The modern German Shepherd is known and loved for its intelligence, steadfast loyalty and versatility as a service animal. While shepherd dogs have existed in Germany for centuries, it is only fairly recently that German Shepherds as we know them today came to be recognized and bred for their unique characteristics.
Prior to the standardization of the German Shepherd breed, German herders had recognized the potential of selective breeding for producing the optimal work dogs. Through careful interbreeding of their best animals, German sheep and goat herders oversaw and carefully crafted the gradual emergence of one of the most highly intelligent, trainable and most easily socialized species of dogs on the planet.
It wasn’t until 1889, when Captain Max von Stephanitz purchased one of these canines at a dog show, that the breed would gain a formalized lineage. The dog von Stephanitz purchased, which he named Horand von Grafrath, would become the father of the entire modern line of German Shepherds.
Horand von Grafrath was a striking specimen. A medium-sized dog, Horand von Grafrath had a distinctly wolfish appearance. He had an angular snout and sharply pointed ears, yellow-gray coat, bushy tail and a lean, yet powerful muscular build. While the animal was certainly a sight to behold, one of its most impressive characteristics was purely behavioral: Horand von Grafrath was a natural born shepherd. His original owners never had to train him to herd sheep, beyond certain specific commands indicating direction and penning the animals under his guidance. This inherent talent, along with Horand von Grafrath’s extreme intelligence, stamina and calm demeanor would eventually become the identifying characteristics of the entire German Shepherd breed of dog.
Von Stephanitz immediately recognized the potential of such an impressive animal, and shortly founded the first German Shepherd Dog Club. In breeding his dogs, von Stephanitz focused primarily on the utility and intelligence of the animals, rather than appearance. This approach definitely paid off.
When Germany began expansive industrialization in the late 19th century, the country’s reliance on service animals began to taper off. Many breeds of shepherd dogs were threatened with eventual decline, and possible extinction. Von Stephanitz set out to prove the versatility and value of his German Shepherds within an ever-changing society. He worked with local police forces, demonstrating the German Shepherd’s potential as a police dog. Together, von Stephanitz and the German police forces developed a rigorous set of obedience trials that would become the standard for service animals across the world, and is presently known as the Schutzhund trials.
The role of the German Shepherd as a modern day working animal was sealed with the onset of WWI. Armies on all fronts used German Shepherds as guard dogs, trackers, messengers and supply carriers, among many other duties.
Modern day German Shepherds are bred to meet the same high standards that distinguished the breed back in 1889. Through our German Shepherd breeding services in Wisconsin, we aim to maintain the integrity of these amazing animals. We are dedicated to careful, guided breeding practices that will favor the original qualities of intelligence and utility that first earned von Stephanitz’s admiration. When you’re looking for German Shepherd breeding services in Wisconsin, you can trust Roche’s German Shepherds to uphold the traditions and practices that led to such an incredible breed of dog.