Hey there! I'm Sarah, rooted in downtown Atlanta, GA. Nice to meet you
For a good 10 years I have been a ravenous admirer of the working line GSDs, particularly East German and Czech lines. Not to sound like a typical working-line snob, but I feel they are just very distinct and the healthiest, soundest, most versatile and best looking of the breed.
My concern with the line, however, is that in order to keep one of these dogs, it is essential that you are committed to devoting half of your life to their care, training and stimulation because of their intense drives and constant need to work. This is a very fun adventure if you are dog geeks such as ourselves, however it is not realistic for most people looking for a dog.
It isn't quite fair to me that in order to keep a German Shepherd as a companion animal, you are limited to West German and American lines (not to say they aren't perfectly wonderful dogs!) or a rare pup with moderate drive out of a working breeding.
THEREFORE!! I am very excited at the idea of starting a breeding project from Soviet-lined dogs of moderate drives and energy level. This will allow companion and casual sport seekers the ability to keep the distinct temperament, versatility and excellent health of the this line without being completely overwhelmed by their intensity and the inevitable disaster of an untrained working dog. I will be looking for a balanced bitch to compete and title in various sports, completely health test and be bred to very select males.
What is your opinion of this endeavor? Am I being over-ambitious? I have never intended to breed in my life and have little experience with the area, however I am very knowledgeable in the pedigrees and the selection process of suitable dogs.
Any advice is welcome, sorry for the novel
Well first off... Welcome!
Second... from the passion I sense coming off your post, I am sure you'd make a great breeder. You seem to have a great start with some great ideas.
However.... I can't help but notice everything you just said is EXACTLY what my German Showline is (and what many are bred to be). At home, he's a perfect gentleman. Never has touched a single item in this house other then his toys. He never breaks the rules (stays off the furniture, doesn't dig holes in the yard, doesn't rip anything up.. etc). He's 2 years old and completely able to be 100% free roam in our house. If we are not home, or are busy at home (or just watching a movie)... he's asleep on his bed. Never ever has he been in the way.
With that said... He is also in Schutzhund training and excelling way past what I ever expected. I got him this past January from his breeder who took him from a home that couldn't keep him. After having him for a while... I noticed he was abused as well. However, with some understanding of his breed and some basic training... he's come a complete 180. He does well on the field, puts his heart and soul into it..... but, then can go straight from bite work to a charity walk in downtown... or he can come home, and sleep on his bed or watch me work.
If someone wanted him as a companion only.... he would be just fine. Bring him home, he's perfectly behaved..... bring him to the training field... and his drive turns on.
Now... my American Showline rescue is the complete opposite. She's HIGH drive, horrible in the house, digs in the yard, loud and obnoxious indoors, and doesn't have an off switch... At ALL! In order to get a break.. she has to be crated. She is by far worse then any working line I've been around (even ones MUCH younger then her).
So, basically what I am saying is.... you get that in EVERY line of the GSD. Some pups will be more drivey then others. If an owner can't handle that.... then maybe they shouldn't be looking at that type of dog? Or at least another puppy/litter?
In my opinion, if someone is looking for a pet only... then maybe they should stick with pet lines. If they want a little bit of drive but still mostly companion... then they can do their research and find a good Showline breeder who can match a litter for that... or even go to a good working line breeder and research their litters. Some are more drivey then others. Not all show lines are lazy, and not all working lines are crazy.
There are plenty of show line dogs on here that are doing competitive sports right along side working lines. It is very possible.
I personally LOVE working lines as well. The next dog I get WILL be a working line from our trainer. However, I like and want that drive.... in fact, I will be waiting for a very drivey litter. I want that line for everything it is supposed to be. Not over the top, but stable, with drives and brains that will excel on and off the field. If I didn't want that type of drive in my next dog... I would look for another German Showline that fit what I wanted or go for a lighter drive litter. They can range from quiet to very drivey as well. German Showlines are also fantastic dogs for companionship and even for the novice "occasional" handler.
I spend a lot of time around working lines these days. Some of them are great house dogs with some training on the side. Most of them are family pets. I've known a few that had less drive then my show line. It varies.
In the end...If someone can't do basic training with their dog, and walk it every day around the neighborhood.... then they need to look into another breed altogether. If people do their research they can find a GSD on all different levels of drive and working ability. It's not saying they have to "stick" to only one side of the breed... it's saying that they have to find the breed and line that fits their lifestyle/wants.
Just an opinion from someone who loves both German Showlines and Working lines. Not bias here.