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New Pup 12-18-2012 09:04 PM

GSD Duck Retriever. Male or Female?
Hello Everyone, first post here though I have been reading through these forums for awhile and I noticed there is a lot of good information and you guys really love your GSDs!

Anyways my girlfriend and I decided to get a dog to be a companion to join us in the house, hiking, camping, running and going to lake. We have both had dogs in the past but this will be the first one that we will raise together and we decided on a GSD. We like the breed because of past experience with them and their energy and intelligence and the fact that it will keep my gf feeling safe when I'm not around. Now we just need to decide on a breeder and a gender.

I want to try to train the dog to retrieve ducks for me. I realize this not what the breed was bred for and that is might not workout but it will at least be a fun way to spend time with the dog. Like I said earlier, we really just want a companion and I just like the idea of training a dog so why not train it to join me in one of my favorite hobbies.

Now for male vs female. I have read several threads on this topic and recurring stances are that:

1. females are more serious, mature faster, more intelligent (pros IMO)

(cons IMO) more independent, less forgiving in training and less friendly with people and animals outside the family (really don't want to stress about my dog hurting someone who doesn't deserve it)

2. males are more laid back, easier to train, more velcroey and maybe easier to bond with and more receptive to training throughout the adult life? (pros IMO)

(cons IMO) 10-30% larger than females (GSDs are already big and I worry that running with a heavier dog will hurt their joints) mature slower, goofy and doofusy (puppy like)

I understand these are just generalizations and that genetics and training/upbringing will affect the dog's character and temperament more. But I would still like to hear some input on genders to help us make up our mind. The fact that females are intelligent and serious make me think they might be better duck dogs, On the other hand I have read that females are more "pre-programmed" and that the trainer/handler can have more of an impact on the outcome of a male because of their later maturity with testosterone production, but we are going to speuter either sex so I don't know if that matters. Plus I have read a couple articles about GSD Duck dogs and I think both were female.

Anyways sorry for the long winded post, I'm just pumped about getting a GSD and training it :laugh: Like I said the bond and companionship of a dog is what we both want most. All thoughts and comments are welcomed and appreciated.

sit,stay 12-18-2012 10:45 PM

I don't think you would have problem training a GSD to retreive birds. I am not sure they have a mouth soft enough to not totally mangle the bird? A GSD has a different skill set regarding their mouths. Retreiving breeds have been selectively bred to pick up and softly hold the bird without damaging the body. A GSD has been selectively bred to be tough with their grip, from convincing a bully ram to MOVE RIGHT NOW to biting and hanging on to a bad guy.

The key would be to find a puppy with a naturally soft mouth and yet still drive enough to keep retreiving in tough conditions. And then training the dog to never puncture the flesh of the retreived bird.

If you want an active, athletic dog that will retreive birds in any weather, and yet will also guard their home and people, you might want to look at the Chesapeake Bay Retreiver. I have worked with a few over the past 15 years and they are a great utilitarian worker. And they take their guarding duties seriously.

But it might be fun to see what happens with the GSD as a retreiver. Personally, I think a good GSD can learn how to do just about anything. But the mouth control would make or break you.

sddeadeye 12-18-2012 11:32 PM


Originally Posted by sit,stay (Post 2658864)

If you want an active, athletic dog that will retreive birds in any weather, and yet will also guard their home and people, you might want to look at the Chesapeake Bay Retreiver. I have worked with a few over the past 15 years and they are a great utilitarian worker. And they take their guarding duties seriously.

I think I had made the same recommendation to a previous poster about using a GSD as a hunting dog.

I have grown up around upland game and fowl dogs. I, too, would be concerned about a GSD not having a soft enough mouth for retrieving game. But training may potentially help with that with the right dog. Throw into the mix that there are breeds bred for water retrieval specifically that swimming seems to come second nature to.

It seems like duck hunting is low on the list of requirements for your next dog so if you get a pup and it turns out not to be a superb hunting dog, it can still be an excellent companion.

As for females vs males, it seems in my personal experience, hunters in my area tend to prefer females. I have worked both and do prefer hunting behind females even though we currently have a young male prospect.

Good luck in your search!

sddeadeye 12-18-2012 11:44 PM

In fact, here was a link that was posted in a previous discussion regarding GSD's as hunting dogs.

A different breed of bird dog - Independence, MO - The Examiner

And a link to the thread previously discussing the breed as a hunting dog if you are interested

martemchik 12-18-2012 11:55 PM

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The hardest thing you'll have to overcome is the GSD's want to stay WITH you. They don't really like to go away from you and so sending it hundreds of yards away to get something isn't something that comes natural. If you're looking at working lines, you'll find that they have more prey drive and therefore would be much more likely to eat the duck rather than bring it back to you.

When it comes to dogs...most of the time training involves letting a dog do what it was naturally bred to do, but then teaching it to do it for you rather than itself. It's quite amazing to watch a dog when its natural instincts kick in (like herding, or pointing). So you'll probably spend a lot of time bashing your head against the wall while trying to teach a GSD to retrieve, where as a retrieving dog would just kind of know what to do.

As for male or female? Your generalizations are alright but it really depends on the temperament and personality of the actual dog.

lhczth 12-19-2012 10:23 AM

The hardest part will be finding a GSD with crazy retrieving drive and a soft mouth. My dogs take the retrieving dummies and just crush them. :) Their coats are also not as desirable for cold weather/cold water retrieval work like one of the breeds bred for generations for this type of work.

Chessies are not an easy breed to train from what I have read and been told. Much more independent thinking than the labs. Or maybe just more of a thinking breed. :) They might, though, be a breed to look into.

lhczth 12-19-2012 10:28 AM

martemchik, if the GSD had issues with working away from and independently from their handlers then they would not be such excellent dogs in SAR or other areas of work that require the dog to work out of site of their handlers.

Liesje 12-19-2012 10:35 AM

There's no way any of my GSDs (even the one with soft temperament) would have the proper mouth for retrieving birds, it would not be worth the amount of training and fighting their genetics (if even possible). When I compare how they grasp and hold objects to my possibly part retriever mutt Coke and his soft mouth, they are worlds apart. Coke could probably move a nest of fragile eggs one by one and never harm one. We like to get him to hold stuff because it's so funny/strange when you're used to GSDs.

I second, third? the recommendation on looking into Chessies instead. I actually quite like their temperaments.

sit,stay 12-19-2012 10:38 AM


Originally Posted by sddeadeye (Post 2658897)

Interesting article! The trainer/owner commented that his GSD had a "naturally soft mouth". His ability to train a real duck retrieving GSD was predicated on that being the case.

I had to move my horse to a new barn in September. The new barn owner breeds and shows Golden Retrievers. I was happy to be used as a puppy socializer for a litter. I mean, who would turn that down, right? The difference between the Golden puppies and GSD puppies is night and day. The Goldens are mouthy, but they have such soft mouths! No scratches! No blood! No muttered curse words at ripped clothes. I walked away without a scratch, rather than looking like I had been attacked with a razor blade.

I do think that a GSD would feel comfortable working at a distance. My own WGSL will happily streak off to gather a flock of sheep. The distance he can work away from me is amazing.

Kyleigh 12-19-2012 10:42 AM

Cool article, and I love the dog's name ... ROCKET!!!!!

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