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10 Most Interesting German Shepherd Facts You Never Knew

Did you know there’s a sky-diving German Shepherd that rescues animals from illegal poachers? And have you heard about the German Shepherd that became the world’s first archaeologist? Interested in learning just how intelligent these dogs are?

German Shepherds may be one of the most interesting dog breeds in the world. And in this article, we’re counting down the 10 most interesting German Shepherd facts that you probably never knew! Make sure to let us know in the comments if we missed any good ones!

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1. German Shepherds are incredibly intelligent

If you already own a German Shepherd, you’ve probably already realized just how smart they are. But just really how intelligent are these dogs? I mean – there’s a reason why GSDs are the breed of choice for all police departments around the world.

According to renowned pHD and canine psychologist, Stanley Coren, German Shepherds are the third smartest dog breed in the world. In fact, only the Border Collie and Poodle rank above them.

Coren ranked dog breeds based on what’s called “obedience and working intelligence,” which basically measures how fast a dog learns a new command and how well they retain their training. But what does this actually mean for the German Shepherd?

It means that German Shepherds, on average, can learn a new command with less than 5 repetitions. They’re also able to obey a known command on the first attempt with a 95% or better success rate! They super smart and highly obedient too.

2. A German Shepherd saved Warner Bros Studios from bankruptcy in the 1920s.

Dogs are no stranger to Hollywood films. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy watching our furry companions on the big screen? However in the 1920s, there was one German Shepherd that became an international sensation.

A male German Shepherd named “Rin Tin Tin” was born in France and originally worked as a war dog. Having been rescued by an American soldier after the first World War, Rin-Tin-Tin moved to California, where he would go on to star in some of Hollywood’s greatest hits.

His owner, named Lee Duncan, had personally trained the dog for work in silent films. The talented canine shepherd would go on to star in 27 Hollywood films, gaining worldwide fame and a huge fan base of dog lovers.

His most important role came in 1923’s “Where the North Begins,” where he received his first starring role alongside silent actress Claire Adams. Rin Tin Tin was so successful that he was actually voted Best Actor at the 1929 Academy Awards!

However, the Academy of Motion Picture ultimately ended up replacing him with a human actor, because they wanted the award show to appear “more serious.” The huge success and profitability of Rin-Tin-Tin’s movie was actually what saved Warner Bros Studio from bankruptcy

It’s crazy to think that without Rin-Tin-Tin’s contributions to Hollywood, we might not have classic films such as The Matrix or The Departed. Today, Rin-Tin-Tin remains as one of only three dogs to ever have their paw prints on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

3. Sigmund Freud’s German Shepherd once “called a cab.”

If you didn’t know, Sigmund Freud was the legendary neurologist who made important contributions to the world of psychoanalysis. Most notably, he developed the theory of the human personality consisting of three aspects: the id, the ego, and the superego.

But as the story goes, Freud owned a German Shepherd named “Wolf,” who was the dog companion for his daughter. One day on an evening stroll, Anna and Wolf came across a group of soldiers. The men, for some reason, started firing blank rounds into the air.

Of course, this startled Wolf. So, he did what all smart animals do in this situation. Wolf ran for his life. And as soon as a customer opened the door of a taxi cab, Wolf leapt right in. The cabby driver noticed that the dog kept leaning towards him and lifting his head. 

Confused at the situation, the driver noticed an address on Wolf’s tag and decided to take him home. Of course, Freud left a big tip for the driver. So was this story true? Given how smart they are, GSD owners know this could be true. So, we’ll choose to believe the legend. 

4. German Shepherds have one of the strongest bites.

When talking about the world’s strongest dog bites, the Pit Bulls probably come to mind. After all, they are known for their “lockjaw” – which by the way is, in fact, a myth.

And while German Shepherds are by no means the biggest dogs out there, they actually have one of the strongest bite forces in the canine kingdom. Bite force is measured in PSI, which standards for pounds per square inch.

And according to researcher Sarah-Jane White, German Shepherds have a bite force of 238 to 291 PSI. For reference, the fearsome American Pit Bull Terrier has a bite force of 240 to 330 PSI, which is right there with the GSD.

Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Mastiffs and the Cane Corso also have a stronger bite. But the strongest bite goes to the Turkish Kangal Shepherd with a whopping bite force of 743 PSI.

5. The west changed the German Shepherds’ name after WWI.

German Shepherds have been around for a long time. In fact, they were developed in the late 1800s. However, they weren’t always called the German Shepherd, at least in the West. This breed made its way to western countries, such America, after WWI.

They were praised by American soldiers for their incredible athletic abilities. And many soldiers brought one back after the war. But about a decade after the war, leading up to WW2, the sentiment around Germany had drastically changed.

