German Shepherds – History

Max von Stephanitz, known as the father of the breed, first formed a group called the SV, or Club for German Shepherds in 1899. This club today remains the largest, most active specialty breed club in the world. Max’s vision of the breed called for a high-performance herding and watchdog with a sharp mind and an elegant appearance.

From this vision, he wrote the original German Shepherd Kanine breed standard. Seven years later, after the first Sieger show was held (also in 1899), the first German Shepherd was believed to have settled in North America and had it’s first showing a year later in 1907.

The German Shepherd first registered with the AKC in 1908 and has rarely ever dropped below the top ten breeds registered. In 1913, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America was founded.

The GSDCA is a strong advocate of breeding only sound, healthy German Shepherds and encourages OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certification of hips and elbows; their first show was held in 1915. In years to come many more dog clubs for the German Shepherd would arise, another being the German Shepherd Dog Club of America which was founded in the early 20th century.

Later on, in 1927, the idea of guide dogs (or service dogs) was introduced. The main purpose behind the idea was to assist blind veterans of World War I. The first guide dog in the United States, a German Shepherd named “Buddy”, was placed with a blind teenager and together as a team laid the foundation for all future guide/service dogs. Read also here about training your German Shepherd puppy.

Following this success, the Seeing Eye, Inc. was founded in 1929. Two years later, in 1931, the German Shepherd was officially named: German Shepherd Dogs. Since 1948, the GSD has never been out of the top ten registered dogs with the AKC! Read more about how to best raise these great dogs on this page.

German Shepherds that are born with white coats can be registered with any kennel club as “German Shepherd Dogs”, coat color: white. However, only the United Kennel Club (UKC) and several foreign countries, including Switzerland and South Africa, recognize the White German Shepherd as a separate breed and, therefore can be registered as such.

Among the handful of dog clubs founded for the White German Shepherd is “The White German Shepherd Dog Club International, Inc.”, which was founded in 1964 under the name of the “National Club for the Advancement of the White German Shepherd Dog” to advance the interests of the dog.

Another well-known club is the “United White Shepherd Club” (UWSC) which successfully petitioned the United Kennel Club (UKC) to grant the White German Shepherd full status as of January 1, 1999 – a new breed called: The White Shepherd.

Also with similar efforts is the “American White Shepherd Association” (AWSA) which was founded in 1994 and is striving for breed separation with the American Kennel Club (AKC). The White German Shepherd can compete in Agility, Tracking, Herding and Obedience trials.

Confirmation is the only trial the White German Shepherd is disqualified from since the “German Shepherd Dog Club of America” (GSDCA), who owns the breed standard, lists white coats as a disqualifying trait.

The White Shepherd has many of the same breed standards as the German Shepherd but there are also many differences. Aside from coat color, one important difference is the requirement to have dark eyes, skin, and lips in order to distinguish them from an “albino” shepherd which would be disqualified.