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So kind of an unclear topic title I know but I couldn't think of a better one. I'm gonna post some background and my considerations.

So to start off I love German shepherds as a breed and always have. I been around and had the pleasure to own some amazing dogs. That said now that I'm grown and have more knowledge I'm kind of having some trouble.

First off, I'm leaning towards purchasing a working line simply because I want a dog to do things with and I have a fondness for sables which are more common in working lines. Along with liking the soundness of the body type. I do not like the curve of the WGSL or the weakness in the hocks I've seen in ASL. (Although I do have a WGSL/byb mix and while I may not know much about confirmation I can watch her move all day. I personally think she's more moderate in structure and can maintain a fast paced trot all day and doesn't need to eat a lot to have energy to burn. In fact it can be a struggle to excercise her enough to get her to eat. )

Anyway the thing with working lines is I don't want a dog with high prey drive which seems to be common, and I'm interested in getting into herding. I'm lucky enough to live rural so I have access to sheep, cattle, goats etc. but working lines seemed geared toward serious le type dogs, bite sport dogs(high prey drive), and tracking. I certainly think tracking could be a lot of fun and am currently attempting to work my lab/GSD in shed hunting and maybe tracking if I can figure out how to train her to use her nose.

But I don't know about herding ability in working lines, high prey drive could cause issues and I don't know how much natural instinct they're known have. I've been told byb and ASL seem to show more herding traits and I've certainly noticed it in my female. (Who is living with my dad. He needs somebody to keep him motivated so I just have my lab/GSD mix.) Along with the prey drive issue I do like cats and plan to have cats and don't want a dog that is driven to kill them or livestock. It's also very likely I'll be around chickens and such. I fully understand dogs like to chase things which I can easily work with, but I think most of us can agree there are vast levels of prey drive and I want to avoid some of those.

Another thought that's coming to mind is I absolutely do not want a dog that would come up the leash or comes from dog aggressive lines. While they don't have to be social butterflies I don't want to manage a dog aggressive dog. I have in the past and I did not enjoy it. I'd also like a dog I don't have to worry about taking in public. As is normal with the breed standard I don't need a dog that runs up to every person and I don't want that. But I also don't want a dog that I can't trust to not bite a kid that walks up wanting to pet the doggy. (I realize that training has a role to play with this but so does genetics.)

So does anybody know of breeders that actively do herding or produce dogs with natural herding instinct? Preferably working or moderate ASL. I'd be fine with mixed lines as well, that doesn't bother me one bit. I know there isn't a market for herding GSDs really so I'm not expecting to find dogs that only do herding. I'm just looking for breeders producing dogs that have the right temperament, health, and urge to do so along with not having the things I'm trying to avoid.

I've been looking at other breeds in case I can't find what I want in GSDs but I'm really hoping I can. So far looked in to English shepherds and I need to do more research on them but they don't have the call for me that GSDs do.

I'm also really going to drive home the natural instinct part. There's a huge difference between a dog biddable enough to learn what to do and a dog that it's in its blood or even a dog that it's in its blood but can't be shaped to do it successfully. (It's pretty sad to see herding breed dogs that want to herd but just can't get the hang of it. Part of that may be the handlers but some just aren't quite right for the job even though they want to be.)

I should add I'm in Montana but I'm fully expecting to have to search around to find a breeder. I'd prefer somebody at least on the western side of the US.

I am interested in breeding some day but I have a long way to go until then, and certainly not until I own my own house which is a ways out there. (I'm looking at 3-6 more years of schooling maybe more so a long time coming yet!) I do know I could find good owners here in Montana who would be interested in GSDs for herding, tracking or even just to do things with. The quality of GSDs I see every day here is kind of heartbreaking. Constant byb breeders with, don't get me wrong still good dogs, but so many health and temperament issues and lots of 'rare' color breeders.
Sorry if I seem to be doing stereotypes of any lines but it's just what I'm constantly seeing and hearing about. I know there are good moderate dogs of all lines I just seem to have little luck finding them.
 

