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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've made it no secret that when I eventually get another GSD, I want it to be a fast dog. I keep hearing how a fast dog could lack balance, which I didn't agree with. Certainly a "balanced" dog could also happen to be fast. I don't see why not.

Recently, carmspack mentioned here that the issue is that speed comes from the Thuringian (one of the four founding breeds [breeds? types?]) lines, and that these lines tend to bring with them nerve issues and light bones (not heavy, big bones).

Sounds certainly interesting enough for a discussion thread!!


  • So, how would we look at a pedigree and see if there is Thuringian lineage in there?
  • Can we definitively tie such lineage to nerve issues and light bones?
  • Are light bones really a big deal in the grand scheme of things?
  • Can we definitively tie such lineage to fast dogs?
  • Am I asking the right questions? haha...
Looking forward to this discussion!!
 

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My question is, if this is true, then why can there be large differences among littermates? For example, Nikon is good at agility (well as good as I can handle but in the right hands he'd be way better) and was easy for me, a novice handler, to train yet I know someone who is a very accomplished agility trainer/handler (several CATCH and MACH dogs, most non-traditional agility breeds) who has struggled training Nikon's littermate. Some of what she describes is almost the exact opposite of how Nikon works in agility (her dog struggled for a long time with jumping technique and didn't seem to care, while Nikon was a quick study with good technique and loves jumping, lots of "obstacle drive"). So if a litter is all from the same lines can we really attribute the speed of one dog to the founders of the breed, but not the other dogs from the same lines or even the exact same litter? I see the same thing in flyball (where you get to see lots of littermates because of how the dogs are bred and who owns them) and there is a lot of variation in speed among littermates.

As far as bone, I can't comment on where it comes from (I'll defer to carmspack and doc and cliff, et al for that) but I do agree that you don't want heavy or excess bone. A GSD can have good bone that is not in excess. A fast dog may be lighter boned than say, some of the WGSL counterparts but that doesn't mean a fast dog has to look brittle or frail.

I find that in agility and flyball, speed comes from the desire to do the work itself. In flyball, a dog that is too obsessed with tennis balls will run down fast but then probably execute a lackluster turn and then double stride between jumps on the way back. Likewise a dog that is really reward or handler focused will run down OK and probably turn really well and come back really fast, sometimes twice as fast on the way back. A really fast dog tends to be a dog that has nothing "extra" (not heavy boned, not too long, certainly not fat) and also find the activity itself rewarding so there is speed and power throughout the exercise. In Pan's case, he's a pretty high energy and lower threshold dog but the last thing I'd call him is nervy. I mean in some cases he's stable almost to a fault (in protection it's hard to get real aggression from him because nothing unsettles him, yet).

These are just my thoughts as someone active in these sports with different types of GSDs (and different breeds). The pedigree stuff I can't really comment on. I find that especially in flyball, people approach it a lot like many departments pick police dogs....they actually don't really care about pedigree. We test the dog and if it shows potential, then we train it. If not, I don't really care what the pedigree says it *should* be if it's just not.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Lies, I have to admit- you're the only person that I know in person with "fast" dogs. I mean come on- 3.9sec flyball runs?? :D [Thinks hard to see if that would be offensive to any of his friends. No... I don't think so... Well, no offense intended to you, my local friends! :)] I was going to PM you to see if we could dissect one of your dog's pedigrees for a learning experience, but I'm not sure that's fair or appropriate. I suspect Carmen can provider her own examples based on past experience.

Also- I have to admit that what you've brought up, Lies, about the sheer desire to do to work and be rewarded by the work is something I haven't considered. I figured a fast dog is fast because of their conformation and drive alone. Take me as an example. My conformation (read: my fat [bottom]) will never be a fast sprinter. I'm built like the dwarf from the Lord of the Rings... -short, fat, and well muscled! haha! But someone with a lot of leg, tall, slender, toned, and driven to success- that person will almost certainly be a much faster runner than me. So conformation must have a part for sure.

I attributed a great croup to speed. A long, properly angled croup allows the dog to get their rear feet under their body, stretched forward for range of motion, and give them the ability to power forward pushing their rear legs backwards with lots of range of motion. The long croup means that the muscles themselves are longer providing more strength and more flexibility. I wonder if the Thuringian dogs have an impact on rear conformation.
 

