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So let’s dive into today's video and we'll find out how the GSD rose to be one of the most popular breeds in the world despite some of the negative connotations they were associated with in the first half of the 20th century.

We all recognize the classic GSD with their thick double coat, large erect ears, and black and tan markings. The German Shepherd is the second-most registered breed in the AKC and the seventh most registered breed in the kennel club. The breed is right on the edge of being a medium to large breed and known for their protection work with the military and police around the world.

The German Shepherd is considered a modern breed of dog with its origin in 1899. As the name suggests, the German Shepherd is a breed of dog developed in Germany where their primary role was working and protecting the flocks of sheep for farmers. At this time they were not considered a family companion or guard dog, but rather a farmer. There was a large variety of physical traits between different communities and in the 1850’s there was a large movement starting that sought to standardize breeds.

The official founder of the breed, Max Von Stephanitz was an avid pursuit of classical working dogs that were still bred to work in modern times after the industrial revolution. At a dog show, he found a dog that he believed embodied everything a dog should be, purchased the dog, and founded the Society for German Shepherd Dogs. He renamed the dog, Horand von Grafrath and this dog was the first placed on the registry for the Society of German Shepherd Dogs. Being the first on the registry meant that he was also declared the first official German Shepherd Dog.

In these early years of the breed, the society grew and Horand was bred with other members of the societies German Shepherd Dogs that had equally desirable traits for the breed. Many of the pairings were inbred, meaning that Horand bred with litters that he sired, and it was a practice deemed necessary at the time to cement the desired breed traits moving forward. During this time there were also four wolf pairings that were also deemed necessary and all modern German Shepherd dogs can trace their genetics back to one of these litters.

In the first half of the 20th century, the breed became a favorite of Adolf Hitler's. In 1921, in his years of poverty, he had a GSD named Prinz who escaped her boarding facility and managed to find him. He was of course quite impressed with the loyalty and obedience of this dog and quickly fell in love with the breed. It's no surprise that the breed was heavily used while he was in power in both the extermination camps and on military campaigns throughout World War I. Because of this, the breed was associated with Imperial and Nazi Germany for a time, but luckily this association faded quickly because of the breeds amazing capabilities.

After World War I the breed was taken around the world where it very quickly gained popularity because of the strength, intelligence, training ability, and obedience. These traits make the German Shepherd and ideal service dog for the handicapped and also a very capable military and police dog. For a time the German Shepherd absolutely dominated all modern working fields like search and rescue, scent work, and police and military protection work. There are a number of noble GSD’s who also received medals and awards for their bravery and dedication throughout the breed’s years of service in the police and military.

The breed has even been featured in a number of books, movies, and all manner of entertainment. There are two GSD’s who have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin who were both wildly popular film stars in the 1920’s. Even Batman has a GSD by his side in many of the 1955-1964 comics, his name was Ace the Bat-Hound. I bet their ears were the same size!

So there you have it, a look back through this history of one of the most popular breeds in the world.


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