A consistent runner up in the American Kennel Club’s annual poll of the most popular breeds, the German Shepherd Dog holds the title of top dog in the heart of anyone who has ever been fortunate enough to have one in their life. In fact, the breed is so beloved among admirers that they even have their very own pet holiday– German Shepherd Day, which is celebrated each year on May 10th!
How Did German Shepherd Day Begin?
International German Shepherd Day has been celebrated on May 10 every year since 2001. It was created by the official The German Shepherd Day Facebook page, founded to honor the late GSD Peter George de Corban.
Fun Facts About German Shepherds
The touching Red Foley tune “Old Shep” was inspired by the iconic country crooner’s childhood canine chum, a German Shepherd named Hoover.
Arrow, who helps to defend endangered wildlife in Africa, became the first ever skydiving anti-poaching dog in 2016, a feat which earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records!
After the first World War the breed was called the Alsatian Wolf Dog in the United Kingdom. The name was not changed to German Shepherd Dog until 1977.
Ranked behind only by the border collie and the poodle, German Shepherd Dogs are considered one of the most intelligent tail-waggers!
Inspired by the true tale of dogs who were being trained in Germany to support for World War I veterans who had lost their sight, Morris Frank– who had been blind since childhood– traveled to Switzerland, where at Fortunate Fields dog training school he was paired with a German Shepherd he dubbed Buddy.
Returning to America upon completion of the training program, Mr. Frank and Buddy opened the eyes of the world to the limitless opportunities open to those without sight when together they crossed a crowded New York City street in the presence of reporters. Morris Frank would go on to co-found The Seeing Eye in 1929.
Today dog lovers can read about the special bond between Mr. Frank and Buddy in a book co-authored by her human, First Lady of the Seeing Eye, as well as in the children’s books Dog Diaries #2: Buddy and Morris and Buddy: The Story of the First Seeing Eye Dog.
Tourists in the city of Morristown, New Jersey can also visit a statue of Morris Frank and the dog who gave him the gift of self-reliance.
German Shepherds in The White House
Joe Biden — Having already held the title of First Vice-Fido, Champ can teach Major what it’s like to be a pup in the world of politics. Making history by being the first rescue dog to live in The White House, Major was adopted by the Bidens from The Delaware Humane Association in 2018.
Rutherford B. Hayes — Among the coterie of the 19th President’s animal companions were German Shepherds Hector and Nellie.
John F. Kennedy — A loyal companion to Jacqueline Kennedy, Clipper was a gift to the First Lady from her father-in-law, Joseph Kennedy. The memory of Clipper lives on through a toy as part of the Presidential Pets collection.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt — Many years before Major Biden moved into the White House, another German Shepherd called Major promenaded through the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Before becoming a First Fido, Major served as a police dog.
Famous Pet Parents of German Shepherds
Ben Affleck — A German Shepherd named Hutch stars in the life of the Academy Award winner.
Jennifer Aniston — Dolly, a white German Shepherd mix, was a friend indeed to the Friends alum, and even played a part in the star’s wedding to actor Justin Theroux in 2015.
Bo Derek and John Corbett — A German Shepherd called Aiden during his days at the rescue LA PAWS is just one of the many furry family members at the home of Bo Derek (10) and John Corbett (Northern Exposure, Sex and The City.) Here’s Bo’s barking buddy Chica helping her human explain how to properly greet a dog.
Billy Ray Cyrus — A member of the Cyrus family for nine years, upon the passing of white German Shepherd Mate the “Achy Breaky Heart” singer stated: “Feel like the Tin Man. Now I know I have a heart…because it’s broken.” Miley Cyrus wrote: “Never ever will you be forgotten. Thank you for the loyalty and friendship. You are my brother.”
George Foreman — A boxer with a love for German Shepherds, the sports icon would prepare for a fight with a faithful member of the breed by his side. Speaking with The Wall Street Journal about his tail-wagging training partner, Foreman stated: ” There’s no better companion. You’ve got to have a friend. I didn’t like opponents who had dogs with them. Because you know they had a little edge. They have a friend.”
Jake Gyllenhaal — Finding inspiration in the Harper Lee classic To Kill A Mockingbird, the actor named his German Shepherd Atticus Finch, while he called his Puggle Boo Radley.
Enrique Iglesias — The hit-making heartthrob has been a “Hero” in the eyes of several dogs over the years, among them German Shepherds Lucas (who was captured on camera jet skiing with his famous father) and Max. The crooner found one of his four-legged family members at Westside German Shepherd Rescue in Los Angeles.
Bucky Lasek — The pro skateboarder’s dog Jack, a German Shepherd mix who was found at a pound by his forever family, starred alongside his famous father in a PSA for the Petco Foundation’s Think Adoption First campaign.
