Is the GSD the breed I'm looking for? (Kinda long . . )
Hello everyone! I'm new-ish to the board and just joined. I say new-ish because I've been secretly stalking various GSD boards for about a year now and this is the first time I've actually joined one to post on.
I'm hoping to get some feedback, on traits that I'm looking for in a dog and whether or not the GSD, or maybe another breed altogether, fits what I'm looking for.
I've been in love with the GSD ever since I got one as a kid. Ok, I didn't get one, I wanted a Golden, but my mom veto'd that decision and found a $50 who-knows-what-line GSD instead. I LOVED this dog. She was calm in the house, playful outside, always up for a walk or whatever I wanted to do with her. I even discovered one day that she was naturally protective, putting herself between my brother and a not-so-friendly neighbor. From that point on, GSDs were officially my heart breed. I had decided that I wanted to one day become a GSD breeder.
So I started doing research on "real" shepherds. The kind that come with pedigrees and papers and naturally I started looking at ASL in the AKC. I loved how vibrant their coats were, but could never quite get over how their back-ends looked. After seeing a few Champion "hock-walkers" I started looking elsewhere. I found German line GSDs, which I then learned could be split into working line and show line. I liked how they seemed to have more substance structurally than the ASL, but couldn't get over the curve in their back.
Then I found the East/DDR/Czech(sp?) lined GSDs and I was in love. I loved their big blocky heads, I loved their straighter backs, and I've never seen one walking on their hocks. It was after this that I discovered IPO (VPG?) and the importance of nerves and stress testing. So I seek out as many workingline breeders I could find (I've got a "favorites" list bookmarked with about 20 breeders in it) and stalking GSD boards and reading everything I could about what real owners were saying.
That's when I learned that the IPO had gone from a reliable breed test to a sport and it's not enough to simply be ABLE to work, you need to be ABLE to win. Competitors wanted high prey dogs who saw it as a game. Obviously still able to work, but maybe not so much emphasis placed on actual defense. And THEN there are those who compete at "midnight trials" which efficiently help render impressive IPO3's worthless. On top of that I was wondering exactly what kind of energy level these dogs are packing. I'd read one breeder bragging that you could only pet their dog briefly as they ran past you. I just don't know if that kind of energy level is . . . I wanna say practical? And then I read recently a thread on here about how much/long members exercise their dogs and it seemed that most members with working line shepherds worked their dogs for several hours a day. How does one find 2-3hrs/day to exercise/train 1 dog (let alone a pack of GSD breeding stock) and have time for work, family and other life chores?
I have this vision in my head, and I'm hoping you guys can help me figure out if I'm barking up the wrong tree. In my mind I see a versatile, adaptable dog. They have the drive/desire to work with their handler, driven to please and sensitive to what the handler wants. The dog can go from calm house dog to active agility/IPO/Obedience dog with ease. The dog CAN work, WANTS to work, but doesn't NEED to work. It can adapt to whatever the situation calls for. The dog can walk/hike/jog for miles eagerly, but wont complain if weather or otherwise interferes and they can't work for a while. And, most importantly for a shepherd, a natural protective instinct, like I saw with my GSD girl all those years ago.
Does this dog exist? And if so, is it the GSD? I think it is, everything in my wish list seems to match the GSD exactly except that I want a lower energy dog to whom working isn't a NEED the way eating and breathing are. The GSD is a working breed and I agree needs to be ABLE to work (and breeding stock, of corse, needs to be able to prove this), but is it too much to ask for a lower energy GSD who is a loving, protective member of the family?
If it's not a GSD I'm looking for, what breed might you recommend that is both adaptable and protective with a moderate energy level?
Sorry this was so long and wordy. I wanted to get as much of what was in my head out so that maybe someone could help me sort this out. And don't worry about any litters from me, as I don't even have a GSD at the moment and probably wont even be ABLE to have one for the next 5 years (unless something miraculous happens).