By random happenstance, I acquired a German Shepherd puppy in December of last year. This loveable goofball is my world now, and I am learning so much about his breed. He is smart, confident, protective, and loyal. It’s these qualities that are so prized in the whole breed, making it one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. While German Shepherds make great family dogs, that’s not what they are most recognized for. German Shepherds are working dogs, and their high energy, intelligence, and focus make them perfect for a variety of working positions.
The work most synonymous with German Shepherds is in law enforcement. General purpose dogs in the police force are almost exclusively German Shepherds because of their ability to focus on and learn a variety of tasks, and their fierce loyalty to their handlers. General purpose dogs are typically trained in tracking and criminal apprehension, drugs and explosives detection, search and rescue, and defense. While general purpose dogs are all trained in some form of search and detection, many times dogs are specifically trained to only do drug detection or only explosives, so that they can have a bigger array of articles in their repertoire. For example, while a general purpose dog might be trained to search for marijuana and cocaine, a dog trained specifically for drug detection will be able to detect bigger array of narcotics. Drug and explosive detection dogs are used in the police force and also in airport security. A lot of the same abilities police dogs have are also prized and trained in Military dogs, where German Shepherds are also the most popular dog.
While these days the Labrador Retriever is the dog most recognizable as a guide dog for the blind, German Shepherds were the first dogs to be trained for the job and are still used at a lower rate today. The first guide dog in The United States was a German Shepherd named Buddy in 1928. After learning about a program where German Shepherds were being trained as guide dogs for German soldiers who lost their sight in the war, a man named Morris Frank contacted a trainer living in Switzerland to train a seeing eye dog for him. After bringing Buddy back to the US, Frank and Buddy traveled the country to show others the abilities and benefits of having a guide dog, and to pave the way for guide dogs to be allowed in public places and transportation such as trains and commercial airplanes.
True to it’s name, the German Shepherd was originally bred as a herding dog. Created in Germany in the late 1800’s, the Deutscher Schäferhund (directly translated as ‘German Shepherd Dog’) was bred for its intelligence, speed, stamina and protectiveness. Because of its qualities and breeding, the German Shepherd has a natural instinct for herding and are still popular to use as herding dogs in farming and ranch communities.
These are just scratching the surface of the many jobs that these wonderful dogs are capable of doing. Their drive to work and to please people are what make German Shepherds highly trainable for a number of activities.