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What Were German Shepherds Bred For? Breed History Explained

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By Nicole Cosgrove

German Shepherd standing on the grass

The German Shepherd was originally bred in Germany in the late 1800s by Captain Max von Stephanitz, who wanted to create the perfect herding dog. To accomplish this, he bred together several different types of herding dogs, including the English Shepherd, the German Short-Haired Pointer, and the black and tan Sheepdog.

The resulting breed was the German Shepherd, a dog that quickly became prized for its intelligence, loyalty, and protective instincts.

Here is a list of things that German Shepherds were bred for along with some of the qualities of the German Shepherd that make it the perfect dog for a number of important tasks.

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The 7 Jobs German Shepherds Were Bred For

The German Shepherd is one of the most versatile dog breeds in the world. With its high intelligence, loyalty, and protective instincts, it is well-suited for a variety of important tasks. Some of these include:

1. Herding Sheep

German Shepherds were originally bred to herd sheep. They are still used for this purpose in many parts of the world, including Germany, Australia, and the United States. German shepherds are well-suited to herding because of their intelligence, loyalty, and protective instincts.

They are able to quickly learn commands and respond well to training. When working with sheep, German Shepherds use a combination of physical abilities and verbal commands to get the job done safely.

2. Working as a Police Dog

German Shepherds are often used by law enforcement because of their loyalty, obedience, and trainability. These dogs are able to perform a variety of tasks, including tracking suspects, searching for illegal drugs, and finding missing persons. They serve in K-9 units all over the world, providing invaluable and cost-effective service to their communities.

belgian malinois police dog
Photo Credit: wellphoto, Shutterstock

3. Doing Search and Rescue

German Shepherds have been used for search and rescue missions for many years. These smart, loyal dogs are perfect for the job, as they are able to complete difficult tasks and navigate treacherous terrain. German Shepherds have helped to save countless lives, and they continue to be an important part of search and rescue teams around the world.

4. Guarding and Protecting Family Members

German Shepherds have a natural protective instinct that makes them ideal guard dogs. They are loyal and obedient, and will guard their home and family with their lives. German shepherds are intelligent and alert, always on the lookout for danger.Their courage and strength make them fearless defenders, ready to protect those they love.

german shepherd dog jumps over fence
Photo Credit: Photodigitaal.nl, Shutterstock

5. Providing Companionship

German Shepherds make excellent family pets due to their loyalty and protective instincts. They will quickly learn the layout of your home and be on the lookout for any signs of danger. They love people and will greet you with excitement when you come home. Having one of these dogs is like adding another member to your family — one with a big personality.

6. Administering First Aid

Many German Shepherds are specially trained to provide first aid in emergency situations. These dogs have been taught to perform life-saving tasks, such as applying pressure to wounds and transporting injured people to safety. German Shepherds are an invaluable asset in times of crisis, and their skills can mean the difference between life and death.

Soldier of USA army in wheelchair with laptop and his german shepherd
Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

7. Helping the Sick and Disabled

German Shepherds can be trained to perform a wide range of tasks to help people with disabilities, including opening doors, retrieving items for their owners, helping them get dressed or undressed, alerting them when they need medication, and more. With their natural protective instincts and kind temperament, German Shepherds make great service dogs for both adults and children.

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Personality Traits and Abilities

1. Herding Instinct

German Shepherds were originally bred to herd sheep. They are still used for this purpose in many parts of the world. German Shepherds are well-suited to herding because of their intelligence, loyalty, and protective instincts. They can do the same level of herding work as a human, making them an asset to the farming and livestock industry.

german shepherd hackels up at training
Image Credit: muroPhotographer, Shutterstock

2. Intelligence

German shepherds are intelligent dogs, a quality they get from the English Shepherd genes in their bloodline. They are quick to learn new commands and tasks. This makes them perfect role models and helpers for young puppies during their obedience training. In fact, they are so smart that they respond to training better than most other dog breeds.

3. Obedience

In addition to their many other traits and skills, German Shepherds are known for their ability to obey commands. Simply put, when you tell them to do something, they do it! They take great joy and satisfaction in pleasing their owners, a quality that they get from the German Short-Haired Pointer.

German Shepherd training
Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Snyder

4. Loyalty

German Shepherds are loyal companions. They will form strong bonds with their family and protect them from harm. Once a German Shepherd loves you, it loves you forever.

5. Protective Nature

German Shepherds are naturally protective. They have a strong instinct to safeguard their family and home. They will be alert to any signs of danger and will immediately spring into action to protect their family. They will risk their own lives to protect the people and things that they love from potential dangers.

german shepherd on training
Image Credit:Pawan Kumar, Pixabay

6. Stamina and Endurance

German Shepherds are also known for their stamina and endurance. They can work tirelessly for hours on end, whether it’s herding sheep or searching for a missing person. This makes them ideal candidates for a wide range of important jobs, from police work to service dog work.

7. Physical Strength

In addition to their many other qualities, German Shepherds are also physically strong dogs. They have powerful jaws and muscular bodies that make them capable of doing a variety of tasks, from herding sheep to guarding property. This physical strength is one of the reasons why German Shepherds are so prized as working dogs.

german shepherd dog with blue eyes walking on water
Image Credit: TheOtherKev, Pixabay

8. Active Nature

German Shepherds prefer to work. They are active dogs who need regular exercise and mental challenges in order to thrive and to keep from becoming bored and restless. This is partly due to their high intelligence. When they’re not working, they like to stay busy with a good game of fetch and a long walk or run. Without stimulation and exercise, behavior problems can occur.

9. Love of Children

German Shepherds are known to be gentle and patient with children, making them great companions for families with kids. They are often used as service dogs to help children who have difficulty walking or moving around on their own.

Image Credit: Stone36, Shutterstock

10. Bravery

Last but not least, German shepherds are also known for their bravery. They have been used in wars, police work, and other dangerous situations for their courage. These dogs will do whatever it takes to protect the people and things they love, even if it means putting their own lives at risk.

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Final Thoughts

No matter what role a German Shepherd takes on, it is sure to be a valuable asset. Thanks to its many positive qualities that are a result of breeding various breeds of sheepdogs this breed has become one of the most popular in the world.

Overall, German Shepherds are great dogs that have been bred over the years for a wide variety of tasks due to their intelligence, loyalty, protective instincts, athleticism, and more. If you are looking for an active dog who will keep you on your toes with plenty of mental and physical stimulation, then the German Shepherd may just be the perfect dog breed for you!

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Featured Image Credit: cvop, Pixabay

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