Things To Know About German Shepherds

5 Things To Know About German Shepherds

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Looking for important and interesting things to know about German Shepherds? GSD’s are wonderful dogs with many extraordinary attributes. They are extremely smart and intelligent animals with tons of energy and personality. This is why they are so loved by families all over the world. There are several cool and interesting facts about these dogs that maybe you haven’t heard. This article will discuss in detail 5 important things to know about German Shepherds.

1. The German Shepherd’s official name was the “Alsatian Wolf Dog” for a period of five decades

Here is one of the first interesting things to know about the German Shepherds. It is named after Deutscher Schäferhund and his name translates to German Shepherd Dog. The dog helped Shepherds herd and protect their sheep hence the name. The official registry adopted this breed name during that time but this changed at the conclusion of World War I.

History 50 Years Alsatian Wolf Dog

Anti-German sentiment during that time period caused the UK Kennel Club to officially rename the breed the “Alsatian Wolf Dog“.

People believed having the word German in the name would lead to a lack of popularity in the breed. Other international kennel clubs followed suit and adopted the name as well.

Eventually they removed the appendage “Wolf Dog” and the name “Alsatian” stood for five decades.

They renamed it German Shepherd in 1977. The change came after various campaigns, organized by dog enthusiast, were successful in pressuring the UK Kennel club to officially revert the name back to “German Shepherd” dogs. Even after the change, the name “Alsatian” still remained in parenthesis as part of the official breed name until it was finally removed in 2010.

2. They are the third most registered dog breed according to AKC

Second on the list of interesting things to know about German Shepherds is that they are very popular coming in at number 3 out of 196 dog breeds. Labradors take the top spot and French Bulldogs just recently took over second. This is due to their intelligence and ability to perform so many useful tasks.

They are highly considered one of the best all around working dogs on the planet thus leading to their recurring popularity. They are fairly easy to train and are very good at performing tasks and following commands.

Several professions use German Shepherds including:

German Shepherd Popular
  1. Cadaver Searching
  2. Explosives Detection
  3. Guide Dogs
  4. Herding
  5. Military Work
  6. Narcotics Detection
  7. Police Work
  8. Search and Rescue

Fun Fact: The first German Shepherd registered in the United States was “Queen of Switzerland“.

3. German Shepherds are incredibly smart animals

Coming in at number on three on the list of things to know about German Shepherds is their intellect. German Shepherds are one of the smartest canines in the world. They were bred for their intelligence and are very quick learners allowing them to perform difficult tasks that other breeds may not be able to handle.

They are the third smartest dog breed behind the Border Collie and the Poodle. German Shepherds are considered a top tier dog on the intelligence scale. This is according to the book “The Intelligence of Dogs” by Canine Psychologist Stanley Coren. This includes a short list of only the brightest 10 dogs. A dog has to learn new commands in less than 5 exposures and obey at least 95% of the time to be considered top tier.

German Shepherd Smart As Two Year Old Child

Findings based on a language development test revealed that most dogs are on par with a two year old child and can remember on average 165 words.

This includes signals and gestures. German Shepherds, being in the top 20% in intelligence, can remember 250 words.

This intelligence will lead to an active dog that needs a lot of attention and tasks to perform. Keeping your German Shepherd busy is essential and a great way to keep their mind sharp.

4. German Shepherds are great Guard Dogs

Fourth on the list of things to know about German Shepherds is that they are excellent for protection. The German Shepherd is a great Guard Dog for anyone looking for protection. This is due to their intelligence as discussed above. They are kind and gentle animals but will definitely jump into action when they detect any danger or threats.

The German Shepherd is a very alert dog and will bark loud and often with a very intimidating bark and demeanor. This is very useful and reassuring for dog owners looking to keep their family safe from any intruders or threats.

Side Note: I was once chased by a German Shepherd when I walked by a neighbors yard and it chased me all the way up my Grandmother’s driveway. I was a young kid and it was very scary. It was just doing its job and protecting its owners.

