Derived from the old breeds of herding and farm dogs, the German Shepherd Dog has been subject to intensive development. Backed by the 'Verein für Deutsche Schaferhunde', the parent club of the breed founded in 1899 in Germany, the popularity of the Shepherd spread rapidly from about 1914 onward in many parts of the world.
Its potential as more than just a herding dog was recognised after its service with the German army during the First World War where it was seen as a messenger dog, rescue dog, sentry dog, and personal guard dog. Servicemen from the USA, UK, and the Commonwealth would see first hand the dog's bravery, intelligence, and steadfastness, and many stories were taken back home. Not surprisingly, a number of dogs were acquired by servicemen and transported home with them. Many dogs were brought into this country after 1918 and were called 'Alsatians'. The reason being that having just fought the Germans for four years, it was thought that the breed would not flourish if the word German were to appear in its name and it was therefore decided to call the breed the Alsatian Wolf Dog after the German-French border area of Alsace-Lorraine. The Wolf Dog tag was later to be dropped again as it was felt that this would prejudice the breed. Thus we had for many years the misnomer of the breed brought about by national hostilities.
In 1977, following numerous campaigns by breeders, the name of the breed was changed back to the German Shepherd Dog by which it is known today. Interest in the breed has been fostered by speciality clubs in many lands including the UK.