Thuringian GSD lines- nervy but fast? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 113 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thuringian GSD lines- nervy but fast?

I've made it no secret that when I eventually get another GSD, I want it to be a fast dog. I keep hearing how a fast dog could lack balance, which I didn't agree with. Certainly a "balanced" dog could also happen to be fast. I don't see why not.

Recently, carmspack mentioned here that the issue is that speed comes from the Thuringian (one of the four founding breeds [breeds? types?]) lines, and that these lines tend to bring with them nerve issues and light bones (not heavy, big bones).

Sounds certainly interesting enough for a discussion thread!!

  • So, how would we look at a pedigree and see if there is Thuringian lineage in there?
  • Can we definitively tie such lineage to nerve issues and light bones?
  • Are light bones really a big deal in the grand scheme of things?
  • Can we definitively tie such lineage to fast dogs?
  • Am I asking the right questions? haha...
Looking forward to this discussion!!

Willy
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Last edited by wildo; 10-02-2012 at 02:41 PM.
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post #2 of 113 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 02:49 PM
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My question is, if this is true, then why can there be large differences among littermates? For example, Nikon is good at agility (well as good as I can handle but in the right hands he'd be way better) and was easy for me, a novice handler, to train yet I know someone who is a very accomplished agility trainer/handler (several CATCH and MACH dogs, most non-traditional agility breeds) who has struggled training Nikon's littermate. Some of what she describes is almost the exact opposite of how Nikon works in agility (her dog struggled for a long time with jumping technique and didn't seem to care, while Nikon was a quick study with good technique and loves jumping, lots of "obstacle drive"). So if a litter is all from the same lines can we really attribute the speed of one dog to the founders of the breed, but not the other dogs from the same lines or even the exact same litter? I see the same thing in flyball (where you get to see lots of littermates because of how the dogs are bred and who owns them) and there is a lot of variation in speed among littermates.

As far as bone, I can't comment on where it comes from (I'll defer to carmspack and doc and cliff, et al for that) but I do agree that you don't want heavy or excess bone. A GSD can have good bone that is not in excess. A fast dog may be lighter boned than say, some of the WGSL counterparts but that doesn't mean a fast dog has to look brittle or frail.

I find that in agility and flyball, speed comes from the desire to do the work itself. In flyball, a dog that is too obsessed with tennis balls will run down fast but then probably execute a lackluster turn and then double stride between jumps on the way back. Likewise a dog that is really reward or handler focused will run down OK and probably turn really well and come back really fast, sometimes twice as fast on the way back. A really fast dog tends to be a dog that has nothing "extra" (not heavy boned, not too long, certainly not fat) and also find the activity itself rewarding so there is speed and power throughout the exercise. In Pan's case, he's a pretty high energy and lower threshold dog but the last thing I'd call him is nervy. I mean in some cases he's stable almost to a fault (in protection it's hard to get real aggression from him because nothing unsettles him, yet).

These are just my thoughts as someone active in these sports with different types of GSDs (and different breeds). The pedigree stuff I can't really comment on. I find that especially in flyball, people approach it a lot like many departments pick police dogs....they actually don't really care about pedigree. We test the dog and if it shows potential, then we train it. If not, I don't really care what the pedigree says it *should* be if it's just not.

Last edited by Liesje; 10-02-2012 at 02:54 PM.
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post #3 of 113 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
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Lies, I have to admit- you're the only person that I know in person with "fast" dogs. I mean come on- 3.9sec flyball runs?? [Thinks hard to see if that would be offensive to any of his friends. No... I don't think so... Well, no offense intended to you, my local friends! ] I was going to PM you to see if we could dissect one of your dog's pedigrees for a learning experience, but I'm not sure that's fair or appropriate. I suspect Carmen can provider her own examples based on past experience.

Also- I have to admit that what you've brought up, Lies, about the sheer desire to do to work and be rewarded by the work is something I haven't considered. I figured a fast dog is fast because of their conformation and drive alone. Take me as an example. My conformation (read: my fat [bottom]) will never be a fast sprinter. I'm built like the dwarf from the Lord of the Rings... -short, fat, and well muscled! haha! But someone with a lot of leg, tall, slender, toned, and driven to success- that person will almost certainly be a much faster runner than me. So conformation must have a part for sure.

I attributed a great croup to speed. A long, properly angled croup allows the dog to get their rear feet under their body, stretched forward for range of motion, and give them the ability to power forward pushing their rear legs backwards with lots of range of motion. The long croup means that the muscles themselves are longer providing more strength and more flexibility. I wonder if the Thuringian dogs have an impact on rear conformation.

