Phylax Society - first German Shepherd Dog club

Max von Stephanitz and Horand
The Phylax Society was the first German Shepherd Dog club, formed with the intention of creating a standardised German dog breed.

Establishment
Throughout Europe, unofficial groups had been operating to selectively breed dogs with profound qualities. While distinct breeds were being established they often differed dramatically, both in appearance and utility, across localities. As a result, in 1891 the Phylax Society (Phylax being Greek for "guardsman") was formed with the intention of creating a standardised German dog breed by hand-picking, from sheep dogs belonging to local German shepherds, those which displayed superior qualities than those of other dogs.

Disestablishment
The official existence of the Phylax Society was short lived. Early in the group's history there was constant bickering regarding the desired traits of what would become the German Shepherd Dog. Some of the members felt aesthetics were not important in a dog breed, instead desiring that the dog be useful as a working breed, rather than having a pleasing look. Other members preferred that the dog be bred more for beauty with less of a focus on having a working breed. This argument was never settled and after numerous attempts to breed the German Shepherd dog failed by producing dogs with little to no utility, many of the members left; resulting in the Phylax Society disbanding in 1894, only four years after its establishment.

Post-Phylax Society
Although the Phylax Society had disbanded, many former members continued in attempts to breed a dog with superior qualities. It was due to the original formation of the Phylax Society that Max von Stephanitz was inspired to form the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (Society for the German Shepherd Dog) in 1899, which ultimately lead to the creation of the modern German Shepherd Dog breed.
  Horand von Grafrath
MAX EMIL FRIEDRICH von STEPHANITZ
Born December 30 1864 in Dresden into German nobility, Max von Stephanitz is credited with having developed the German Shepherd Dog breed as it is currently known, set guidelines for the breed standard and was the first president of the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (S.V.).

Stephanitz was a career cavalry officer and former student of the Berlin Veterinary College.  At the college he gained valuable knowledge about biology, anatomy and the science of movement all of which he later applied to the breeding of dogs.

Stephanitz purchased property near Grafrath in the 1890s where he began experimenting with dog breeding.  He used many of the techniques utilised by English dog breeders of the period.  Stephanitz enjoyed attending dog shows and observed that there were many different types of shepherding dogs in use in Germany but there was no breed standardization.  He greatly admired those dogs with a wolf-ish appearance and prick ears who also were intelligent, had sharp senses and a willingness to work.  In 1899 while attending a show in Karlsruhe he was shown a dog named Hektor Kinksrhein.  Hektor was the product of many generations of selective breeding and completely fulfilled what von Stephanitz believed a working dog should be.  He was pleased with the strength of the dog and was so taken by the animal's intelligence and loyalty that he purchased it immediately.  After purchasing the dog he changed it name to Horand von Grafrath

Horand was used as the primary breeding stud by von Stephanitz and other breeders and is the foundation of the German Shepherd breed as we know it.  Stephanitz used the knowledge he had acquired during his years at the Veterinary College and established a 'grand design' he wanted breeders to aim for with judging based on angle of bones, proportions and overall measurements.

Horand became the centre-point of the breeding program and was bred with dogs that displayed the required desirable traits.  Although fathering many pups, Horand's most successful son was Hektor von Schwaben.  Hektor was inbred with another of Horand's offspring and produced Beowulf, who later fathered a total of eighty-four pups, mostly through being inbred with Hektor's other offspring.  Beowulf's progeny also were inbred and it is from these pups that all German Shepherds draw a genetic link.

Horand was declared to be the first German Shepherd Dog and was the first dog added to the register of the  Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde.





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