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You're going to want to talk to people who are doing or have actually done herding. Not just instinct tests.

There's a big herding symposium in Colorado in July that is going to cover everything from beginning a new dog to arena work to tending. The instructors and attendees will probably represent a good cross section of what's out there.

The parent club's national herding trials (A, B, and C Course plus I think they're adding D Course this year) will also be in Colorado, in October. In 2020 it's going back to St. Louis, so this is the closet it'll be to you, for a while.

Last year there were American dogs, West German showlines, working lines, and crosses, all represented. Don't get sucked into the stereotypes!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You're going to want to talk to people who are doing or have actually done herding. Not just instinct tests.

There's a big herding symposium in Colorado in July that is going to cover everything from beginning a new dog to arena work to tending. The instructors and attendees will probably represent a good cross section of what's out there.

The parent club's national herding trials (A, B, and C Course plus I think they're adding D Course this year) will also be in Colorado, in October. In 2020 it's going back to St. Louis, so this is the closet it'll be to you, for a while.

Last year there were American dogs, West German showlines, working lines, and crosses, all represented. Don't get sucked into the stereotypes!
Oh wow thanks for that link! I feel like I've been on this website before but for some reason whenever I find an interesting page I can never seem to find it again!

Sadly I wouldn't be able to make it to the October event as I will be back in classes. But I wonder if I could somehow make it to the summer Colorado one. I have a cousin down about 2 hours away from Fort Collins so maybe I could get into contact with her. I don't know if she'd be able to go but I bet she'd want to if she can.

I think I'm getting sucked into the stereotypes just because I see it so often and the websites that I see the most are usually the flashy good at advertising breeders. I definitely know there are amazing dogs of all lines, the forum members show it for sure!
 

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There used to be a line of GSDs active in herding, Kirschental. I think they were WGSL though. Unfortunately, I believe the breeder died and no one kept the line going. I remember reading some threads about them a while back, very interesting.
 

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If you can swing the road trip in July, I'd email the owner of the farm hosting the symposium, and let her know you're interested in watching some dogs and hope to meet some of the community. The dog talk and conversation on the sidelines alone will probably be great. :)

There are active herding GSDs in California as well. I've met a few nice people from that area (and their dogs of course), but I don't know the clubs or who to point you toward. I believe one of this year's symposium instructors is from the PNW, she could be another good contact for you.
 

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There used to be a line of GSDs active in herding, Kirschental. I think they were WGSL though. Unfortunately, I believe the breeder died and no one kept the line going. I remember reading some threads about them a while back, very interesting.
If you're looking for info there, I'd PM @mspiker03 . She also has years of experience herding w/GSDs, and she might have more referrals for you on the west coast for training or trials to watch.
 

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The kennel Lisa posted above, SentinalHarts has a HGH titled female(Whisky), but the dog is located in MI.
The breeder just confirmed a breeding, and I know the sire as well as Whisky. I think this will be a very nice litter with versatility in any venue. I've seen another litter by the sire and they are doing quite well at a year old. This will be Whisky's second litter.

https://www.aufdermarquisgsds.com/copy-of-upcoming-litters they are also on FB.

Shepherdgate is American Showline type... I would follow Ulf on FB, he posts vids often of the dogs he is training.

EDIT TO ADD: Xcorpio from SentinalHart is showing great promise in the way he works the flock. Leslie, who is the breeder at Auf der Marquis raised him for his first year before he was brought to Ulf for training. He is a really nice pup!
 

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There used to be a line of GSDs active in herding, Kirschental. I think they were WGSL though. Unfortunately, I believe the breeder died and no one kept the line going. I remember reading some threads about them a while back, very interesting.
That brings back memories. My first GSD was from vom Kirschental lines. The kennel is gone but someone here has two of their dogs. Maybe someone out there is breeding out of their lines.
 

