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I've been thinking a lot lately about how there are essentially three different sub-breeds of German Shepherds, and then the ugly step-sister fourth breed that none of us really want to talk about but makes up the bulk of GSDs in the States.

Whenever a new person comes on the forums looking for a puppy, the first thing they're asked is what lines they're looking for. In reality, they just know they want a German Shepherd and the picture they have in their head probably isn't a sable, drivey working line, a $2500 highline with a roached back, or a sloped-back American show dog. The dog in their head probably looks like a "pet" type Shepherd.

So I guess the topic for discussion is this: Do you agree with the 3-way (or 4-way) split? Do you wish there were just one type of GSD? If so, what would it be like? One of the existing ones or a combination?

Also, is it possible for someone to be an ethical, reputable, high-quality breeder of "pet lines" GSDs?
 

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I do not know that it really makes sense to go for unity in the breed. I do not think the specialty-showline breeders will ever work toward German show or working line in structure or temperament. Some will get CDs and CDXs on their dogs. Some will doing herding trials with their dogs, most will not go anywhere near Schutzhund.

And really, why should they. If they managed to schutzhund title their dog, the working line people would just acuse them of buying their title, or doing it at a midnight show.

No first place ribbons were awarded at the nationals this year in the puppy classes due to temperament, but I am not hearing anyone applauding that.

The all-breed shows, where German showlines might do ok in, well I do not see them moving toward the specialty dogs at all. I mean, everyone suggests they have such grusome back ends, and spookiness, why would they. They think their dogs are awesome just the way they are. What happens when you mix a roach back GSL to a ski slope AB? One and the other and everything in between, and possibly extremes on both ends. Can you imagine a pronounced break into a ski slope???

So now lets go with the working line dogs, and their flatter top lines, smaller compact size. It is nothing the specialty dogs would ever want to breed with, and they would be hard pressed to manage the added drive.

A working line dog with a V-rating and a manageable/proper amount of energy and drive might be incorporated into the all breed show line dogs, or German show line dogs in America. But those of us with GSLs believe we have the perfect dog just as they are, why would we WANT to incorportate the working lines into our lines?

Working lines people think their dogs are the best/most proper sheps out there. What would combining showline dogs, or specialty dogs in their lines do for them? How would it improve what they are doing?

I think there are good specialty dogs out there that are not extreme and have good temperament.
Of course, I think there are awesome GSL dogs out there with great temperament.
And I think there are great working line dogs out there with good temperament and drives for what they are using them for.

Combing them into one shepherd type would not give us the best of all worlds. I think it is far more likely to give us the worst. And it would, most likely then resemble the pet dogs from BYBs.
 

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I've been thinking a lot lately about how there are essentially three different sub-breeds of German Shepherds, and then the ugly step-sister fourth breed that none of us really want to talk about but makes up the bulk of GSDs in the States.
For noobs reading this who don't know what types you're speaking of I'll assume Working, West German Showline, American Showline, and Pet/BYB

So I guess the topic for discussion is this: Do you agree with the 3-way (or 4-way) split? Do you wish there were just one type of GSD? If so, what would it be like? One of the existing ones or a combination?
No, I do not agree with there being so many different types of GSDs that we have. If structure were all that was different then maybe I would be on the fence but there is a vast difference in each types temperament (for the sake of not typing so much I'm talking not only nerves but energy and drives) and that is what I have a problem with. I do not think that the temperament of what the GSD should be is debateable. I feel the closest to what the correct GSD should be temperament wise is the working lines. I do like variation of the different types of working lines because there are different jobs and you'll need different traits. You will still have at the core what a GSD should be.

I feel like there is another difference between West German SL in Germany and in America. I haven't found many breeders here in the states that are working their SL dogs. I know there is debate about certain German dogs getting their titles fairly as well, but I do see a difference between most not all of the two types. The American SL that I've seen are the furthest from the standard that I can think of. The BYB/Pet lines could at least mix with strong working line history and be close to correct in terms of temperament.

I think the most correct type is the WL. I think the other types that lack in terms of temperament are created to fit what people want because they like the looks of the GSD and the assumption of what a GSD is capable of without care of whether or not the breed fits their lifestyle. So they change the breed to fit with what sells. Not okay.

