History of the German Shepherd Breed

The German Shepherd or Alsatian as it was previously known (until 1977), is a working dog originating from Germany.  Surprisingly, the GSD has only been in existence as a distinct breed for a century or so.  Captain Max von Stephanitz is recognised as being the “father of the breed”.  Being an ex-cavalry captain and former student of the Berlin Veterinary College, he firmly believed dogs should be bred for working, which in those days meant herding sheep and protecting flocks from predators – hence the name German “Shepherd”. 

He was a member of the short lived Phylax Society which inspired people to pursue standardising in dog breeds. The German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia or (GSDCA) has information on the Australian Breed Standard if you are interested in reading more about this

Through Von Stephanitz’s breeding program which focused on the cross breeding of working sheep dogs from rural Germany he produced dogs that were intelligent, strong and excellent working dogs  which could trot for long periods out in the fields.  He founded the German Shepherd Dog Association in 1890.

German Shepherds in Australia

German Shepherds first arrived in Australia between in 1904 with the arrival of “German Sheep Dogs” in Western Australia.  In 1929 the Australian Federal Government imposed import bans on the breed because the dogs were believed to be dangerous.  These bans were not lifted until 1972.  The popularity of the breed peaked during the 1990’s when the German Shepherd Dog became the most popular breed in Australia as measured by puppy registrations.

German Shepherd Dog League of NSW Inc and the GSDCA are Australian organisations established to promote the breeding, exhibition and overall improvement of the German Shepherd Dog.

In order to promote dogs which not only look good but are also healthy and of good temperament, these bodies have developed National Schemes to eliminate health problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia.  The League has succeeded in developing a breed with a stable temperament and sound body by using a scoring system to eliminate critical problem areas.

Over the last twenty seven years, the German Shepherd Dog League has used a Breed Survey Scheme to virtually eliminate fear biters from the breed.