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Discussion Starter #1
People often ask me why I think the breed is better or worse than in the past. Overall, I think that the breed has suffered from the emphasis placed on breeding dogs for show/sport titles as opposed to breeding dogs for use in working certifications. I think the most important attributes of a well bred German Shepherd is intelligence and nerve making it capable for utility work. My problem with sport and show is that they are always performed in controlled environments thus allowing conditioned animals to achieve success though lacking vital traits. Dog certifications whether they are SAR, Seeing-eye, law Enforcement, etc require the dog to work in an open society in unexpected elements and make decisions that still allow them to accomplish their goals. This should be very important to a breeder, because it shows the dog's/breeds ability to adjust or adapt while in the process of service to man. These traits also make it easy for the breed to be good family dog as will as service dog. Today these type dogs are not looked upon favorably for breeding, but more so dogs that have achieved high results in controlled environments. We often NEVER see how our breeding selections handle themselves in open society OR how they think independently from a patterned routine. Actually, more dogs are selected for breeding because of a performance in a patterned routine. I think over years, this kind of emphasis on breed traits that are visible in these events as opposed to emphasizing breeding for traits that must be seen in uncontrolled environment....have led the breed in a direction that is drivier, and prettier, but not necessarily utilitarian. I would like to see a greater access and reliance on successful dogs with working certifications....I know for LE access is sometimes a problem, but truthfully, I see the problem as a mindset that feels that show/sport showcase important traits in the breed, and the most important trait...utility....cannot be seen in a controlled environment to my way of thinking.
One last thing, in past titled dogs often trained in other venues after they achieved their titles to demonstrate the utility abilities of the dog....today people never let the dog leave the environment(show/sport) for which they BRED the dog for....and these become the reputable studs. I think this is faulty, and I think the condition of the breed in general supports this.
 

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Very good points, it's something I've been thinking about since the whole "titles" debate that Andy brought up.

I've already stated it in the other thread but I'll reiterate. Delgado's father is a police dog, he has no "titles" outside of that and honestly I'm perfectly happy with his certification and pedigree. They have a lot to live up to and they're tested every day in the real world. The willingness to learn and the bond between the dog and handler has to be dependable and genetics (at least IMO) play a key role in both. I know in Delgado's case there is a bone deep drive to learn, I've had several trainers and a behaviourist comment on how fast and focused he is while training.

But is the success due to to the programs or maybe it's due to their criteria for dogs? Obviously the seeing eye dog programs have their own breeding stock. Some LE seem to get theirs from inhouse, some seem to look outside for breeders

What does the dog have to bring (before training even starts) to make it suitable to even try? Maybe that's where the key is
 

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I think the analysis is good from my perspective (having no experience with dog sport or breeding) but have been troubled by two things..........that are a limitation with use of non titled, but certified dogs.

IRO (for SAR) gets you a "koerable" dog but still does not test fight drive and still requires you to put the dog through some excercises that may not be worth a lot of folks time....[at least not mine for a cadaver dog who does not need to learn to track or find live humans]-So what are good ways to meet the following challenges?

No ability to koer a dog or otherwise get useful independant third party assessment of its structure

For SAR and detection dogs, no good independant way to assess fight drive and courage. I think most SAR training and evaluation puts a pretty good nerve challenge on the dog.
 

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This seems to me to be the most rational argument that I've read since joining this forum. To me it is similar to teaching to the test that is done in some schools to get a child to pass a standardized test. They don't know how to figure out problems or think logically about questions, but can pass the exam.
 

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Can't really argue. I personally can't speak to the utility and certifications you're talking about since I'm not LE so would have no business training and certifying a dog as such, but I do place a high value on utility and a wide range of abilities and behaviors that I need to see which go well beyond the scope of trialing in a single venue, but again that's just me and the dogs *I* am looking to own and train. My point of reluctance is that it seems every other person I meet "in real life" with a GSD tells me their dog is the son/daughter of a "police dog" and I'm seeing everything from really nice specimens of GSD to terrible nerves, temperament, conformation (from a working/utility point of view) and often say to myself "gosh if I had a dime for every person that said their dog's breeder was a K9 handler....." Maybe it's not fair, but these days when I hear that I'm sort of thinking "OK, prove it" because I think so many dogs are not represented correctly.

I do like your point about what dogs do after being titled. I think especially for the show crowd the title and breed survey are just a means to an end - breeding. People advertise doing things the "German way" and having "titled" dogs but really the vast majority of the dogs will no longer see work, other than brushing up a few weeks before a Sieger show, after they are titled and surveyed. I think it's rather sad. I do see many dogs that I think are good dogs with real training and commitment. To me it's disrespectful to the dogs and the breed. A good dog should not be retired from work or training by the time he's 3 years old. Let them do what they love!

