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In the next year, I'm going to be getting a new puppy who will be trained as my new service dog for my mobility needs. My current dog has had to retire, and was just diagnosed with the beginnings stages of dementia due to his old age. I've had a service dog next to me for 20yrs and got my first when I was 9, and this will be my 4th dog I will be having trained.

The breeder I got my current dog from has retired, and is no longer breeding dogs. So I've had to consider a new breed, and have narrowed down my new breed prospects as either rough collie or german shepherd. I have experience with both breeds working with them on friends farms and by training them, but have never owned either- my husband however is a german shepherd fanboy.

I do have a collie breeder in line who is excellent, but not a german shepherd breeder in my area that produces good dogs- Iowa is a bit of a wasteland for well bred dogs.

I am considering getting a shepherd instead of a collie as I know they are more of a one person dog, highly trainable, and I have some concern that a collie will be too people friendly and seek out others attentions, which I can tell you is not good for a service animal. My current dog is a redbone, and they are totally one person dogs and he gives zero concern for anyone else but me LOL and wont listen to commands given by anyone but myself. I had a golden and a lab that both failed their training due to being too people friendly; a more reserved dog is actually better for service work.

Am I being overly anxious that a collie would be an attention seeking nutcase like the golden and lab I was going to have trained? The collies I worked with were fairly friendly dogs even to strangers. Even though they were very focused when working- they were not in a public situation with lots of people to tempt them.

Also, my concern is, do you think a shepherd would be too high risk for developing health issues compared to a collie. I'm sure many of you could recommend some good breeders in or near Southeast Iowa. My husbands shepherds all had health issues ranging from seizures, chronic UTI's, to hip dysplasia.
I know I'm probably rambling (it's a curse), so maybe some owners on here could give me some assistance with my concerns.

Sidenote: I have a doctors prescription for my service animal, and a trainer who does the work for me. I just have to find my own dog, this reduces the cost I have to pay. The socialization however will be my job, and I live in a great city for that.
 

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There just aren't a ton of breeders producing German Shepherds that work in this capacity. I'm not totally sure I'd recommend a first time GSD owner to get one as a service dog prospect, either. It seems to work better if a person has a fair amount of GSD experience

Sure GSDs are less indiscriminately friendly and social but they have a whole different set of challenges working in this capacity.

Statistically speaking, labs and goldens are being used more widely, there are more breeders producing quality dogs that are doing the job and the breeder can look at their lines and say this pairing produced this many functioning service dogs etc, than there are GSDs. Friendly, social dogs can absolutely be taught to mind their own business and work.
 

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As for health-- you can absolutely find a shepherd who is pretty healthy. You'd want to choose a breeder whose dogs have extensive health testing and hopefully a pedigree with a decent amount of health testing on several generations of dogs behind them
 

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I've had both collies and GSD, 2 of each over the years. I would tend to agree with you on the friendliness to strangers.

Each of the collies, from different litters, were friendly to everyone, not as much a one person's dog as my GSD's.

My GSD's were both like my shadow, always wanting to be by my side or nearby watching me. Not so with the collies.

My GSD's were pleasant to other people socially but my last one wouldn't even take a treat from a stranger.

Sorry I can't recommend a breeder as both of mine have been rescues. My last GSD lived to be 16 and was never sick

except near the end as she was getting elderly.
 

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There is a service collie breeder in Oregon: google Kings Valley Collies. I don't find Collies too people friendly. They are aloof. I think it is the Borzoi blood in them. They are very sweet, , calm, easy going and non-aggressive unless well-challenged
 

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To be honest, if you find a collie with the right temperament, it would be fine. The coat can be lots of work though. Of course this depends on what you are using the therapy dog for. I have noticed the Seeing Eye Institute in NJ isn't using gsd anymore. Just labs and Golden's.
 

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There just aren't a ton of breeders producing German Shepherds that work in this capacity. I'm not totally sure I'd recommend a first time GSD owner to get one as a service dog prospect, either. It seems to work better if a person has a fair amount of GSD experience

Sure GSDs are less indiscriminately friendly and social but they have a whole different set of challenges working in this capacity.

