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The German Shepherd
A protective, loyal, intelligent, hard-working breed, the German Shepherd will guard your home and do whatever it takes to make you happy. In exchange, all a German Shepherd will ask for is love and appropriate leadership.
However, German Shepherds are happiest if they have a job to do, even if it's just making sure the kids don't run out of the yard or bringing a thrown ball back to its owner.
German Cavalry Captain Max von Stephanitz founded the German Shepherd Dog breed in the late 1800's from existing types of German herding dogs. He sought to establish a versatile, intelligent herding dog that could also be used for purposes other than herding and guarding livestock. He was looking for a dog that was noble, intelligent, strong, and able to do a variety of jobs. Nowadays, most German Shepherds trace their lineage back to the foundation stud purchased by von Stephanitz, Horand von Grafrath.
The German Shepherd Dog is also known as the Alsatian or Alsatian Wolfdog, terms that were introduced in England during World War I, because anti-German sentiment spread quickly as the war began. English fanciers did not want their dogs thrown into the fray simply because the breed had the word German in it, and changed the name. The term Alsatian is still commonly used in the United Kingdom today.
During World War I, the German Shepherd Dog proved its worth in a variety of ways. German Shepherds served as messenger dogs carrying messages across the lines, search dogs finding wounded soldiers on the battlefield, and guard dogs protecting rear areas. The breed became popular both with the general German population, as well as with servicemen from other countries who often brought them home after the war.
After World War I, German Shepherds served as the very first breed to guide the blind. The original guide dog program was started in Germany as a way to aid blinded World War I veterans return to society.
Today, German Shepherds are still widely used in this function, as well as in other functions they filled during World War I. The Shepherd became, after the war, the number one choice for law enforcement agencies, the armed forces, and a variety of other service uses. In the United States, some people who don't know the breed by name, may refer to them as "police dogs" or "K-9 dogs" as if that were their breed name.
Purchasing a German Shepherd
When purchasing a German Shepherd, go to a reputable breeder! This is certainly not a breed that should be purchased from a pet store or back yard breeder.
Some of the things you will want to ask your breeder is whether the parents have health tests - OFA on their hips and elbows. Ask whether the parents are titled - working titles in Schutzhund are almost a prerequisite to any proper breeding, and give a good idea of the temperaments, working drives, and abilities that the pups from this litter are genetically predisposed to. Ask to meet the parents, and see whether they and any offspring are listed on the Pedigree Database. Check the titles of the dogs within the pedigree. Ask if any pups from this breeder have been reported to have serious health problems, such as hip dysplasia.
Indicators of a bad breeder are the following: misspelled breed name in the advertisement or kennel website; a claim to breed "old fashioned, large" dogs; breeding for disqualified colors such as blues, whites, or livers; doesn't know what OFA means; has no contact with any previous puppy buyers; offers no health guarantees; will not let you meet the parents of your pup before purchase; has no titles on any of their breeding stock. The best indication that your puppy will have good hips is that both parents have had hip cert.. The breeder should be pround of the results and show you a copy of the certificate .
Ask about a guarantee. The guarantee should cover all genetic health issues.
Hips should be guaranteed to have a OFA rating of " Fair" . While guarantees are offered (if not, r-u-n!), sometimes the fine print is overlooked. Make sure your guarantee, which should offer a replacement dog for major health problems, does NOT require you to return your dog to the breeder, for a replacement or a refund. Sadly, the fine print may offer you a refund or a replacement only if you return the dog, with whom you have bonded, and you will be informed that the returned dog will be euthanized. This is not a reputable guarantee, and doing business with a seller who has these requirements can result in heartbreak.
Do your homework before making a purchase. Ask to meet the dam of the litter, for she will have a major influence on her pups temperament.
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