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German Shepherd Dog
(Alsatian, Deutscher Schaeferhund)

The German Shepherd Dog is a large, agile and powerful working dog breed originating from a herding breed. Although the classic German Shepherd is the most widely known variety, the breed comes in a large variety of coats. See futher: German shepherd varieties.

Origin and Etymology

The first modern-type German shepherd was called Horand von Grafrath and was born in 1899. The dog was bought by Max von Stephanitz, the man credited with creating the breed, as the foundation dog of his breeding program.
The first German shepherd was imported to the US in 1906.
German Shepherd Varieties

The traditional short-haired black-and-tan is the most common German shepherd. Black-and-grey and other strong colors are also accepted for exhibition.

Pale or washed out colors such as yellow and cream colors, however, are considered serious faults by most kennel clubs. White shepherds are considered a separate breed in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark. In the US they can no longer be shown due to color disqualification. All varieties and colors are, however, commonly found and bred.

With the time different lines of German Shepherd dogs have evolved. Most of the European lines have kept a pre-war appearance with a straight back and a working dog size, while the American line of German shepherd dogs evolved towards dogs with thinner, shorter bodies and finer bones. They also have a typical posture with a sloping back towards the tail (as if the dog were urinating), not seen in the original type.
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Recommended Books
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The German Shepherd Dog:
A Genetic History (Hardcover)
by Malcolm B. Willis
A definitive work on the genetic history of the breed
The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture by Max von Stephanitz
The German shepherd dog in word and picture
by Max von Stephanitz (Author)
Written by the founder of the breed, this book is a must for any serious GSD owner or breeder. The work answers many questions about the history, feeding, raising, training, and breeding of the GSD.
Photo by Andy Gehrig

Photo by Nikolai Tsvetkov
See also:
Belgian Shepherds
Dog Heroes
War Dogs