Need to breed Service Dogs - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Need to breed Service Dogs

I am new to this and I am starting a charity (Sierra Service Dogs) to breed psychiatric service dogs for children and vets.

I, admittedly, have spent most of my free time researching the best way to set up a charity and fund it, buying the property and building the kennel, rather than which lines of dogs are best for working service dogs.

However, I am committed to using German Shepherds. I own 2 and mine will be the first trained by the new trainer I hired. I am looking for a breeder that will help me obtain a great female. Initially, we only plan to start with 1 breeding female as both of mine are fixed.

Any advice would be great. I know that I have a lot to digest before making any decisions, so the more I know, the better. Also, if demand isn't high enough for the charity, we would train any extra pups as Sierra Rescue Dogs for use as search and rescue dogs in Tahoe. Either way, the offspring would not be sold.

Thanks for listening.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 06:33 PM
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I don't know exactly what goes into a psychiatric service dog, but I'm not sure working line GSDs would be the best for that. Could you explain further, what *traits* and *qualities* you are looking for?

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
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From ADI: A Service Dog’s job is to make an individual with a disability more able, not to protect them. The dog’s presence is a natural deterrent. Because Assistance Dogs are taken into public places and some individuals with disabilities are not able to physically restrain their dogs, the Assistance Dog must be safe for the public. Many dogs, especially working breeds, will sense their owner’s disability and their vulnerability. These dogs can learn on their own to protect at inappropriate times. This can be compounded by an individual who doesn’t recognize that they are unconsciously encouraging this behavior.

The most important qualities we look for in a dog, regardless of breed, are excellent health (including orthopedics), a friendly, intelligent personality, a strong work ethic and desire to please.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 10:40 PM
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try contacting this person she bred GS for therapy and trains them she might be able to answer some questions, Positive Puppy Dog Training
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 11:48 PM
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Given that not all pups in the litters of even highly experienced, successful breeders are suitable for service work (or SAR ...), what are your plans for the pups who wash out?
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-16-2013, 01:20 PM
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Magwart voiced my first concern as well. You'll need to account for the pups who aren't suitable for either job, because there will be some even with the most careful breeding and training. FWIW I do have a service dog and I also do K9 SAR, so I've got a little personal experience with the training of both.

I don't know enough about GSD lines to make any specific suggestions, but I'd really caution you to be sure the breeder you work with to help you get started really understands the requirements of a psychiatric service dog. I'd be concerned that a lot of very nice working GSDs I've met are too protective and/or too high-energy to be suitable psychiatric service dogs. The qualities a working breeder might consider ideal in a GSD might be inappropriate for a service dog.

How are you planning on connecting the dogs to the people who need them, and will you charge for them or offer them for free? I ask the latter question just because it seems like a really expensive proposition to breed purebreds for psychiatric service dogs. I volunteered with one organization that took in shelter dogs (usually with the adoption fee waived and all shots/spay/neuter done already) to train as SDs for vets, and even with active fundraising, low overhead and some assistance from the VA (this was before their recent decisions about service dogs), they had to really work to break even. But a lot of people who need a service dog can't pay for them, so it's hard to even make up costs that way. Sorry if you've already thought all this through and have a plan for it, I've just seen a lot of really admirable charities fail before they start because of logistical and funding issues like that.

It is a cool idea though, psychiatric service dogs are such a wonderful thing for people who need them and I hope it works out. Also, just out of curiosity, why are you limiting it to children and vets rather than anyone in need?

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Last edited by RowdyDogs; 01-16-2013 at 01:29 PM.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-16-2013, 01:39 PM
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If you are serious about this project and want to do it the RIGHT way, you need a mentor in the breed. Hopefully someone who is experienced with breeding and raising service dogs. Where are you located?
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-16-2013, 01:46 PM
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You'll need a plan for the puppies that do not qualify for work, a good plan.

I agree with Freestep - you need an experienced mentor and partnership with kennels of dogs suitable for this sort of work.

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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-16-2013, 01:46 PM
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You should contact some other service dog organizations in your area that breed their own dogs and see how they do things. Although its a great have each and every puppy you produce be able to either be a service dog or a SAR's extremely unlikely that this will happen.

SAR people will tell you how hard it is to find a dog with the drive for SAR, and service dog trainers and handlers will tell you how hard it is to find a dog with the temperament to be a service dog. Personally, I think you'll have a very hard time breeding for both of those.

I don't want to put down the GSD as a breed...but there are other breeds out there that are much more compatible for service work. They tend to mature faster, be calmer, and just have a better over all temperament for the work. So the other breed is ready at a much younger age (which means a longer time with the handler) to be a service dog.

I've also met a person once who purchased a great working line GSD to be her service dog. The breeder raved to her how great his lines were for work...and they were...Schutzhund work. Well this dog had so much ball drive and prey drive, that there was no way it would ever be a service dog. All it wanted to do was go after a tennis ball. It was also extremely protective of said tennis ball, and would attack other dogs for it. Those drives would've been great for Schutzhund, but not anywhere near what they needed to be for service.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-16-2013, 01:59 PM
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I don't want to put down the GSD as a breed...but there are other breeds out there that are much more compatible for service work.
This is actually my opinion too, and in fact the Women's prison who trains SDs for the public prefers Goldens. Not only are they temperamentally suitable for the work, they are more "public friendly", apparently.

I'm not saying GSDs are not good for SD work but it's just "easier" with other breeds, Labs and Goldens do spring to mind.
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