Statistically speaking, labs and goldens are being used more widely, there are more breeders producing quality dogs that are doing the job and the breeder can look at their lines and say this pairing produced this many functioning service dogs etc, than there are GSDs. Friendly, social dogs can absolutely be taught to mind their own business and work.
I absolutely do not use goldens and labs. I've had terrible experiences, and they all came from very excellent breeders. I work only with dogs that are not indiscriminately friendly towards people. It's easier to socialize them properly than to train them not to be a mindless attention seeker. :)
 

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Honestly it is personal preference in my opinion. Of course every breed has its challenges, but that does not mean it makes dog training harder. The science is the same. GSD's need more extensive socialization (exposure) to the world due to the protective nature of the breed. It needs to learn that people/dogs are safe and my owner makes good things happen when I see these people or dogs. Temperament/health history is the most important for a good start, but socialization makes or breaks a service dog. If I had to go GSD vs Collie vs Lab- I would go with GSD any day even if it may be slightly more challanging that includes more socialization than a collie or a lab. However, I do have a good grasp on dog training and behavior now so that might not be true for the average person. For a dog to even be ready and bomb-proof would be at about 3 years old. I wouldn't even start focusing on task training till after 18 months to truly start alerting tasks reliably. Need to have a good foundation to start with. This is my two cents.
 

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I do have a breeder in mind who says she does have some service dogs on the ground. The grooming isn't an issue for me, my husband is taking care of it for me. I just want to make sure I choose the right breed, you can imagine why LOL
My husband is a shepherd fan, so of course he's bias. LOL
 

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Will a collie meet the requirements for the mobility ratio? I have a 5 month old mobility/medical alert SDIT and he is totally aloof to people, but loves to socialize when Off duty. Love that about shepherds.
 

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Honestly it is personal preference in my opinion. Of course every breed has its challenges, but that does not mean it makes dog training harder. The science is the same. GSD's need more extensive socialization (exposure) to the world due to the protective nature of the breed. It needs to learn that people/dogs are safe and my owner makes good things happen when I see these people or dogs. Temperament/health history is the most important for a good start, but socialization makes or breaks a service dog. If I had to go GSD vs Collie vs Lab- I would go with GSD any day even if it may be slightly more challanging that includes more socialization than a collie or a lab. However, I do have a good grasp on dog training and behavior now so that might not be true for the average person. For a dog to even be ready and bomb-proof would be at about 3 years old. I wouldn't even start focusing on task training till after 18 months to truly start alerting tasks reliably. Need to have a good foundation to start with. This is my two cents.
You wouldn’t task train until 18 months? This would mean that you have zero public access rights until 18 months (when the dog tasks) not a good idea in my opinion. Vasko (my sdit) knows many tasks already and is doing amazing with scent training already at 5 months.
 

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You wouldn’t task train until 18 months? This would mean that you have zero public access rights until 18 months (when the dog tasks) not a good idea in my opinion. Vasko (my sdit) knows many tasks already and is doing amazing with scent training already at 5 months.
Mobility dogs should not start training for serious harness work until 18 mos, and after they've had at least a preliminary X Ray clearance. Non physically demanding foundations for task training can start anytime as a game

Public access rights for people with SDiTs vary by state. States which give people public access rights with SDiTs, I've never seen any verbage stating that if the dog in training hasn't been task trained it isn't allowed in public. They give people the right to take SDiTs in public because they need to train in those scenarios before they are finished.

Some states do NOT give people the right to train SDiTs in public but they are the minority, in that case what you said would be true that the dog can't work in public until it meets the legal definition. Everyone should check their local laws.
 

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Some states do NOT give people the right to train SDiTs in public but they are the minority, in that case what you said would be true that the dog can't work in public until it meets the legal definition. Everyone should check their local laws.
Definitely check your state laws on this. In Ohio SDiT's are only allowed public access if they are with a professional trainer. Though my daughter has never had a problem taking our puppies we are raising into stores. That could have a lot to do with the fact that we wont take them into a store until they are obedience is down good.
 

