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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The German Shepherd Dog: A Soldier's Best Friend

We loved this slide show in the New York Times that briefly documents the history of the German shepherd dog in military regiments around the world. And from World War II (when they were named the Army's official mascot), through Afghanistan, this amazing breed has partnered with American soldiers in their various global operations, particularly in explosive device detection units.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo News

But has this gorgeous breed "had its day", as the writer, Susan Orlean, hypothesized is Sunday's New York TImes? If you've read the plethora of articles lately on the paradox of breeding in general and "bad breeding" in particular in the various dog magazines, you understand the impact (both good and bad) of breeding for certain physical and emotional traits on something pretty important: the dogs themselves.

The German shepherd today. Photo courtesy of Yahoo News

As Orlean discusses in her recent opinion piece in the Times, the breeds popularity is waning, and that may be a good thing for the breed: when there is less demand for any particular breed, less puppies by both legitimate breeders and unscrupulous breeders are produced, which in turn helps to maintain the original breed standards, rather than dilute those standards in a "ramped up production" of the dogs to meet over-zealous demands.

Now, we're not criticizing legitimate breeders or those who own purebred dogs. As we're fond of saying, some of our best friends are purebreds, and we think breeds and their history are inextricably woven into the world's history, which to our way of thinking, makes their preservation imperative.

But what about the many opinions out there that an outsized demand for a particular breed works to destroy the breed? Let us know what you're thinking about this very important issue!


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