History of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd remains one of the popular dogs in the world. Besides being a handsome-looking canine, the German Shepherd is also one of the most intelligent and versatile dog breeds.

Most German Shepherds today are specifically trained and used for law enforcement and military, search-and-rescue work, and disability assistance. When you think about the most famous German Shepherd, the movie star Rin-Tin-Tin almost automatically comes to mind. Aside from being an excellent working dog, the German Shepherd is also a great companion pet who is known to be especially devoted and protective to its human masters. When socialized and trained early, this dog can also, at least, become tolerant (if not totally friendly) towards other pets and even strangers. Generally, German Shepherds like to have something fun or useful to do and thus are willing to learn a variety of tricks.

The history and evolution of the German Shepherd dog hark back from the mid-19th century when Germany attempted to standardize dog breeds. A group of enthusiasts established a dog club called the Phylax Society, whose goal was to select and breed dogs to preserve certain appealing traits (such as intelligence, strength, speed, agility, keen sense of smell, as well as physical attractiveness) with the potential of becoming a powerful herding breed.  They probably even considered questions like Do German Shepherds Drool

While the Phylax Society did not last long, it otherwise inspired other people to follow its lead in standardizing dog breeds independently. But with many German towns and cities slowly becoming industrialized, the need for sheepdogs began to decline. At the same time though, more and more people began to recognize the intelligence and versatility of sheepdogs that they believed these animals should be bred instead to become working dogs.

One of those people was Captain Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz, an ex-naval officer who had also been a member of the Phylax Society. He is generally considered as the original creator of the German Shepherd breed.

Von Stephanitz finally found the ideal breed when he attended a dog show in 1899, where he was introduced to a male dog named Hektor Linksrhein. He was a product of selective breeding from a few generations back. Believing that Hektor Linksrhein was the fulfilment of von Stephanitz’s idea of a perfect working dog that displayed such desirable traits, he purchased the animal and gave him a new name: Horand von Grafath.

Not long after purchasing Horan von Grafath, von Stephanitz and his colleague Arthur Meyer founded a kennel club named Verein für Dseutsche Schäferhunde, in its original headquarters in Stuttgart. Von Stephanitz named himself as president of the club and, naturally, entered Horand von Grafath in the club’s breed registry. Under von Stepahanitz’s leadership and dedication, the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde grew to become the biggest single dog club in the world at that time.

Horand von Grafath went on to sire many pups — most famously Hektor von Schwaben who, in turn, produced more celebrated progenies named Heinz von Starkenburg, Beowulf and Pilot. These three male dogs were also bred and went on to sire their own offsprings, who became the ancestors of the modern German Shepherds that we know today.

After a century (and counting), the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde has still kept its goal, premise and dedication to breeding healthy, intelligent and dependable working dogs, particularly German Shepherds.


The German Shepherd is known for being active and intelligent. They need to remain busy all the time, therefore pet owners ensure they are engaged in learning, playing, exercising or working. They are family dogs and don’t like to stay alone for a long time. Hence, if you are planning to keep a German shepherd but your travel plans are frequent or you are out of the house for long hours, perhaps this breed isn’t for you. Although German Shepherd dogs are family dogs, they don’t get along well with strangers and remain distant when they see new people. As a pet owner, you will have to give them obedience training and raise social awareness in them.

Famous German Shepherd Dogs

German Shepherd dogs have won hearts of many with an enriching history, amazing performance, companionship and appearance in movies and television. Let’s take a look at some of the famous names:


Born in 1918, Rin-Tin-Tin served as a Red Cross Dog during World War I. he was saved by Lee Duncan, American Soldier who later trained him and called him Rinty. Rinty was filmed in 26 films and died in 1932. Rinty was a hit throughout his career and they say Warner Brothers received nearly 10,000 fan letters a week in Rinty’s love and appreciation.

Bullet-The Wonder Dog

The Roy Rogers Show brought to the screen a black and silver handsome German Shepherd who soon took viewers’ hearts. When not on the show, he was the pet dog of Roy and Dale Evan. He was known to be very loyal to Roy and saved him from the bad guys.


London was part of a television movie The Littlest Hobo made by Dorrell McGowen in 1958. London was filmed in almost 65 episodes where he went to a new place every time, became friends with people, solving their problems and leave for the next destination.


Etzel von Oeringen also is known as Strongheart the Dog was born in 1917. He was a male German Shepherd, trained in Berlin as a police dog but his success and fame came from the movies The Silent Call, Brawn of the North, The Love Master and White Fang all directed by Laurence Trimble. Strong Heart was one of the first major canine film stars and has many offsprings from his mate Lady Jule which survive till date.