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Old 01-17-2013, 09:09 AM   #41 (permalink)
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Maybe I've been lucky. I've rarely known a German Shepherd to be unstable, without good reason.
 
I've owned several German Shepherds and most of them were quite good.
 
The first German Shepherd I had, was what I would call a pistol. My grandfather got a German Shepherd that was trained for home security. He was stable, but he was a pistol all of the time. He was a loaded gun ready to go off and he had to be treated very carefully. He could be with kids, but the kids could not fight or play tag because if the dog perceived there to be fighting, the dog would try to subdue whoever seemed provocatively aggressive, and would defend those that seemed to be threatened. The dog had to be carefully introduced to company. The dog was a lawsuit ready to happen, but that's the way it was trained and conditioned.
 
The most unstable dog I ever had. Was a German Shepherd that had been abused and had a very painful chronic ear infection. The dog had trust issues and fear aggressions; particularly with male adults, or older male juveniles, particularly of a certain race. I gather that it was abused by young males of that race. With the help of some friends, I was able to train the dog to not be fearful of that race, but it never fully got over its fear of young males. I put the dog down because it seemed to be suffering and I considered it a lawsuit waiting to happen. When she didn't have an ear infection, she was a very good stable dog. But this she had an ear infection, she became unstable because of the pain. If someone touched her near her ears she often acted out of fear and defensively; especially when it was causing her pain. Simply petting her on the head, could cause her excruciating pain. It was heartbreaking. The Shepherd that I ended up putting down because of a chronic ear infection. Before I got the dog it had been kept on a leash in a semi urban area, unsupervised during the day. The dog acted as if neighbors had thrown rocks and hit it with sticks. I'm almost sure that it was abused, because it was fearful and aggressive of young males, especially if they were holding sticks or rocks.
 
The rest of the dogs I have had have been extremely stable. It helps to screen them before you get them. I prefer dogs that have a family temperament. Most of my German Shepherds have been excellent with people and animals.
 
If you've habitually had problems with dogs being unstable, I would suspect that you or perhaps someone else in your family or neighbor is nurturing or causing the unstable behavior. If you put junk in, you get junk out. If a dog doesn't have a stable leader for doesn't have a stable environment; you can't expect the dog to be stable.
 
Not that I'm doubting that extreme breeding and puppy mill breeding is part of the problem. Unfortunately the puppy mills are more concerned about quantity, then quality. Most breeders nowadays, seem to be more concerned with appearances, rather than temperament and work dog characteristics. Regretfully many people seem to care more about pedigrees, then the actual characteristics of the dogs.
 
I don't think dogs with undesirable traits don't necessarily have to be culled, they need to be spayed and neutered before they breed. Regretfully many breeders that have dogs with famed pedigrees, breed dogs that have bad characteristics. Regretfully for many it's more about greed, then the breed. Breeders need to have better ethics.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:01 AM   #42 (permalink)
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I saw an awful lot of nervy GSD back in the early 80's.
My first experience with a GSD (in the early 80s) was getting bitten in the face, broke skin in several spots!

Anyway....what I see is not so much that the *dogs* are bad or worse or not improving, but that *people* seem to have ideas about what a GSD is that just doesn't jive with what they truly are. I've had people ask for help finding a GSD and they want a very laid back, calm dog that is openly friend and loves socializing with other dogs at the dog park. If they see a GSD that is more aloof or heaven forbid shows some reasonable suspicion or social aggression, then they go off on how the breed is too nervy and vicious.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:04 AM   #43 (permalink)
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For the most part I have been pleased with the German Shepherd breeds mental stability. I've had more problems with physical characteristics of health.

I don't like the squaty hind end show look, I might be wrong but to me it screams dysplasia. I would prefer a more normal stance. Every dog that I've had with the show look, developed dysplasia early on.

I've had a lot of German Shepherds with dysplasia, tumors, or G.I. issues and one that had chronic ear infections.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:56 AM   #44 (permalink)
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Lies,

I help teach Puppy classes so get to see a lot of puppies. We get some bad GSD puppies in the classes. Seems like the majority of the GSD pups are horrible. At least horrible to my standards. We also, though, get a lot of really bad examples of other breeds when I think about it. Maybe because we both love the GSD we are more sensitive to the bad pups that come into class. In all the years we have been doing this class, though, there have been only a few that were absolutely AWFUL. Being reactive to other dogs/puppies seems to be the worst issue we see, but there are two pups that I remember distinctly. One was terrified of everything. She was a genetic mess of nerves. The other just wanted to leave and wanted nothing to do with her people. She was fine with the other puppies, fine with us as touching her and stuff, but wanted little to do with her owners and was still that way as she grew up. While ths is probably a much easier issue to deal with than the terrified puppy it is still NOT correct for a GSD.

