Once referred to as Alsatians in Britain and Ireland, German Shepherds are regularly chosen to be trained as guide dogs because their attributes match that role brilliantly.
Docile yet vigilant, courageous and hard-working, German Shepherds possess the sturdiness of character needed to excel in physically and mentally demanding situations.
Not only do German Shepherds make great Guide Dogs, but also great companions and protectors.
Germany Shepherd history
The German Shepherd was originally based on herding dog varieties from Central and Southern Germany. Methodical breeding commenced once the first breed association was founded in 1889, with the goal of producing a very good working dog.
This is why physical abilities are as important as character and temperament in the standard German Shepherd.
The German Shepherd was originally based on herding dog varieties from central and southern Germany. Methodical breeding commenced once the first breed association was founded in 1889, with the goal of producing an exceptional working dog. They are widely used as police dogs to this day.
The German Shepherd has evolved substantially over the past century. But beyond the trends inherent in the selective breeding of any animal, German Shepherds continue first and foremost to be working dogs – undoubtedly among the most popular working dogs on the planet.
The popularity of German Shepherds exploded with the success of the first ever Rin Tin Tin movie in 1923. The star was a German Shepherd brought home from France at the end of the First World War by Major Lee Duncan.
Guide Dog abilities
The reason for this breed’s popularity is simple: since the breed stock was established at the end of the 19th century, enthusiasts have endeavoured to develop its versatility, adaptability, bravery and an even temper – the specific traits that explain the breed’s success around the world.
As the first ever breed to become a guide dog, the German Shepherd was the breed chosen almost exclusively to be used as a guide dog for the visually impaired. When formal guide dog training began in Switzerland in the 1920s under the leadership of Dorothy Eustis, all of the dogs trained were German Shepherd females. (Ascarelli, 2010)
To this day, The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in the United Kingdom predominantly trains German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers, although they also train some other breeds too. (2013)
Support German Shepherd Guide Dogs
We hope you enjoyed finding out about the oldest and most famous guide dog breed, the German Shepherd. To keep German Shepherds in training to help the people who need it most, your support, no matter how big or small, is needed.
This Christmas we’d like to encourage you to give the gift of Guide Dog Sponsorship – visit our Christmas Hub to find out more.