Also, is it possible for someone to be an ethical, reputable, high-quality breeder of "pet lines" GSDs?
No. Even if they did all the health testing and got some titles and did everything right (contracts, screening, etc..) They are not breeding dogs that represent what the GSD should be. They are not trying to create those dogs. If the dog has great temperament it should not be bred if its say 130lbs and 30".
 

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I think German Showlines have the proper temperament. I believe that the energy and drive of the German showline dogs is certainly high enough for whatever type of assignment one can give it. They are successful as police dogs, military dogs, search and rescue dogs, and cadaver dogs. Beyond that why?

In Farmer Boy, the father is admiring a draft horse, saying it could pull a barn. The kid says, why, the Morgan is fast enough to drive with the buggy and strong enough to pull the plow. The father tells him he is right. No need to pull a barn and why feed all that muscle.
 

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I think German Showlines have the proper temperament. I believe that the energy and drive of the German showline dogs is certainly high enough for whatever type of assignment one can give it. They are successful as police dogs, military dogs, search and rescue dogs, and cadaver dogs. Beyond that why?

In Farmer Boy, the father is admiring a draft horse, saying it could pull a barn. The kid says, why, the Morgan is fast enough to drive with the buggy and strong enough to pull the plow. The father tells him he is right. No need to pull a barn and why feed all that muscle.
I have yet to see a German Showline dog doing police work over here. :help:
I have yet to see a German Showline dog being used as a military dog over here.

You just don't see them in the working areas, over here. Not even a lot in search and rescue. Maybe in the States, but not over here. It's very rare to see a showline dog in the working areas. Not impossible but rare.
 

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My friend only breeds German Showlines. She has several police dogs out there, a cadaver dog, a SAR dog, and she had one of her dogs used in combat as a war dog.
 

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My friend only breeds German Showlines. She has several police dogs out there, a cadaver dog, a SAR dog, and she had one of her dogs used in combat as a war dog.
That's cool. I admire that there are Showline breeders out there that also focus on the working part. It's just that you don't see it very often.

What kennel is it?
 

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i actually like the split between lines. For those who actually do the research i believe it helps knowing what lines you're looking for. Some lines are easier to handle than others are especially for a first time owner. Our showline girl right now bores me out of my mind. She doesnt have "it". The "it" that makes me love the breed. She is LAZY and difficult simply because she's unmotivated. She's sweet but she doesnt have the personality i enjoy from the breed. She's a dog i would recommend for a first time owner. I prefer the working lines.
 

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I like the split in the breed. It gives people a choice on what kind of dog they want. Like KZoopa said, some are easier to handle than others. Everyone likes something different in a GSD. I like how breeders of a certain line try to get their dogs to excel in many things such as schutzhund, the show ring, SAR, police work etc. Some better than others. But its good to know that there is a breed of dog that is great many things can come in many varieties. There seems to be something for everyone.
 

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Do you agree with the 3-way (or 4-way) split? Do you wish there were just one type of GSD? If so, what would it be like? One of the existing ones or a combination?
The divide is so wide I don't think you're ever going to see the different types come back together but it would be nice if they got a little closer in type. Here's one change I liked to see:

Show lines:
Personally I don't believe a dog should be allowed to be shown in the conformation ring after the age of 4 unless it has some obedience and performance titles. The standard means nothing if the whole dog isn't tested.

Part of the breed standard: The ideal dog is a working animal with an incorruptible character combined with body and gait suitable for the arduous work that constitutes its primary purpose.

Running a dog around the ring doesn't test it's ability for arduous work, it's not even close. At least show us that the dog can do "something" besides work the show ring. I know there are great SL breeders who do work their dogs, but I'd like to see it more.

Oh, if this is a wish list could we also please make the roached backs go away forever? :)
 

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I think the multiple variations of the breed are here to stay, but I do feel that the issue with having different "types" of German Shepherd is that it does corrupt the ideal of the breed. Now, I'm biased towards the working line dogs, but when I look at the development of the breed, I see that the founders sought to create a breed distinctly capable of working a number of jobs, from military and protection to search and rescue and herding. Some "types" put the form of the dog before his function, and that makes me skeptical of the quality of the bloodlines.

