Irresponsible Breeding Linked to Health issues
Irresponsible breeding has led to some health problems. The most prevalent of these is Hip Dysplasia. To overcome this problem, the Kennel Club instituted a hip-scoring scheme in 1983. Another bone disease that can affect fast growing, large dogs, as GSDs are, is panosteitis, males are affected more often than females. Bloat is a disease of deep-chested dogs but can often be prevented with careful husbandry. Cutaneous vasculopathy affects GSD puppies causing crusty ears, tail and swollen, cracked pads. Congenital heart problems have also been found in German Shepherd Dogs.
History & Origin of the GSD
Formed from a variety of different types of shepherd dogs, the German Shepherd Dog (or GSD) can trace its origins back to the 7th century. Its appearance, almost wolf-like, would suggest an even earlier ancestry. Originally bred for herding, this breed has been used more extensively in this century for guard and protection work. It is also used as a guide dog in the United States and has an honorable career with both police and armed forces. Finally, one cannot forget its frequent television and film appearances. At the end of the 19th century, Rittmeister Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz dedicated himself to the refinement and protection of the GSD. GSDs were first shown in 1882, and in 1899 the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde, which is the German breed club for GSDs, was formed. It was through this club and the work of the Rittmeister that GSDs were developed for use with the police and armed forces, thus saving the breed from extinction during the difficult times at the beginning of the 20th century. During World War I the Germans used GSDs as messenger dogs and to locate the wounded. Allied soldiers admired the dogs' intelligence and courage and brought many of them home after the war, thus establishing the breed in other countries. However, it is felt that the best GSDs still come from Germany.