While we here at PetPlace genuinely adore all canines (mutts included), we recognize that many dog owners are breed loyal. Our “Breed of the Month” series celebrates those iconic dog breeds that have amassed widespread popularity and/or developed a cult following. For February 2016, we feature the German shepherd.
It’s not easy to earn worldwide respect and admiration, yet one canine breed has accomplished just that.
Renowned for intelligence, physical prowess, and functionality, the German shepherd has developed into one of the most popular breeds across the globe, surpassed in popularity by only the Labrador retriever in the United States. This fact comes as little surprise to most German shepherd owners, who’ve witnessed this breed embody some of the most desirable traits any human or dog can offer, including loyalty and heroism.
The German shepherd first achieved international prominence following World War I, when soldiers returned home raving about the intelligence this breed displayed while serving as military messengers and rescue dogs. Since then, this breed has been both purposeful and beloved while occupying roles ranging from police and military service to household protection and devoted companionship.
Here are six reasons we adore German shepherds:
1. Noble Look
Sporting a domed forehead, long muzzle, erect ears, and bushy tail, German shepherds exude a handsome yet dignified appearance. They often come across as stately and self-confident. Moreover, the breed’s appearance offers tremendous diversity, as German shepherds have a variety of color combinations (black/tan, black/red, black/gray, etc.) and coat lengths ranging from short to long.
2. Remarkable Intelligence
German shepherds were bred specifically for intelligence, and the end result does not disappoint. Among the smartest of all canine breeds, German shepherds tend to be easily trainable, learning basic tasks with few repetitions and obeying commands with impressive regularity. In fact, German shepherds were ranked the third most intelligent breed by American Kennel Club judges. Their intelligence level explains their high degree of functionality (more on this later), as well as their success within the entertainment industry. Rin-Tin-Tin – a German shepherd who lived from 1918 to 1932 – remains one of the most notable canine movie stars of all-time, having appeared in 27 Hollywood films.
3. Unparalleled Functionality
It’s safe to say German shepherds like to have a purpose in life. Originally bred in Germany as sheep herders, they demonstrated the versatility necessary to transition into many other occupations. Today the German shepherd’s combination of intelligence and strength makes him the preferred breed for many lines of work: military and police service, search-and-rescue missions, assistance for disabled individuals, and household protection.
This courageous breed deserves to be commended for the many heroic feats these canines have contributed through service to society. German shepherds have been responsible for loyal military service during times of war, for alerting deaf people when the doorbell has rung, and for locating missing children. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, German shepherds were utilized for search-and-rescue attempts amidst the rubble of the fallen World Trade Center.
5. Family Appeal
Under the right circumstances, German shepherds can make excellent household pets. In addition to being intelligent and trainable, this breed tends to be highly sociable and fairly energetic in nature. They serve as proud companions once loyalty develops. Perhaps the ideal guard dog, ever-devoted German shepherds often become protective of their beloved family members, as they’re not particularly fond of strangers. Their medium-to-large size (50 to 90 pounds) means they can provide adequate family protection without proving cumbersome around the house.
6. Physical Prowess
An impressive physical specimen, the German shepherd boasts an extremely muscular physique. This breed is like the LeBron James of the canine family, possessing a rare blend of strength and agility. The German shepherd’s strong frame becomes raised during times of excitement and lowered when the canine is moving at a quick pace. They can reach top speed quickly, yet round corners with ease. Because of their physical attributes, German shepherds are well-suited for athletic competitions like agility trials and obstacle courses.