That being said, I don't mean to critique the quality of the individual dogs that belong to each "type" -- surely, there are wonderful companions in each category -- but just question whether or not some "types" fulfill the true purpose of the GSD.

To me, at least, there is something so poetic and right than for an animal to be doing what he was made for. Working lines for me, all the way!
 

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I have a question, which I don't think I've ever fully seen answered: Why is it that the GSL's went to the "roach backs" and why is it that the ASL's went to the "ski slope" back ends?

I've seen debate over if it's good or not a million times and which one is the "true" GSD. But I have never seen anyone give a good, solid answer for the purpose of going in that direction with the breed other than some aesthetic reason. There really is no arguing that the old black and white photos for GSD's from the turn of the century into WWII look absolutely nothing like ASL or WGWL's today.

I have no problem with slight changes in a breed and a split if there is a genuine PURPOSE to the split. As I have always seen it, it was just because ASL breeder #1 decided that he liked dogs who's butts were skimming the ground and WGSL breeder #2 liked it to look like his dog was always stretching its back.

Does anyone have a real, TRUE answer on that question?
 

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The true GSD is likely to be more difficult to find due to the split. I don't really like the split in the breed because it has lead to the loss of what once was fairly consistent in the German Shepherds. Now we have different breeds almost.

I believe the structural extremes that have occurred in the showlines are often driven by the desire to create a more extreme gait. I know that was the reason for the extremity in the ASLs. Fortunately, that extremity is much less seen in the ring now and dogs with incorrectness in the rear are usually penalized. That was not the case in years before so the pendulum has begun to swing. When I am at a show I don't see a bunch of wobble hocks or extreme dogs like I used to. I know moderate is a relative word, they are more moderate in structure. Often, in exhibition of any kind, the extreme is reached before sanity can be sought.

As far as the WGSL, they must also have a reason for the back. I would bet the reasoning is more than aesthetic though like the ASL and the extreme they once exhibited, it may be over done and flawed.
 

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I believe that the true Shepherd is the one that is closest to the one back then, which to me is clearly the working line Shepherd, they are not that much different from the dogs in 1936.

Actually AbbyK9 has posted pictures from military working dogs, some of them are from WWII and WWI and if you look at those pics there really isn't much of a difference to todays working line Shepherd so to me it's the true Shepherd. But that is my personal opinion.
 

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I would agree and so would many others as far as the looks. When I read the standard, I think that many working line dogs conform to it better than lots of dogs whose main purpose is to be judged against that standard! Exhibition in the show ring can lead to extremes as can exhibition in sports.
 

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Also, is it possible for someone to be an ethical, reputable, high-quality breeder of "pet lines" GSDs?
I think so. Isn't this exactly what the German show line breeders are doing? And every now and then they throw one that can work. Bonus!

Personally I don't believe a dog should be allowed to be shown in the conformation ring after the age of 4 unless it has some obedience and performance titles. The standard means nothing if the whole dog isn't tested.
Again, the German show people are there. Can't show past 2 without a working title (e.g. SchH or HGH), and must have the breed survey to V in conformation after 3-1/2.


As an aside, remember that there used to be much more distinction between the West German working lines and the DDR and Czech lines than there is now (at least here in the USA). My own dog has lines to Grief Lahntal, Falk Berkelau, Lord Gleisdreieck, Cordon An Sat. So perhaps these lines are moving closer together.
 

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I'll be in the minority and say I like the differences. I think there are still similarities among all the different "types" and it's nice that more people can get involved with this breed and still have the ideal dog. I think it makes it tough on one hand, because people assume they are all the same, buy one, and then find they didn't get the right "type" and it doesn't fit into their lives as well as another type would have (most likely). There are certainly dogs from even the same litters that have completely different temperaments and different drive, but by and large you can expect that a DDR dog is going to be higher drive, higher exercise requirements, and likely a more naturally dominate outgoing type A personality vs an american showline which is probably going to be more nervy, lower drive, and softer temperament overall.

I think each "type" brings something to the table. Do I think they should be mixed to create "one" type. NO. I think it can be beneficial to selectively cross certain types to create a better dog for a specific purpose, but you run a risk of getting the worst of everything. Just because you cross two types doesn't mean you'll get the best of both worlds. As someone pointed out, you could get a roached back, nervy temperment, high drive (yikes, can you say reactive dog in the making) and ski sloped back. No thanks!

