Thoughts from an oversized German Shepherd breeder - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 208 (permalink) Old 05-09-2011, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Thoughts from an oversized German Shepherd breeder

I am an oversized German Shepherd breeder. Cringe now, if you must. It seems some of you are so quick to assume things based on size. Because someone had posted a video of my dog Ash, there were many on this board who said various things about a video in which he was walking on crusty snow that basically amounted to clearly he had all sorts of health problems, I in turn replied that he has been tested through the OFA regarding hips, a degenerative myelopathy clear non-carrier, in addition to TLI testing within normal range at 25.1 and posted a pic to him because I'm DARN PROUD of how good I think he looks at almost 6 years of age





He is also considered oversized at 30" at the shoulder and ranges anywhere from 125-135 pounds depending on the season, completely healthy with no problems, our vets are completely fine with his weight because he is in proportion. Never have we pushed our dogs to be a certain weight nor told ANY of our puppy owners to do that, actually quite the opposite. Some of the remarks seemed so shocked and horrified that something outside the standard of the breed even existed, like he was some vile creature from the black lagoon which had surfaced to eat the neighborhood children. I don't get that. I made a few other points in that thread, of which I would like to re-paste here because I do not know if it will even be seen by many on that thread and because I have seen oversized dogs discussed numerous times on this board before anyway, I may as well restate it so people can see what an oversized German Shepherd breeder's opinion is since the other thread will probably be buried soon enough and it couldn't hurt to at least show the flip side on what seems to be a hot topic.

Obviously coming onto a forum like this, just like with most of the other GSD forums, most will not like larger GSD, so of course it's like how much effort should I put in to fight a gang up of 20 to 1. However, I will say this, why is it that almost 20% of the GSD tested through the OFA test with some form of dysplasia? Obviously it's not just due to size, because most shepherds are well within the normal standard size. Hip dysplasia will be aggravated by excess weight, true. People that don't care about their dogs and just breed the biggest to the biggest without any regards to health (and most likely do not bother to do any type of testing anyway) will probably produce dysplastic dogs. That is not us, and while I am sure there are "breeders" out there (most likely through the classified ads) that do this, I know there are many of the larger GSD breeders that do health testing as well. Can I attest to what they do? Nope, I can only say what we do. From a business standpoint, since someone mentioned this was an "ad critique", frankly it would be stupid for me to breed a dog that either has problems or produces problems. Why? Because for my contract, I do not offer a puppy as a replacement. I give $ back if the dog has an issue, and since we're only hobby breeders who don't produce many puppies anyway, why would I want to produce dogs where I know I'll end up having to give back $$? Unfortunately, there are people out there that like to circulate that big = hip dysplasia. If that is the case, then anyone that buys a small GSD is all set because if big = hip dysplasia, wouldn't small = no dysplasia? Of course not. It's about the health of your lines, knowing your dogs and what they produce, knowing what their relatives have produced. Hip dysplasia is still going to happen, regardless, but you try to do the best you can to limit it.

Some of these comments made about Ash are made because of the notion that big GSD automatically have dysplasia, that "clearly their frames cannot support their weight" or "just because they're bred larger than they were meant to be", hence the problems. Hogwash. Why is it then that on OFA's website, some of the breeds that have less of a percentage for dysplasia versus the GSD include giant breeds (including the LARGEST breeds of all) such as the Irish Wolfhound, the Great Pyrenees, the Anatolian Shepherd, the Great Dane, the Leonberger, the Tibetan Mastiff, and the Kuvasz. What I find interesting is that the Belgian Sheepdog, Tervuren , Malinois, and Dutch Shepherd, all VERY comparable breeds, have much better % than the GSD at 2.9% / 3.5 % / 5.4 / 7.1 % dysplasic of dogs tested. Obviously the GSD has been a top 10 breed for a long time, and this is where one of the issues lie. People just wanting to crank out puppies. It's not due to size, but breeding practices. In the end though, assuming a dog automatically has dysplasia or reading into the dog "walking funny" JUST due to knowing the size is absolutely ridiculous. I'm sure that most on here will disagree with any or everything I have to say, but that's the way it is. Call my dogs ugly, TOO BIG, "shameful to the breed founder and a disgrace to Von Stephanitz", I can live with that. Don't call into question health issues that aren't there or try to say our dogs are mistreated due to someone seeing something that isn't there. I understand a lot of you don't like larger dogs, but don't let that be a motivation to make off-the-wall claims. Oh well, I've said my peace, don't know if there would be a point in responding to anything else but "Que Sera, Sera".

