With less demand for herding over the years, von Stephanitz was determined not to let the Shepherd decline and encouraged its use by the police and the military. During World War I, there were 48,000 Shepherds "enlisted" in the German Army. Today, the GSD serves perhaps in more ways than any other breed; search-and-rescue (S&R), police, army and sentry, scent discrimination and, of course, companion. They are superb dog guides for the blind and helpers for the handicapped.
Perhaps the best testimony to its S&R ability comes from the Hospice at St. Bernard, which still offers refuge to travelers. Today the Hospice raises Saint Bernards as a tourist attraction, but German Shepherds do the rescue work.
Despite fads, poor breeding practices, malign-ment of character as "attack" dogs, and discrimination against anything German during the years of and following World War I, the breed has thrived. During the German phobia, English owners refused to give up the breed they had come to admire. They did compromise and change the name to Alsatian, which prevailed for nearly 40 years after all hostilities ended. Their American counterparts, in a similar attempt to disguise the breed's origins, temporarily dropped the word "German" from the name. Two German Shepherds helped to soothe the post-War wounds. The film stars Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart reawakened interest in the breed, with their breath-taking adventures and thrilling rescues. During the Second World War, the Shepherd served the Allied forces in the fight against its homeland. These dogs have amazed even their trainers in feats of power and agility. A shepherd named "Max of Pangoula" scaled a high jump of 11 feet SVs
inches, and "Young Sabre" topped a ribbed wall of 11 feet 8 inches.
As late as 1915, there were three coat types— the smoothhaired, the longhaired and the wire-haired. The wirehaired has since disappeared; "long coats" are still born, but do not meet with approval in the conformation ring. They do, however, make fine companions, and there are admirers that prefer them.
Shepherds can tolerate extremes in weather conditions: barking with delight at a romp in below-zero temperatures, rolling in a snowbank; or withstanding the heat of a steamy jungle in a combat zone.
Their ears are required to stand erect naturally, although aid through taping may be given to youngsters with "lazy" ears. A correct, noble Shepherd head can best be described as possessing "the look of eagles." Their tails should reach long and be carried low, with the gentle curve of a saber at the end. All-white coloration is a disqualifying fault, and the Shepherd is one of the very few breeds that is disqualified for vi-ciousness. This commendable practice has accomplished a great deal of good for the breed. It is a GSD, Champion Covy-Tucker Hill's Manhattan, who holds the honor of the most best in shows, over 200, carrying off prestigious wins at Westminster and the AKC Centennial.
The dog is sensible and has a devout loyalty to its family. Perhaps this is why the breed is so popular. Shepherd lovers seem to wear blinders when it comes to their favorite breed, thinking no other can compare. It is claimed the German Shepherd Dog has the intelligence of a seven-year-old child. Shepherds are often top contenders in the obedience ring.
As occurs with any breed that is so numerous, some poor breeding practices exist which perpetuate temperament and health problems. Buyers should study the dam and, if possible, the sire to see if they are physically sound and good-natured. A Shepherd is willing to do anything for the person he loves, to the point of giving his own life. The breed adores its own family and is naturally protective of it and of property. The standard stresses that it must stand its ground and be approachable in public situations.