There are differences in most breeds. If you really look hard at other breeds, many of them have just as many problems as the shepherd does and there are different "types" as well. Most of them as people who prefer a certain type and argue that that type was what was originally created, but really what does it matter what was originally created when you can make it better through selective breeding? Nothing is perfect when it's originally created. I think it's a bit odd that so many people assume that because one person created a breed, it was perfect from the getgo and we should never change or alter it in any way. Would he want to see the dog he created trotting around a show arena in America with its butt dragging the ground and a nervy temperament? probably not. Would he complain about the german showline? Maybe not.

There will never be any resolution to this kind of debate. Each person will defend their type and say it's the correct type, and the working line folks will always fall back on what the breed originally was when it was created. I personally vote for the working lines, but for the average pet owner they just aren't suitable, and I don't believe there is anything wrong with creating a softer easier dog to handle for people who still wish to have a GSD but can't handle the "real deal." There will always be breeders to continue the working lines, so for those that want them why is there a fuss? There are plently of places to get any type that anyone could possibly want.
 

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Many people here speak like the split in the SL type and WL type has to be because they can't be combined in one. The breed used to be all in one. That was when the German Shepherd was bred to be what it is supposed to be.
The people who want different types are detrimental to the breed in my opinion. I don't believe in different types and don't breed for certain types. I breed German Shepherds, period. The types today are the result of peoples likes, peoples lack of knowledge, and peoples egos. Since that is not going to change....then the types will remain. My dogs can do anything that the standard says they should be able to do. My dogs are not bred to conform to peoples opinion of what the breed should be or else why have a breed description. The dogs before the split were correct, and the resulting tangents that have grown are new creations. When people give credence to venues that make Champions at 11 months of age, or only reward dogs of a distinct color pattern, or base breeding decisions on a dog's grips or long bite....then you see these types proliferate out of ignorance. JMO
 

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I know I am a newbie. I can clearly see the differences in WGSL, ASL, Pet, and WL GSD's. The differences are more than structural-there is a mental variation in the dogs as well. Each of these 4 subsets comes from different priorities on the breeders/enthusiasts end creating specialization in form or another. Each of the subsets has its own strengths and weaknesses. I personally am against any type of breed split because of my own personal predjudices about limiting of genetic material in any closed stud book type registry and creating further genetic bottleneck in a breed already riddled by health issues. HOWEVER I cannnot see any way to bring the breed back to a homogenous blend of every line from where it is because of the specialization each branch has worked towards. Balance is a hard thing to find amongst hardcore specialized enthusiasts no matter what the passion may be.

So does the breed limit its genetic material by excluding each branch in favor of its own preference? Does the breed continue on in the distinctly fragmented manner it currently does with different standards and preferences for each branch? Does the breed as a whole scrap itself and start anew (as a whole or as each subset)? Do they then open the stud book for unregistered dogs to bring in new genetic material? I cannot see a good answer to this quandry or one that woud satisfy a large portion of the enthusiast/breeders. Is the problem a breed registry-or an all breed registry? Is it in the enthusiasts and the breeders themselves? Is it just because dogs as a whole have a totally different function in society, even within their own niche where they are doing the job they were bred for but the job itself has changed leaving the dog/breed obsolete? I see this quandry in all dog breeds, and in many domesticated livestock/beast of burden breeds out there right now as well. Just take a peak into the horse world and the different breeds/types. Think draft horses. Think Carriage horse breeds.

These are such interesting topics to watch and see opinions on. I love it. (Creeping back into obscurity to watch and read. . .) :)
 

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I am not hearing anyone applauding that.
Actually, several people did, but you won't find them on this board. It also wasn't a puppy class. It was Novice.

BTW, I can say that I don't like the split. I cannot get EVERYTHING I want in one dog. A dog I can work and show successfully. I get one or the other, and it's very frustrating.

I WOULD go to a working line dog with excellent conformation if anybody would breed to my bitch...but they won't!

I have a lot of big plans for the puppy I have now, but adding some of the things I want is going to be extremely difficult, because the dogs I want to breed to aren't reachable, due to biases on either side.
 
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