I am trying to finish my dog's SchH titles this season because I have some other things that I personally think are more fun, more challenging, and give me a better "feel" for my dog overall that I would like to continue with. But I also value achieving the SchH3 with my first "HOT" dog so it's still a big goal of mine and I do not feel it is not a legitimate goal or a legitimate title either. Once that happens I have no plans to "retire" my dog from bite work or that sort of training, just switching venues (going back to SDA), up the ante a bit :)
 

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This should be very important to a breeder, because it shows the dog's/breeds ability to adjust or adapt while in the process of service to man.
...

We often NEVER see how our breeding selections handle themselves in open society OR how they think independently from a patterned routine. Actually, more dogs are selected for breeding because of a performance in a patterned routine.
Just one more reason to love the sport of agility. When the team steps onto the agility field, it is the very first time the dog has ever seen that course. It's imperative that the dog adjust and adapt to the cues the handler is giving in order to make it through the course. The dog MUST both think independently in order to perform the equipment maneuvers correctly, as well as work with the handler taking direction and following cues. There are no patterned routines in agility.
 

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PSA will keep you on your toes!

While I'm shooting for IPO, my trainer is a PSA guy and no patterns with our training!


....Cliff expressed himself well but I think that specialization/subsets we see is a function of free market principles and is here to stay as representative model of modern society.

The demand is not as high for dogs that would fit the criteria of LE (and I ponder if LE hasn't shifted away from the breed as much as the breed has shifted away from it...to an extent anyways).

On the upside as Tim said in the other thread about titles, there are still breeders filling that need because where there is demand, there will be the dogs to fill it.

(btw very similiar breed trajectory if you compare how GSDs have changed and Quarter Horses, both known for utility then as the need for utility disappeared due to industrialization specialized subsets appear within the breed)
 

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I agree that the specialization of the breed have ruined the breed. Going to some of these dog events and seeing some of the GSD's. The only things they have in common are the looks. Even that is not always the case. The problem with only using certified dogs is that it would limit the gene pool. That's one of the factors that got us into this mess isn't it? Can the general public go out and get a LE cert on their dog? Maybe it's time to come up with a new breed survey like the SV's. One that maybe changes events and places. Doesn't work on controlled fields every time. How long do you think that one would last before it got screwed up too?
 

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I personally think we already ask a lot out of breeders, especially for the 2nd most popular breed in the United States. To expect them to now look to other venues than the one that already takes up a lot of time is pretty nuts.

I agree with your point Cliff, but the market just doesn't allow for breeders to compete in a variety of different venues. On top of that, the customers are so demanding to see those titles, that even when they have no idea what they mean they'll demand them. I don't know how many times someone has asked for a review of a breeder on here and it comes up that they don't title in Schutzhund. Then, if there is even mention that the stud is a LE dog, the skeptics ring in about the fact that it is probably a lie and no one does that.

I don't blame the breeders as much as I blame the customers. Those looking for a Schutzhund trialing dog want to see SchH3 throughout the pedigree or they move on to the next one. And those that have no idea what Schutzhund even is, come on this forum, get told all about it (without actually seeing it), and then start a search for a breeder that titles in that sport with no idea what any of it means, shows, or proves. At best they might check out a Schutzhund club once before purchasing a dog from a breeder that people on the forum praise from the mountain top...and the breeders that are praised pass all the "reputable breeder" checks and that wonderful flow chart that consistently gets brought up when someone asks about breeding their own dog. I know for a fact that titles are a big part of that flow chart...and yet all other titles (AKC, UKC, Agility, ect) are constantly dismissed over a Schutzhund title.

BTW...I trial AKC obedience...when I saw my first Schutzhund trial I was amazed at how scripted it was. The fact that the handler has to memorize an obedience routine was amazing to me. At least in AKC they can switch it up somewhat...here everything was to the book and there was more chance of the handler making a mistake by forgetting an exercise than the dog actually missing a command. I still accept the fact that Schutzhund is a much more in depth and well-rounded test of a dog's nerve and ability than an AKC obedience trial, but it is probably the sports biggest "weakness."
 

