14 German Shepherd Facts

14 German Shepherd Facts

German Shepherds are loved the world over for many of their endearing characteristics. These dogs are beautiful whether they have long or short hair.

People revere them for their strength and agility. Their pursuits as working animals are nothing short of awe-inspiring as they launch themselves into the air to stop criminals in their tracks.

Their trainability and loyalty makes them one of the most popular dog breeds as they are reliable service dogs and great as family dogs.

There are many German Shepherd facts available, but it’s much more interesting to read about them in one place.

Here are some fascinating and entertaining facts about the German Shepherd dog that all lovers of this breed can enjoy.

Read through these facts and then claim your bragging rights about your German Shepherd as the best dog!

If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of GSD facts, we got you covered:

GSD Facts

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1. German Shepherd Facts – The First Seeing Eye Dog

German Shepherd Facts - The First Seeing Eye Dog

Dorothy Harrison Eustis was born in Philadelphia in 1886. She first married Walter Abbott Wood, Jr., lived on a farm in Hoosick Falls, New York, where Dorothy gained experience with cattle breeding.

The couple went to Germany in 1914, where Eustis purchased her first German Shepherd.

Dorothy married George Eustis after her first husband died, and they moved to the Swiss Alps. She followed her passion and began breeding police dogs with Elliott Humphrey.

Her breeding program captured the attention of The Saturday Evening Post. Dorothy was asked to write about the program but decided to write about how GSDs were used to help soldiers who had been blinded by mustard gas in World War I.

Morris Frankheard of the article, as did many others. He flew to Switzerland to collect his trained seeing-eye dog in 1928. He changed the dog’s name from Kiss to Buddy.

The first guide dog organization was established in the U.S. in the same year, named The Seeing Eye.

2. Does The Current GSD Version Look Like The Original?

Does The Current GSD Version Look Like The Original?

Max von Stephanitzwas the first known person to begin breeding German Shepherds in 1899. Von Stephanitz also started the original German Shepherd dog club.

One of the most interesting German Shepherd facts is that the current breed looks nothing like its original forbear – Horand von Grafrath (originally called Hektor Linksrhein).

Horand was much smaller than today’s GSD. Modern German shepherd colors also differ from Horand together with their overall structure.

Horand looked like a small wolf with a straight back, and his coat was filled with shades of gray and yellow.

Today, the GSD is a large dog with a sloping back, a longer face, and its coat colors are completely different from Von Stephanitz’s original working dog.

Experts say that today’s closest GSD is the Czech German Shepherd, notable for its wolflike appearance and a deep gray sable coat.

3. How High Can A German Shepherd Jump?

How High Can A German Shepherd Jump?

It’s no secret that German Shepherds are super strong, fit animals. Part of their size, strength, and agility means that they can leap up to 6 ft. into the air.

This is why some people find them so valuable as working animals.

As working dogs, being able to leap over obstacles to apprehend criminals is one reason law enforcement appreciates their help. Few if any people can jump this high when pursuing the bad guy.

Police officers also freely admit that German Shepherd facts like this complement people’s skills, which is why this breed makes for excellent working dogs.

4. How Fast Can German Shepherds Run?

How Fast Can German Shepherds Run?

There are many German Shepherd facts to be proud of, and one of them is their top running speed. The German Shepherd can reach top speeds of 30 mph, which translates into 48,28 km/h.

This speed is approximately 7,46 mph (12 km/h) short of the legal driving speed in most countries’ built-up areas. Even Usain Bolt’s top recorded speed is 27.8mph.

Running at a speed of 30 mph is impressive in anyone’s terms. Of course, this speed doesn’t match up to those achieved by the Greyhound, which achieves speeds of 45 mph, but then the Greyhound doesn’t compare to the German Shepherd in many other areas either.

5. Do Gonadectomized German Shepherds Live Longer?

Do Gonadectomized German Shepherds Live Longer?

If you spay or neuter your German Shepherd, they are known to live longer. Spayed females will also live longer than their male counterparts on average.

Take responsibility for your pet by ensuring they have a gonadectomy by the time they reach 2 years, as surgery will lengthen their lifespan.

Having surgery on your dog before this age will negatively influence its natural growth by causing longer legs and other hormone-related issues.

6. German Shepherd Show Line vs. Working Line Dogs

German Shepherd Show Line vs. Working Line Dogs

Show Line German Shepherds are specially bred to have shorter back legs and sloping backs. This profile is viewed as more desirable than the Working Line shape with its straight back and hind legs proportionate to the front legs.

Because the Show Line breed is suited for showing and as pets, breeders follow permissible standards in this regard.

Unfortunately, this unnatural shape contributes to structural problems in the animal, such as hip dysplasia or degenerative myelopathy. In contrast, Working Line dogs cope better with the pressures of standing for long hours because they have straight backs and long hind legs.

The Show Line breed is also much lighter than the Working Line German Shepherd as thinner show dogs are more aesthetically pleasing.

This is one more of those German Shepherd facts that few people know about – but now you do too.

7. German Shepherd Facts Include Many Names

German Shepherd Facts Include Many Names

The German Shepherd started as the DeutscherShaferhund. The natural translation of this name is the German Shepherd, as these were herding dogs used to shepherd sheep and cattle.

Fearing that anti-German sentiments would prevent people from buying the breed, the American Kennel Club decided to drop the ‘German’ part and call them the Shepherd dog after the First World War.

Another name given to the breed was the Alsatian Wolf Dog. The name changes took place in 1917 but were later reversed in 1930.

Likewise, clubs in England and Ireland called them Alsatians because of the war between the French and Germans in Alsace.

The third known name for this breed is the Berger Allemand. This is the direct French translation of the German Shepherd.