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That brings back memories. My first GSD was from vom Kirschental lines. The kennel is gone but someone here has two of their dogs. Maybe someone out there is breeding out of their lines.
Alta-Tollhaus in Michigan had some Kirschental lines, but they have evolved to more SL than herding over the years.
 

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There used to be a line of GSDs active in herding, Kirschental. I think they were WGSL though. Unfortunately, I believe the breeder died and no one kept the line going. I remember reading some threads about them a while back, very interesting.
Marion (Karls wife) kept the kennel going for awhile. My TJ is from their very last litter (Paisley is from a few litters before him). Paisley is my herding dog and helps with my goats. There are a few newer herding kennels in Germany that have used Kirschental dogs in their program fairly recently - I know the names if I look on facebook). My two kirschental show lines are more moderate than other dogs I have seen.

Lesser known for breeding - Barb Easton in San Diego. She had a dog from Tehillah in Canada who got multiple herding championships - AKC, AHBA, I think one from Canada. She bred Gina a year or two ago. She may breed one of the puppies at some point, but that would be something if you were willing to wait a bit. She is actively working those dogs. Gina was bred to UConn vom Patalia (spelling?).
 

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Jackie (Xeph here on the forum) does herding with her dogs. Marcato is her kennel, in Pennsylvania.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Marion (Karls wife) kept the kennel going for awhile. My TJ is from their very last litter (Paisley is from a few litters before him). Paisley is my herding dog and helps with my goats. There are a few newer herding kennels in Germany that have used Kirschental dogs in their program fairly recently - I know the names if I look on facebook). My two kirschental show lines are more moderate than other dogs I have seen.

Lesser known for breeding - Barb Easton in San Diego. She had a dog from Tehillah in Canada who got multiple herding championships - AKC, AHBA, I think one from Canada. She bred Gina a year or two ago. She may breed one of the puppies at some point, but that would be something if you were willing to wait a bit. She is actively working those dogs. Gina was bred to UConn vom Patalia (spelling?).
I'm not planning on getting a pup right away but I definitely am starting to look to find a good breeder whose dogs/program I like and follow them a bit to see maybe which individual dogs or lines I like the most. Definitely not jumping in right away and wanting a puppy right this minute. But my dog is going to be 4 this year I believe so wanting to start to find something in the next year or two maybe. Might end up being longer and might not end up going with GSD just because of potential housing concerns in the future, just with maybe them being banned if I end up having to move or something. But I also have a cousin who wants very closely the same type of dog I want and she's an amazing dog owner so keeping an eye out for her too.
 

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Gina, one of the dogs mspiker mentioned, was phenomenal. She competed on courses no one ever thought were possible for a GSD to finish (let alone win).

When it comes time to decide what you want, there are as many flavors and nuances in herding dogs as anything else. Do you want a dog that is gentle and easy on her stock, a hard dog that won’t back down from a hormone surcharged ram, a dog that works waaaaaay far off the stock so you can gently push flighty nervous animals around, or a gritty bitch that can get kicked in the head and bounce back up for more - there’s no one perfect stockdog. But you can find something that will probably suit you. :)
 

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I'm not planning on getting a pup right away but I definitely am starting to look to find a good breeder whose dogs/program I like and follow them a bit to see maybe which individual dogs or lines I like the most. Definitely not jumping in right away and wanting a puppy right this minute. But my dog is going to be 4 this year I believe so wanting to start to find something in the next year or two maybe. Might end up being longer and might not end up going with GSD just because of potential housing concerns in the future, just with maybe them being banned if I end up having to move or something. But I also have a cousin who wants very closely the same type of dog I want and she's an amazing dog owner so keeping an eye out for her too.
Barb doesn't have a breeding program, per se. She bred Gina (and rightfully so!) and I assume she may breed one of her puppies. But I used to train with her and she was very accomplished with her dog before Gina (that is the dog who I saw her with) and she handles other peoples dogs. I just don't think you will find a formal program with her. She doesn't have a kennel page and I am not sure she advertised the last litter. Wouldn't be surprised if you find her at national events at some point...

