Famous German Shepherds

8 Famous German Shepherds And Their Unique Stories

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There are plenty of famous German Shepherds on and off the big screen! And there are so many great movie star GSD’s out there that you may not even know about. From the famous Rin Tin Tin to less famous Romur, they all hold a special place in our hearts. Throughout history, this amazing breed has been covered in numerous stories of heroism and starred in dozens of films. This marvelous breed truly has established it’s “pawprint” on society.

There are so many interesting stories about famous German Shepherds to talk about. This article will discuss some of the most infamous. Whether it be helping the blind, saving a life, starring in commercials or Hollywood hit movies, these GSDs know how to act, it just takes the right one. Though most German Shepherds are very smart, it takes a special, unique talent to be a part of the movie industry.

1. Famous GSD Buddy: The First “Seeing Eye” Dog In America

Morris Frank and Buddy
Kritzolina, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The story of Buddy is an amazing story of one German Shepherd changing the life of an American man. That man’s name was Morris Frank who was born in Nashville, Tennessee and lived from 1908 until 1980. He was the very first man in the U.S. to receive help from a “Seeing Eye” canine.

If you see yourself as an unlucky person, you may think differently after hearing this story about Morris Frank: while horseback riding, he hit a branch at only six years old, resulting in him losing his right eye. To make matters worse, at the age of 16, he lost his left eye during a boxing match. This left him blind in both eyes.

Back in 1927 Dorothy Harrison Eustis, a German Shepherd breeder and trainer of police K9s, published an article about a guide dog program in Germany. The program she wrote about was a training program used to develop seeing eye dogs for blind World War I veterans in Germany.

The Beginning of “The Seeing Eye” Guide Dog School:

Morris was inspired to write Eustis for help after reading the article. She ended up agreeing and so Morris went to Switzerland where he trained with a female German shepherd named Kiss. But Morris quickly renamed it Buddy. The training proved to be quite difficult, but after a few weeks passed Morris found he was able to get around Switzerland safely with Buddy’s assistance.

In January 1929, Eustis and Buddy both co-founded the very first guide dog school in the United States. They called it “The Seeing Eye“. Between 1929 and 1956, Morris traveled all around the US. spreading word about the organization as well as the need for equal access laws for people who have guide dogs. By year 1956, every state in the United States had passed laws allowing the blind who have guide dogs access to public spaces.

Sadly, Buddy died on May 23, 1938. After her death Morris named her replacement Buddy, as he later would all of his subsequent seeing eye dogs. On April 29, 2005, a sculpture of Frank Morris and Buddy was made. It was titled The Way to Independence and was unveiled in Morristown, New Jersey.

If it wasn’t for this boy and his German Shepherd, blind people would not get the love and equality they deserve. He is a true inspiration to the not only the blind but people and canines alike.

2. Famous Military German Shepherd Sentry Dog “Nemo” A534

The first thing that probably comes to mind when you see the name Nemo is the famous clown fish from Finding Nemo. But another famous animal many people do not know about is Nemo the Sentry dog. It was early in the morning on December 4th 1966 on Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Veitnam. K-9 Nemo and his owner named Robert Throneburg had begun to patrol the area when they began to take enemy fire.

Releasing Nemo, Throneburg turned and began firing back. A bullet went through Nemo’s right eye that went out his mouth, while Throneburg got shot in the shoulder. Ignoring his injury best he could Nemo proceeded to attack the Vietcong enemy. Because of Nemo’s bravery this saved Throneburg’s life and gave him enough time to call for backup.

Since Nemo was wounded, he crawled over to his owner and used his body to cover him best he could. Both were rescued in the end but Nemo stayed in protection mode and would not let the rescue team anywhere near Throneburg.

Nemo and Throneburg are Honored:

They both received many honors after returning home to the U.S. after being treated for their severe injuries. Throneburg was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and two Purple Hearts for his bravery in battle. Because Nemo’s injuries were so bad, he had to have many skin grafts done in order to restore his appearance. There was nothing they could do though about his right eye and he was left blind in that eye.

