Wednesday, September 12, 2012

German Shepherd History in Vintage Photos

Established in Germany in 1899 as a medium sized herding breed, and discovered by the rest of the world around 1914, the German Shepherd is now a larger dog with all around working skills.

Below - the breed in 1907, shortly after its German debut (Robert Leighton's The New Book of the Dog). Note caption below the photo says, "Typical German Sheepdogs."
I make a point of not commenting on historical aspects of dog breeding on my blog.  By using photos showing dogs then and now, readers can draw their own conclusions. The vintage photos I've selected show how much the German Shepherd has changed in the last hundred years.

The Shepherd below was a contestant in a dog show, probably about 1910.
Library of Congress

This photo was taken in the US, around 1915.
Library of Congress

The date, 1927, is penciled on the back of this photo.  I think it's a Shepherd.

From my collection, the photo of the tres chic woman and dog was taken around 1935.

Rin Tin Tin, around 1945. This is about the time the breed began to get bigger and heavier.

The breed in the mid 1950s.

Then in the mid 1960s.

This is what German Shepherds bred for show look like today.  The structure of the dog, in particular the long sloping back and the diseases related to the trait, are topics of great debate among breeders.

Source: Wikipedia

In recent years some breeders have restored their Shepherd lines, so that the back is more like a table-top, similar to the dog in the 1915 picture below.
Source: Library of Congress

See how other breed have changed in the last century. Click on the breed name.

Rat Terrier

Boston Terrier

Bully Dogs





Other Breeds


  1. I have always loved shepherds and we had one. He was really big and had a lot of black. One day we were driving out of a campground and a kid looks up at him and says, "Wow, neat bear", LOL.


  2. Nice post, Hopefully Rancho will have a healthy back and hips. So far it looks like he has that table top back.

  3. For me, German shepherd dogs look regal.

  4. Excellent and helpful post.I am so glad to left comment on this. This has been a so interesting ..I appreciate your effort..