||11-15-2012 11:05 AM
We knew Ernst in his later years after he came to the US, and had 2 litters out of him. All 6 of our own dogs that we have currently go back on Ernst. Wulf is an Ernst son and Raven is an Ernst daughter. Heidi, Mocha and Maika are Ernst grandkids out of Raven, and Jasmine our Czech import has Ernst in her 3rd generation. We also co-own another Ernst granddaughter, and she and 3 other grandkids train in our club. I like Ernst a lot, but like most dogs he had to be bred correctly.
Ernst himself was a very imposing dog with a lot of power, seriousness and presence. Totally approachable but aloof. Tons of drive and intensity. In the bitework he showed tremendous power and a desire to fight and dominate the helper. It certainly wasn't a game to him. My husband worked him a few times and said he was physically very strong, crushing grips, and would use his eyes to bore right through the helper. Outing was an issue, partly due to a temperament that could overload and lack clarity when in the midst of fighting, and partly due to training. He was a dog where pain, pressure, conflict with the handler, handlers having temper tantrums at him, etc... would all create more drive rather than tamping it down, so he could get into a nasty feedback loop where the more pressure and correction that was heeped on him to get him to out and be under control would end up with the opposite effect.
Very hard dog, but not the best team player. Much of that I think was training/handling though. He was deemed "handler aggressive", but that I also believe was manmade. Most of his life was spent with very hard handlers who wanted to dominate and control him to earn points. He was downright brutalized in his early training, mainly over outing in protection, and this was a dog that was going to fight back if treated unfairly or if the handler picked a fight with him, especially when there was no true relationship there. Given a different handler who treated him fairly and gave him time to bond and develop a close working relationship, he worked very differently and became a very different dog. No handler aggression once given a fair handler, and when given time to bond and develop a relationship of mutual trust and respect he would do *anything* for his handler.
Structurally he surely wasn't a pretty dog, though he did look much better in person than in the Urma book photo everyone has seen. Still long and flat withered and unfortunately his less than stellar structure was passed on to many offspring. Hips and elbows could be an issue with him as with most dogs going back on Lewis, so he needed to be bred smartly in that regard.
He produced himself strongly in temperament in his offspring. Strong drive and intensity, very powerful dogs both mentally and physically with very strong work ethic. These dogs love the work itself, they don't need any bribery to do it, and they take their jobs very seriously. Physically hard, but there was some handler sensitivity as well. Though in our case much of that was coming from the dam side. Absolutely no handler aggression whatsoever. Much more biddable and willing to work with the handler than Ernst, which reinforces my belief that a lot of that problem in Ernst himself wasn't the dog but the training. Very loyal dogs who really seek to have a strong, deep relationship with the handler. Social, but with good protective instinct as well. Definitely dogs who will bite for real if given a reason, but not at all trigger happy in that regard. The same overloading during the fight in protection has been an issue with our Ernst son as well, but not with any of the daughters. Excellent tracking and hunt drive. Excellent with children, other dogs (zero DA), and other animals including livestock and cats. Very good nerve and health overall when bred correctly with thought to compensating for the hips/elbows and also to bringing in more clarity and self control to go along with the drive and aggression. Not the prettiest dogs on the planet (well, except Heidi but she has her sire to thank for that!) but I do love what they have between their ears and in their hearts!