Showsight Presents The German Shepherd Dog

THE GERMAN SHEPHERD FORM & FUNCTION

by JULIE DEGEN

Photo © Stewart Event Images

I open my front door and step out to the sounds of lambs calling for their moms, ewes answering their babies, the rooster crowing, peacocks hoot- ing, guineas screeching and, in the dis- tance, the ducks quacking and arguing as only ducks do. As I approach the sheep pasture, 70 heads turn my way, all look- ing to see which dog I have today. If it’s the Border Collie, they know there will be no rest for the wicked. Th ere is farm work to be done. Th e sheep may be sorted into small groups for lessons, perhaps it’s a day for worming, or maybe time to shear,

or trim feet or just filed through the foot bath. Th e sheep are relieved to see that it’s not the Border Collie, it’s the Ger- man Shepherd. Th e 23 ewes and 47 lambs all eagerly start toward the gate to meet us. Th is morning, they get to come out and graze new grass. Th ey don’t yet know which area they will be grazing, but it will be fresh and they know that the German Shepherd will define their grazing area by trotting along the borders. Th e German Shepherd Dog breed was developed in the late 1800s by Captain Max von Stephanitz. Th ere were many

types of herding dogs in Germany prior to that time. In his travels across Germany, von Stephanitz had the opportunity to observe these di ff ering herding dogs at work. He developed a desire to standardize an “ideal” German sheep herding dog, a breed that would encompass the character- istics that would also make the dog ideal for military and police work. While on patrol near the Rhine River, the Captain observed a prick eared lupine type sheep dog tending a flock while the shepherd took a nap. Von Stephanitz wanted his breed to resemble that dog as well as have the

244 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2015

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