Originally bred in the 1800s by a German cavalry captain, Max von Stephanitz, as a long distance sheepdog herder and guardian of the flock, the German Shepherd is known for its superior intellect, unwavering dedication to work & loyalty to their handler.
It was not long before the GSD was promoted for police & military work and the rest, as they say, is history. An estimated 48,000 dogs were used by the German army in WW1 & WW2 as messengers, rescuers and guardians. Trained for scout duty, they were used to warn soldiers to the presence of enemies or mines and acted as supply carriers through artillery fire.
German Shepherds are pioneers in the use of dogs in community and service work. They are one of the most widely used breeds in scent-work roles (search and rescue, cadaver searching, narcotics, explosives and mine detection) due to their keen sense of smell and their ability to work regardless of distractions.
At one time the German Shepherd was the breed chosen, almost exclusively, to be used as a guide dog for the visually impaired.
They are well known for their work in security and law enforcement and their roles include tracking criminals, detecting controlled substances, patrolling troubled areas and apprehending and holding suspects.
Perhaps the most famous German shepherd is Rin Tin Tin who, as small puppy, was rescued from a bullet and bomb riddled breeding kennel in France during World War I by Corporal Lee Duncan. At the end of the war Duncan brought the puppy back to his hometown of Los Angeles where he trained him, and turned him into one of the most famous dogs in show biz. In Tin Tin appeared in dozens of movies and, at the height of his stardom, got 10,000 fan letters a week.
Famous GSD owners include Franklin Roosevelt, JFK, Herbert Hoover and Picasso.