Willy
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post #4 of 113 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 03:11 PM
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I think you also need to take into account what I said in the other thread, about how the dog approaches work. Not just the drive but how the dog thinks. I don't really know of a good term for it. Nikon is very clear-headed and a problem-solver but he's not going to take unnecessary risk. He likes to be correct and have everything figured out before he turns on the burners. Pan is not this way at all. If you watch in slow-mo his record breaking heats he is making mistakes left and right. Every time we take him out on the mat there's a 50/50 change he will do really well vs. something silly like vault himself clear over the box, karate chop a jump in half, etc. It's also difficult to correct some of these issues because the sheer act of doing the work is so rewarding to him. He is not an "NRM" dog, doesn't work! If he makes a mistake we can't just "put him up" like some of the other dogs. He doesn't get that. The handler has to figure out how to set it up so that there's a little room for mistakes as possible so that he's automatically successful because he's going to run at blazing speed and love every hundredth of a second whether he looks perfect or breaks two jumps and drops the ball in the process.

There is ideal conformation but there's also a lot of room there. I've seem some very successful agility dogs from all lines of GSD, even ASL. To me if I lined up these dogs they'd basically be different breeds but it is what it is.

I think "obstacle drive" (or whatever you want to call it) is really important but the nice thing is that this can be developed and trained over time, to an extent. It's funny comparing a dog like Pan that is lightening fast and has almost ideal conformation for speed (at least as far as GSDs go) to a dog like Nikon that so far in agility is faster and better because Nikon has just had more exposure and understands the concept of driving toward the next obstacle in front of him whereas Pan has just as much fun doing obstacle #1 then skipping obstacle #2 then literally blowing through obstacle #3.

I'm sort of in the market for a smaller dog (non GSD) I'd like to do flyball with so this is all on my mind right now. I'm looking at the dogs for what they are and not really focusing on the pedigree even though that's kind of the opposite of what this thread suggests but that's how it works in flyball. Most of the dogs I'm looking at are mixes of at least two breeds.
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post #5 of 113 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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Haha... yes, point taken. Your comparisons between them always make me laugh. I still think Pan sounds like my kind of dog!

Willy
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post #6 of 113 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
Every time we take him out on the mat there's a 50/50 change he will do really well vs. something silly like vault himself clear over the box, karate chop a jump in half, etc. ...whereas Pan has just as much fun doing obstacle #1 then skipping obstacle #2 then literally blowing through obstacle #3.
I mean come on- that sounds so fun (and probably frustrating at times). But seriously fun!

Willy
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post #7 of 113 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 03:21 PM
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Oh he really is. And he's pretty wash-and-wear too. I mean, you can just pop a leash on him and take him anywhere. He loves people and kids and is gentle too, not a nippy dog ever. I can't wait to see what Jason does with him in agility.

The one thing that is really nice about doing flyball and agility with GSDs is the built in recall. I don't know if you know about my last foster dog, Luna (I mostly post about her on the other GSD forum) but she was adopted by a couple that were actually in my class and live a few blocks away so I recruited them for flyball. This dog can easily be a flyball phenom but holy crap she just runs and runs and runs! It's so hard to get her to FOCUS. We spent about an hour and got maybe 5 really nice turns and the rest of the time she was just running around like crazy. GSDs may not be the first choice breed for these sports but at least mine have never had trouble staying with me and following my lead. They want to work with ME so if *I* am playing box turn then that's what *they* want to do too, not just run around like a fool, lol. She is really trying my patience (and I feel responsible for her training because I probably should have kept her for myself and her owners have never had a dog ever, let alone a crazy flyball dog). However she's got going for her that she's super friendly and stable, absolutely no environmental sensitivity. First time I took her to flyball she was zipping around in the building and playing some violent tug. A lot of more nervy dogs will not play with their handlers at first.

Last edited by Liesje; 10-02-2012 at 03:23 PM.
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post #8 of 113 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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I couldn't agree more. While Pimg doesn't have the drive or energy of either of your dogs- one thing she definitely does have is a desire to work with me. She really does. When we run agility, we are 100% a team. I can tell the she feels it and reciprocates it. There really isn't anything like working WITH your dog, and having a dog that wants to work WITH you!

Willy
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post #9 of 113 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 03:29 PM
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I noticed that watching the Superdog videos, especially the times when two dogs were going at once, or it was more like a relay (like the faux flyball thing). We've got a lot of dogs that, speed-wise, would blow those dogs out of the water, but usually more than half the battle is getting them to focus. Some of the dogs take years to train that aspect (especially the Whippets, they don't really understand the concept of retrieve OR recall, lol). A lot of dogs are half or 1/4 terrier...'nuf said! I don't know what Luna is but she looks like a Border Staffy.
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post #10 of 113 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 03:30 PM
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This is funny
Jack does everything perfectly in agility but is fairly slow. I think some of that is due to handling. We
didn't do a very good job of getting his excitement up.

Zena goes so fast she falls off equipment, so we have to slow her down.
She just started recently though so hopefully she will put the speed and accuracy together someday.

Another note would be about handling. Jack is very fast off leash in an open field.

So is he fast but not in agility, and if so is that handling or the dog?

Last edited by Jack's Dad; 10-02-2012 at 03:33 PM. Reason: add info
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