GSD breeders were afraid that the anti-German sentiment would hurt the breed’s popularity. So, they changed the breed’s name to the Alsatian Shepherd. The name Alsatian was named after the French-German border town of Alsace. 

Despite being a terrible name, it stuck around for nearly 5 decades. And in 1977, enthusiasts pressured British kennel clubs to allow people to register the breed as the German Shepherd once again. Needless to say, it worked. And…the rest is history.

6. The German Shepherd has one of the best noses in the canine kingdom.

German Shepherds aren’t known for having a good nose, but they actually do. The number of scent receptors in a dog’s nose is one of the key measurements of how sharp a dog’s nose is. On average, German Shepherds have 220 million scent receptors.

For reference, we only have 5 million scent receptors. So, it’s a little unfair to compare them to humans. But what’s truly amazing is that the German Shepherd matches the Beagle in scent receptors.

Beagles are known for their incredible sense of smell and are frequently used as narcotic dogs or in search & rescue squads. Only the Bloodhound has more, coming in at an astonishing 300 million scent receptors.

But of course, scent receptors aren’t everything when it comes to measuring sense of smell. Regardless, GSDs have one of the top noses.

7. One homeless German Shepherd adopted by a zoo, saved her keeper’s life from a jaguar. 

There are countless stories about German Shepherds doing heroic deeds. After all, these dogs are widely known for their bravery and loyalty. But have you ever heard the incredible story of Gabi the German Shepherd?

Gabi was a stray dog that stumbled into the Belgrade Zoo in the 1980s. Being around 8 years old, Gabi wasn’t young, but she was courageous and loyal to the zoo keeper that brought her in. In fact, she acted as the zoo’s informal security guard for many years.

However, one night, the zookeeper failed to realize that a jaguar had escaped his enclosure. Gabi immediately sensed the danger and without hesitation, she jumped on the large cat to protect her keeper. 

She ended up fighting the jaguar throughout the zoo for several minutes, giving the keeper enough time to call the police. In the end, the jaguar was caught and the zookeeper was alive. Fortunately, Gabi survived and remained at the zoo until she finally passed away.

Today, the zoo had built a statue honoring the heroic German Shepherd.

8. A 12-year old German Shepherd goes to mass to mourn every week.

Have you ever seen those videos of dogs grieving and even crying at their owners’ graves? Dogs are loyal animals, but none may be more loyal than the German Shepherd. And the story of Ciccio, a 12-year old German Shepherd, proves this.

Ciccio is no stranger to the Church of Santa Maria Assunta in San Donaci. When his owner was still alive, he used to attend church for Mass with her every day. But even months after his owner’s passing, Ciccio still visits the church for Mass to mourn his owner. 

Ciccio’s story went viral in 2014 after several pictures of the heartbroken dog in church were shared over social media. According to the church’s Father, Ciccio is always there and he’s always well behaved. He doesn’t make any sound and just sits in silence with a sad face.

As heartbreaking as this is, it just shows how loyal these dogs can be.

9. There’s a skydiving German Shepherd that saves animals from poachers. 

You may have heard of Brutus, the sky-diving Dachshund that set all sorts of records for highest jump by a dog. But there’s a German Shepherd named Arrow that parachutes from the sky in an attempt to catch poachers in South Africa.

In fact in 2016, the Guinness World Record recognized Arrow as the first skydiving anti-poaching dog in the world. If you’re having concerns for the dog’s safety, don’t worry. As a puppy, Arrow was specially selected for his calm temperament and exclusively trained for the job.

He first started his training by descending from a helicopter by rope, before eventually moving on to a skydive. After several months of formal training, Arrow has become a frontline weapon in protecting the endangered wildlife of Africa.

And because of the huge success with Arrow, other dogs are expected to complete training and take on this important job. 

10. The world’s first archaeology dog is a German Shepherd. 

In 2016, a German Shepherd named Fabel made headlines after sniffing out 400 year-old human bones at an archeology site in Sweden. And as of now, Fabel is still the only scientifically-tested archeology dog in the world.

In other words, he was specifically trained for this job, and was tested both in a laboratory and in the real world. Fabel is so good at his job that he can distinguish human bones from animal bones with a 94.2 percent certainty!

He’s also incredibly good at locating old graves before they’re even found! According to Fabel’s handler, it’s extremely difficult to locate skeletons under the ground. In fact, despite modern technology, there are still no efficient technical methods to find them. 

But by harnessing the German Shepherd’s amazing sense of smell, we can save archaeologists hundreds of hours in tedious work. So if you could train your dog to locate anything, what would it be? Let us know in the comments section below!

Did we miss any good facts that deserve to be on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

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