The History and Origin of the German Shepherd Breed

Origins in Germany

German Shepherds, originally known as Alsatians, were developed in Germany in the late 1800s by Captain Max von Stephanitz.

Purposeful Breeding

Captain von Stephanitz aimed to create a versatile working dog capable of herding sheep and protecting them from predators.

Foundation Dogs

The breed's foundation dogs, including Hektor Linksrhein, were carefully selected for their intelligence, agility, and strong work ethic.

Formation of the SV

In 1899, Captain von Stephanitz founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SV), the world's first German Shepherd Dog club.


The German Shepherd breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1908, with the breed standard established in 1913.

Military Service

German Shepherds gained widespread recognition for their bravery and intelligence during World War I and World War II, serving as messenger dogs.

Popularity in America

The breed's popularity surged in the United States following World War I, thanks in part to their heroic efforts in the war and their portrayal in popular media.

Continued Versatility

German Shepherds continue to excel in various roles, including police work, search and rescue, therapy work, and competitive sports such as obedience and agility.

Evolution of the Breed

Over the years, the breed has undergone changes in appearance and temperament, with working lines and show lines diverging to meet different purposes.