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Have you considered a smooth collie instead of a rough? Their coats require very little maintenance compared to a rough collie. FWIW, I had a smooth collie (who passed in January at age 14) and she was aloof once she matured.
 

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To be honest, if you find a collie with the right temperament, it would be fine. The coat can be lots of work though. Of course this depends on what you are using the therapy dog for. I have noticed the Seeing Eye Institute in NJ isn't using gsd anymore. Just labs and Golden's.
Really? Is that the one in Morristown? I only see them walking GSD prospects around there. I am there for clients often Love watching them get their training/practice while eating a hugely expensive lunch on the company lol
 

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You wouldn’t task train until 18 months? This would mean that you have zero public access rights until 18 months (when the dog tasks) not a good idea in my opinion. Vasko (my sdit) knows many tasks already and is doing amazing with scent training already at 5 months.
Mobility dogs should not start training for serious harness work until 18 mos, and after they've had at least a preliminary X Ray clearance. Non physically demanding foundations for task training can start anytime as a game

Public access rights for people with SDiTs vary by state. States which give people public access rights with SDiTs, I've never seen any verbage stating that if the dog in training hasn't been task trained it isn't allowed in public. They give people the right to take SDiTs in public because they need to train in those scenarios before they are finished.

Some states do NOT give people the right to train SDiTs in public but they are the minority, in that case what you said would be true that the dog can't work in public until it meets the legal definition. Everyone should check their local laws.
I wouldn’t train any mobility tasks until 24 months +OFA.

I was more talking about other tasks like retrieval’s and stuff. Definitely not mobility on a puppy.
 

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there are breeders of German Shepherds who do put working , not sport , as a top priority.

Not a ton - that's for sure . But I do know of a program in Oregon where GSD are produced, trained,
and professinaly certified.

I know the genetics . I know of breeders that do produce dogs that would be ideal . In fact I
sought out and did add a youngster to incorporate into my own plans .

she is simply amazing . I look for a specific type and this dog is as close as you can get .

the problem is that those who breed for WORK , and do successfully place dogs into work
of the highest calling may fail the "reputable breeder" check list and lack titlels and may
lack titles which some people rely on so heavily , whether there is a good standard,
a consistent standard , or meaning attached to the title.

Cliff knows some , GSD bred for utility and versatility .
there are some breeders on this forum that I would direct you to -- their base values have
always been this balanced utility.
 

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One thing I can tell you from my experience watching grooming being done in my kennel, and assisting with the grooming when needed: the coats of rough collies are a real challenge to keep groomed! The show dogs have been bred for excessive coat for many generations, and require constant brushing to keep them mat-free.

One dog someone brought in was so matted around its anus and genital area that it took me 15 minutes of careful clipping with scissors to be even able to see its anus. Another person brought in a Sheltie that actually had a maggot infestation in that same area. :sick:

Except for the shedding, Shepherd coats are fairly easy to care for. As for the other two breeds used for service work, labs may have a shorter coat than goldens, but both breeds DO shed a lot.
 

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You wouldn’t task train until 18 months? This would mean that you have zero public access rights until 18 months (when the dog tasks) not a good idea in my opinion. Vasko (my sdit) knows many tasks already and is doing amazing with scent training already at 5 months.
Theres a SD training institute about 10 hours away from where I live in Canada. This is their reccommendation even by professionals. Its not like I came across those numbers out of nowhere. I said for the tasks to be reliably and some states do offer SDIT's public access rights.
 

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You wouldn’t task train until 18 months? This would mean that you have zero public access rights until 18 months (when the dog tasks) not a good idea in my opinion. Vasko (my sdit) knows many tasks already and is doing amazing with scent training already at 5 months.
Theres a SD training institute about 10 hours away from where I live in Canada. This is their reccommendation even by professionals. Its not like I came across those numbers out of nowhere. I said for the tasks to be reliably and some states do offer SDIT's public access rights.
Yes every state is different. Every dog is different but Vasko is reliable in multiple tasks and turned 5 months old today. Service dog training in Canada is much different than what I have seen in the US.
 
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