Captain Max Von Stephanitz -- hero or fiend? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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Captain Max Von Stephanitz -- hero or fiend?

I have lost all my respect for Max. By his own words and writings he was a butcher. I was so excited to get his book and read it. Having done so, I cannot imagine why our breed's founder, of all breeds, is put on such a pedestal.

I think Max refined sheep-herding dogs into a standard that he set up, and he then marketed those dogs to other venues than sheep herding, and give him is due for that. But his methods/practices were nothing short of barbaric.

He gets off on race a lot. But perhaps he was a product of the times. We had our black/white issues here, and other places had their class or caste systems, so I will not send if to the guillotine for that.

And I can understand not going to phenomenal lengths, like I did with Cupcake to keep a pup alive against the odds. But he would take a perfectly ordinary litter, look them over, cull the weak or deformed ones, and then cull perfectly good dogs to get the litter size down to 3-5 for a bitch's first litter, and after that knock them down to 5-7. He would start with the weaker dogs, and then move on to cull for sex. So if you had six healthy pups, he would choose either girls or boys, by sex alone to kill.

Of course kill them when the dam is not present.

If you use a foster dam, remove her own pups and kill them -- they have to be close to the same age as these pups, and then add them to her litter. I like the way he thinks a foster dam would seek revenge. Revenge is a pretty human idea isn't it? And the idea that shepherds do not make good fosters? Huh? Shepherds who foster tiger cubs and kittens and anything else?

Yo Max, why not wait until a bitch is fully mature to breed her, and if she has a good size litter, feed her well, and then maybe do not breed her on her next cycle if you want to ensure that her own body is not compromised for the puppies? Slaughtering puppies to have the number you desire, not the number she is capable of raising. If you want to produce a strong, sturdy race, why not breed bitches that can raise the number of puppies they have?

So, I could care less what he says about training or schutzhund, about the race. His arguments fall on deaf ears. I just cannot accept killing puppies for no other reason than too many are born. And too many being seven or eight or even five. That is totally disgusting.

Jenna's first litter produced ten puppies. She raised them all and gained weight by the time they were weaned, the picture of health and vitality.

I always had a bad taste in my mouth for Winifred Strickland, how she would cull a litter down to eight, deformed, weak ones, then white, liver or blue, but then also to get the number down to eight. But she was much more in favor of finding a foster dam, and has instructions on tube-feeding, etc.

Maybe the race has improved since Max's time, as a bitch can whelp and raise a larger litter. But in either case, whatever good Max did is wiped out as completely as Joe Paterno and more deservingly, in my opinion, as he actually did the deed and instructed others to. Take his name off the trophy, shun his edicts. I truly do not care if he would approve or be appalled at what the GSD is today, because I find what he thought rather appalling.

If you like Max, and have not read his book, maybe it is best to just not read his book. At first, I was impressed by how varied his knowledge was, but I can't get past his killing perfectly healthy puppies.

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post #2 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 03:26 PM
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Max was a racist,anti women and was a product of Victorian times and a member of the nobility.He was typical of the age and class he came from. He believed many things about life that would put him front and center for an irate talk show host's sights. Ive read parts of his book. The culling is beyond disgustingl . The parts I like are the pictures of his kids playing with his GSD's and his stories as well as the history of herding dogs. Max was a man as fallible as those who believed the world was flat. Since I will never breed I skimmed the breeding section. He in today's light would be a pariah w/ most people.
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post #3 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 03:29 PM
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I don't disagree at all but those were different, harsher times. Dogs were only slightly above livestock if they were useful and below livestock if they weren't.
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post #4 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 03:32 PM
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As I mentioned in another thread, animal welfare is a concept of the 20th century. Other than St. Francis, nearly nobody thought about animal welfare other than caring for them as you would maintain a tractor. Max was a product of his times.


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post #5 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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We should be so understanding of the Amish, the puppy millers, people who leave dogs on chains, people who have outdoor dogs.

Times were harsher for the common folk. He was not a commoner. He was the nobility. Nobility really did not suffer like the masses. I expect my lot in life is more harsh than his was.

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post #6 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emoore View Post
As I mentioned in another thread, animal welfare is a concept of the 20th century. Other than St. Francis, nearly nobody thought about animal welfare other than caring for them as you would maintain a tractor. Max was a product of his times.
Max lost control of the breed in the 1930s, that was 20th century. The book was written in the 20th century. Maybe it was a concept of the late 20th century.

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post #7 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 03:47 PM
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Unless you are a strict Vegan, you really have no moral highground to stand on...

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post #8 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 03:47 PM
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We should be so understanding of the Amish, the puppy millers, people who leave dogs on chains, people who have outdoor dogs.
Not really. It used to be a matter of course that grown men married 14-16 year old girls. We don't judge people who did it at the time, but it's illegal now. We don't say the ancient Egyptian Pharohs were horrible people for marrying their siblings, but if someone did it now they'd be reviled. Can you imagine ending a 12 or 14 year old child's education so she can stay home and help raise her siblings, or so he can help plow the fields? It would be wrong to do so now; 200 years ago it was normal.

Similarly, "police brutality," "censorship," and "government corruption" have totally different meanings in the United States vs. Myanmar or China. We might applaud the government of Sudan for the exact same action we would villify the U.S. government for.

Times change and what we expect of people changes. the Amish, the puppy millers, people who chain their dogs. . . they live in the modern United States and they need to act like it. They don't conform to morals here and now. People have to be judged within the framework of their own time and place.



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Max lost control of the breed in the 1930s, that was 20th century. The book was written in the 20th century. Maybe it was a concept of the late 20th century.
You are correct; I misspoke.


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post #9 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 03:49 PM
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Absolutely nothing that wasn't common practice and ways of thinking at that place and time in history. We're talking the Victorian age of Darwin, phrenology, strong beliefs in nationalism and racial purity, thoughts of eugenics and developing super races (and not just of animals). We know where some of those trends brought the world just a few decades later. But fact is, those were the hobbies of the nobility at that time. And nothing that hasn't been a part of animal breeding, and the development of specific breeds, for long before and since.

IMO, with very few exceptions is rather absurd to judge a person from a different time and different culture by the values of one's own 100+ years later.


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post #10 of 106 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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Perhaps, but our present culture is extremely varied. My mom was signed out of school on her 16th birthday to go to work, my dad was allowed to quit at 14. I was often kept out of school to take care of siblings and I worked in my parents shop as well. If I did not graduate at 16, I would not have gone to high school beyond that. That is not just typical of 200 years ago, but people nowadays seem to think it is foreign.

Our entire country is made up of people who are so very different. The Amish have their kids go to school through the eight grade -- about 14 years old or younger. Only a few go on to high school in public schools. They are taught to clean, bake, plow the fields, work in the timber, and build barns.
It is not completely foreign even in these days.

When people say Max this, and Max that, why should we suddenly drop everything and say this is so, Max said so. What was good for Max was perhaps in his time and culture, it does not have to be now.

But Max did not live that long ago. I have known people who lived when this breed did not exist, when Max was around. They are not around now, but we are not talking about the sixteen and seventeen hundreds here.

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