GSD dogs photos
German Shepherd Dog ancestors are the old herding and farm dogs of Germany dating back as early as the Bronze age. It is likely these dogs had some wolf in them. Braend and Anderson (1987) found “The commonest phenotype in the wolf Ar Q occurred frequently in the dog (Braend and Anderson, 1987). On the other hand, Ar E and ArE D found in wolves were rare in dogs but ArE D occurred commonly in GSDs – evidence, perhaps, of a common ancestry!” (Willis) By the late 19th century in Germany there existed various types of working sheepdogs which could be grouped under the heading German Sheepdog.
The following are some pictures of types of early shepherd dogs.
Swabian Long Coat
According to Von Stephanitz, the dogs from the Thuringia and Frankonia regions were generally wiry and coarse, small and stocky with the prized qualities of erect ears and wolf grey colors.
In contrast the region of Wurttemberg’s dogs were generally larger, heavier boned, had better movement as well as superior tail carriage.
Smooth Wurttenberg“…the crucial point was arrived at in the crossing between the North and South German dogs; in the fostering and consolidation of the good points on both sides and in the elimination of the defects.” (Von Stephanitz)
Here are pictures of some of the founding dogs of the German Shepherd Dog breed:
Horand 8th edition
Horand Red Book
Hektor von Schwben
Elsa von Schwaben
On the 16th of December 1891 the Phylax Society was formed with the aim to develop the German Shepherd Dog. It disbanded in 1894. Its legacy was the increased interest in the German Shepherd as a developing breed and led to the formation of the Verein fur deutsche Schaferhunde, SV, On April 22nd 1899. The SV was dominated by Max Von Stephanitz, as president he selected the Siegers and made major decisions.
He also wrote the so-called bible of the breed “The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture”, the first edition written about 1918. In 1932 he completely revised and enlarged the book publishing the 8th edition. “He certainly was a disciplinarian and he was certainly opinionated … Nevertheless it was his personal qualities which had helped to foster the Society’s rapid progress. In 1899 the SV had 31 members and by 1912 there were 3500….What we must not do is believe that all his ideas are valid today….we must sift the wheat from the chaff not only in what Von Stephanitz had to say but in what has been done since by those who followed him as president of the SV.” (Willis)
All the SV presidents from Stephanitz to the SV presidents of present day have expressed their opinions of what the German Shepherd Dog breed standard should be. Throughout the years they have added to or changed the previous opinions of past SV presidents. Breeders of German Shepherd Dogs should do their own research as well as breed to the Standard to develop the qualities of the total German Shepherd Dog. “The aim of breeding is to produce even more perfect specimens by careful selection and mating of our available parent stock.” (Von Stephanitz)
Importation of German Shepherd Dogs to America started very early as evidenced by the kennel ads in the first English translation of Von Stephanitz’s book from 1925. One ad states their dogs as 1919 and 1920 German champions and the same dogs as 1922 American champions.