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German Shepherd Information

 

Breeder-judge explains the differences in personalities, character, and conformation between the two types of the GSD, those that work and those that show.


German Shepherd Dogs Working Temperament

Gordon Garrett, B.A., CKC Judge (All-Breeds), GSD Authority

 

There is quite a bit of difference between German Shepherds that actually work and those that we often see in specialty shows. The working German Shepherd fits into a type that embraces certain characteristics.

 

I was thinking of this and a certain dog so I went into my albums of pictures I had kept from long ago (30 or 40 years). Pictured is Tara, she is of my own breeding and I admit I missed the boat with not only her but her litter brother. She was sold as a puppy but was returned when she was about a year old; they found her to be too aggressive.

 

When I think of the dogs behind her it is no wonder someone found her too aggressive. Her father, from the time he was four months old and showing signs of becoming an outstanding specimen, would growl when he was set up for someone to go over him.

 

That was all new to us and we set about getting him over the trait. Tara's father was by Am. Ch. Arko von der Ruine Aura that had all German Dogs behind him--they were the elite of German Show dogs. I wanted working temperament but I also wanted show dogs. Tara's mother was sired by my own Ch Hauschloe's Frederick, the best dog I ever bred. He lived with a family and though tough, he was a real gentleman. He had all German Schutzhund behind him but a soft mother.

 

Tara's mother was attacking towels from the time she was 4 months old; we made a game of it, teaching her to stop with a command "Ouse". Her father went on to be a champion that sired many offspring for a company in the business of providing guard dogs. When I looked back at him I was sorry that he too did not come back to me--I couldn't afford him--he had all the angles and construction that the breed needed and was black and tan. He was a total dog from Germany, not half the dog.

 

Logical Working Dog Thinking

It so happened that Al Boley, the recruiter and trainer for the Ontario Provincial Police dog division, came to see what he could buy for the police. I arranged to meet Al with one of my German Shepherd Dogs, Kiba. Kiba was just fine when we met but when Al brought out his gun and fired in the air Kiba's head went up and he searched the sky. He wasn’t attack trained, just logical… Al wasn't impressed, rejected him and lost a good one.

 

Later when Dave saw Tara (pictured above) he suggested we trade. You might notice a lump on Tara's shoulder. It was what I found would hinder her as a show dog so I kept her. She never growled but when I had taken her out to a fun get-together of dog people, she was sitting peacefully by my side when a friend approached with a catalogue that he thrust forward to me.

 

Tara had his hand before it reached me; did not break the skin and the friend who also had a sharp dog, was not bothered, only surprised. I have not seen an untrained German Shepherd Dog that alert before or since. However from a judges seminar I attended on the Malinois breed, a dog with a policeman gave me that same sense of alertness that was there in Tara.

 

So that is the working temperament--very alert--it is something that handler or owner has to be aware of and can be a good thing but it is not what people expect of show dogs. Tara would have excelled in the show ring, certainly I should have kept her for breeding. Look again at the picture, her shoulder assembly is excellent, notice the almost upright pasterns. I now realize the drop in pasterns in the German Shepherd Dog Standard {below} is not there in any other breed and not desirable in a working dog. Look at Tara’s straight topline, basically un-posed and rear angles sans extreme. This is what the GSD breed should be.

 

I did trade her to Dave who went into the watch dog business where he would put dogs in compounds over night and take them out in the morning. He was quite successful. For the first litter he bred to a dog with German show breeding and the pups were all docile; not tough enough for Dave.

 

Another of my German Shepherds, Kiba, enjoyed life around my kennel for some time, playing with my son and his friends, chasing balls and sticks. I never considered using him at stud or showing him, I don't even have a picture of him but now I am sure he would have been just what I needed, he was such an adaptable dog.

 

My ex-wife phoned me and asked if she could take him to her boyfriend who needed a watchdog for his construction yard as he was getting break-ins. The way I was regarding Kiba I thought it would be a nice change for him but the assignment at the construction yard did not work out. There was not a high enough fence and when a lady waved a cane at him from the other side he jumped the fence and took it off her.

 

Working-bred German Shepherd Dog Temperament

Another example of working-bred German Shepherd Dog temperament which has been bred out of many show-bred dogs. Many years later I was in Nova Scotia where I had befriended a German Shepherd at the kennel of a friend. He was a combination of German working dogs and show dogs. He looked mean. I had walked into his run with a chair and sat down, then he accepted me. He remembered me when I returned. I noticed the tufts of winter hair still in his coat. I got a brush and took him out and started grooming him. He growled as I was grooming--there was no malice--I think he liked it. It was then that I realized, it was the same with Kiba and his father. Just a bit to understand about working lines, some are talkers.

 

Later in life Tara's mother also went into a service garage that had problems with thefts. There was a half door into the back. A man stuck his head over the door saying, "So you are the new watch dog?"

 

She nipped him in the nose. They didn't have any thefts after that.

 

Compare four different registry GSD Breed Standards

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FOUR GERMAN SHEPHERD TYPES - WORKING

4 GSD Types

American Show to German Show Shepherds, Pet to Working types.

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