OP said "I disagreed, but he said my info was based on my experience with the "old-style do everything" GSD (admittedly my last experience with GSD'd was back in my teenage years, over 25 years ago)"
these still exist but as a whole are less and less prevalent . At the core of this character is a deliberate selection for balance .
OP said "So what kind of characteristics/temperament should one ask a breeder for in a pup if I'd eventually like to have my pup become a therapy dog? "
what kind of therapy? physical support (brace dog , stabilizer) , assistant type (hearing aide , pick up and bring dog ) , or emotional support? All very valuable roles , each one a slightly different dog.
OP said "p.s. I already value traits such as - genetic obedience, pack drive, biddability, high thresholds, calm, non-reactive etc I know this will make for a great companion dog and I have one local breeder already earmarked who breeds for this; but I am not sure if these traits also translate well into the field of therapy?"
The answer is yes, they most certainly do . Check out many threads on the forum which are under genetic obedience , herding bloodlines etc.
this was said "
stop speaking to that person, they have no clue what they are talking about, there are many members on this forum that have registered GSD therapy dogs"
DO continue listening to that person . He is stating a fact . Some guide dog breeding programs got derailed because of the genetics of the GSD's they were selecting . Some are no longer taking on GSD for two reasons 1) nature of the dogs they were dealing with and 2) the public perception of the breed which made the user not as openly welcome .
If this person is involved in guide instituitions he would tell you that they also train and provide dogs for other assistance work "therapy".
It is not in the same realm as hospital visitation dogs.
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