Not many canines made it back from Vietnam and Nemo was one of the lucky few to come back alive. Nemo was the first military canine to retire from active-duty service. He was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base and received a permanent kennel to call home. The courageous pup spent the remainder of his years recruiting thousands of soldiers until until his death in December of 1972. He was eleven years old.

The four legged war hero was put to rest about four months later on March 15, 1973, at the Department of Defense Dog Center. The German Shepherd was truly a hero to remember and hopefully one that will be remembered throughout history.

3. Famous German Shepherd Who Won Best in Show: Rumor

Best In Show 2017 Rumor
Pedigree Database

If you prove to be a huge fan of dog shows, then you might just be familiar with the name ‘Rumor.’ Rumor, whose full name is “GCH CH Lockenhaus’ Rumor Has It V Kenlyn” was five years old when she won Best in Show at the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2017. Though she was not the very first German Shepherd to win Best in Show, she was the first GSD to win the title since 1987.

After two nights of stiff competition that proved to be very challenging, Rumor, along with her handler Kent Boyles, took the prestigious title. This decision was made by the amazing judge Thomas H. Bradley lll who has been a part of the canine competition his whole life. Bradley had this to say about the breed’s majesty.

“The German Shepherd Dog standard talks about quality and nobility. Sometimes unrecognizable, but when you recognize it, it hits you home, and that’s what it really is. She is just magnificent,”

American Kennel Club

Rumor also won the title Best in Show at the AKC National Championship (2015). In total, she has won 103 championships throughout her lifetime. It was an honor for a German Shepherd as great as Rumor to win these awards, who we hope will have many more winnings to come.

4. Famous German Shepherd On The Big Screen: Rin Tin Tin

Tough Guy Cooper Calleia 3
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Here is a name you are probably familiar with. In fact, to this day he may be one of the most popular when it comes to famous German Shepherds. He was one of the biggest canine stars in Hollywood and starred in a total of 27 Hollywood movies during his career.

He lived around the 1920’s and often played the role of wolf in movies. Mostly because it is obviously easier to work with a trained German Shepherd then an actual wolf.

The Origin Story:

The story of this amazing German Shepherd began when a bombing occurred in the small French village of Flirey. Corporal Lee Duncan, an aerial gunner of the U.S. Army Air Service, found a damaged kennel. In it he found a dying German Shepherd with five puppies. Duncan being the good person he is brought them back to his unit and took care of them.

He kept two of the puppies and named them Rin Tin Tin and Nanette. He did this in honor of a pair of dolls who were luck talismans that were in France at the time. The dolls depicted a couple in love that survived the bombardment, according to the soldiers.

At the end of the war in 1919, Duncan took the pair onto a ship that brought them to the United States. But while in Long Island Nanette was diagnosed with pneumonia. Because of this she died shortly after. Back in Los Angeles, Duncan decided to teach Rin Tin Tin many different tricks, training him. This made Duncan realize that Rin had a gift.

In 1922, Duncan founded a club in Los Angeles along with other German Shepherds. Later on after overcoming a freak injury to his front paw, the GSD became part of a new German shepherd show being held in Los Angeles. At the dog show he made an amazing winning leap. The people were amazed.

Charley Jones, who operated the camera that caught the leap in action, decided that Rin Tin Tin could become successful in acting in movies or TV shows.

Finding Fame:

Rin Tin Tin got lucky and was at the right place at the right time. The Warners Brothers film studio was struggling. They suffered countless loses and were going bankrupt. They were trying to shoot a scene with a wolf but it wasn’t working out. This was when Duncan took the opportunity. He suggested replacing the wolf with his dog.

Because of this, the film The Man from Hell’s River was a major success. The German Shepherd became a true hero and star who later helped the Warner Brothers film company earn back most of their money and gain considerable fame. His fame only grew from here and he became one of the most famous dogs around.

5. Famous GSD In The Modern Era Ellie: A Dogs Purpose

Ellie is a fictional female German Shepherd who appears in not only the book A Dogs Purpose but the movie as well. She is an lovable, devoted character who is trained to be a police K9. And although Ellie may not be one of the most famous German Shepherds, she is an inspiring fiction character that may inspire children or even adults to join the police force.