German Shepherds are Great for Protecting Your Family and Kids

German Shepherd Guard Dog

The German Shepherd will consider your kids as their own. Originally herding dogs, they will make sure to protect your young ones if the time comes.

When your kids spend enough time with your German Shepherd a unique bond will form, giving your dog the unique opportunity to protect and serve as one of the best guard dogs out there.

Females are the best choice for protecting your family.

Males tend to be more territorial and want to protect their surroundings. Females, perhaps due to their motherly instincts, are the better choice for protecting your family. They will spring into action and get in front of you and your family to fight for your protection.

Training your German Shepherd to be a guard dog.

It is a good idea to train your dog to protect. You can teach them some commands and their natural instinct will be to protect but if you want a true guard dog you will need to invest in professional training. You can search for local trainers in your area that specialize in guard dog training. Hiring a professional trainer will cost you around $1000 but will be well worth it.

Some celebrities and business moguls spend $40,000 to $60,000 for a German Shepherd trained in the sport of Schutzhund which focuses on training dogs to protect and to be more useful and happy towards their owners.

5. German Shepherds searched for and rescued survivors on 9/11

Fifth on the list of things to know about German Shepherds is that they searched for survivors in the rubble after the attack on 9/11. Here we will spotlight a few of the most courageous dogs that helped in the search and rescue efforts following the attack.


Appollo and his handler Peter Davis were the first search and rescue team to arrive on the scene following the September 11th attacks in New York City. They arrived at the sight just 15 minutes after the collapse of the buildings. He was almost killed by fire and debris but he miraculously survived due to the fact that he had fallen into a pool of water just before that.

According to the American Kennel Club, Appollo spent 18 hours a day for weeks searching for any survivors. He received the “Dicken Medal” for his efforts. It is similar to the “Victoria Cross” for military members.

Appollo also received the American Kennel Club “Ace Award” in 2001. He and his handler also worked in the Dominican Republic following a hurricane. He unfortunately passed away in 2006.

Hero Dogs 911 Appollo Trakr Worf Hansen


Trakr was another German Shepherd who stepped up to the plate with his Canadian handler James Symington.

Together they found the last remaining survivor, a female trapped for hours.Trakr returned to Canada after collapsing from exhaustion, smoke inhalation and burns.

The heroic dog received the 6th spot on TIME’s published list of top ten heroic animals. He later suffered from a degenerative neurological disorder. It was most likely caused from the search and rescue operations.

Fun Fact: Trakr’s legacy will live on thanks to advancements in DNA. Before his death in 2009, he DNA was chosen in a cloning contest. It was later used in June of that year to produce 5 cloned Trakr’s.


Worf was another brave and courageous dog that was a part of the search and rescue. He found the remains of two firefighters on the very first day but had to be immediately retired due to a lack of eating and shut down after the emotional toll of the site. His handler said that “He kind of withdrew from everything.”


Hansen, who was a Belgian Shepherd Dog, worked tirelessly with the then-chief of the Lindenhurst Fire Department, Steve Smaldon, for 150 days. Together they located the body of NYPD Officer John William Perry who was only hours away from retiring but rushed in to try and save people during the attacks and unfortunately perished.

This amazing dog also found a Marine Corps Veteran by the name of Sgt. Michael Curtin, who had been with the NYPD for 13 years. The Marine was a true hero who helped dig out a Marine killed and buried after the Oklahoma City Bombing. It was a proud day for Marines.

The coverage of the search and rescue dogs after 9/11 opened many peoples eyes on just how important dogs are to our country in the most devastating of times.

Things To Know About German Shepherds In Closing:

I hope that you learned some new and exciting things to know about German Shepherds! Please stick around and check out some of our other articles. We specialize in Shepherds and look forward to hearing from you. Leave a comment below and feel free to share this article on Social Media.

Looking to learn more about these amazing animals? Check out 15 interesting facts about German Shepherds!

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