History of German Shepherds

As his name suggests, the German Shepherd originated in Germany, where he was created in the nineteenth century primarily by Captain Max von Stephanitz, who wanted to develop a dog that could be used for military and police work. The result was a dog that encompassed striking good looks, intelligence and versatility.

The adaptable and attractive dogs soon drew the attention of dog lovers in other countries. While Rin Tin Tin is the most famous of the early German Shepherds, he was not the first to come to the United States. One is known to have been brought to the U.S. in 1906, and the American Kennel Club registered a German Shepherd in 1912. The following year, people interested in the breed formed the German Shepherd Dog Club of America.

World War I put a dent in the breed’s burgeoning popularity because the dogs were associated with the enemy. German Shepherds braved artillery fire, land mines and tanks to supply German soldiers in the trenches with deliveries of food and other necessities.

After the war, movies featuring Rin Tin Tin and fellow German Shepherd Strongheart brought the breed back into favor. American audiences loved them. For a time, the German Shepherd was the most popular breed in the United States.

One of the best known modern German Shepherds was the first and so far only member of the breed to win Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club, in 1987. His name was Ch. Covy Tucker Hill’s Manhattan, ROM, nicknamed Hatter. Hatter drew crowds wherever he went and loved meeting his fans, especially children.

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