8. German Shepherds In Hollywood

German Shepherds In Hollywood

Several German Shepherds have made their names in Hollywood. Strongheart starred in The Silent Call in 1921.

He also starred in White Fang in 1925 and became the central character in many other movies and books. He was followed by two of his grandsons, Lightning and Silver King, who also became movie stars.

Strongheart is recognized in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, just like Rin Tin Tin. Rin Tin Tin was also called Rinty and played in many movies before he died in 1927.

The Rin Tin Tin character enjoyed such enormous fame that other German Shepherds had to play this lovable character in other films, on radio, and on television in a self-named dog show, even after his death.

9. Schutzhund Challenges

German Shepherds Facts And Schutzhund

The United Schutzhund Clubs of America follows the German sports tradition for German Shepherds created in 1900. This club organizes challenges tests for German Shepherds to test their skills.

Games aim to test various German Shepherd skills, especially when the animal is perceived as unstable or untrainable. Tests challenge these dogs’ intelligence, their sense of smell, and how protective they are.

Their workability is challenged together with their courage. Handler and dog bonds are tested along with how trainable they are and how much they are prepared to persevere. 

These tests are said to be so strenuous that few other breeds are capable of participating. This is probably one of the scarcest known German Shepherd facts but also indicates the superiority of this breed on many levels.

10. German Shepherds As Working Dogs

German Shepherds As Working Dogs

German Shepherds were bred for herding livestock such as sheep and cattle toward the close of the 19th century. They characteristically respond well to dog training.

Notable for their loyalty and bravery, they were soon trained to help in war efforts.

They pulled canons, attacked the enemy, or served as messengers. The Germans trained them as patrol dogs.

Once breeders began importing the GSD to the U.S., its working duties increased. People started training the GSD to work as police dogs for the military and air force.

These animals serve in detecting explosives, drugs, cadavers, diseases, as search and rescue dogs, and in many other fields and areas that complement people and technology’s abilities.

The security industry quickly picked up on the GSDs capabilities and began training these animals to protect people and property as guard dogs.

11. Dickin Medal Awarded To German Shepherds

Dickin Medal Awarded To German Shepherds

The Dickin Medal is the animal or non-human award equivalent of the Victoria Cross. Maria Dickin of the U.K. initiated this award in 1943 to honor non-human who had served in the Second World War.

The inscription on the medal states, “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve”.

This medal honors exceptional devotion and courage while in service and has been awarded to pigeons, mongrels, a mare, and purebred dogs. German Shepherds or Alsatians have been awarded 11 of these medals between 1943 and 2020.

12. Which War Dog Saved The Most People?

Which War Dog Saved The Most People?

Filax of Lewanno is perhaps the most celebrated German Shepherd war hero in history. This dog served in the First World War and was honored for his incredible bravery in saving 54 soldiers.

Filax received an honorary award as recognition for his bravery and loyalty under extreme circumstances by Westminster in 1917. Although Filax is not the only war hero, he is one of the most notable due to his supreme achievement in saving so many lives.

13. Can German Shepherds Suffer From Dwarfism?

Can German Shepherds Suffer From Dwarfism?

Yes. German Shepherds can suffer from dwarfism, which affects their growth. Any German Shepherd born with this problem will remain a puppy‘s size for its entire life.

As cute as the dwarf adults are, the pituitary health problem causes many other health issues.

14. Can German Shepherd Coat Colors Be Predicted?

Can German Shepherd Coat Colors Be Predicted?

All dog breeds have the Agouti Signaling Protein (ASIP) gene. The ASIP gene relates to the MC1R gene, controlling the red and black pigmentation in their coats.

Together, these genes influence how much of each color will be present, and these colors are distributed in the dog’s coat.

All dogs will also have alleles in fawn or sable, a wild sable shade, black and tan, and a recessive black gene.

Depending on the genetic makeup of males and female German Shepherds, these colors will be distributed to their puppies in equal amounts or to half of their offspring. Any black German Shepherd will share this recessive gene with all its puppies.

The German Shepherd contains all 4 alleles, which affect its coat color. Additionally, the recessive black gene is present in many strains.

Breeders can do the agouti test on males and females to project certain coat colors for their offspring, but the test does not guarantee puppy coats’ colors.

In short, coat color predictions are possible from mating, but the results depend on more than science. Nature will have her way no matter the predictions of breeders, in other words.

Other German Shepherd Facts

Other German Shepherd Facts

Some other German Shepherd facts that you might not be aware of include:

  • The average weight of German Shepherd males ranges between 79 – 88 lbs. at 3 years.
  • Female German Shepherds average weights range between 66 – 70 lbs. at the same age.
  • Adult male dogs reach heights from 24 to 26 inches at the withers, which is the neck’s base.
  • Female adult German Shepherds grow to between 22 and 24 inches high.
  • German Shepherd standards require the animal to have a double coat. If they do not have an undercoat and outer coat, it is not a German Shepherd.
  • Having a double coat means German Shepherds are shedders.
  • Few coat colors are acceptable for German Shepherds, despite various colors being rare such as the dark gray sable coat.
  • The white German Shepherd does not conform to recognized breeding standards either.

Many breeders will not take coat standards into account unless you want a show dog. Otherwise, they breed German Shepherds for their inherent qualities such as loyalty and protection.

Final words

German Shepherd facts are fascinating for anyone who loves this breed.

Whether their GSD has short or long hair, meets breeding standards or not -they are high on the list of popular pets in the U.S.

It only matters to a niche group of German Shepherd lovers whose pet is a show line animal.

Others will pay top prices for animals with rare coat colors, such as the dark sable hues. Other pet lovers will prefer German Shepherds with a snow-white coat.

It doesn’t matter what you prefer if you love your pet like your best friend and raise it as it deserves to be treated – like the regal animal that it is. And that’s one more German Shepherd fact to live by.


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