Excellent article, and great discussion topic, Anne.
I would say I agree with the author, both about the importance of fighting drive as well as the fact that while much of the SchH routine does not test this, in the areas where the dog can show whether he has this or not, the dog who does ought to be rewarded over dogs who are equally, even slightly moreso, "correct" in their performance of the exercises but who do not exhibit fight.
Originally Posted By: Vandal
Do we need dogs with fight drive nowadays? If we do, why? What purpose does it serve?
Yes, we do need dogs with fight drive. It is necessary for any real world application of protection. And the temperament traits that help compose "fight drive" and go hand in hand with it.. hardness, self confidence, a degree of dominance, assertiveness, intrepidness... are important personality traits to maintain across the board, not just in protection but it other areas where the dog may be called into service. These things also do not present a handicap in the family home of a truly qualified GSD owner, and can be beneficial there as well.
I think the term lends itself to misinterpretation, just as "aggression" does, and that contributes to people balking at it and not seeing it's value. People tend to think a dog with high fight drive is a canine axe murderer, and that is not the case. These dogs have such inner strength and confidence that they are far less likely to react inappropriately than the majority of the canine population, and if they do react they typically have a very sound reason for doing so, and will follow through and not back down.
Sadly, it is no longer a requirement for a dog to do well in SchH, and in many cases handicaps a dog on the SchH field when, as the author alludes to, these dogs can be harder to control and often don't exhibit the same precision in their execution of certain exercises (namely the secondary control work), and in modern SchH it seems more often than not the dog who lacks fight but performs perfect obedience in protection is awarded more points than the dog who takes protection seriously and shows strong fight, but while controlled isn't as precise and pretty in his obedience in protection.
SchH is not supposed to be the end goal. The idea wasn't to allow a means to evaluate breeding stock for SchH. The idea was to utilize SchH as a means to evaluate breeding stock as whether or not they are correct GSDs and suitable for working applications beyond the SchH field. The removal of fight drive from the equation is IMO the single, most significant contributor to the weakening of the value of SchH as a breed test for working dogs.
Originally Posted By: Vandal
Do you think by removing the points for fighting drive we have brought about the demise of working temperament in the GSD?
I don't think it brought about the demise of working temperament. Contributed to it perhaps, but I don't think it was solely responsible.
I view it more as a symptom of a greater disease than as the direct cause. Just look at the TSB rating system that replaced the point system and how it is abused with many dogs who should be rated sufficient at best, in some cases insufficient, recieving pronounced over and over and over again. With the way things have gone down hill, I've little faith that had the point sytem remained it would have retained any more integrity than the TSB rating system has. Dogs who barely hang on by one tooth, tucking their tails and shutting their eyes during drives, would be getting 10s just as they get pronounced now. I don't think the point system would have remained immune to this either, so we'd just have meaningless 9s and 10s instead of the meaningless pronounceds we have.
This is one of the many things I really like about the new AWDF titles. They have brought back the point system. But only time will tell if it retains integrity, with judges actually being able to tell the difference between what should be an 8 or a 9 or a 10 and awarding them accordingly instead of passing out 10s to everyone as many seem to do with pronounced TSB ratings.