Kaley Cuoco — Among the many rescue animals who landed a coveted real life role as a fur baby to The Big Bang Theory star was a German Shepherd named Zeus, who she had found roaming the streets.
Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder — A celebrity couple who have portrayed immortals on the big and small screen in the Twilight film franchise and the hit CW series The Vampire Diaries, the two stars share an undying commitment to help animals. Pet parents to several fur babies, the pair shared many years with a German Shepherd named Ira. Upon Ira’s passing in 2018, Reed wrote: “You are the definition of love my gorgeous girl. You taught me so much about so much…in many ways our greatest teacher.” Through The Ian Somerhalder Foundation, both actors continue to help both the environment and all creatures great and small. One way they aid our four-legged friends is through the foundation’s Medical Emergency Grant Program for Animals, which has helped close to 2,500 animals in need as of 2021.
John Stamos — For years he starred alongside a Golden Retriever named Comet on the ABC family-friendly series Full House, but behind the camera a German Shepherd named Linka played a starring role in the actor’s life. Upon his canine companion’s passing in 2016, the star wrote: “She was always there, especially in the dark times. Never judging. By my side. Only loyal.”
Robert Wagner — A star of Hollywood’s Golden Era with a heart of gold when it comes to animals, the actor is a proud pet parent to a German Shepherd named Duke, and previously shared his home with two canine companions of the same breed, named Max and Larry. Named in honor of his friend Sir Laurence Olivier, in the autobiography Pieces of My Heart, Wagner wrote that for 11 years the German Shepherd “was the blood of my heart, embodying joy as well as a nobility of spirit and form.”
Katherine Heigl — In 2011 two German Shepherds from Coastal German Shepherd Rescue landed the coveted role of fur babies of the Emmy Award-winning co-founder of The Jason Debus Heigl Foundation.
German Shepherd in the Movies
Ace The Wonder Dog starred in 15 films over the course of his career, most notably as the main character’s canine companion in the 1943 feature The Phantom.
Delgado in Beverly Hills Chihuahua — The stout-hearted former police dog helps to save the day in the family- friendly flick.
Diggs in Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore — A four-legged secret agent in the 2010 send up of 007 movies.
Kiki in Kickboxer — A German Shepherd who starred with The Muscles from Brussels Jean-Claude Van Damme in the 1989 action movie.
Lester in Halloween — This German Shepherd met his fate at the hands of Michael Meyers in the classic fright flick.
Rin Tin Tin — Born in the battlefields of France in World War I, after his rescue by an American soldier, Rin Tin Tin would become both a big and small screen symbol of courage. The descendants of one of the world’s most recognized Rovers proudly carried on his legacy of loyalty, with Rin Tin Tin III playing a key role in the creation of the US Military Working Dog training program at California’s Camp Hahn in 1939. His progeny would serve their country as war heroes, with one descendant working as a member of a search and recovery team at the Pentagon after the attacks of 9/11.
Sam (Samantha) in I Am Legend — German Shepherds Abby and Kona portrayed the same role on the silver screen alongside Will Smith.
Shep — A German Shepherd named Flame found stardom in the title role in the 1946 movie My Dog Shep.
Thor — Named after the Norse god of thunder and lightning, Thor– the German Shepherd who plays a prominent role in the 1996 horror flick Bad Moon— was primarily portrayed by a dog actor named Primo.
Thunder The Wonder Dog — A star of the silent screen, Thunder once acted alongside movie legend Clara Bow.
Won Ton Ton — Augustus Von Schumacher was the name of the German Shepherd who portrayed a Rover whose popularity rivaled that of Rin Tin Tin in the 1976 comedic ode to the Tinseltown of yesteryear, Won Ton Ton, The Dog Who Saved Hollywood.
German Shepherds on TV
Brandy in After Life — Well over 70 million viewers have watched a German Shepherd named Anti star alongside funnyman /animal advocate Ricky Gervais in the British dramedy series.
Bullet — The real life fur baby of The King of the Cowboys and his wife Dale Evans, Bullet The Wonder Dog starred alongside his famous pet parents onThe Roy Rogers Show, which aired from 1951 – 1957.
Maximillion — A German Shepherd named Bracken was among the four dogs who portrayed the bionic barking buddy of Jamie Somers in the series The Bionic Woman.
Oscar — A dog dubbed Hunter portrayed ex-cadaver-detecting police canine Oscar in the HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Pax — The white German Shepherds who collectively portrayed insurance investigator Mike Longstreet’s seeing eye dog on the 70s crime drama Longstreetwere lauded for their acting ability with the American Humane Association’s Performing Animal Star of the Year award (also known as the PATSY.)
Adopting A German Shepherd
If you are a potential pet parent who is thinking about welcoming a German Shepherd into your heart and home, look for a Beagle rescue in your area! Search for adoptable German Shepherds online at: