German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey there! I'm Sarah, rooted in downtown Atlanta, GA. Nice to meet you :)

For a good 10 years I have been a ravenous admirer of the working line GSDs, particularly East German and Czech lines. Not to sound like a typical working-line snob, but I feel they are just very distinct and the healthiest, soundest, most versatile and best looking of the breed.

My concern with the line, however, is that in order to keep one of these dogs, it is essential that you are committed to devoting half of your life to their care, training and stimulation because of their intense drives and constant need to work. This is a very fun adventure if you are dog geeks such as ourselves, however it is not realistic for most people looking for a dog.

It isn't quite fair to me that in order to keep a German Shepherd as a companion animal, you are limited to West German and American lines (not to say they aren't perfectly wonderful dogs!) or a rare pup with moderate drive out of a working breeding.

THEREFORE!! I am very excited at the idea of starting a breeding project from Soviet-lined dogs of moderate drives and energy level. This will allow companion and casual sport seekers the ability to keep the distinct temperament, versatility and excellent health of the this line without being completely overwhelmed by their intensity and the inevitable disaster of an untrained working dog. I will be looking for a balanced bitch to compete and title in various sports, completely health test and be bred to very select males.

What is your opinion of this endeavor? Am I being over-ambitious? I have never intended to breed in my life and have little experience with the area, however I am very knowledgeable in the pedigrees and the selection process of suitable dogs.

Any advice is welcome, sorry for the novel :)
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
11,005 Posts
Well not to sound like an "American lines snob" but if I wanted a pet quality (medium to low drive) dog I'd seek an American lines or WGSL because I don't care for the "looks" of the Czech lines anyway.
That thought just popped into my head as I read your intro.
Therefore I guess my opinion would be, there's enough diversity in the breed already...and you're going to be sacrificing other important things to try to get some of the drive out of naturally "drivey" dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
There is a lot more of a difference between the working lines and American lines besides drive level though. They are really like different, though similar, breeds. A moderate drive working line GSD would still be a very different animal than a show-line American.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder ;) these lines are so different that people would definitely take sides one way or the other. Beauty is at the bottom of my list, however, conformation to produce strong, agile, healthy animals is a top priority.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,451 Posts
High drive and good working dog does not have to mean hyper-active. Even a top working dog with high drive should also have an "off" switch and appropriate thresholds for drives. These aspects of temperament are not unique to lines/type and are not mutually exclusive either. Drives, energy, threshold, on/off switch...these are all different components of temperament that need to be balance based on the type of dog you are looking to breed and own (I won't say what *I* think is best because it frankly doesn't matter).

If you want to breed DDR and Czech type dogs then breed that type and look for dogs that have an off switch and higher thresholds/trigger for drive. You don't have to breed the drive out of the dog to get a dog that makes a nice pet while also being a good working prospect. JMHO
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
The "off switch" is definitely a must with all dogs of working backgrounds for sure, but these dogs only have that off switch if their on switch is satisfied by intensive training and stimulation. When I talk about "moderate drive" I don't mean dogs that are uninterested, I just mean dogs that can concentrate when a ball is present and similar things.

All dogs need training, all dogs need energy and drive, but most of THESE dogs are bred to extremes. Their sole focus is to breed the best working and performance dog, and it leads to the same extremes as the show breeders that concentrate on extreme conformation.

edit: the last thing you said by the way is exactly what I am striving for :) lower intensity, stronger off-switch.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,451 Posts
I don't think it should be too difficult. Even among good working lines I don't really consider the majority to be the extreme drive type. The dogs I prefer for a highly active lifestyle and sport training (I do Schutzhund, SDA, flyball, agility, and dock diving at the moment) are what I consider medium to high drive, not crazy or extreme drive. Most of the dogs we train with in any of these venues are working line dogs that are also pets/house dogs. I can't say my experience with DDR or Czech dogs as a whole has been that they are extremely high intensity with no off switch. Some, yes, but not the vast majority but maybe I'm just lucky to be training with nicely bred, balanced dogs. In my opinion, a good GSD regardless of line should be ready and willing to work all day and remain clear-headed and also be OK lounging around the house for a few days when the weather is bad or the owner is sick.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
261 Posts
Hi Sarah,



Do you currently own a Czech or East German bred dog? I just wonder where you got the idea that they aren't already fully able to live as someone's active pet. My boy is our family dog and home protector first, and my schutzhund dog second. Yes he is active, but he has a rock solid temperament. I can take him everywhere. He has tons of drive when working. Most of the working line dogs I interact with, including those who are national level dogs, are house pets. Breeding for extremes causes issues no matter what you are breeding for, however I have not seen that working line dogs cannot live as active house pets. What you see on the field is completely different from what you get in the house. I am not saying your breeding goals are bad, but there are already lots of great breeders out there producing balanced working line dogs. :)
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
16,483 Posts
I have to agree with the others. I do have one pure Czech out of zPS lines and he is a very liveable dog. The other is a puppy who is half Czech half West German Working and is a little monster but most pups are. And yes, both are high drive dogs but both have an off switch but I put a lot of time into excercising them but then they NEED the excercise to keep their bodies fit, if not their minds and that is any line.

I know nothing about Russian lines so my question would be are there any old lines that you would somehow be preserving? Lines not present in the other Eastern Bloc dogs? I know alternate stuff is out there (for example, my pup has a female tail line on DKK lines that go back to the 1920s before an SV dog is listed, but of course it is diluted with SV dogs.

Personally I feel the dog should ONLY be bred as a working dog, but others will be to differ and already do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I have owned a German imported DDR male and currently have a Czech line rescue. I have also been active in schutzhund clubs and have come across many of this type (which is why I know I love them so much). These dogs are wonderful housemates as long as they are well worked and stimulated. They make really good companion animals for avid trainers and people very active in sport and recreational work.

My goal is to have a consistent line of dogs that can absolutely participate in any sport you throw at them with gusto, but if that is not your thing, they are content with low intensity training (that ALL dogs should receive) and moderate physical activity. Both of my working-line dogs (and the belgian sheepdog I have, also very drivey) were perfect gentlemen with the work that we did, but if I had an off week and couldn't work them or if I went out of town, it wasn't awesome.

Edit - I'd also like to add that I am not trying to reinvent the wheel by any means! I love these dogs for what they are, I am purely trying to produce dogs consistent of this type. I do not want to make the Sarah line German Shepherds ;)
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
11,005 Posts
Personally I feel the dog should ONLY be bred as a working dog, but others will be to differ and already do.
I agree with you - there's "pet quality" dogs in every litter of every breed.
To breed for "pet quality", whether in appearances or working ability isn't necessary.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,742 Posts
If you like zebras, but you don't like the stripes, you are only breeding black donkeys.

I'm all about not breeding for extremes in every venue, but that is not the same as watering down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
261 Posts
There is a certain engery level and drive level needed to do any activity with gusto, as you said. For the most part that means the dog will not be a couch potatoe if it is not worked in some fashion. You will lose drive if you try and breed a dog that is content with no more than basic pet training and a walk around the block. There are plenty of working line dogs that are active pets for people, so I guess I see no reason to breed for that if breeding for working ability is already producing it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,139 Posts
I don't believe you should be purposely producing pet quality dogs. This waters down a breed that is already declining in working usefulness. Like others have said. Even working line litters have lower drive pups more suitable for some homes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,429 Posts
Hey there! I'm Sarah, rooted in downtown Atlanta, GA. Nice to meet you :)

For a good 10 years I have been a ravenous admirer of the working line GSDs, particularly East German and Czech lines. Not to sound like a typical working-line snob, but I feel they are just very distinct and the healthiest, soundest, most versatile and best looking of the breed.

My concern with the line, however, is that in order to keep one of these dogs, it is essential that you are committed to devoting half of your life to their care, training and stimulation because of their intense drives and constant need to work. This is a very fun adventure if you are dog geeks such as ourselves, however it is not realistic for most people looking for a dog.

