DDR German Shepherds are named for the Deutsches Demokratische Republik (German Democratic Republic) or what is known in English as East Germany. The DDR was formed in 1949 at the end of the World War II.
After the surrender of Germany at the conclusion of the war, Berlin and the remaining German territory was partitioned into four occupation zones by the Allied forces. The Western three sectors, controlled by France, United Kingdom, and United States merged on May 23, 1949 to form the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland).
On October 7, 1949 the Soviet Union closed the borders on the Eastern sector it occupied and it became the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or DDR).
The two areas, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic) were informally known as “West Germany” and “East Germany” and the division began the period known as the Cold War.
In East Germany, The Socialist Union party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands) commonly known as the East German Communist Party, took control of German Shepherd pedigree registration and breeding, in effect making the German Shepherd dog part of its military complex.
Strict breeding criteria was put in place and breed wardens aggressively culled dogs with any sign of hip dysplasia or weak temperament. DDR dogs were bred for power and athleticism, with straight toplines and large, strong heads. Breed wardens inspected every litter for proper dentition, temperament, bone structure, ear set, coat quality, and total overall appearance. Males with undescended testicles were culled.
While West German dogs were tested over five-foot angled walls, East German dogs were required to scale straight six-foot walls. West German dogs searched six blinds, DDR dogs searched ten blinds. West German tracking tests included eight corners and angles, DDR tracking tests included 16. The DDR German Shepherds were bred to endure harsh weather conditions and long, arduous patrols.
As part of the Grenzschutz Polizei (Border Police), DDR dogs were put to work actively guarding the 850 miles long East German border and the 100 mile-long Berlin wall. The DDR border patrol dogs served as sentries, tracking dogs, and attack dogs. Special units were formed to track deserters over large expanses of countryside.
When the German borders were opened in 1989 the need for guards and guard dogs ended. Within five months of the border opening half of the 50,000 guards had been dismissed with the remainder retained to dismantle the border fortifications. Many of the DDR dogs were sold, abandoned, or put down.
Today, Vom Banach K9 is one of a small number of dedicated breeders worldwide actively preserving the DDR lineage and it’s physical soundness and structure, intelligence, working abilities, natural drive, highly developed tracking abilities, temperament, and devotion to their handler.
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