Behind the Breed: The German Shepherd

Behind the Breed: German Shepherd

By Michele Forto

Behind the breed is an ongoing series to assist in you choosing the right breed for yourself and family.

The German Shepherd – Founded by Captain Max von Stephanitz in 1899, and molded by the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (the German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany) is recognized as the breed’s original parent club. From about 1914, the popularity of the German Shepherd Dog spread rapidly throughout the world.  Interest in the breed has been fostered worldwide by specialty clubs in many countries, just as it has in the United States by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America.

The most important attribute of the breed is its character. German Shepherd Dogs are distinguished by the loyalty, courage, and ability to assimilate and retain training for an amazing number of specialized services. They should be of even disposition, poised, and unexcitable, with restrained and composed confidence.  For typical work as a herding sheepdog, they must not be gun-shy and must have the courage to protect the flock from attacks by other animals or humans. For police work, narcotics detection, or search and rescue, they must have courage and stability coupled with excellent scenting capabilities. As a guide dog for the blind, German Shepherd Dogs must and do exhibit a high order of intelligence and discrimination, as this work requires observation, patience, faithfulness, watchfulness, and good judgment. All this is possible because of the German Shepherd Dog’s natural aptitude for training.

These qualities have endeared German Shepherd Dogs to a wide public in practically every country in the world.  They serve as assistants for the disabled, therapy dogs for the infirm, home guardians, and companions and friends to children and families.  They are protectors of livestock and partners to police officers and soldiers.  German Shepherd Dogs are not pugnacious brawlers but bold and punishing fighters, if the need arises.  With humans, they do not give affection lightly.  They are dignified and may be indifferent to strangers, but friendship, once given, is for life. (The Complete Dog Book 20th Ed. AKC)

As an owner, breeder, and trainer of this distinguished breed I am honored to have placed some of my best in service work for the disabled.  I find the German Shepherd Dog to be highly trainable and loyal to his handler/owner.  I recommend this breed to individuals, families, children, and elderly.  Not to be misunderstood, the German Shepherd Dog is a breed that must be respected and who demands respect.  Training a German Shepherd Dog is very rewarding and can be multifaceted.

A German Shepherd Dog is not content in just lying around the house when they are young and vibrant, therefore, I recommend getting your pup into training immediately.  Speak with your trainer and veterinarian about different jobs your German Shepherd Dog can do.  German Shepherd Dogs are great at conformation, obedience, rally, agility, herding, tracking, bikejoring, bladejoring, search and rescue, Schutzhund, therapy, and assistance for the disabled in various disciplines just to name a few of the most popular.  German Shepherd Dogs are wonderful companions who with steadfast accuracy will protect you and their home making them great guardians, hence their use in police work.

A few things to note regarding the German Shepherd Dog; they are high energy and need a job.  I have recommended and placed German Shepherd Dog’s in homes of all types of lifestyles and capabilities.  With the assistance of a good trainer who understands this breed and their ability you will have one of the best dogs of your lifetime.

The German Shepherd Dog can be aloof, loyal, excitable, and face several health issues.  Please research your breeder and choose carefully.  Getting the advice of your veterinarian and the assistance of a trainer who handles the breed or who performs breed referrals is of utmost importance.  The perseverance and quality of the breed standard should be the breeders ultimate goal.

What are your thoughts on the German Shepherd Dog? Send your comments to

Tags: Denver Dog Training ExaminerRobert FortoMichele FortoIditarodTeam InekaDog Training Denver Dog Doctor RadioDenver Dog Works |Mushing RadioDuluth Dog WorksMinnesota Dog Works


Michele Forto the Denver Dog Training Examiner and is a certified canine trainer and the business manager for Denver Dog Works. Michele can be reached through her website at

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