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A breed of many names
The German Shepherd is also known as the Alsatian and the police dog, the latter because it is commonly used in police departments especially in Europe and North America. Apparently, the first literary reference to the breed in the English language used the name Alsatian; this was also the name used for the breed in Great Britain until the year 1977.
A versatile dog
In addition to being well-suited to herding and watching sheep, the German Shepherd is commonly used by police forces the world over. They can be trained so that they will not move until the trainer gives the signal no matter how tantalizing the distraction. One test apparently involves allowing a cat to walk past the dogs in training.
The German Shepherd's naturally protective nature also serves it well as a guide dog for the visually impaired. It can be trained to guide a person past obstacles and around other people as well as retrieve items in the home.