It isn't quite fair to me that in order to keep a German Shepherd as a companion animal, you are limited to West German and American lines (not to say they aren't perfectly wonderful dogs!) or a rare pup with moderate drive out of a working breeding.

THEREFORE!! I am very excited at the idea of starting a breeding project from Soviet-lined dogs of moderate drives and energy level. This will allow companion and casual sport seekers the ability to keep the distinct temperament, versatility and excellent health of the this line without being completely overwhelmed by their intensity and the inevitable disaster of an untrained working dog. I will be looking for a balanced bitch to compete and title in various sports, completely health test and be bred to very select males.

What is your opinion of this endeavor? Am I being over-ambitious? I have never intended to breed in my life and have little experience with the area, however I am very knowledgeable in the pedigrees and the selection process of suitable dogs.

Any advice is welcome, sorry for the novel :)
Well first off... Welcome! :)

Second... from the passion I sense coming off your post, I am sure you'd make a great breeder. You seem to have a great start with some great ideas.

However.... I can't help but notice everything you just said is EXACTLY what my German Showline is (and what many are bred to be). At home, he's a perfect gentleman. Never has touched a single item in this house other then his toys. He never breaks the rules (stays off the furniture, doesn't dig holes in the yard, doesn't rip anything up.. etc). He's 2 years old and completely able to be 100% free roam in our house. If we are not home, or are busy at home (or just watching a movie)... he's asleep on his bed. Never ever has he been in the way.

With that said... He is also in Schutzhund training and excelling way past what I ever expected. I got him this past January from his breeder who took him from a home that couldn't keep him. After having him for a while... I noticed he was abused as well. However, with some understanding of his breed and some basic training... he's come a complete 180. He does well on the field, puts his heart and soul into it..... but, then can go straight from bite work to a charity walk in downtown... or he can come home, and sleep on his bed or watch me work.

If someone wanted him as a companion only.... he would be just fine. Bring him home, he's perfectly behaved..... bring him to the training field... and his drive turns on.

Now... my American Showline rescue is the complete opposite. She's HIGH drive, horrible in the house, digs in the yard, loud and obnoxious indoors, and doesn't have an off switch... At ALL! In order to get a break.. she has to be crated. She is by far worse then any working line I've been around (even ones MUCH younger then her).

So, basically what I am saying is.... you get that in EVERY line of the GSD. Some pups will be more drivey then others. If an owner can't handle that.... then maybe they shouldn't be looking at that type of dog? Or at least another puppy/litter?

In my opinion, if someone is looking for a pet only... then maybe they should stick with pet lines. If they want a little bit of drive but still mostly companion... then they can do their research and find a good Showline breeder who can match a litter for that... or even go to a good working line breeder and research their litters. Some are more drivey then others. Not all show lines are lazy, and not all working lines are crazy.

There are plenty of show line dogs on here that are doing competitive sports right along side working lines. It is very possible.

I personally LOVE working lines as well. The next dog I get WILL be a working line from our trainer. However, I like and want that drive.... in fact, I will be waiting for a very drivey litter. I want that line for everything it is supposed to be. Not over the top, but stable, with drives and brains that will excel on and off the field. If I didn't want that type of drive in my next dog... I would look for another German Showline that fit what I wanted or go for a lighter drive litter. They can range from quiet to very drivey as well. German Showlines are also fantastic dogs for companionship and even for the novice "occasional" handler.

I spend a lot of time around working lines these days. Some of them are great house dogs with some training on the side. Most of them are family pets. I've known a few that had less drive then my show line. It varies.

In the end...If someone can't do basic training with their dog, and walk it every day around the neighborhood.... then they need to look into another breed altogether. If people do their research they can find a GSD on all different levels of drive and working ability. It's not saying they have to "stick" to only one side of the breed... it's saying that they have to find the breed and line that fits their lifestyle/wants.

Just an opinion from someone who loves both German Showlines and Working lines. Not bias here.
 

