Hello, my first post, although I've spent countless hours reading on the site in recent weeks. Hoping to get some good advice from experts before making a decision on a pup. Apologies if this is repetitive (I have searched a lot!) and very long, but looking for some honest answers to our specific situation.
About three weeks ago we lost our beloved family dog to cancer. He was an intentionally-bred "texas heeler" from a local area ranch - father a registered ACD, mother a registered Aussie. He was an exceptional little guy. What I loved about him were his toughness and resilience, incredible potential to learn, and above all else his protectiveness of the family and home. In the 8 years we had him, I knew every single time someone set foot on our lawn, (and they knew he knew
). We spent large amounts of time outdoors with him (hiking, camping, fishing, and just hours in the park) and he was always right by our sides - he was a dream on a trail and basically made certain no one ever got too far ahead or behind, himself included. The flip side is that he wasn't a dog that you'd implicitly trust with others, especially children. Personally I don't give that level of unchecked trust to any dog, but Dino would definitely square off aggressively to strangers who were too "fresh," and we had issues with him nipping, particularly when he was younger. We handled him appropriately and with ongoing socialization he was not a liability in any way, but he was never a dog you'd want running around loose in a kid's birthday party. I will say his basic need to protect is the main thing I want to replicate in our next pet, but with more intention and training. We did basic initial obedience courses with him and I kept him busy over the years constantly reinforcing on basic commands, etc, but I was never involved in ongoing formal training, (something I definitely want to do moving forward). Key to keeping him calm and happy was to always be working with him on something though, and I enjoyed that immensely
. Final piece of the puzzle, I do have children - two daughters 3 and 6, and two sons 14 and 18. All of them are around the dog all the time.
Okay, that's our Dino. Shared all that for perspective - we're looking for many of these same traits in our next dog, and have always wanted a GSD just from my personal experiences with them, and to be honest because I just think they're so beautiful. I've become particularly interested in the DDR/Czech working lines, but I'm completely open to any examples of the breed that are sound in temperament, physically healthy, and above all else eager to learn. My question is, does it sounds like we're barking up the right tree? And would a working line dog be appropriate? My main concerns in choosing a line are a clear head, even temperament and health, because everyone claims their lines smash these things out of the park, but obviously that isn't always the case. It's hard to know what to believe.
Other question - I'm in Utah. If we do go this route, any recommendations for breeders in the greater area? (would include Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and even Nevada). Again, personal bias toward a working line, but I'm totally open to a show line if you think it would better check the boxes for us.
Thanks in advance for reading all that, and any advice you can offer!