I also think - re working my own stock, vs stock at a herding place... My stock is not dog broke and they don't easily play the "lets all go together in one cohesive group" game like the herding facilities I have been to. Stock that are "jerks" and don't conform to the rules as much get dropped. So, it really is a different ball game when you talk wanting to compete at trials or have your own stock. My dog has to be way pushier with my own goats than she ever was at a herding place.
 

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Barb doesn't have a breeding program, per se. She bred Gina (and rightfully so!) and I assume she may breed one of her puppies. But I used to train with her and she was very accomplished with her dog before Gina (that is the dog who I saw her with) and she handles other peoples dogs. I just don't think you will find a formal program with her. She doesn't have a kennel page and I am not sure she advertised the last litter. Wouldn't be surprised if you find her at national events at some point...

I also think - re working my own stock, vs stock at a herding place... My stock is not dog broke and they don't easily play the "lets all go together in one cohesive group" game like the herding facilities I have been to. Stock that are "jerks" and don't conform to the rules as much get dropped. So, it really is a different ball game when you talk wanting to compete at trials or have your own stock. My dog has to be way pushier with my own goats than she ever was at a herding place.
Oh yeah definitely something I have in mind. I'll start off working with stock that's dog broke. There's some good trainers in my area who do herding instinct tests with dogs and teach you/train if they show interest. Once I've gotten a handle on things and the dog knows how to work and I know how to work it I'll move towards working more range stock preferably at least familiar with dogs. I have an aunt with a decent sized sheep herd but they've not been around dogs. So I'd want to talk to her in the future because I like to go out and help her as is.

There's also some goat herding positions I could potentially get during the summer that include using dogs so if I had a dog I could potentially use that or if I don't get a dog by then I'll get hands on experience working with an already trained dog and herding daily.

I also imagine that a lot of people I know would let me help them work their animals giving me a chance to train the pup more. I'm more leaning toward actual working not trials although there are some around me that I'd certainly sign up for.

Have you guys seen much for herding cattle? I have a lot more options cattle wise but am leaning towards sheep and goats. I know I'd definitely need a hard won't back down herder to work range cattle. But I'm hesitant to do that because the risk of injury/death to the dog is a lot higher. I wouldn't need to do it but I'd certainly enjoy getting out and helping my friends and family. But well unless I end up out living on a ranch I don't need to work cattle with a dog.
 

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Far from a herding expert, but I know enough to know that there are different styles of herding, a lot of it based on breed and the type of stock that breed was developed for. For example, i’d probably be more inclined to get a cattle dog vs a gsd with a hard enough temperament to drive cattle. I’m sure there are GSD suitable, but other traits may come along with that package that you don’t particularly desire.

Just my late Friday night 2 cents. Tilden was put in a pen with 3 sheep but instead looked at the butterflies. :shrug:
 

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Cattle are kind of a different cup of tea. Everything we do with dogs has some risk, but cattle are pretty darn dangerous. When our club brought in cattle for a trial two years ago, one of the dogs competing broke her leg, and that’s not terribly uncommon.

You can look at the list of GSDs who’ve finished ASCA’s WTCH (Working Trial Champion) if you’re interested. To finish, dogs have to title Started, then Open, then Advanced on all 3 types of stock, including cattle. So any WTCH GSD will have had at least 6 successful cattle runs in trial, with at least two of those completed at the Advanced level. I absolutely agree that trials aren’t the be-all end-all, but working unknown (to the dog) stock at different locations does demonstrate ability and work ethic. The stock absolutely get jazzed up on trial day, as well, so that adds another layer of complexity.

Cattle lines of BCs (and of course ACDs) come out of the womb with certain traits that aren’t common in GSDs, but there are definitely dogs who have done it.
 
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