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I am awaiting a new German Shepherd puppy that will arrive this spring. It is from a working line. I know there are not guarantees about its aptitude for herding, but it is my hope and goal to have a herding shepherd. I live on a small 40 acre farm, and while this is a new property for us we plan of having sheep and goats here, probably next year. I have some very big hopes for the planned for puppy, and hope to do some kind of competitive obedience work and nosework. I am very interested in IPO sport as well. But those of you with a herding shepherd, is the IPO work helpful or hampering when it comes to herding dogs? It is more important to me to have a useful and good farm resident than it is to do IPO. The obedience side of things is important whatever we do, but what skills or exposures helps focus the herding side of a shepherds brain? And what hinders that herding instinct?

Thanks for reading, hope some of you with some herding experience under your belts will venture in.
Cheers!
Petra
 

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I titled my first Rott in herding, but I've never herded with my Shepherds. Nothing I did in IPO would hamper anything else I wanted to do, but one thing I'd say about Herding more then anything else I've ever done, it was really dependent on the dogs temperament and natural ability. What I remember about it (1994-0r 5) was me just walking around and him doing it all.
 

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I'm guessing you won't have the number of sheep and goats that the GSD was bred to herd. The true herding lines are gone, except for a handful. A GSD from true herding stock has the trait of genetic obedience which is a very strong desire to follow the guidance of the shepherd and to instinctively know what to do with that guidance. This is very different from competitive obedience. I don't think IPO would hinder training your dog to herd, but I think the time commitment would limit you. I would choose one or the other to focus on. Ulf Kintzel is the only one I know of in the states that still has herding tests/trials and teaches tending style of herding at whitecloversheepfarm.com..
 

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If you want your dog to help manage your own land, your animals and your property will dictate what sort of work you want. Which will dictate what and how you train your dog.

That comment goes against some of the rhetoric of "A GERMAN SHEPHERD SHALL HERD IN THIS MANNER", but at the end of the day, your dog needs to get the job done in the manner that is safest, most reliable, and most respectful to your animals.

You're going to want a completely different sort of work if you want: border work on 100 sheep, vs a dog to move a few goats from pen to pen and keep you from getting knocked flat during feeding time, vs a dog to bring 6 sheep and a flock of ducks into a barn every night, etc.

If you need a dog to bring all of your own animals in before a blizzard hits, you need to know the dog isn't going to screw around and chase them into the woods or do something dumb. It won't matter how perfect the trial work is if the dog is useless when you need something done at home in bad weather or when you're sick and the goats bust through a fence and are heading for the road. :) Biddable, ability to think clearly, lack of "clingy" (must be able to work at a distance from you), good work ethic, nerves.

@mspiker03 has done both IPO & herding with her GSDs, she might have some thoughts into mixing the two, if she sees this post.
 

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If you want your dog to help manage your own land, your animals and your property will dictate what sort of work you want. Which will dictate what and how you train your dog......
.... Biddable, ability to think clearly, lack of "clingy" (must be able to work at a distance from you), good work ethic, nerves.

@mspiker03 has done both IPO & herding with her GSDs, she might have some thoughts into mixing the two, if she sees this post.
Thanks so much for your thoughts. You hit the nail on the with your first line, "which will dictate how you train your dog". It has been 35 years since I last owned a GSD. Those first months of training/socializing and exposure are key to success years down the road. If I am focusing of puppy bitework on a dog that I want to be a good farm citizen, is this helping the long term goal of life here on the farm with a GSD. Or is my time better spent teaching and focusing elsewhere.

Your thoughts about a dog being " Biddable, ability to think clearly, lack of "clingy" ... good work ethic, nerves"...those are all thoughts I have had which led me to looking for a working line, well bred, German Shepherd to begin with. Trying to find one with "some" herding titles in their background has proven not to be easy at all.

I msg mspiker03 and hope they will venture in...

