The German Shepherd Dog is one of the most popular breeds, achieving a rank of 2nd most popular breed recognized by the AKC. It was originally used as a herding dog but has since been used for many different jobs due to its trainability and intelligence. German Shepherds are commonly used today as service dogs, bomb and drug sniffing dogs, emergency rescue dogs, and police working dogs. Many people that do not work them use them for agility, obedience training, guarding, and household companions. My dog, Walden, is a German Shepherd mix. I use him as a short distance jogging companion, obedience training dog, and as a companion to me, my partner, and my friends. Cuddling and hanging out with people are his best skills!
Many German Shepherds are great family companions, which comes as a surprise to some people considering the jobs that the breed usually has. It may seem counterintuitive to know that a dog that is a great athlete, guard dog, or other working dog is also a great companion to children. These dogs are known for their loyalty toward their families. Luckily, with my dog, he considers every person his family. Neighbors, strangers, children, they are all part of his pack. While he likes to bark to alert me to “intruders,” he would not make a good guard dog!
Max von Stephanitz is credited as the founder of the breed. He was a former student of Berlin Veterinary College and an ex-military captain. He was of the belief that dogs should be used strictly for working. He saw what was to become the first German Shepherd Dog at a dog show and bought it immediately after observing its intelligence, strength, and loyal nature. This dog went on to father many dogs that became the original stock for the breed.
Just like every dog, it is essential to properly socialize German Shepherds with both humans and other dogs. If not, they have a tendency to become over-protective or aggressive. We rescued our dog when he was 4 years old, and I am very sure that he was not totally socialized with other dogs. He is skeptical of some large males, and tends to be very cautious of new dogs. Females tend be his friends. Luckily, he was socialized with all sizes of people, so that has not been a problem!