German Shepherds Throughout History and Culture

Table of Contents

The German Shepherd dog is a medium to large-sized working dog that originated in Germany. This breed has been around for centuries and is loved by millions of people around the world. But how did this iconic breed get its start, and why do millions of people love them? Keep reading to find out.




During the 1850s, German dog breeders wanted to create a dog that had the necessary skills for herding sheep, such as intelligence, speed, strength, endurance, and a strong sense of smell. During a dog show in 1899, German Max von Stephanitz saw a show dog named Hektor Linksrhein. Hektor was the product of multiple generations of selective breeding and completely fulfilled what von Stephanitz believed a working dog should be. He was pleased by the strength, agility, quickness, intelligence, and loyalty Hektor displayed, and von Stephanitz immediately purchased him.


After purchasing the dog, he changed its name to Horand von Grafrath and started the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (Society for the German Dog). Horand was declared to be the first German Shepherd dog and was the first dog added to the society’s breed register. He also became the center-point of the breeding programs throughout Germany and ended up fathering a total of eighty-four pups. Virtually every German Shepherd dog to date can be genetically linked to three of Horand’s grandchildren: Heinz von Starkenburg, Beowulf, and Pilot.


Gaining Popularity

The breed first gained recognition after the decline of World War I after returning soldiers spoke highly of the dog. Afterward, dog actors Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin further popularized the breed. Strongheart, also known as Etzel von Oeringen, was a German Shepherd who was one of the early canine actors in feature films. Rin Tin Tin was a male German Shepherd born in Flirey, France, who became an international motion picture star. He appeared in 27 Hollywood films and is considered one of the driving forces behind the increase in popularity of German Shepherd dogs as family pets. Their popularity continued to increase until German Shepherds were deemed one of the most popular dogs in the United States. 


Modern German Shepherds

Today German Shepherds remain a popular breed for several reasons. They have been welcomed as police dogs since they are easy to train and courageous. People with vision impairments use German Shepherds as their sight dogs because of their extreme intelligence, patience, and loyalty. They’re even great for families since they have many traits that are great for protecting a family while being the perfect family pet. While some may criticize the modern German Shepherd for straying away from von Stephanitz’s original ideology for the breed, they’re still a great breed for plenty of reasons. 


Find Your Perfect German Shepherd at Golden Ridge Farm German Shepherds

Here at Golden Ridge Farm German Shepherds, we take breeding German Shepherds seriously. We only breed healthy, purebred German Shepherds that display the same qualities as the ones von Stephanitz admired. We’ve imported European German Shepherd females with excellent championship pedigrees, maintain a selection of dogs with V (Excellent) ratings, and selectively hand-pick imported breeding studs. 


Find your perfect German Shepherd puppy today by checking out our website, or giving us a call at (410) 200-9857. 

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