GSDs Use As SDs/Guide dogs - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-28-2010, 10:38 PM Thread Starter
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GSDs Use As SDs/Guide dogs

I thought for a change of pace we might just have a exchange of ideas on a topic very much in keeping with this site and in particular this area.

Question I'm tossing out there --

Why do you think German Shepherds are not used as much now as they were in the past by guide/service dog training facilities?

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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-28-2010, 11:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ILGHAUS View Post
Why do you think German Shepherds are not used as much now as they were in the past by guide/service dog training facilities?
Too many with unstable temperaments? (no idea, just guessing)
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 01:04 AM
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The people at leader dogs have flat out said to me that they don't use them as much any more because they feel they are to intimidating to people and they don't want the public to be afraid of the leader dog.

Personally, I think, in this case they have also screwed up their own breeding pool ( they run their own program) to the point where health problems are endemic.


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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 01:36 AM
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i think its ranges anywhere from people being intimidated by the dog to unstable temperments. There was a training facility not too long ago that got shut down because they were getting dogs from breeders who had known health problems, reactive dogs, epiletic dogs. You name it. They were doing it to cut costs but a blind gentleman went through 4 or 5 dogs with this company and his dogs had any number of problems. I think it had more to do with bad breeding over intimidation though. But i also know that generally when i see a seeing eye dog/service dog for another task, i know those dogs have to pass temperment testing (if they're not fakers), public access testing, all kinds of vigorous training to be there so chances are they have a softer temperment more suitable for being surrounded by people all the time.

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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 09:20 AM
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I was previously a puppy raiser for leader dogs and have a career changed puppy from their breeding program that I raised.

She has demodex mange (hasn't shown symptoms since she came back from leader dogs at 1 yr old after being there 3 or 4 weeks), hip dysplasia, EPI, and allergies (environmental). I love her dearly but wow, you would've thought such a superior facility would produce a little better stock health wise. You couldn't ask for a smarter dog, or a dog better behaved with society (likely due to so much socialization, but her temperament with people and her nerves are just fantastic).

They stopped breeding GSD's several years ago, and the reason we were given was too much wash outs (aka career changes) due to medical problems. Didn't hear anything about them being too intimidating.

Last edited by Rerun; 11-29-2010 at 09:22 AM.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 11:03 AM
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Health is the #1 reason I've heard of. They started running their own program, didn't know what they were doing, and ended up with a mess.

I find it sad they don't even accept donation dogs anymore (it sure could help).

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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 11:29 AM
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I think it's public perception combined with not being knowledgable about the lines. Granted, breeds like labs and goldens have a split in the breed as well, but I think the temperment range you get in the split of GSD's is much more dramatic (coming from a person who grew up with "hunting" labs). Badly bred goldens and labs don't seem to have as drastic of temperment issues as GSD's do.

Being a great SD trainer does not make you an expert in dog bloodlines. So if they are only exposed to a certain type of GSD (ie the poorly socialized ones with weak nerves), they probably don't know that the breed hasn't completely deteriorated to this.

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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 11:46 AM
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A few years ago, the program director from an assistance dog organization came to evaluate one of my pups for guide work. She loves to use GSDs in her program, but I remember one of her concerns is excessive prey drive. A dog with too much prey can be a real liability, especially for a visually impaired person.

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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 01:17 PM
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I offered to donate a pup to Guiding Eyes for the Blind. They hesitated because the dam had a herding title and they don't like dogs with herding titles. I guess too much prey drive. They waited too long and didn't get one. Oh, well.

A pup from the same litter was donated to 4 Paws 4 Ability and she did great and was paired with a little boy with breathing problems. He was on a ventilator at night and she was responsible for alerting an adult if the machine quit working. She was also with him all day as he was in a wheelchair.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 01:25 PM
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The prey drive is definitely an issue, though I don't remember leader dogs ever mentioning any problems with it and Akira has prey drive. However, her training controls it. I think they assume dogs with high prey drive will go after ever rogue squirrel or loose cat, smaller dogs, etc..

However, I did pull what appeared to be a PB flat coated retriever (could've been a lab/golden or anything else though) from a high kill shelter a little ways outside the city several years back. She was a great dog and was being considered by a service dog agency I was training with. The hesitated with her prey and tug drive, which I thought was interesting. Her prey drive was what I would consider low drive, and her tug drive was that of any pet. She took the tug and shook it "the kill" shake and that gave them great cause for concern. That, paired with questionable conformation (she toed out badly on the front) washed her before she'd really even started. Super nice dog and I ended up placing her in a pet home.
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