Final note - I watched my video again and I think part of what people may think is Ash "in pain" is actually him walking on crusty snow. The snow had glazed over the top because it had snowed a day or two prior, and you know what happens when the sun starts melting the top of the snow and then it freezes overnight...crusty snow. I don't like walking in crusty snow with my two legs cause you don't know if you'll actually sink in or not, and never thought people would perceive issues and read into a video so much but such is the internet.

Not all large German Shepherd breeders are bad, we may breed outside of the standard but we strive for our dogs to be just as healthy ans well-tempered as anyone else's. Even if they may not be the ideal shepherd for those here, they are ideal in the eyes of the companion owners we breed for. The stereotype of "If it's a giant, then we get clients!" type attitude doesn't exist with us, and hopefully at least someone's eyes may be opened with this or at least not absolutely loathe the next large GSD they see. If not, I tried, I can't invest hours and days on the internet trying to justify what we do to people who will not see eye to eye with us regardless. Breeds change and evolve over time, and of course there will always be variations within them, the German Shepherd Dog is no different. At least someone may see that at least some of the statements made on this board may not be completely accurate.
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post #2 of 208 (permalink) Old 05-09-2011, 10:36 AM
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Of course they don't automatically have hip problems, knee problems, or anything else.

I just don't understand why someone would choose a breed of dog to reproduce and sell, and then produce dogs that are diametrically opposed in size and in temperament to what the breed standard calls for.

If you like big, hairy, calm dogs with friendly temperaments, why not breed a dog that is designed that way? Why breed a dog that is designed and intended to be medium-sized, aloof, and drivey? You just like the pricked ears so darn much?

I'm sure Ash is a wonderful dog and you love him very much. I'm sure your buyers love their puppies very much. But why breed "German Shepherds" at all? It's like breeding calm border collies who are afraid of sheep.


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Last edited by Emoore; 05-09-2011 at 10:39 AM.
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post #3 of 208 (permalink) Old 05-09-2011, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Emoore View Post
Of course they don't automatically have hip problems, knee problems, or anything else.

I just don't understand why someone would choose a breed of dog to reproduce and sell, and then produce dogs that are diametrically opposed in size and in temperament to what the breed standard calls for.

If you like big, hairy, calm dogs with friendly temperaments, why not breed a dog that is designed that way? Why breed a dog that is designed and intended to be medium-sized, aloof, and drivey? You just like the pricked ears so darn much?

I'm sure Ash is a wonderful dog and you love him very much. I'm sure your buyers love their puppies very much. But why breed "German Shepherds" at all? It's like breeding calm border collies who are afraid of sheep.
Because I CAN? Because breeds change and evolve over time? Show me one breed that hasn't changed over the course of the 150 year time span. Please. I'm sorry but to say that people shouldn't want ideal family companions because the German Shepherd should remain a working breed is quite an airy statement. Working dogs have their place, as do pets. I'm not looking to produce anything other than what I state. It's much better that I produce pets for someone that DOES want a calm German Shepherd than them going out to a backyard breeder (though I guess most on here would consider me that) where the dogs are pieces of garbage, untested with no knowledge or thought behind them, getting the dog and then dropping the dog off at the shelter in 6 months time because they didn't understand what they were getting into.
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post #4 of 208 (permalink) Old 05-09-2011, 10:51 AM
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I have run into quite a few people around here with oversized GSD's. There's a breeder not to far from me that breeds them. My cousin has one named Bear. He looks like a big bear. Unfortunately, a lot of the people that buy these dogs are looking for a German Shepherd, with all the drive and everything that the GSD is supposed to be. A lot of them get a big GSD to look and act scary. The ones that I know, and that know me and my 85 lb GSD, are amazed at the intensity of my dog. They say," That's what I wanted my dog to be like."

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post #5 of 208 (permalink) Old 05-09-2011, 10:54 AM
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Like Emoore stated, your dog is pretty far off from the standard. It seems like you are breeding something similar to the Shiloh Shepherd. There comes a point at which you breed far enough out of the standard that you aren't producing the same breed of dog anymore. If your Shepherds look and act considerably different from the standard (there is, of course, a grey area), then you aren't really producing Shepherds anymore.