·
Administrator & Alpha Bitch of the Wild Bunch
Joined
·
13,571 Posts
The "off switch" is definitely a must with all dogs of working backgrounds for sure, but these dogs only have that off switch if their on switch is satisfied by intensive training and stimulation.
Are you basing this opinion on actual experience? If so, with how many dogs?

I just have to say that with many years of owning many working line dogs, I do not find this to be the case. Do they need training and stimulation? Yes of course. But they do not require an unreasonable amount. They can work all day and enjoy it, but they don't *need* to. Not the dogs I've had the pleasure to own, or most of the others I've known through the years. There are some few who fit that category, or who just don't have an off switch at all, but they are not the norm. Not even in working lines. The vast majority are perfectly fine in a normally active companion home with a moderate amount of exercise and training. They're not couch potatoes, but then no GSD should be. But they're not nearly as high maintenance, or only for the few elite owners who spend hours a day working with their dogs, as some people seem to think they are. Just because a dog is up to the task of a lot of work, doesn't mean he can't be just fine with less of it.

Now if you are interested in breeding working GSDs, there is certainly nothing wrong with that. We will always need good breeders and you're clearly passionate about the breed. But it seems that part of your reasoning is geared toward reinventing a wheel that is easily found and already well functioning.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,225 Posts
Above all, remember the GSD breed is NOT intended to be a good fit for everyone. Part of the problem as well is that many people think adequate exercise for a dog is a walk around a couple blocks. People wouldn't have so many issues if they spent 30 minutes an evening running their dogs, training motivationally, working on challenging commands (clicker train rather than train with a clicker), and really drilling their brains. Ok to skip some evenings? Yea sure, life happens. Work them more on the weekend. Take your dog biking. Take a weekly obedience class. Take your dog to the pet store even and just work on obedience. This really isn't a whole lot. If people don't want to work harder and refuse to work smarter, find a line/breed that doesn't typically have the same needs as a working line.

I don't have a working line but I have a dog that won't accept daily walks and basic sits and downs as adequate exercise. We have to play hard fetch, we have to do upbeat and challenging obedience, but he has a fantastic off switch. If I'm sick, he can survive a week of little to no exercise. He gets antsy as heck but doesn't try to negatively occupy himself.

Sarah, what's your idea of adequate physical and mental exercise? If we are all on the same page, things will me much more productive for you. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
996 Posts
Are you basing this opinion on actual experience? If so, with how many dogs?

I just have to say that with many years of owning many working line dogs, I do not find this to be the case. Do they need training and stimulation? Yes of course. But they do not require an unreasonable amount. They can work all day and enjoy it, but they don't *need* to. Not the dogs I've had the pleasure to own, or most of the others I've known through the years. There are some few who fit that category, or who just don't have an off switch at all, but they are not the norm. Not even in working lines. The vast majority are perfectly fine in a normally active companion home with a moderate amount of exercise and training. They're not couch potatoes, but then no GSD should be. But they're not nearly as high maintenance, or only for the few elite owners who spend hours a day working with their dogs, as some people seem to think they are. Just because a dog is up to the task of a lot of work, doesn't mean he can't be just fine with less of it.

Now if you are interested in breeding working GSDs, there is certainly nothing wrong with that. We will always need good breeders and you're clearly passionate about the breed. But it seems that part of your reasoning is geared toward reinventing a wheel that is easily found and already well functioning.

I agree completely!!!!

All of my dogs Czech working lines, Czech & West German working line cross, west German Showlines, settle wonderfully in the home, and turn on like fire crackers in the work.

OP it seems like you need to just find the right dogs. They are out there you just need to know where to look ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,168 Posts
Just so you know, my West German working line dog is an amazing working dog with high drive and high energy - also a fantastic companion with a remarkable on/off switch. He doesn't destroy things in my house, is social/friendly yet aloof at his young age, and is dynamite on the field - really intense and focused.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
16,483 Posts
I am kind of curious as to what a Russian GSD actually is. I did some googling and every one I found looked like modern German Showlines.
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Top