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I was told that the reason big dogs, e.g., GSD's, don't show much in agility is because they "break down." I'm sure breeding/conformation has a huge influence (as it would with any dog) and my guy's conformation, lineage wise, is excellent (Mom OFA Excellent, Dad Pen-hipped at top 10%). He's a big sturdy guy who plays ball, jumps & has no problems.

He is 4 years old & we're just starting out (had some issues to work out regarding other dogs, but we're good now.) He's 100 pounds - about 10 pounds over what a lean agility dog should be. We're on a diet. :D

Is there something I should do to prolong his agility life? Supplements? Exercises? We're learning to jump carefully (Susan Salo method) and handling (Greg Derrett) so we aren't rushing this. BUT, that comment at a trial yesterday threw me for a loop. So, I thought I'd ask the people who really know GSD's & agility.

Thanks for your help!
 

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Around here, the 20" dogs are by far the biggest class and I suspect that's because that's the class with all the border collies. There might be a bit fewer of the 24" dogs than in the smaller classes, but they aren't as popular due to size in the pet world. I don't see as many GSDs in agility because so many of them either physically can't jump or don't have the drive to do it. The few I do see are mostly workingline dogs and there aren't very many of them in this area.
 

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I think it's the same difference as the one between a race horse and a draft horse. They're just bred for a different purpose so asking them to excel at something they're not entirely meant for might be being a little ambitious.
 

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if i were doing agility to win i would
get a Border Collie. i've seen Border Collies
do the weave poles so quickly that
it's a slight blur. there's alot of dogs that aren't
built for agility. they can compete but they're not fast enough.
if agility was done by weight class that would be different.

your dog has good hip scores but happens when you start
jumping him and weaving him. that would be my concern.
don't compete in something for you, compete in something
that has a less potentiality to hurt the dog.
 

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Treat him like a human athlete. Feed him the best quality food you can afford. Keep him lean. Make sure he gets plenty of rest and time to recover.
 

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Jora, my GSD was pretty fast. In fact, at one of the last CPE trials I ran her, she was 9 years old and her and a 10 year old BC were the two fastest dogs of any height in their level (Jora being just a second or so faster than the BC). This is her...

Jora isn't oversized though, she's 23" and about 62lbs. I agree that the reason you don't see heavy dogs competing as much is because they often aren't great jumpers. This isn't just giant breeds but also breed which tend to be shorter and stocky. The biggest issue with such dogs I have seen is that they often knock bars, some even when they are run in preferred, which is a jump height lower than what they measure at.

I feel the reason you don't see more GSDs excelling at agility isn't so much a size thing but a drive issue. A lot of the GSDs I have seen competing are just doing because their owner is asking them to, they seem to have no drive for it though and just trot around the course. Also some are just not built for it due to physical exaggerations that have been selected for. My male GSD was driven enough but jumping was awkward for him due to the length of his rear legs.
 

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its like seeing a mastiff in there, ive seen it, but you dont see it very offten :) my gsd has one compititions, but shes about the fourth of the size of a normal one, (48 pounds & 22' i think)
 

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"treat him like a human athlete". is a lineman a distant runner,
is a sprinter a lineman, are hockey players figure skaters,
can a center in basketball play catcher in baseball,
can a point guard play center, can a Sumo wrestler
pole vault, can a Chihuahua weight pull, can Frankenstien
moon walk, can a straw weight fight heavy weight?

all of these people probably eat correctly, train and have
adequate recovery time.

Treat him like a human athlete. Feed him the best quality food you can afford. Keep him lean. Make sure he gets plenty of rest and time to recover.
 

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all of these people probably eat correctly, train and have
adequate recovery time.
Doggiedad, I'm not sure if you're agreeing or disagreeing with me, but you just made my point. The OP asked "Is there something I should do to prolong his agility life?" I answered the question.

Lots and lots of people participate in sports that they might not be ideally suited for, but they still participate. Not everybody you see running in the local 10K is designed to be runners, but they're running. I'm a 5'4", 140lb female boxer. Not designed for it, but I like it. Just because you don't have what it takes to be a national-level competitor doesn't mean you can't participate in an activity you enjoy. The OP wants to do agility with her dog. Assuming he enjoys it too, the best thing the OP can do to prolong his agility life is give him great food, keep him lean, and give him adequate rest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just because you don't have what it takes to be a national-level competitor doesn't mean you can't participate in an activity you enjoy. The OP wants to do agility with her dog. Assuming he enjoys it too, the best thing the OP can do to prolong his agility life is give him great food, keep him lean, and give him adequate rest.
This is my point exactly. I don't anticipate being able to compete against BC's. Zack is from working Czech lines and seems to have a lot of desire & drive to do agility. Will we fly through weaves? No way - he's too long. Would we have fun? Most definitely. His diet is perfect for him (raw with supplements) he gets daily walks & runs.

