Keweenaw german shepherds


In 1899, Max von Stephanitz bought a 4-year-old shepherd-type dog, renamed him Horand von Grafrath, and started a new breed, the German Shepherd Dog (above top left).  The original GSD’s were tall, square, lean, and fit.  Horand fathered many pups, among them Hector von Schwaben, who in turn produced Beowulf, a male who fathered 84 pups.  At least 4 times (from #41 to #76), GSD’s were outcrossed with European Wolves.  Anti-German sentiment caused the British to call the breed “Alsation Wolf-Dog” from around 1917 to 1977.

The GSD was meant to be a working dog, not a show dog, and while von Stephanitz was in charge, the breed was improved through rather ruthless culling.  The 1902 Champion, Peter von Pritschen was a fine specimen (above lower left), and until 1925 all the Champions were similar large long-legged square (straight-backed) dogs.  Thereafter, however, the popularity of the breed combined with greedy and short-sighted breeders selecting for style (such as a severely sloping top line) rather than fitness and ability, resulted in disease, malformation, hip and elbow dysplasia, monorchidism, poor temperament and other defects to prevail, so much so that the 2016 Crufts Champion was essentially crippled and was derisively but somewhat accurately called “half frog, half dog”.

There were good GSD’s remaining however -- mostly working dogs rather than the show dogs -- with enough genetic diversity to restore the breed.  Breeding for health and fitness resulted in increased size (size is not the goal, however).  According to Kennel Club standards (post-1925), the “ideal size” of a GSD is 22-26” at the withers with weights of 66-88 lbs for males 49-71 lbs for females.  At KGSD, our males are typically 27-31” and 110-140 lbs, and our females are 25-28” and 90-110 lbs.  I often say “I don’t really like big dogs” (per se), but our shepherds are well-proportioned, well-balanced, and agile; you often don’t realize how big they are until they stand next to another dog. 

Our eternal thanks to the breeders who came before us and worked hard to re-create the original GSD.  Thank you!  There are several, but the one we’re most familiar with is Robin Krumm of Royalair German Shepherds in Grinnell, Iowa.  If you spot a good looking GSD anywhere, chances are it has Royal(air) blood (KGSD included).  Royalair’s Silver Blade (below) is a modern-day version of the earliest GSD’s, and his grandmother Silver Phoenix is the most beautiful female GSD I’ve ever seen (excepting KGSD’s foundation female Ellie of course!).  Thank you and congratulations Robin.  And kudos to Danielle and Karl Hofmeister, who had the good sense to obtain a male (Kane) and female (Lady) from Robin and produce our Ellie.

KGSD will certainly never be a “puppy mill” or even be a large commercial-type breeder.  We have family dogs that have puppies (with carefully selected breedings), at most once or twice a year.  We produce beautiful, friendly, straight-backed, intelligent, healthy, family-friendly home-raised dogs that reflect the grace, strength, fitness, and ability of the original GSD.

1919 or 2019? Hard to tell... Royalair’s Silver Blade

photo courtesy of Royalair German Shepherds

These are some of the other breeders that are producing “original” GSD.  As mentioned, Royalair German Shepherds, also Windy Acres Shepherds, Ardenthaus German ShepherdsSaulhaus German Shepherds, and Rosehall Kennel.

KeweenawGSD  KeweenawShepherds  KeweenawGermanShepherds

UP Michigan GSD German Shepherds Northern Michigan German Shepherds


Large, old-fashioned, straight-backed, family-friendly, intelligent, long-lived, and most importantly, bred for fitness, health, and temperament not style or size, with good to excellent hips and elbows and DM-free.

This is the KGSD credo, continuing and building on the work done by several others

to restore the original GSD characteristics and re-create the finest dog in the world.

The original 1899 GSD

Horand von Grafrath

1902 Champion

Peter von Pritschen

White Collar Boy

one of 7 males in the current Bailey - Quolt litter