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I think you also need to take into account what I said in the other thread, about how the dog approaches work. Not just the drive but how the dog thinks. I don't really know of a good term for it. Nikon is very clear-headed and a problem-solver but he's not going to take unnecessary risk. He likes to be correct and have everything figured out before he turns on the burners. Pan is not this way at all. If you watch in slow-mo his record breaking heats he is making mistakes left and right. Every time we take him out on the mat there's a 50/50 change he will do really well vs. something silly like vault himself clear over the box, karate chop a jump in half, etc. It's also difficult to correct some of these issues because the sheer act of doing the work is so rewarding to him. He is not an "NRM" dog, doesn't work! If he makes a mistake we can't just "put him up" like some of the other dogs. He doesn't get that. The handler has to figure out how to set it up so that there's a little room for mistakes as possible so that he's automatically successful because he's going to run at blazing speed and love every hundredth of a second whether he looks perfect or breaks two jumps and drops the ball in the process.

There is ideal conformation but there's also a lot of room there. I've seem some very successful agility dogs from all lines of GSD, even ASL. To me if I lined up these dogs they'd basically be different breeds but it is what it is.

I think "obstacle drive" (or whatever you want to call it) is really important but the nice thing is that this can be developed and trained over time, to an extent. It's funny comparing a dog like Pan that is lightening fast and has almost ideal conformation for speed (at least as far as GSDs go) to a dog like Nikon that so far in agility is faster and better because Nikon has just had more exposure and understands the concept of driving toward the next obstacle in front of him whereas Pan has just as much fun doing obstacle #1 then skipping obstacle #2 then literally blowing through obstacle #3.

I'm sort of in the market for a smaller dog (non GSD) I'd like to do flyball with so this is all on my mind right now. I'm looking at the dogs for what they are and not really focusing on the pedigree even though that's kind of the opposite of what this thread suggests but that's how it works in flyball. Most of the dogs I'm looking at are mixes of at least two breeds.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Haha... yes, point taken. Your comparisons between them always make me laugh. I still think Pan sounds like my kind of dog! :rofl:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Every time we take him out on the mat there's a 50/50 change he will do really well vs. something silly like vault himself clear over the box, karate chop a jump in half, etc. ...whereas Pan has just as much fun doing obstacle #1 then skipping obstacle #2 then literally blowing through obstacle #3.
I mean come on- that sounds so fun (and probably frustrating at times). But seriously fun! :rofl: :wild:
 

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Oh he really is. And he's pretty wash-and-wear too. I mean, you can just pop a leash on him and take him anywhere. He loves people and kids and is gentle too, not a nippy dog ever. I can't wait to see what Jason does with him in agility.

The one thing that is really nice about doing flyball and agility with GSDs is the built in recall. I don't know if you know about my last foster dog, Luna (I mostly post about her on the other GSD forum) but she was adopted by a couple that were actually in my class and live a few blocks away so I recruited them for flyball. This dog can easily be a flyball phenom but holy crap she just runs and runs and runs! It's so hard to get her to FOCUS. We spent about an hour and got maybe 5 really nice turns and the rest of the time she was just running around like crazy. GSDs may not be the first choice breed for these sports but at least mine have never had trouble staying with me and following my lead. They want to work with ME so if *I* am playing box turn then that's what *they* want to do too, not just run around like a fool, lol. She is really trying my patience (and I feel responsible for her training because I probably should have kept her for myself and her owners have never had a dog ever, let alone a crazy flyball dog). However she's got going for her that she's super friendly and stable, absolutely no environmental sensitivity. First time I took her to flyball she was zipping around in the building and playing some violent tug. A lot of more nervy dogs will not play with their handlers at first.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I couldn't agree more. While Pimg doesn't have the drive or energy of either of your dogs- one thing she definitely does have is a desire to work with me. She really does. When we run agility, we are 100% a team. I can tell the she feels it and reciprocates it. There really isn't anything like working WITH your dog, and having a dog that wants to work WITH you!
 

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I noticed that watching the Superdog videos, especially the times when two dogs were going at once, or it was more like a relay (like the faux flyball thing). We've got a lot of dogs that, speed-wise, would blow those dogs out of the water, but usually more than half the battle is getting them to focus. Some of the dogs take years to train that aspect (especially the Whippets, they don't really understand the concept of retrieve OR recall, lol). A lot of dogs are half or 1/4 terrier...'nuf said! I don't know what Luna is but she looks like a Border Staffy.
 

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This is funny
Jack does everything perfectly in agility but is fairly slow. I think some of that is due to handling. We
didn't do a very good job of getting his excitement up.

