Q. Why does the same dog have two different names
A. Basically the breed originally started out as a German Shepherd dog, changed to Alsatian, and then back to German Shepherd dog. This has led to some confusion amongst non-experts over which term to use.
Although the breed of dog started life in Germany, hence one of its names, at the end of the War it was thought that the breed would not flourish were the word German to appear in its name and it was therefore decided to call the breed the Alsatian Wolf Dog after the German-French border area of Alsace-Lorraine.
Obviously 'wolf dog' isn't a great name for a dog, that amongst other things makes a great family pet, and this was dropped too.
In 1977, following numerous campaigns by breeders the name of the breed was changed back to the German Shepherd Dog by which it is known in the USA, Australia, and most other countries.
Q.How long has the German Shepherd dog been around
A. Things first started taking shape for the German Shepherd dog in 1891 when a group of enthusiasts formed the Phylax Society. The societys aim was to encourage the breeding of native German dogs. Although the society was short lived, it started a trend amongst dog breeders that eventually led to the German Shepherd dog.
Q. Which dog was the 'first' German Shepherd dog
A. In 1899 Captain Max von Stephanitz spotted his ideal dog, one that embodied everything that the German Shepherd dog should have. He bought the dog and formed a society, the Verein fur deutsche Schaferhunde or SV for short, dedicated to the breed.
Many breeders then used the dog, Horand v Grafeth in their breeding programmes.
Q. When did the German Shepherd dog officially become a breed
A. In 1919, when the English Kennel Club gave the breed a separate register. At the time only 54 animals were included, however the breed became very popular quickly and in 1926 there were 8,058 registered.
Q. Do they make good sheep dogs
A. Yes, in fact to be truly happy in life the German Shepherd dog needs an important job to do. They also make excellent police dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs and drug sniffer dogs.
Q. They sound very active
A. Yes, you should only have one of these dogs as a pet if you can offer them lots of outside space and plenty of vigorous exercise.
There are lots of different breeds of dogs; do you have a question for The AnswerBank about any one of them
by Lisa Cardy