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Discussion Starter #10
No specific test or cert will test every aspect of the breed....there are np perfect dogs anyway.....but my point is breeding for utility and nerves over drives and structure. Now that is not saying that drives and structure is not needed to be a good specimen....but people today breed FOR drives and conformation first!....the reality is that the breed has acquired it's magnificent reputation while doing things such as herding, service work, law enforcement, military, and auxiliary services. In all of these things nerves and mental strength in combination with learning what man taught them allowed them to be utility dogs. Breeders should look at strength of nerve FIRST, because with that the breed makes an easy adjustment to uses in the industrial world as well as shifting family values. Drives and structure as a primary focus make the breed great in show ring and maybe nationals, but the breed has lost ground in all the other areas that it was created for. GS c are still great dogs in these fields, both service areas (SAR, Seeing-eye,herding) as well as protection and detection areas in military and LE. The difference today is that the nerves have been watered down so seeing eye and some types of SAR find good applicants difficult, and the structure used in the showering DOES NOT translate to function other than the show ring and maybe herding trials in controlled environments.
My point is if you are a German Shepherd breeder, what is your primary focus and what are you breeding for. Everyone SAYS temperament....haha....but ask them to evaluate a dog and see what comes out their mouth first. Shoulder, grip, croup, drive,gait, top line,etc. so what are really their breeding priorities, does it reflect traits necessary to keep this dog an utility dog. I wonder sometime!
 

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The difference today is that the nerves have been watered down so seeing eye and some types of SAR find good applicants difficult, and the structure used in the showering DOES NOT translate to function other than the show ring and maybe herding trials in controlled environments.
To add to Cliff’s point. I entered the world of US&R little over a year ago and by more dumb luck then anything I found a GSD that possessed all the traits needed for urban search and rescue. But the truth is, that is becoming harder and harder to find a GSD suitable for this kind of work. I have over the past year watched quite a few GSD being tested for disaster work and the majority of them does not have what it takes to make a disaster search dog. And we are talking about dogs with working line pedigrees (and a few showline and showline/working crosses), titles on every dog. Even people who have always worked GSD’s have no choice but to look for another breed of dog because it is easier to find a none GSD that can do this type work. The majority of dogs in the FEMA system now are Labrador Retrievers.
 

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I obviously have no experience in sport, agility or LE/auxiliary services like that. But--when I was a kid, a German couple lived down the road. She always had two GSD's and those dogs could do anything. I would walk down and knock on her door and we would go in the backyard and she would show me some of the things she did with them, which I guess, in retrospect, were Sch-type things and impeccable obedience. She would tell me about all the things they could do and of course, it seemed like every seeing eye dog or police/bomb dog was a GSD in the '70's and early '80's. Anyhow, I came away with the idea that they were THE dog, capable of doing anything and everything.

So fast forward to today, and I did not know when I got Rocket, the division and the specialization that had occurred in the breed. I was still in the mind-set that the GSD could do anything you asked of it and required of it, as long as you had a knowledgeable breeder. I mean, they still can, but those breeders seem to be the minority. It seems to me that the general all-around purpose is now split, as Cliff outlines. That many breeders--not all of course--do focus only on their 'chosen' aspects, depending on the venue in which they participate. This makes it more difficult for people like me to get the GSD they want, which is one that is balanced, true to standard, and not weighted in one direction or the other.
 

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In blue, I'm with you on that.

In general, I want to make sure my comments are not mistaken as an argument for the specialization. I didn't like it in the Quarter Horses but since most people don't need a working ranch horse, how do you get around it?

Rather I'm pointing out the macro pressures and changes to our lifestyles that are causing this specialization. I see this in a somewhat similiar vein as the thread about BYBs. Since money is a driver how do we keep on a better course for the breed while working within the confines of a money driven/free market system without onerous rules/regs?

The underlying causes should be considered.


I obviously have no experience in sport, agility or LE/auxiliary services like that. But--when I was a kid, a German couple lived down the road. She always had two GSD's and those dogs could do anything. I would walk down and knock on her door and we would go in the backyard and she would show me some of the things she did with them, which I guess, in retrospect, were Sch-type things and impeccable obedience. She would tell me about all the things they could do and of course, it seemed like every seeing eye dog or police/bomb dog was a GSD in the '70's and early '80's. Anyhow, I came away with the idea that they were THE dog, capable of doing anything and everything.

So fast forward to today, and I did not know when I got Rocket, the division and the specialization that had occurred in the breed. I was still in the mind-set that the GSD could do anything you asked of it and required of it, as long as you had a knowledgeable breeder. I mean, they still can, but those breeders seem to be the minority. It seems to me that the general all-around purpose is now split, as Cliff outlines. That many breeders--not all of course--do focus only on their 'chosen' aspects, depending on the venue in which they participate. This makes it more difficult for people like me to get the GSD they want, which is one that is balanced, true to standard, and not weighted in one direction or the other.
 

