Brief History of the Breed in Australia
The ‘Deutsche Schäferhund’ or ‘German Shepherd Dog’ originated from herding breeds in Germany in the late 1800’s under the guidance of Captain Max von Stephanitz. It was not long before people realised that this was a dog of extraordinary intelligence and that it had a suitability for working. In 1899 a breed society known as Der Verein fur Deutsch Schaferhunde (The Club for German Shepherd Dogs) was formed in Germany. The first registered dog in the stud book was Horand v Grafath.
By around 1918 the breed had reached the shores of the UK following the First World War. A breed club was formed in 1919 in the UK and the breed was known as Alsatian Wolf Dog, a name which was to undergo change later due to the connotations that the breed was aligned with the wolf breed. Hence the name was changed to Alsatian.
In Australia early imports of German Shepherd Dogs known as “German Sheep Dogs” were known to have hit West Australian shores around 1904. Two of these imports were Freia vom Park and Stephen vom Park. Others were known to have been imported into Melbourne around 1925 and many other imports followed in other States.
In October 1928 the Federal Government of Australia placed an importation ban on the breed which was enforced in 1929. During the course of the import ban, which was to stretch for another 43 years, a number of imports were smuggled into the country.
Unfortunately the import ban was not lifted until 1972 with some restrictions remaining until 1976. With the lifting of the import ban the breed enjoyed a surge in popularity with record numbers of German Shepherd Dogs being shown at National shows during the 1980’s. The popularity of the breed peaked during the 1990’s and the German Shepherd Dog became the most popular breed in Australia in terms of registrations of puppies.
Today the breed is still one of the most popular breeds in terms of registrations.
In 2011 the Long Stock Coat variety, which were previously not allowed to be shown, were accepted to be registered in a separate register for Long Stock Coats from the 1st January 2012 and were allowed to be shown in the show ring separately from the Stock Coat variety.
(For further reading about the history of the breed in Australia – see Mary and Peggy Davidson’s article in the “Golden Jubilee Edition of the Condensed History of the GSD in Australia”, page 5. The Golden Jubilee Edition is available for purchase – see Publications)