Working Line vs Show Line Puppy - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
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Working Line vs Show Line Puppy

Excuse my ignorance here. I'm new to the breed and looking to get my first GSD soon. Would a working line puppy be suitable as a companion dog? I'm not looking to do trials or protection work. I want a puppy that is family and kid friendly. However, I also want a dog that could be protective of his home if necessary but not necessarily an attack/guard/personal protection dog. A dog that I can feel comfortable bringing around strangers (dog park, walks in the city, pet stores, etc). Can tell between a threat and non-threat.

Would a working line have more natural aggression and wouldnt fit the mold I'm looking for vs a show line?
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 01:00 AM
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I think working line would be a good choice. My dog has relatives on both end, but most recently WGWL great grandparents that were imported for breeding, and he's extremely protective of his home, but completely docile at dog parks. Literally just lays down beside me at the park. But at home, he barks at family friends if he hasn't seen them recently and goes wild if someone is on my parents property or near it. The only thing he deems a threat outside of his property is anything bigger than him, or wild animals. He mauled a small coyote a few months ago, and isn't all that fond of dogs who are close to his size(which is very rare), but in general he's very nonchalant in public.

Jax - 2 year old WGWL GSD, 125lbs
Leeroy - 3 year old Rottweiler Pit Bull Mix, 120lbs


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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 05:41 AM
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In most of the WL litters that I know of, there will be a more laid back individual --- and that dog may do well without "work." Mine love work. Due to the recent weather, we've been without it until very recently and then just sporadically. The dogs are a bit bonkers and really really really missing "work."



I don't know anything about show lines. But I know my dogs are happier when they are worked. So - when you find a breeder, talk to them about what kind of a dog you want.
(temperament wise that is)
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 06:44 AM
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German shepherds in general need mental stimulation and exercise. They are very physical active dogs with different levels of energy and different drives. They all though thrive being engaged and active with their owners. I had all three they were very calm and quiet in the house once matured. You would need to talk to a working line breeder to let them know what your are looking for. Each pup in a litter is different and they should have a pup that fits your needs. My working line who I owned was a pretty mellow dog with strong drives he was police trained would of seriously destroyed a burglar who entered the house. He never responded to a false threat. My asl I feel extremely safe with- if something went bump in the night he would be the first to intensely check it out. He is naturally very protective of me and the house and kids. If some stranger was on the property the the oilman in the back yard he would go ballistic or find me in the house and want me to follow him and alert to a intruder in the yard. If it was a close friend or family member he did not know or have met and I invited them in the house and gave them hugs he would have to be in the middle. In my experience the males are more intense and protective although, my female shepherd is protective of her yard like a demon. One night my friend had stayed over and Luna - my wgsl-must of forgot she was here and heard stirring downstairs. Luna ran down stairs and charged my friend during the night when my friend went to get a drink. when she smelled my friend she stopped when she recognized who she was and loves and gave her kisses as an apology. Lol! I did sleep through the entire thing lol!
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 07:59 AM
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Speaking in rough generalizations, yes a working line dog is likely to have more aggression than a show line dog. That said, you can find a safe dog in any of the lines. I will say this, though. Plan to do lots of training. These dogs need structure, and their brains need to be worked. They also need quite a bit of physical exercise.

What I would do in your shoes would be go to clubs in your area and see dogs of different line types doing various things with their ownders/handlers. Local kennel clubs, your local GSD club, schutzhund clubs. It doesnít matter if you have no interest in pursuing those venues once you have your dog. Observe lots of dogs. Talk to owners. Find out what their dogs are like at home and out in public. Ask if they are good with kids. Ask if they are reactive. Ask what their health has been like. Ask if they have a good off switch in the home. Ask what the experience with the breeder has been like. Find your breeder by seeing dogs you like, not simply by recommendations on the internet.

I have not owned either a WGSL or an ASL dog, but I have met nice, stable representatives of both line types. Both line types would be a visual deterrent, and both would likely alert you to someone at your home. I have two working line dogs. One would be an absolute nightmare for someone who wanted a kid friendly, take anywhere kind of dog. My girl could live as an active pet as long as someone was willing to provide an outlet for her, mentally and physically. Both have more aggression when pushed than show lines I have seen. Donít rush to get a puppy. Do your due diligence with finding an honest breeder who produces healthy, stable dogs.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 08:03 AM
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The club I belong to is a mixture of working and showlines and I have seen a few litters of each growing up at this point. They seem to run the gamut in any event. One SL I know will let you walk in the house if you are company...the other SL I know I wouldn't dare unless I was accompanied by his handler.

