German Shepherds: Man’s Or Woman’s Best Guardian

German Shepherds

The Loyal Guardian German Shepherd

Guest Author: Marqeteer

When using the epithet of “man’s best friend” about dogs, we sometimes forget that this can mean more than just a buddy. Sure, your dog can be a friendly companion who greets you in the morning and when you come home from work, as well as someone you can scratch behind the ears while you relax on your porch or in the park. In this respect, your dog is a friend in the common way that we are all used to. However, friends are not always the gentle type; sometimes a friend is someone who protects, defends, and serves. K-9 units, police officers paired with highly trained dogs, are the perfect example of how dogs are friends to humans in every respect.

German Shepherd Mixes - Breed Profile : German Shepherds
Credit: Ana Fuentes, Flickr

A Breed for Law and Order

German Shepherds are the most commonly used breed for police work in the United States, owing to their natural tendencies towards strength, courage, intelligence, and perhaps most importantly, train-ability. These dogs are used not only for police work, but also for personal protection, search and rescue operations, military work, and even for acting – look back on movies that had dogs in them and try to see how many German Shepherds you notice. There are surprisingly quite a few on the big screen, and that is because they are such intelligent dogs that are great at learning new, complex skills and behaviors.

In fact, German Shepherds are considered to be the third most intelligent breed, just behind Border Collies and Poodles, as studies have found that the breed can learn simple tasks after repeating it five times and that they obey the first command given nearly 100% of the time. That is an incredible learning curve and level of obedience, and exactly what you are looking for in a dog breed that is expected to perform at the professional level and dealing with the public while also potentially being put into very dangerous, stressful, and even life-threatening, situations.

Canine Protectors

One of the earliest and most notable uses of dogs within a law enforcement context is the use of two bloodhounds to track down Jack the Ripper in late 19th century England.  The Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police had come under considerable attack from the media for the failure to apprehend Jack the Ripper – the world’s first modern serial killer who was, appropriately, accompanied by a media frenzy that we see again and again in society today – and his failure to use bloodhounds was one of the complaints leveled at him. Finally, the bloodhounds were used to track the killer from a recent crime scene, but they were unsatisfactory at best. One bit his hand, then they ran off, and police officers had to be assigned to track them down!

It wasn’t until several decades later when Parisian and later Belgian, police departments began using dog service programs, which spread to Austria-Hungary and Germany, where scientific methods were used to breed and train dogs specifically for police work. The German police selected the German Shepherd Dog as their preferred breed for police work, and in 1920 the first dog training school was opened in Greenheide.

Today, of course, many breeds are used for police work across the world, but in the United States, the German Shepherd remains the police officer’s best friend. No other breed has proven to have the strength, the bravery, and the intelligence to perform so well in the role again and again, and it is unlikely that any other breed will ever outperform the German Shepherd as the greatest canine protector we have.

Guest Author: +Neil Kilgore is the Jack (Russell) of all trades at Greenfield Puppies in Lancaster Pa. He regularly blogs about dogs, breeders, and puppies on the Greenfield Puppies website.

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6 thoughts on “German Shepherds: Man’s Or Woman’s Best Guardian”

  1. Well what else I can say about German Shepherds, they are a highly intelligent dog, loyal and a great protector.

    I have many cases where German Shepherds learn new tricks in just 2 or 3 sessions, the fast of learning is quite impressive when you compare it with hundreds of other breeds, nothing comes close with German Shepherd.

    Love your article 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment, Michelle. I’m glad you loved my article about German Shepherds. I agree with you that they are highly intelligent dogs. I love training with GSDs for that very reason. All the best!

    • I can understand why you would find them intimidating, Iana. But I love them. They’re my all-time favorite dog. Thanks for stopping by! Come back soon. I love your Kid Can Doodle site, by the way. It’s cool.

  2. I happen to love German shepherds myself! Jedi is my 3rd shepherd. We’re attempting AKC conformation. (Poor Jedi could use a better handler.) We’ve done a little herding and some nose work too.

    You are so right about the versatility of the breed. In the GSD community we have a saying “#1 in nothing; #2 in EVERYTHING.” They’re smart, loving, funny, protective and incredibly loyal — but they’re not a breed for everybody. Without exercise, training, structure and mental stimulation they can be destructive and aggressive.

    Kelley’s Dog Blog – The A to Z of Dog Shows
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    • I love German Shepherds too. I’ve only had the one purebred, and a couple of half-breeds. But I’d get another one in a heartbeat if I could. They’re just such a great dog, like you say. Smart, loving, funny, protective and loyal. I agree that they need training and structure. They’re a strong dog to have out of control, for starters. Mine almost pulled me out on the road in front of a semi truck one day when she saw a dog on the other side. That’s when I decided on obedience classes. We ended up going to many classes, doing competition, and agility. We (I?) had so much fun. Thanks for stopping by, Kelley!. I appreciate it.

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