Thanks
Pet
 

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I'd share those thoughts with your breeder, so s/he can help match the most suitable puppy in the litter with you. :)

It's a bit of an internet misnomer that only GSDs of one specific line are of use for herding. There are dogs from different lines as well as crosses between lines that are talented and work well. I'd try and find an instructor now that is comfortable working with this breed, and start shadowing lessons as soon as you can. S/he can help you locate some starter flock animals for when you're ready to work your dog at home, and can offer some insight as to what breed of sheep and goats may work better for you, your land, and your dog. The different breeds might as well be different species sometimes!
 

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I have a friend that herds, and competes. She loves this facility and highly recommends it for learning, training and experience. I'm not sure where you are located, this is in Ohio. Hado-Bar Farms - Nova, Ohio
 

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I doubt you will find any working line GSDs with herding titles in the pedigree unless they go so far back they will have no genetic influence. As I said, the true herding lines are all but gone. The actual working Shepherds in Germany were convinced to cross breed the herding lines to the show lines. They were poor and the SV convinced them they could get more money for pups if they breed to the show lines. This was just a ploy to promote the show lines and resulted in the loss of the genetics of the true herding lines. Today's GSDs from Germany with herding titles are essentially show dogs with herding titles because the herding trials have become so watered down and the judges have no clue what a herding dog should be capable of. Another example of how the SV is all about the money and not the breed. If you want a GSD with the aptitude for herding, contact someone like Ulf Kintzel who still has some actual herding lines. I don't know if he breeds for the public, but he would be a good resource. Working lines are primarily geared toward sport and police/military work.
 

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OP, I don't know who's where up in Canada, but I would cast a wide net and focus on finding out what clubs and instructors you have available to you.

Don't get hung up on the politics and don't get hung up on stereotypes. The internet is full of opinions about herding. Go get dirty and meet the people who are herding with German Shepherds in 2020 - they're by and large inclusive and helpful. :)

If you got Melissa's PM, she knows what she's talking about.
 

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Thanks to all the helpful replies. It will take a great deal of hard work to find the right folks. I have in the last couple of months been trying to find those "right" folks. As yet I have not found folks here herding with German Shepherds. I have found a lot of people who have taking the Herding Instinct test with their dog, but that is not the same thing as herding. I have in the last 4 weeks found a sheep dog trainer who works mostly with border collies, however I know the way they herd is very different than what I would want out of a German Shepherd. But at least I have someone waiting in the wings. I have contacted the Canadian Kennel Club, trying to find out where they are doing herding testing, so I could attend and talk to some folks there to see in person if anyone is taking it beyond just the CKC certificate, and is actually living with and working with a German Shepherd on their farm, doing herding. (just my experience so far with the CKC, is that herding is not a popular source of income for them, as there are slick pages on the internet promoting it, but most of the links are dead ends, or dead web-sites. They do not have any clubs that are listed, or contact people. There are no dates currently listed for the year ahead for herding. And I am still waiting to hear back from the person at the CKC who was going to look into it. That was about 10 days ago that we spoke, so I will be following up myself soon if I don't hear. No idea of the AKC is the same when it come to herding.)
I have been out in the last few weeks to the nearest IPO club, which is about 2 hours away to seek their advice and direction. But no one in that club had done any kind of herding, but they assured me IPO and herding are completely compatible. Since there was no first hand knowledge there, I am not content to just take someones word and limp along...I wanted to find someone who is herding, who has some understanding of IPO sports and if indeed the two things are compatible, or a good idea. Since I do not have a puppy yet, these are all important questions for me to find answers for now, so I have a well mapped out path for success in my goal for having an obedient, herding, working German Shepherd here on the farm, with me in my art studio in the day, and living with me happily in our home. Titles and Certificates are all secondary to the daily goal of living with a happy well adjusted, content and fulfilled dog and owner. :)(y) Thanks again guys....I am all ears for any thoughts sent my way.
 

