  • In 2013, about 15% of the dogs trained by Guide Dogs of America are German Shepherds, while the remainder are Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers.
  • In Germany and other places these skills are tested in utility dog trials also known as HGH (Herdengebrauchshund) herding utility dog trials.
  • The dogs were bred to preserve traits that assisted in their job of herding sheep and protecting flocks from predators.
  • The society disbanded after only three years due to ongoing internal conflicts regarding the traits in dogs that the society should promote; some members believed dogs should be bred solely for working purposes, while others believed dogs should be bred also for appearance.
  • Max von Stephanitz, an ex-cavalry captain and former student of the Berlin Veterinary College, was an ex-member of the Phylax Society who firmly believed dogs should be bred for working.
  • The breed was named Deutscher Schäferhund by von Stephanitz, literally translating to “German Shepherd Dog”.
  • In 1921 Strongheart became one of the earliest canine film stars, and was followed in 1922 by Rin Tin Tin, who is considered the most famous German Shepherd.