German Shepherds began to develop in the late 1800s by a man named Max von Stephanitz. Stephanitz is still credited with being the father of the entire German Shepherd breed. An admirer of the German Shepherd Dog of the time, he chose to breed selectively to achieve his most desired traits and eliminate those that were unnecessary or undesirable. Stephanitz raised his dogs for years, creating the founding root of the German Shepherd breed and eventually became the dog we know today.

When the German Shepherd was brought to the United States, breeders in America changed the breed’s lineages by mating it with other types of dogs. It is still up for debate whether these breeders helped or hurt the development of the German Shepherd, as American breeders were working towards a show quality dog, while the original German Shepherd was primarily intended for work.

German Shepherds in the United States have coats that are on the shorter side of the medium, usually brown and black, tan and black, or cream and black, but it is not uncommon for them to produce a completely white or completely black variety. The truly German variety of the breed has a longer coat that is occasionally (but rarely) seen in the US.

German Shepherds were initially developed by Stephanitz as a working breed. To this day, even with American crossbreeding, German Shepherds stand out in the workforce as hunters, farm dogs, service dogs, narcotic dogs, and police dogs. German Shepherds are an extremely agile, strong and athletic breed, with a very malleable temperament. They can be trained to work as aggressive guard dogs or to be gentle helpers on the farm.

In their native country, the breeding of sheepdogs is so meticulously controlled that a registered shepherd must have been certified by their father and the cursed Shutzhund, which means they have been professionally evaluated for temperament and ability. The Shutzhund certification does not take into account the size, coat or general appearance of the dog, which is very different from the American variety of canine evaluation.

The main visible difference between true sheepdogs and American German Shepherds, aside from the length of their coat, is the lack of sloped hips. True German Shepherds have their hips at shoulder level, as was intended for the original breed. American German Shepherd dogs have a distinct slope down the back of the torso towards the hips. Many international breed enthusiasts argue about sloped hips, as it is the desired trait for show business in America, but it also leads to an earlier onset and a more significant risk of hip dysplasia.

Whether you choose to acquire an American German Shepherd or are looking for a true German Shepherd, you should research your breeder thoroughly. Due to the popularity of this breed and its potential for strength, there are many unethical breeders who are trying to make a quick profit by mating irresponsibly. With proper research, any of the German Shepherd varieties can provide you with a loyal worker or a loving family pet.

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