Origin of the Breed

A true answer on the origin of the breed and its incorrect names is:


German Sheepdogs are first shown, at Hanover Show.


        The German Phylax Society forms on 16 December to promote the German Sheepdog. It disbands in 1894.


The Verein für deutsche Schäferhund (SV) is formed on 22 April with Max von Stephanitz as president and Artur Meyer as secretary, attracting 60 members that year (reaching 50,000 in 1923, around 100,000 in 1999); it takes responsibility for breed registration and breed direction. Basically, the breed is developed from working stock of 3 "types" found then in the regions of Thuringia, Frankonia and Württemberg. On September 20th the club approves bylaws, opens its Registry and, at the suggestion of Meyer and von Stephanitz, composes the breed-standard to be passed to the VDH (German Kennel Club). The first GSD registered (SZ 1) is Horand von Grafrath, a Thuringian dog originally named Hektor Linksrhein; his parents later receive registrations SZ 153 & 156.
A few GSDs found their way to Western Australia (1904), NAmerica (1906) and Britain before World War 1 but had no Breed Register. In Britain they were usually known as "French Police Dogs"; those that were shown went into the "Other Breeds" classes where they could win prizes but could not become champions.


The breed's first British club is formed. In an attempt to hide the German origin they name the breed Alsatian Wolf Dog. Alsatian derives from the province of Alsace-Lorraine which was sometimes German, sometimes French. The "Wolf" was probably a combination of implying that the dog had to protect the sheep from wolves, and because Germans use "wolf" to describe the grey-sable colouring common in early GSDs, but it backfires with rumours of wolf-crosses. As a consequence there has been a series of name-changes in Britain, and their KC STILL hasn't got around to registering the dog in its proper 3-word name!

By the way, the German wolf was effectively extinct before 1899, the breed surviving in zoos; at least one such had been crossed with a German sheep dog in Thuringia before the SV was formed.


The British Alsatian League is formed.


In January the 2 British clubs merge as the Alsatian League & Club of Great Britain. Although in Queen Elizabeth II's decades Britain's royal family are better known for Corgis, in at least the period 1924-1934 the 3 princes Edward Prince of Wales (later briefly King Edward VIII), Henry, and George (later King George VI) were involved in Alsatians, most prominent being the Prince of Wales who was a successful competitor in both breed & obedience classes and became an Honorary Member of the Alsatian League & Club


Australia bans Alsatian imports. Some states require native-born Alsatians to be de-sexed


In January Britain renames the breed "Alsatian"


In September Britain renames the breed "Alsatian (German Shepherd Dog)"


In July Britain renames the breed "German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian)"

Modern reality:

Although to kennel clubs an Alsatian & a GSD are the same, true GSD fanciers see most show-is-all "GSDs" as being NOT GSDs at all. We use sneer-names to show which departure we are referring to: Alsatian,