That said, it is good to know that you are paying attention to the health of your dogs and not just the size and as long as you produce happy healthy dogs that find homes, there is nothing wrong with what you are doing.
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post #6 of 208 (permalink) Old 05-09-2011, 10:58 AM
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That said, it is good to know that you are paying attention to the health of your dogs and not just the size and as long as you produce happy healthy dogs that find homes, there is nothing wrong with what you are doing.
There's nothing wrong with producing large, calm, non-drive-having, laid-back family pets that are happy and healthy, just don't blow smoke by calling them German Shepherd Dogs.


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post #7 of 208 (permalink) Old 05-09-2011, 11:01 AM
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I know this isn't the popular opinion on here, but I really like the large shepherds. I understand why people don't, they feel they can't do the things the dog was bred to do, and that's fine. However, I feel if she is producing healthy (health tested and all of that) and is very up front that these dogs are NOT working dogs, but only family pets...I don't really see the harm. I think they are gorgeous dogs that may be more suited for what most people today want out of a dog. Lets face it, most people cannot handle a truly drivey GSD. Like I said, I know it's not the popular opinion, and I understand why that is...and on some levels agree, but I can definitely see the purpose and beauty in these dogs.

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post #8 of 208 (permalink) Old 05-09-2011, 11:05 AM
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Here are my thoughts as a non breeder.

Big does not equal hip displaysia. However, the more weight on the joints, that includes oversized or fat, are known to be an environmental factor that greatly increases the risk. How many in your dog's line, both breeding and non breeding, have been diagnosed with HD or ED? It's not just your dog's individual genes being passed on. It is several generations.

As far as breeding far outside of the standard to produce "pet puppies", the GSD has a standard for a reason. The GSD is a herding breed, but also an all purpose breed. The GSD should be able to go out and work, PLUS be a member of the family (pet). When you do away with the true temperment and abilities of the breed, then you are assisting in destroying the breed.

I commend you for doing health testing on your dog. I truly do. However, what about his lines? Also, just because his cTLI level is normal does not mean he does not carry the genes for EPI. The cTLI is only test to see if the dog itself has pancreatic insufficiency. Are you aware that it commonly skips generations? Have any dogs in his line been diagnosed with EPI? Last email correspondence I had with the doctors testing the genetic portions of EPI is that most likely 2 dogs need to pass it on. However, they are not certain because the actual genetic markers have not been found.

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post #9 of 208 (permalink) Old 05-09-2011, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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Like Emoore stated, your dog is pretty far off from the standard. It seems like you are breeding something similar to the Shiloh Shepherd. There comes a point at which you breed far enough out of the standard that you aren't producing the same breed of dog anymore. If your Shepherds look and act considerably different from the standard (there is, of course, a grey area), then you aren't really producing Shepherds anymore.

That said, it is good to know that you are paying attention to the health of your dogs and not just the size and as long as you produce happy healthy dogs that find homes, there is nothing wrong with what you are doing.
Any of the dogs that aren't 100% show quality or even working quality that are produced by breeders, do you then say "Because they do not fit the standard, I'm sorry but they can no longer be called German Shepherd Dogs", because that is what you are essentially stating. If that is the case, I guess every various "type" should be made a separate breed. To the untrained eye, one would think they were two completely different breeds that just perhaps just vaguely resemble each other, yet on paper they are the same and surely their owners would fight tooth and nail to claim them both be the same breed.

My dogs are a variation, and as terrible as some people think it is, they are 100% purebred German Shepherds and surely are related to at least some dogs on here. I can respect your opinion but do not agree. Btw, Shilohs stemmed from large GSDs, they are related to my dogs but unlike the Shilohs (whole 'nother can of worms) I can diversify my dogs bloodlines with dogs that are similar from various lines but completely unrelated. Not everyone wants a look of the show dog, per the standard, they want a dog which may have been how their old dog looked. Their old dog was probably no prize winner either (at least in the eyes of the AKC or the SV), but obviously we fill a niche and at the same time are not stepping on toes of the working or show people, or at least I can't see how we would.
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post #10 of 208 (permalink) Old 05-09-2011, 11:07 AM
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I know this isn't the popular opinion on here, but I really like the large shepherds. I understand why people don't, they feel they can't do the things the dog was bred to do, and that's fine. However, I feel if she is producing healthy (health tested and all of that) and is very up front that these dogs are NOT working dogs, but only family pets...I don't really see the harm. I think they are gorgeous dogs that may be more suited for what most people today want out of a dog. Lets face it, most people cannot handle a truly drivey GSD. Like I said, I know it's not the popular opinion, and I understand why that is...and on some levels agree, but I can definitely see the purpose and beauty in these dogs.

A GSD is a working dog. Anything else is just a dog, but not a GSD.

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