May 27, 2024

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A German shepherd dog at the Lauingen Shepherd Club’s training range. © Stefan Puchner/dpa

He enjoys high ratings as the TV inspector “Rex,” and not only works as a service dog, but also supports people with dedication. In 1899, Germany’s most popular dog breed began its triumphal march.

Augsburg/Karlsruhe – He rallies his flock and searches for survivors under the rubble of collapsed buildings after an earthquake. The world’s powers also like to think of him as a status symbol, and for many he is just a valued family member. It has been going on for 125 years. The German Shepherd is one of the best known and most popular dog breeds, although it is not always called a “Rex” and is not without controversy.

“He is smart, eager to learn, and enthusiastic about his work as a police service dog, shepherd and rescue dog,” said Barbara Ulrich-Cornat of the German Shepherd Dog Association in Augsburg. Explain the benefits. of varieties. Additionally, this four-legged companion makes an excellent family dog ​​if well trained and exercised.

“Holland von Grafrath” was the first German Shepherd

The worldwide success story began with a dog exhibition held in Karlsruhe on April 22, 1899. At that time, Captain Max von Stephanitz showed him a male dog, “Holland von Grafrath”, officially the first German Shepherd dog. To date, ‘Holland’ has more than 2 million purebred offspring, and his club of German Shepherds and his Shepherds keep meticulous records of their offspring. On the day of the first presentation, Stefanitz and several of his colleagues founded the association. The association still monitors the breed and, according to its own statement, is now the world’s largest purebred dog breeding association.

Over the course of 125 years, German Shepherds have become beloved pets by many, but negatively viewed by some. The Nazis exploited German Shepherds during their Reign of Terror. There are countless photos of Adolf Hitler and his dog Blondie. The animals’ use as strict service dogs for the East German border forces also did not always create a positive image.

Biden’s German Shepherd had to leave the White House

Recently, US President Joe Biden’s German Shepherd “Commander” has made negative headlines. The White House was banned from government headquarters last fall after the animal frequently bit Secret Service personnel.

American President's German Shepherd
US President Joe Biden with his dog on the steps in front of the White House. © President Joe Biden/Zuma Press/dpa

US President Joe Biden with his dog on the steps in front of the White House.

This problem is not a special case. In Germany, authorities have repeatedly had to deal with aggressive German shepherds and mixed breeds. The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia has kept statistics on such incidents for many years. A German shepherd is featured prominently there. In 2022, a total of 907 bite incidents resulting in injury were recorded in the state. “German Shepherds were the most prominent dog breed, with a total of 122 incidents,” the latest annual report said.

Ulrich-Cornat points out that German shepherds and German shepherd mixes make up the largest portion of the large dog group. Other German Shepherd breeds are also included in the biting statistics, she says. A club spokesperson points out that the dogs definitely need training. This will reduce the chance of animal bites.

This breed is susceptible to certain diseases

Anyway, there are still many fans of this breed. The German Shepherd Association compares its headquarters in Augsburg to a medium-sized company. There, about 40 employees look after about 1,800 local groups nationwide with more than 50,000 members. The World Federation of German Shepherd Clubs has more than 500,000 members.

According to the German Dog Association’s puppy statistics, German Shepherds remain in the top spot, ahead of Dachshunds. Between 2008 and 2022, the number of young animals almost halved to about 8,400, while the number of dachshund puppies remained roughly stable at about 6,000 per year. The German Shepherd Association speculates that this decline may be due to a significant increase in breeding costs. Veterinarian fees and dog taxes have also increased.

Veterinarians say veterinary bills for German Shepherds in particular can be high because German Shepherds are prone to certain diseases. Sabrina Carle, a behavioral biologist at the animal welfare foundation Four Paws, said that German shepherds have been bred to have steeply sloping backs and hips, making it difficult for some animals to walk normally. It is criticized that there are As a result, various problems arise. She said: “Some dogs are in such extreme pain that a permanent pain-free life is not possible for them.”

Karl said many pedigree dogs are bred for human benefit, and as a result it is common for them to suffer from pain and strain. Animal rights activists are calling on breeders to reconsider and take action. When breeding, you should focus first on the animal’s health, and not on its appearance.

The German Shepherd Association emphasizes that the association has had a procedure in place since 1966 to test dogs for so-called hip dysplasia (HD). As a result, the proportion of German Shepherd dogs with moderate and severe HD has “significantly decreased” from 27 percent initially to 2 percent today. D.P.A.

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