Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
GSDs a "dominant" breed?
I've always been confused as to why GSDs are so often referred to as a "dominant", "stubborn", "hard-headed" breed. Now Kenya is my first GSD of my very own, but growing up, they were sort of a family favorite. Several close relatives had them, including an aunt and another uncle on the other side. Neither of these people are people I would consider particularly dog-savvy, they just picked GSDs as their breed of choice and were happy with that choice. They never did any real training with these dogs, yet they were *good* dogs. When I first contemplated finally getting my own dog, I researched GSDs and Malinois for over a year before actively looking for a GSD. In that time, I don't recall ever meeting a GSD that I would consider an excessively dominant, hard-headed, stubborn dog. Maybe I was just over-prepared or have a higher tolerance for such things (you know how some people's dog will have one accident in the house and they say their dog is being dominant and peeing out of spite...). Sure I have seen many that probably get less exercise and mental stimulation than needed, and several adolescents pushing the boundaries, but so far in my experience, GSDs have been the most well-mannered, biddable, smart, obedient breed of dog in general. When I volunteered at the animal shelter, the GSDs were the ONLY dogs that would remain calm and composed when someone approached their kennel. They were the only dogs I could take on a long walk without getting excitedly nipped at or dragged, even the ones with no leash training were happy to just follow right along side me just for the sake of being right next to a person. Before I got really into GSDs, the only people I knew with GSDs were "normal" families who have always had a GSD as a family dog. They did not do competitive obedience, SchH, or anything like that.
I guess my question is....which is it? I've grown up viewing GSDs as a very loyal, smart, noble, biddable, obedient breed that is relatively easy to train because of their bond with the handler and willingness to work. But the more I read on dog boards these days, people are constantly referring to a GSD as a "dominant" or "difficult" breed. I guess in my experience, GSDs have not been any more dominant or difficult that my uncle's Labradors, my neighbor's Chessie, my friend's Pointer....
I am reluctant to use the types of terms I've quoted in this post b/c I feel the GSD already has a bad rap and describing them as a whole in these terms is like admitting that I agree they are dangerous, which I do not. I believe ANY dog will bit given the right circumstances, ANY dog can and should be loyal to its people, and ANY dog can be protective. My reality is that I have known many people who have had GSDs and never had any problems, and these people really knew nothing about proper training or selecting the appropriate breed. Perhaps I'm too much of an optimist...