Originating in Germany in the 1800s, the German Shepherd Dog has long been thought of as an able and experienced working dog.
The German Shepherd, also known as the Alsatian or Deutscher Schaferhund, is a moderately large dog that is used for a variety of purposes. Besides being good companions, the German Shepherd is also used as a police dog, watchdog, and rescue dog or guide dog. The German Shepherd Dog is a dog that bonds very strongly to one individual. They may be wary and standoffish towards strangers, although they do well with members of the family. German Shepherds are fairly responsive to obedience training, making them excellent working dogs. Besides their traditional use as herd dogs, German Shepherds today are commonly used as guide dogs or police dogs. German Shepherds are also adept at tracking and guarding the home.
An attractive, somewhat larger than average animal, the German Shepherd Dog stands about 60 centimeters (around 30 inches) in height and weighs up to 40 kilograms. They have a thick, hard coat, which ranges from quite short to rather long. Common coat colors for the German Shepherd include black, reddish-brown, reddish-yellow, and shades of gray. The German Shepherd's coat can either be solidly colored, or any of the above colors with yellow, brown or white patches and a black saddle. A pure white variety, commonly known as the White German Shepherd also exists, but this is usually classified as a distinct breed.
The German Shepherd was originally known as the Alsatian Wolf Dog, although whether or not there is actually wolf in the blood of today's German Shepherd is a matter of speculation. The modern German Shepherd resembles in stature the bone structure of a more primitive, wild dog whose skeleton was found in a Swiss cave. Beyond this, however, the exact ancestry of the German Shepherd is unknown. Recent research into the genealogy of the breed indicates that wolves have been bred into the line within the past 100 years. It is believed that the first registered German Shepherd, in the early 1900s, was the progeny of a wolf-shepherd mix. The name German Shepherd originated in America, and the original name of "Alsatian" became the name of the pure white variety of the animal, which is not recognized by the CKC or the AKC. The German Shepherd Dog Society was founded in 1899.