I find myself more attracted to the structure and drive of a working line. That definitely does not mean they can't be a pet with a great off switch. Between my own dog and 2 that are always at my house one would look at their pedigrees and not peg them as good for home life and kids etc. Well, they are great...and two of my boys have autism, hand flap, squeal, run...they know they are kids and not lures to chase lol. They all get plenty of training, mental stimulation, reasonable exercise (that fit in with a career and kid schedule), easy going club level IPO on most weekends. These dogs are progeny of Pepper Von kap Kathargo, Quardes von der Staatsmact, Clif Vicona ..WL names that are known in both in sport and real life work. Sometimes they are what you make them AS LONG AS you give them mental stimulation, a reasonably active life. I know a few showlines at this point that would make lovely pets in my home as well, but like I said I just simply prefer the WL GSDs. Edited to add you can out train genetics which is why communication with a reputable breeder is important as well as getting feedback from others about the typical dogs produced by said breeder (IPO club is a great place to start even if you are not going to participate). But a stable dog without a genetic nerve problem can definitely live the active family pet life.

If you feel like you aren't going to be able to do any structured activity, if you think there will be a lot of chill at home expected from this dog, I would look to a SL...but to be honest any German Shepherd that is well bred is going to need more mental and physical stimulation than other breeds. Check that, I'd say any proper bred working or field dog like a Lab or GSP, nordic breeds, etc..if they are properly bred to type, they will need to be active and challenged mentally. I do a few 10 minutes a day with my dog on busy days and he is fine with that. Other days he gets much much more. As long as you are willing to give free time as dog time, and educate yourself on the breed beforehand, it should be fine. Also accept that using a trainer may be in the cards, and budget for it.

The best way to go about this is to a post asking for breeder recommendations in your area, then start talking to those breeders, tell them what you expect and what your day/life is like ...and leave it to them to tell you if they have the type of dog you are looking for and if they have a litter a good breeder will tell you which is a good fit for you.

Good luck!
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 08:09 AM
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I also noticed you mentioned dog parks in your post. While some here successfully enjoy them, German Shepherds in general, once mature are not known to be good dog park candidates. Bringing them as a pup could overstimulate them. GSDs that are "type" are aloof/neutral with people and dogs they do not know. Of course there are exceptions..but honestly the better bred ones will in general not crave or need "doggie socializing" at the dog park level. Most are happy with a friend or two that have stable dogs to chum around with (if that). When my friend and I go to the park or training together they coexist and pretty much ignore each other...which to us, is ideal.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 12:50 PM
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It depends. I want to say a show line would be better for you because it doesn't sound like you want to "work" the dog. Its completely okay to not want to do sports or bite work, but understand a working line GSD will need some type of outlet/stimulation. Even a show line probably will, but less so. You also have no idea if either dog from either lines will end up being protective, all dogs are different. I will also specify, different working lines act different. For example, West German Working Lines or Czech typically have more prey drive and higher energy levels which makes them ideal for sport work. It is common that East German/DDR working lines have a higher defense drive and less working drive, some are more calm in the house. Show lines in my opinion can be anything and you just wont know what you'll be getting unless you know the dam and sire well. You could make an educated guess off of the parents. Im going to say a laid back pup from an East German working line litter could be a good fit for you as they have natural defense drive and tend to be less wired. I have a WGWL/Czech pup who can go all day without a break and loves to work but is also quite friendly to other dogs and people. While he looks like a demon, he probably wouldn't attack someone coming to my house if I am being completely realistic. He is also only 8mo old so its a bit early to tell and the defense drives could kick in as he matures.

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by GypsyGhost View Post
Speaking in rough generalizations, yes a working line dog is likely to have more aggression than a show line dog. That said, you can find a safe dog in any of the lines. I will say this, though. Plan to do lots of training. These dogs need structure, and their brains need to be worked. They also need quite a bit of physical exercise.

What I would do in your shoes would be go to clubs in your area and see dogs of different line types doing various things with their ownders/handlers. Local kennel clubs, your local GSD club, schutzhund clubs. It doesnít matter if you have no interest in pursuing those venues once you have your dog. Observe lots of dogs. Talk to owners. Find out what their dogs are like at home and out in public. Ask if they are good with kids. Ask if they are reactive. Ask what their health has been like. Ask if they have a good off switch in the home. Ask what the experience with the breeder has been like. Find your breeder by seeing dogs you like, not simply by recommendations on the internet.

I have not owned either a WGSL or an ASL dog, but I have met nice, stable representatives of both line types. Both line types would be a visual deterrent, and both would likely alert you to someone at your home. I have two working line dogs. One would be an absolute nightmare for someone who wanted a kid friendly, take anywhere kind of dog. My girl could live as an active pet as long as someone was willing to provide an outlet for her, mentally and physically. Both have more aggression when pushed than show lines I have seen. Donít rush to get a puppy. Do your due diligence with finding an honest breeder who produces healthy, stable dogs.
All of this is excellent insight to keep in mind.