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I doubt you will find any working line GSDs with herding titles in the pedigree unless they go so far back they will have no genetic influence. As I said, the true herding lines are all but gone. The actual working Shepherds in Germany were convinced to cross breed the herding lines to the show lines. They were poor and the SV convinced them they could get more money for pups if they breed to the show lines. This was just a ploy to promote the show lines and resulted in the loss of the genetics of the true herding lines. Today's GSDs from Germany with herding titles are essentially show dogs with herding titles because the herding trials have become so watered down and the judges have no clue what a herding dog should be capable of. Another example of how the SV is all about the money and not the breed. If you want a GSD with the aptitude for herding, contact someone like Ulf Kintzel who still has some actual herding lines. I don't know if he breeds for the public, but he would be a good resource. Working lines are primarily geared toward sport and police/military work.


Kira v Wolfstraum. My male from that litter also demonstrated strong tending style behavior, but I did not pursue it as I was using him in IPO.
 

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In addition to connections through the CKC, I’d contact the American parent club that oversees French course (which has graze work btw) and ask if there’s a Canadian counterpart.

Also, do the same with ASCA - if the Canadian Aussie clubs are like the American one, there are tons of courses and for a nominal fee other breeds can pay to register and participate.

I’d reach out to Tehillah GSDs (Canada) and ask where their dogs/dogs from their breedings train and trial.
 

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I competed my WGSL dog successfully. He was a natural. I had him instinct tested at about 5 months and we did his first trial at 11 months. OP, try not to get caught up in thinking that only a certain "type" of GSD will work. A good dog is a good dog, and you can find what you want in any of the lines available.

I don't think you are in the U.S., but the AHBA might be a good resource. Here is a link:

Good luck! Herding was the most fun ever! Once you get hooked...
Sheilah
 

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You will probably find most herding venues you come across are dominated by BC's. They're still bred for this purpose.
Thanks to all the helpful replies. It will take a great deal of hard work to find the right folks. I have in the last couple of months been trying to find those "right" folks. As yet I have not found folks here herding with German Shepherds. I have found a lot of people who have taking the Herding Instinct test with their dog, but that is not the same thing as herding. I have in the last 4 weeks found a sheep dog trainer who works mostly with border collies, however I know the way they herd is very different than what I would want out of a German Shepherd. But at least I have someone waiting in the wings. I have contacted the Canadian Kennel Club, trying to find out where they are doing herding testing, so I could attend and talk to some folks there to see in person if anyone is taking it beyond just the CKC certificate, and is actually living with and working with a German Shepherd on their farm, doing herding. (just my experience so far with the CKC, is that herding is not a popular source of income for them, as there are slick pages on the internet promoting it, but most of the links are dead ends, or dead web-sites. They do not have any clubs that are listed, or contact people. There are no dates currently listed for the year ahead for herding. And I am still waiting to hear back from the person at the CKC who was going to look into it. That was about 10 days ago that we spoke, so I will be following up myself soon if I don't hear. No idea of the AKC is the same when it come to herding.)
I have been out in the last few weeks to the nearest IPO club, which is about 2 hours away to seek their advice and direction. But no one in that club had done any kind of herding, but they assured me IPO and herding are completely compatible. Since there was no first hand knowledge there, I am not content to just take someones word and limp along...I wanted to find someone who is herding, who has some understanding of IPO sports and if indeed the two things are compatible, or a good idea. Since I do not have a puppy yet, these are all important questions for me to find answers for now, so I have a well mapped out path for success in my goal for having an obedient, herding, working German Shepherd here on the farm, with me in my art studio in the day, and living with me happily in our home. Titles and Certificates are all secondary to the daily goal of living with a happy well adjusted, content and fulfilled dog and owner. :)(y) Thanks again guys....I am all ears for any thoughts sent my way.
 

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I think it depends what your goal is. If you love a GSD as a breed than you need to be lucky to get a dog with good herding instincts. If your goal is to get a farmer's helper, you may be better off with an English Shepherd.
 

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A couple years ago, we had a longtime forum member (breeder) that showed her dogs, and herded with them. She would probably have good advice, anyone remember? She was is Georgia I believe.
 
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