I'm thinking that before I get too involved, maybe I should have him evaluated through x-rays to make sure there aren't any hidden problems in hips & knees. His pain tolerance is very high, so if he started to have problems, I doubt I'd see evidence until it was bad.
 

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We're seeing smaller and smaller GSDs in agility down here. It's almost like people who like them for agility are finding the smallest ones they can find. A good friend of mine went to the GSDCA agility invitational in Utah...and she said she probably had one of the biggest dogs there. Many of them were on the smaller side. It's hard for the big dogs to be as competitive because they simply cannot be as fast as the smaller speedier dogs.

Heck I see this with my own. Cade at 70lbs and a squarer in build is a good deal faster and more nimble than Argos who is longer and almost 90lbs. Argos can be just as fast...but he needs a straightaway. :) I think for that reason I see in my area more females being successful in agility. They're just smaller and more agile than the big hulking males.

But really...I don't think I'd really worry about a bigger dog "breaking down". Train and treat it like you would anything else. A healthy dog is a healthy dog.
 

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I was told that the reason big dogs, e.g., GSD's, don't show much in agility is because they "break down."
If they just "broke down", why would anyone use them for any sport? :)
They're just not as good at it as BCs, but if you're having fun, who cares?
I do schH with Jax and he's from show lines... The sport was just an afterthought because he turned out smarter than I anticipated so I chose a sport that looked challenging... We're like the draft horse at the Kentucky Derby err... racehorse pulling a plow? Whatever, he's pretty! ;)
 

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its like seeing a mastiff in there, ive seen it, but you dont see it very offten :) my gsd has one compititions, but shes about the fourth of the size of a normal one, (48 pounds & 22' i think)
That is actually normal sized for a GSD girl. GSDs are not supposed to be huge, heavy boned dogs and many of the ones you see are oversized.

It is a bit odd that people are comparing GSDs to "draft horses". There are breeds which are similar in build to the horse draft breeds but GSDs really shouldn't be one of them. GSDs are supposed to be athletic, medium sized working dogs.

"The German Shepherd Dog is medium sized, slightly longer than tall, strong and well muscled, bone is dry, the whole dog presenting a picture of firmness." United Schutzhund Clubs of America - Breed Standard
 

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I don't anticipate being able to compete against BC's. Zack is from working Czech lines and seems to have a lot of desire & drive to do agility. Will we fly through weaves? No way - he's too long.
My boy is long and leggy and he flies through the weaves. He's even faster now that the weaves are going to 24". The good news is that there are very few border collies in the 24" class so you don't have to compete against them. When we get a Q, we almost always place.

You want your dog to go as fast as he's physically capable of and you don't compare them to any other breed, like border collies who are wicked fast because they have that crouching thing going so they have a lower center of gravity which makes them faster on turns.
 

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keeping your dog in good physical shape is a 'must', good muscle tone, seeing a doggie chiro really helps:)

And yes, I xray all my dogs prior to starting 'something'..with them, I want to know their physical status, as well as having xrays for future comparison if need be.

There are quite a few gsd's doing agility here in New England, but no, they aren't going to have as long a 'shelf life' as the border collies, aussies and shelties. They are built much differently and handle the physical stress differently.

My now passed, gsd, beat quite a few border butts in her day:), usually it was 'border error" LOL

I was not a weekend warrior, she went to a chiro regularly, but retired her at 8, after knee surgery.

Don't let the comments get you down, have fun and stay safe, do the best you can do, don't let the competativeness get to you, just have fun:)
 

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I think that "breaking down" doesn't have anything to do with it other than the typical LB issues that have arisen over the years (HD, arthritis, etc). No reason GSD's can't do agility well, they are just built differently has BC's. But it's also not "their thing" just like SchH is not a border collie thing. I don't think that agility is going to be much harder on a dog than SchH. I mean, have you SEEN the A-frame and size of the jump in just the OB phase??

Just like others have said...make sure you dog is healthy, keep him on a good diet, make sure you address any issues and have fun with him.

And I say :p on those people anyway! Elsa is faster than a lot of the BC's and Aussies she's been in class with! They have been wimps!
 

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........ I don't see as many GSDs in agility because so many of them either physically can't jump or don't have the drive to do it. The few I do see are mostly workingline dogs and there aren't very many of them in this area.
Probably mostly show line GSD's. All of the working line dogs should be able to jump - as they have to in Sch.

Would be fun to see a BC jump the Sch jumps wouldn't it?

Or practice on the bite work? GSD's can do both very well!
 

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i was disagreeing with the "treat them like humans". i tried to state that
in the begining of the post. the human athletes eat, sleep, train, recover
but because of body size they can't do the same things.

Doggiedad, I'm not sure if you're agreeing or disagreeing with me, but you just made my point. The OP asked "Is there something I should do to prolong his agility life?" I answered the question.
 
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