I'd like to chime in from the perspective of owning a show line dog (75% ASL/25% WGSL cross). I think a dog like mine would fit your bill very well, @khk410, and I don't think she's terribly unusual in that she is safe and stable and would do well with an active family with kids. My city has a lot of dog-friendly businesses, and my dog is a "go all the places, do all the things" dog. She will definitely alert me to any goings-on outside our house (she's trained that this is fine, I go and look out the window and then tell her to stand down), but when we're out in the community, she isn't reactive or quick to decide something is a threat. She's dog-neutral to dog-friendly, and she goes weekly to daycare and to the dog park on a regular basis. I'm not certain how typical the dog-friendliness is, to be honest, but she's been very easy in that regard.

I do want to emphasize that you should not discount the amount of physical and mental exercise required by a show line dog. Mine needs both. She can roll with one or the other if she needs to, but she really does best if she gets one thing from Column A (walk, fetch, dog park, active game) and one from Column B (Nosework, other class, tricks practice, puzzle toy, etc.). She can get pretty demanding about the latter, too; I don't have much luxury to be mentally exhausted at the end of a long day and not spend time with her. And that's fine, I signed up for that, but be aware that an ASL dog is not necessarily going to be your Netflix buddy even if they're lower drive. She's a pretty busy dog between about 6 and 10 or 11 PM, but to be fair to her, I'm getting home around 6 and my husband works from home full time so she has been taught that she needs to be chill during the day and the fun starts when I get home; we pack a lot into those 4-5 hours. Right now we do classes 2 evenings per week, and that seems to work really well for her. Put it this way, we're doing 2 classes per week plus we have 2 full-day Nosework trials and 3 half-day trials coming up in the next two months, and my only worry about her stamina is the weekend we trial all day Saturday and then turn around and do 2 half-day trials back to back on Sunday.

But if you are active and you/your family are able to spend quality time providing both physical and mental outlets for the dog's energy, a show line dog would probably be just as good of a bet. And I don't say that to take away from any working line dogs - I've met WL dogs who are easier to have in the house than my ASL/WGSL dog and who are every bit as stable and safe and fun to own. I have not ruled out owning one myself someday. As GypsyGhost said, you would be able to find a safe, stable dog from within either type, and I would repeat her advice to go out to clubs and meet dogs and owners and breeders, and ask all the questions. This specific type of research is actually not something I did, I gained it piecemeal after I got my dog, and although I'd have ended up with the same breeder had I done it, I would not hesitate to recommend that you try to do it beforehand.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 01:42 PM
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It depends. I want to say a show line would be better for you because it doesn't sound like you want to "work" the dog. Its completely okay to not want to do sports or bite work, but understand a working line GSD will need some type of outlet/stimulation. Even a show line probably will, but less so. You also have no idea if either dog from either lines will end up being protective, all dogs are different. I will also specify, different working lines act different. For example, West German Working Lines or Czech typically have more prey drive and higher energy levels which makes them ideal for sport work. It is common that East German/DDR working lines have a higher defense drive and less working drive, some are more calm in the house. Show lines in my opinion can be anything and you just wont know what you'll be getting unless you know the dam and sire well. You could make an educated guess off of the parents. Im going to say a laid back pup from an East German working line litter could be a good fit for you as they have natural defense drive and tend to be less wired. I have a WGWL/Czech pup who can go all day without a break and loves to work but is also quite friendly to other dogs and people. While he looks like a demon, he probably wouldn't attack someone coming to my house if I am being completely realistic. He is also only 8mo old so its a bit early to tell and the defense drives could kick in as he matures.
I agree that a SL might be a better fit. However, if the OP does decide to go with a working line, Iíd encourage them to rely on an ethical, responsible breeder more than any subset of type within the working lines. My guy is half DDR and that has definitely not added any calm. Nerve, yes. More defense than is maybe necessary, yes. Calm, no. Meanwhile, my WGWL girl has the best off switch of any dog Iíve ever had. Drive for days, but she can easily turn it off and relax at home. It really depends on each individual pedigree, IMO. And it greatly matters what the breeder likes and is breeding for. Some breeders produce dogs that are much more sharp than I think this OP would be prepared to handle. Others have dogs that have less edge in their litters. Itís so important to meet dogs from breeders you are interested in BEFORE you settle on a breeder. And not just the breederís dogs, at the breeders house. A lot of dogs can appear stable in an environment they are completely comfortable in.
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