Max Emil Frederich von Stephanitz (b. Dec 30, 1864; d. Apr 22, 1936) is considered the creator of the German Shepherd dog breed. As a career cavalry officer from German nobility, he studied biology, anatomy, and the science of movement. In 1898 he was promoted to captain and took his release soon after.
He used his property near Grafrath (Germany) in the 1890′s to experiment with dog breeding using methods used by the English with the intent to improve on what is considered today the “German Shepherd Dog” (a.k.a. GSD).
In 1899 he purchased the dog Hektor Linkrshein and changed his name to Horand von Grafrath (all German Shepherds today can trace their ancestry back to Horand). He used Horand as his primary stud dog and incorporated several other breeds to create the new breed.
In 1899 he also founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (a.k.a. SV / S.V.), a standard for the breed still used today in most kennel clubs. In 1901 von Stephanitz also took part in the first Schutzhund trials in Germany. Schutzhund (training and testing the dogs ability in tracking, obedience, and protection) is still widely used today.