Intelligent, athletic, and loyal, the German Shepherd Dog, or GSD for short, is the perfect example of a dog breed that excels both outside the house working on a job and in the house sneaking in cuddles.
As you’ll learn more in second, the German Shepherd is a very popular dog. As such, I wanted to put together a list of my favorite fun facts about this charming breed. I thought I knew a lot about German Shepherds before, but after my research, I was shocked by just how cool this breed is and how much joy they bring to those around them. So let’s not waste anymore time.
1. While Originally German, American Can’t Get Enough Of Them
Sitting snugly between the two most popular retriever breeds — the Labrador and Golden — the German Shepherd has been the second most popular dog in the United States for years.
No surprises there though, as the German Shepherd is a jack-of-all-trades — and a master of a few — when it comes to the service roles they are able to work. Police dog, family dog, show dog, you name it, they can do it all.
2. German Shepherds Don’t Shine Away From Fame
From looking pretty on the big screen to saving the lives of countless humans, there are a lot of famous German Shepherds. Perhaps no more famous was Rin-Tin-Tin, who starred in 27 Hollywood films that brought him universal love across the globe. Rin-Tin-Tin was a true self-made star whose life was saved by American soldier Lee Ducan, who saved him from a war zone in WWII.
Then, there was Horand von Grafrath, famous for being the O.G., the first prototype German Shepherd whose genetics provided many of the staple characteristics we still see in this breed today. Other famous GSDs include Strongheart, Max the Bionic Dog, Chips, Sentry Dog Nemo, Buddy, and Bullet the Wonder Dog.
3. There are Many Unique German Shepherd Hybrids
From the Shepsky Dog to the Golden Shepherd, there are over 17 known hybrid breeds that include the German Shepherd’s genetics. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The German Shepherd is intelligent, strong, highly trainable, and excels in pretty much any environment. Who wouldn’t want these characteristics when creating a new hybrid or crossed mixed breed?
Known German Shepherd mixes include: Alaskan Shepherd (GSD / Alaskan Malamute), Euro Mountain Sheparnese (GSD / Bernese Mountain Dog), Golden Shepherd (GSD / Golden Retriever), The Shug (GSD / Pug), Chow Shepherd (GSD / Chow), Labrashepherd (GSD / Labrador), Siberian Shepherd or Gerberian Shepsky (GSD / Siberian Husky), Shollie (GSD / Collie), Corman Shepherd (GSD / Corgi), Shepweiler or Rottweiler Shepherd (GSD / Rottweiler), Shepadoodle (GSD / Poodle), Wolf Shepherd (GSD / Wolf), Shepkita (GSD / Akita), German Sheppit (GSD / Pitbull), German Ridgeback (GSD / Rhodesian Ridgeback), German Australian Shepherd (GSD / Australian Shepherd).
4. The Breed Sees Higher Rates Of Dwarfism
Dwarfism occurs in all dog breeds, but German Shepherds tend to see higher rates of it. In particular, pituitary dwarfism, with some estimating that 20% of German Shepherds carry the gene for it.
5. The Man Who Started It All
Meet Max von Stephanitz, the man famous for creating the German Shepherd breed as we know them today. In the very late 1800s, Stephanitz spotted himself a yellow and gray wolf-like dog named Hektor Linksrhein and immediately knew this was the dog he had long been longing for. You see, Max von Stephanitz noticed that while Germany had many great shepherding dogs, there was no standard. Max sought to change that, and Hektor — who he renamed Horand von Grafrath — would be the dog he’d do it with patterjack.
6. First Seeing-Eye Dog
While not the most popular breed for this service position anymore, the first seeing-eye dog was a German Shepherd in 1929.
7. They Come In Many Colors
When you think of a German Shepherd, you likely imagine a black and tan dog, but there are, in fact, over ten official colors the breed can have. Some of the other coat colors include all-white, all-black, stable, gray, liver, blue, black and cream, black & silver, black & red, and bi-color.
8. A Big Boy
German Shepherds can be very big. This breed is classified as a large dog, with some males easily getting over 100 pounds. However, on average, this breed stands between 22 and 26 inches tall and weighs between 50 to 90 pounds.
9. A Working Breed Unlike Any other
The German Shepherd is most commonly associated with their role as police dogs, but it’s far from the only job they excel at. Originally, the GSD was a herding breed and are still recognized as such by dog organizations like the AKC. Above, we saw they were the first breed used to help guide the blind. And even though the retriever breeds have largely taken over the role of guide dogs, it’s not uncommon to still see a GSD in the position. Their amazing athleticism in-conjunction with their easy to train nature frequently leads to them popping up in performances and competitions as well.
While not best suited for every role, the German Shepherd just might be the only dog breed that can truly handle any role they are given.