Zena goes so fast she falls off equipment, so we have to slow her down.
She just started recently though so hopefully she will put the speed and accuracy together someday.:)

Another note would be about handling. Jack is very fast off leash in an open field.

So is he fast but not in agility, and if so is that handling or the dog?
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
So is he fast but not in agility, and if so is that handling or the dog?
I think this is a really hard question to answer, personally. Agility is HARD! It's demanding, draining mentally and physically. It's really asking a lot for our dogs to be fast in agility (and I assume in flyball, but have no personal experience there). It could be handling. It could just be confidence in managing the obstacles. It could be a lot of different things, you know?

I know that when I first taught Pimg to heel, that was our first exposure to "professional training." I didn't do it right and was very heavy handed. (To be clear, I feel I was following the lead of the trainer, but that's another story.) When I went to turn while Pimg was heeling, she'd get a collar pop at the moment of the turn. I guess the trainer felt that would get their attention and cause them to be aware of the turn. That's my assumption on why he had us do this. I haven't trained using collar corrections in at least a year and a half (or at least, very minimal collar corrections) and even now when I am practicing heeling, Pimg will always anticipate a turn and hang back a bit. Conditioned response.

I'm not saying that you've done anything wrong to cause slowness in agility- I'm not saying that at all. What I am saying is that conditioned responses are real, and you may have inadvertently built in slowness without realizing it. It is possible... Heck- even naming a performance prior to it being executed with speed can cause slowness. Happens all the time with weave poles- people name it "go weave!" while the dog is weaving, but weaving slowly, and then they struggle with getting speed through the weave poles. Happened to me... :) Live and learn.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Shew.... Way off topic here. I'm still hoping Carmen or some other people can chime in about the original question.
 

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I believe you find the Thuringian type dogs through the Sali von der Krone and Minna lines... Sali I believe brings medium sized dogs. I am fairly certain Minna flows through a very popular female, Umsa vom Bungalow.
 

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So is he fast but not in agility, and if so is that handling or the dog?

Both, IMO. I think it explains why Nikon is better than Pan at agility (at least so far) but Pan is better at flyball. There's no real thought process involved in flyball once the dog knows the drill. Sure there are jumps but to a GSD, 4 jumps at 6" are not really jumps if you know how to time your dog's stride. Agility involves more thought process throughout, an area where Nikon excels. He is more confident doing agility than flyball, now that I think about it. You need confidence to go full speed. Pan is not as confident doing agility (but that doesn't mean he's a weak, nervy dog!).
 

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I believe you find the Thuringian type dogs through the Sali von der Krone and Minna lines... Sali I believe brings medium sized dogs. I am fairly certain Minna flows through a very popular female, Umsa vom Bungalow.
Actually she's going back to Sali von der Krone via her dam.

However, Umsa was an excellent producing female. Active aggression, stable nerves and a great temperament, courage, strong grips and great physical attributes and stamina.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I'm having a REALLY hard time finding anything about Sali von der Krone. I'll try to find Umsa (not that I know what I'm looking for, just poking around I guess.)

[EDIT] Umsa- http://www.pedigreedatabase.com/german_shepherd_dog/dog.html?id=339

Mrs.K- are you able to read the description on Umsa's PDB page?

Groß; kräftig; mit steilem Oberarm und noch guter Hinterhandwinkelung. Flacher Rücken; noch ausreichende Brustverhältnisse. Geräumiges Gangwerk, wobei der Nachschub mehr Kraft haben dürfte. Gutes Wesen und sehr gut ausgeprägten Mut und Kampftrieb.

^^^This is the breed survey, correct?

Nevermind. Props to google translator:
Large, strong,. With steep upper arm still and good rear angulation Flat back, chest or sufficient conditions. Spacious movement, the supply is likely to have more power. Good character and very well marked courage and fighting instinct.
 

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Actually she's going back to Sali von der Krone via her dam.

However, Umsa was an excellent producing female. Active aggression, stable nerves and a great temperament, courage, strong grips and great physical attributes and stamina.
Sorry, can you clarify? Umsa is via Sali, you mean?

Nevermind.. re-read and understood... thank you for fixing my error! :)

I am a fan of Umsa, who is present in my male's pedigree.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
What am I missing here? I don't see Sali von der Krone in Umsa vom Bungalow's pedigree- even back 6 generations. Did I find the wrong Umsa?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I don't see that name either though in the pedigree.
 
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