History of The German Shepherd Dog
Max von Stephanitz is credited for developing the breed. He was a career cavalry officer and spent some time serving at the Veterinary College in Berlin. Here he gained valuable knowledge about biology, anatomy, and the science of movement all of which he later applied to the breeding of dogs. He was promoted to Captain in 1898 and shortly after took his release.
He used many of the techniques utilised by English dog breeders of the period. He was primarily interested in improving the German shepherding dogs because they were local and were the working dogs of his time. Stephanitz enjoyed attending dog shows and observed that there were many different types of shepherding dogs in use in Germany but there was no breed standardization. He greatly admired those dogs with a wolf-ish appearance and prick ears who also were intelligent, had sharp senses and willingness to work and believed that he could create a better working dog that could then be used throughout Germany.
In 1889 Captain Max von Stephanitz began the standardization of the breed. It all started at a dog show in Karlsruhe in western Germany. A medium-sized yellow-and-gray wolflike dog caught his attention. The dog was of the primal canine type, supple and powerful, and possessed endurance, steadiness, and intelligence. He was a working sheepherder, born with this ability, requiring no training other than direction and finish to become proficient at the task. This dog, Hektor Linksrhein, was purchased by von Stephanitz, renamed Horand von Grafrath, and became the first registered German Shepherd Dog.
On 22 April 1899 Stephanitz founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (S.V.) with his friend Artur Meyer. Three sheep masters, two factory owners, one architect, one mayor, one innkeeper and one magistrate joined them as co-founders. Along with establishing a breed standard the S.V. also developed a Zuchtbuch (Breed Register). Twenty years later they published the Körbuch (Breed Survey Book), which determines a dog's suitability for breeding based on their physical and mental characteristics, and not based solely on show wins. Under Stephanitz's guidance the S.V. became the single largest breed club in the world and it was his idea to introduce the breed to other types of work such as delivering messages, rescue work, sentry duties, and as personal guard dogs. The German Shepherd made its world debut in these roles during the First World War.