Here is a short summary: Bailey, who has lived numerous lives, is reborn as a female German Shepherd puppy, who grows into a police canine named Ellie. This is around the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. While she is retaining fond memories from the lives past.

6. One Of The First Famous German Shepherds: Strongheart

Strongheart Jule 1924

This dog was born and raised in Imperial Germany. Here he was trained to be a police dog. He was assigned to the German military during WWl.

Strongheart was one of the first famous German Shepherds and when it comes to starring in Hollywood movies: these dogs have been there done that. He was one of the very first GSD’s known to reach the heights of fame and first appeared on screen in 1921.

He was bred by a private breeder in Germany back in 1917. His registered name was Etzel Von Oeringen. A well-known director named Laurence Timble could see this dog’s potential for films. He even ended up persuading his screenwriter Jane Murfin to buy him.

Later, this GSD was given the name Strongheart. He could be seen in four films written by Jane Murfin. These included: his film debut in the 1921 outdoor adventure film “The Silent Call”, “Brawn of the North” in 1921, “The Love Master in 1924”, and finally “White Fang” in 1925.

7. Famous GSD In A TV Series: Bullet The Wonder Dog

Bullet Award

Bullet, originally named “Bullet Von Berge,” was a famous German Shepherd Dog owned by famous Hollywood couple Rogers and Evans. The movie star pooch starred as himself in the “Roy Rogers Show,” a popular series in the 1950’s.

Bullet was frequently seen running next to Roy’s horse “Trigger,” a golden palomino horse. The duo could be found acting in over 100 different movies. In addition, they appeared in TV Westerns.

This famous film GSD was the couple’s sidekick, helping them keep law and order in “Mineral City.” Bullet was always getting Roy out of rough situations and was excellent when it came to knowing who the villains were.

Bullet was the real-life pet of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, the hit show’s stars who were married. After Bullet’s death, he was stuffed and mounted. He was then later exhibited at the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, Calif. But was later moved to Branson, Missouri.

The Museum shut down in the year 2009. But in 2010 the rural cable network RFD-TV purchased Bullet for $35,000 and Trigger for $266,000. He really meant a lot to everyone and was displayed so people could honor this fantastic movie star GSD.

8. Famous German Shepherd Who Rescued 9/11 Survivors: Appollo

Apollo is one of several famous German Shepherds known for assisting with Search and Rescue work during the aftermath of the September 9/11 attacks. He was a member of the K-9 unit of the New York Police Department. Appollo was given the honor of being awarded the Dickin Medal. This is the highest award an animal can receive for their bravery and devotion when it comes to working in a military field. He was given this award because of his 9/11 work and fearlessness.

He was born around 1992 and in 1994, he graduated from the NYPD Canine Special Operations Division. And was one of the first dogs to actually learn search and rescue. He passed his training courses. His handler was Peter Davis who worked in the Dominican Republic after a hurricane as Appollo did.

Peter and Appollo were called in to help with the rescue operations after the September 11 terror attacks. They arrived at the World Trade Center site about fifteen minutes after the Twin Towers fell. After he arrived Appollo was nearly killed by the fire. But he somehow managed to survive after falling into a pool of water. They were both a huge help in the aftermath the 9/11 attacks.

He was also awarded the “American Kennel Club Ace” award in 2001 and received more recognition for his bravery and courage at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2002 along with various others from the New York Police Department’s K9 unit.


If you are a huge fan of the this breed, then hopefully one of these famous German Shepherds stuck out to you and has inspired you to do more research on them. There are just so many wonderful GSD’s out there that have changed the lives of many.

They are here to help us in our time of need and always know how to comfort us. They protect children and adults. These animals are the reason crime is lower than it would be without them.

German Shepherds are just so intelligent and worthy of all the awards and gifts they receive. Many put their owners lives before their own and they are there to protect them. Some of them are so brave as to go to war and to help fight for our country along-side veterans and soldiers.

From famous Hollywood movies to winning prestigious titles, all of these famous German Shepherds have a place in our hearts. And if you have your own GSD at home then you may understand the love they truly feel for you and your family, famous or not.

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Who is your favorite famous German Shepherd? Did any of the GSDs listed above inspire you in one way or another? Let us know! We would love to hear about your stories!

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