As I said earlier, though, I saw these same types of dogs 30 plus years ago so I can't really say I am seeing more now other than I am exposed to a heck of a lot more dogs now than then.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:09 AM   #45 (permalink)
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I have seen numerous examples throughout my life of unstable GSDs with poor nerves.

So I don't believe it's just the forum but if it is just the forum then every topic on here is not representative of reality.

Lisa my firs GSD back in my 20's, which was a long time ago had poor nerve and it was out of champion show dogs. It was re gifted to me from a very wealthy friend who could not keep it.

So my point regardless of how long this has been going on, is that if the main goal of breeding was just aiming for what the standard calls for in temperament we would have few problems in the breed.

A lot of breeders do not aim for the temperament but shoot for a certain look or to make the dog fit their chosen sport.

I don't need to be a breeder or a genius to know that when you aim for a particular characteristic at the expense of temperament something will give eventually.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:37 AM   #46 (permalink)
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A number of people, including me, have talked about the difference in the dogs. There is a difference and mostly what has changed is the protective instinct in the dogs. I saw some very unstable dogs back in the 70s and 80s also, ( they have always been there and that has been stated before), but the good ones, were a little different than many of the "good ones" we see now. I think there are lots of "stable" GSDs but the reason they are stable is different. Many do not have the natural suspicion and protective instinct that they used to have. So, their view of the world is not the same. In order to have stable dogs who also have that protective instinct, IMO, you have to also have great nerves. It seems to me, that the dogs with really solid nerves , ( and the rest of what a GSD was intended to be), are becoming harder to find.


Of course, the people who have been around for five years will argue and say how much better the dogs are now vs 30 years ago, since they never saw those dogs. It really is something you would have to see the difference in but I will say, it is harder to try to breed the kind of dog I just talked about. I think that has always been the case but people now do not seem to understand what is missing. That's the people factor that Lies talked about and many of those people are now training in SchH and breeding dogs. Many, completely mistake defense behaviors with a real protective instinct and I mean where it is very clear, who and what the dog is protecting and that it is in fact, protection.... not a dog who views it as a safe game. Where the dog has the genetic ability to understand what is to be protected and when.


When you try to get it all in one dog, ( meaning what the standard calls for), that's when you have to know what you are doing and even then, mistakes can be made. Most people do not have the experience necessary to accomplish it and then you have the people factor again, where someone takes a dog THEY are not genetically designed to handle.

The problem with this forum is also fueled by some of these kinds of threads. I used to think I was helping people to understand but now I think what people take away from some of these threads is far different than what we are trying to tell them. Everything becomes unstable in their eyes or like I said, they think a GSD is really stable because basically , he is too friendly and views the world like other breeds do. Also, a protective instinct is not just barking at the door. All of this has been talked about ad naseum but people only hear what they want to hear, so, that's where we are....in my opinion.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:10 PM   #47 (permalink)
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Anne, please, please, please don't give up teaching and posting about this. It is people/ breeders like yourself that do make a huge difference in educating. I'm sure it gets overly frustrating for you and others with such great passion for this remarkable breed but it needs to be repeated constantly.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:54 PM   #48 (permalink)
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Anne, I agree with you and specifically this:

Quote:
Everything becomes unstable in their eyes or like I said, they think a GSD is really stable because basically , he is too friendly and views the world like other breeds do. Also, a protective instinct is not just barking at the door. .
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:54 PM   #49 (permalink)
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Exactly. This forum is mostly dog owners are posting either behavior issues or health issues.


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I joined this forum before I got my dog, though. So I would have been here either way...if I'd ended up with a dog with issues or not I still would have been posting.
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:11 PM   #50 (permalink)
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Maybe I've been lucky. I've rarely known a German Shepherd to be unstable, without good reason.
Me too and I grew up with dozens and dozens and dozens of dogs. My family bred through the Alphabet three times and if you take an average of 5 per litter, that's over 300 dogs, not speaking of brood bitches, males, dogs that came in to be trained, that were bought and sold, etc.
And most of the time it was more than five pups, sometimes less.
So this is just an estimate.

Were there weak nerved dogs? Absolutely, but I barely got in contact with these kind of dogs at all. Maybe it's because my parents had such a high standard or maybe I selectively remember.

However, people don't even know the difference between a "protective" and "fear aggressive" dog. So how do you expect them to make a sound judgement what the heart of the dog truly is?
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