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Those looking for a Schutzhund trialing dog want to see SchH3 throughout the pedigree or they move on to the next one.
Actually I find that often those with show line dogs are quicker to point out all the SchH titles in the pedigree. I know a good number of Schutzhund people that have bred untitled dogs or bought dogs for Schutzhund from a parent that was not titled. I'm not saying these dogs are the epitome of the breed, but at least speaking for myself and those I do Schutzhund with, we do not disqualify a pedigree because it is not all SchH3.


BTW...I trial AKC obedience...when I saw my first Schutzhund trial I was amazed at how scripted it was. The fact that the handler has to memorize an obedience routine was amazing to me. At least in AKC they can switch it up somewhat...here everything was to the book and there was more chance of the handler making a mistake by forgetting an exercise than the dog actually missing a command. I still accept the fact that Schutzhund is a much more in depth and well-rounded test of a dog's nerve and ability than an AKC obedience trial, but it is probably the sports biggest "weakness."
I think the biggest weakness is that it is one dog and handler (and a judge and secretary at a respectable distance) on a huge field. You can do Schutzhund with a dog that is overly sharp, too dog aggressive, nervous, etc. because you have this amazing amount of space available for you to showcase your dog and your handling without any interference or distraction and certainly not an environment that puts pressure on you or your dog. That to me is where the holes are, but then again it's all about priorities.
 

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I think people overgeneralize way too much. It's not an either/or IMO. Just like titles don't make the dog, neither do certifications. I've seen as many dogs "certified" in some working capactiy that I wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole as dogs with some kind of title. The variation from state to state to become certified in whatever "working" venue varies WAY too much to say that those are in some way better than titles. And visa versa.

Titles versus working dog certificates. At the end of the day it all comes down to each individual dog.

As an aside, I don't think agility is an appropriate way to test a GSD.....and I would definitely argue that there is quite a bit of pattern to agility as well. Yes, the course might be new, but you are seeing the same "scenarios" each time with the same type of jumps.
 

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and I would definitely argue that there is quite a bit of pattern to agility as well. Yes, the course might be new, but you are seeing the same "scenarios" each time with the same type of jumps.
There are generally 20 obstacles on a course with each generally having two approach directions, so 40 different ways of handling the individual obstacles. But each obstacle may route to each other obstacle, and so there would be 40! (factorial) permutations- or 8.1591528e+47 different "scenarios" you might see. That's 8 followed by 47 zeros... "same scenarios?" I disagree.
 

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For those who really understand the breed, what would you say is the best way to test temperament away from venues that require training before testing, like Sch., agility etc.
 

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No single venue is a perfect "test." Agility has the same problem Liesje brought up with Schutzhund...large field...one dog at a time. I see way way way too many DA dogs in that venue. Handlers rush their dogs into the ring and out of it before it even gets a whiff of the other dogs in the trial.

Anyways...I get what cliff is saying though. Getting some of that "true working dog" blood into the pedigrees wouldn't hurt and too much reliance is coming off of titles that are trainable.

I think at the end of the day we need to trust the breeder. Trust they have knowledge, and trust that they're trying to achieve something good with that knowledge. But then it comes back to what the customer is looking for, and they will find that Schutzhund titled pedigree they're looking for.

Maybe the biggest issue is that it is very difficult to get a hold of the right pedigree behind the LE/SAR/service dog that would blend well with the breeder's lines and its really not worth trying to find it. I don't believe most police departments allow studding and from what I've heard if they import the dog they usually don't bother with any kind of AKC or other type of registration...which would be a hurdle to clear if the breeder has future plans for AKC registered puppies (most do).
 

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For the record, I didn't say (in this thread) that agility is a good test for the GSD. What I said is that it eliminates the pattern training that SchH embraces.

[EDIT]-
I see way way way too many DA dogs in that venue. Handlers rush their dogs into the ring and out of it before it even gets a whiff of the other dogs in the trial.
I would not disagree with this. I've also seen plenty of dogs rushed in and out of the ring in order to manage a behavior deficiency. But we should be clear that it's also standard protocol to get in and out of the ring as quickly as possible. 300+ runs per day is very common. There has to be a sense of efficiency, not lingering.
 

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There are generally 20 obstacles on a course with each generally having two approach directions, so 40 different ways of handling the individual obstacles. But each obstacle may route to each other obstacle, and so there would be 40! (factorial) permutations- or 8.1591528e+47 different "scenarios" you might see. That's 8 followed by 47 zeros... "same scenarios?" I disagree.
Willy, I've done a lot of showjumping and hunters in my life with horses. Yes, there are different ways to handle obstacles, but they are always the same type of obstacles in the same general atmosphere with the same general shaped arena. Sorry, but it's an apples to oranges comparison to the type of stuff Cliff is talking about no matter what way it's spun.

At best, agility lies somewhere in the middle between "pattern testing" and "real life" working-dog scenarios.
 
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