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Confident, courageous, and smart, German Shepherds are large, athletic, and muscular dogs that originated in Germany. Despite having a wolf-like appearance, German Shepherds are loyal and courageous dogs of noble character and high intelligence.
See the fact file below for more information on the German Shepherd or alternatively, you can download our 21-page German Shepherd worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- A relatively new breed dating back to 1899, German Shepherds were initially bred as working dogs by Captain Max von Stephanitz, a career captain in the German cavalry and a former student of the Berlin Veterinary College.
- Centuries before von Stephanitz, German farmers depended on dogs to drive and protect their herds. Some dogs excelled in these duties, and sheepherders would travel days to breed their female dogs with a notable male. However, von Stephanitz mentioned that none had developed the herding dogs into a distinct breed.
- In 1898, he retired from the military forces and started to breed dogs; thus, creating a superior German herding dog.
- He analyzed and studied the breeding methods and techniques of the British, who are known for their outstanding herding dogs. He also traveled throughout Germany, going to dog shows and observing German-type herding dogs.
- Von Stephanitz witnessed many athletic, intelligent, and fine herding dogs. However, he did not see a dog who manifested all those traits at once.
- In 1899, he was in a dog show when a wolfish-looking dog caught his attention. He bought the dog right away, and named him Hektor Linksrhein. The dog was later renamed to Horand v Grafeth.
- Horand v Grafeth’s compelling physique and intelligence amazed von Stephanitz so much that he established a society – the Verein für deutsche Schäferhunde – to introduce a breed from Horand’s descendants.
- Germany became more industrialized, so von Stephanitz witnessed the decline of the breeding of herding dogs. Thus, he began to breed a working dog and realized the breed’s future was in police work and military service.
- Because of his military connections, von Stephanitz persuaded the German government to utilize the breed. During World War I, German Shepherds were used as a Red Cross dog, messenger, rescuer, guard, supply carrier, and sentry.
- These dogs became popular in the United States after WWI. Allied servicemen commended the dog’s bravery and intelligence, and a number of German Shepherds went home with these soldiers.
- A five-day-old puppy was found at a bomb-riddled kennel in France by an American corporal from Los Angeles. He took the puppy, trained him, and turned him into one of Hollywood’s famous four-legged stars – Rin TIn Tin. This amazing canine starred in 25 movies and helped popularize German Shepherds in America.
- In 1917, the American Kennel Club changed the breed’s name to the Shepherd Dog during the breakout of World War I.
- In England, these dogs were renamed the Alsatian Wolf Dog, after the German-French border perimeter of Alsace-Lorraine.
- Fourteen years later, the AKC went back to using the original name of German Shepherd Dog, and the British Kennel Club did the same in 1977.
- As early as 1922, von Stephanitz became alarmed by some of the breed’s traits, such as its poor temperament and tendency to tooth decay. Thus, he implemented strict quality control. Before any German Shepherd was bred, they need to pass a number of tests for their intelligence, behavior, agility, and good health.
- The United States, on the other hand, bred show dogs, and breeders put more importance on the dogs’ looks and way of moving.
- After WWII, US police and military departments started importing German-bred German Shepherd working dogs, because those that were American-bred failed in performance tests and were affected by genetic health conditions.
APPEARANCE AND INTELLIGENCE
- Male German Shepherds are generally taller than females, standing at 24 to 26 inches. Females, on the other hand, reach 22 to 24 inches.
- These dogs weigh approximately 75 to 95 pounds.
- Longer than they are tall, German Shepherds have a domed forehead, a long square-cut muzzle with powerful jaws, medium-sized brown eyes, a black nose, large and erect ears, long necks, and bushy tails.
- German Shepherds have a dense double coat with a thick undercoat.
- Their coats are of two variants: medium and long.
- These dogs commonly have either tan/black or red/black coats. Most coats have black masks and black markings, which can vary from a classic “saddle” to an overall “blanket”.
- Other color variations include the sable, pure-black, pure-white, liver, silver, blue, and panda.
- German Shepherds were specifically developed for their intelligence, one of their most well-known traits. Author Stanley Coren ranked these dogs third overall for their intelligence, and he found that they had the capacity to pick up simple tasks after only five repetitions. He also found that they obeyed the first directive given 95% of the time.
- German Shepherds are a bit standoffish but not usually aggressive.
- They are reserved dogs and don’t make friends easily, making them good guard dogs.
- They are extremely loyal to their family. Also, they are easy-going and approachable, but they can be protective when threatened.
- They are highly intelligent and trainable dogs that are bred to perform any job. German Shepherds are trained to carry out almost anything, from guiding a deaf person to sniffing out an earthquake victim.
- German Shepherds become bored and frustrated when they are left alone for a long period of time. They constantly need companionship, exercise, and intelligence tests.
HEALTH AND CARE
- Hip Dysplasia. An inherited condition in which the thigh bone does not fit into the hip joint. Dogs affected with this abnormality show pain and lameness on one or both hind legs.
- Elbow Dysplasia. Another genetic condition caused by different growth rates of the three bones found in large breeds’ elbows, causing joint laxity and resulting in painful lameness.
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat). Known as bloat, this is a life-threatening condition that plagues large, deep-chested dogs. This happens when the stomach is filled with gas or air and then twists, which does not allow the dog to vomit to get rid of the excess air. Thus, the blood flow to the heart is interrupted.
- Degenerative Myelopathy. This is a progressive infection of the spinal cord, specifically the part that transmits information to the brain regarding the rear legs.
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. A hereditary disease of the pancreas where cells that produce digestive enzymes are destroyed, resulting in the inability to digest and absorb food.
- Allergies. German Shepherds may suffer from a number of allergies, ranging from contact allergies to food allergies.
- Since they are bred for action, German Shepherds have lots of energy, so they require daily exercise and agility tests.
- Herding breeds are generally barkers, so it is important to expose German Shepherds to an obedience training.
German Shepherd Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the German Shepherd across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use German Shepherd worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the German Shepherds which are large, athletic, and muscular dogs that originated in Germany. Despite having a wolf-like appearance, German Shepherds are loyal and courageous dogs of noble character and high intelligence.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- German Shepherd Facts
- Introducing a GSD
- Breed Standards
- Fetch Some Facts
- Growing Up a GSD
- German Shepherd Wiki
- GSD Variants
- Two Herding Dogs
- Taking Care of a GSD
- As Service Dogs
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Link will appear as German Shepherd Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 15, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.