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I often comment on the breeding of German shepherds on this forum and have a passionate love for the breed. For those who have the United Sch Club current magasine, there is an article about breeding German Shepherds by Nate Harves. This article, IMO, truly explains reputable German Shepherd breeding. I urge everyone that has access to enjoy and learn from this article.
 

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No, the articles aren't online. You have to be a member of USA, then you get the magazine as part of membership.

Thanks for the heads up, Cliff. Haven't gotten our issue yet but look forward to reading it when we do!
 

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Cliff must be one of the lucky people that gets his magazine in a timely manner.
 

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We will get ours in a week; the sept/oct issue.

They really need to re-do the timelines. That is why they miss out on a lot of advertising revenue. I spoke to a friend in publishing and she was shocked at how long it takes the magazine to turn around.

The due dates for ads for the issues are due 2 full months prior to the date of the issue. And there is a set mailing list; not a distribution issue.
 

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I really like the article. But I got a couple of newbie questions:

He lists hardness as a desirable trait to be bred along with strong social aggression, fight, and courage. But I don't think I understand what he means by hardness. I thought hardness refers to a dog that is hard to the handler and that it is not necessary a good trait (stubborn, handler aggressive?). While I have heard people praise dogs for being hard, I've also heard people criticize dogs for being hard. Likewise I have heard people refer to dogs as soft and it wasn't a criticism.

And along the same line, I find what he says about trainability to be really interesting: "I saw a dog once with very correct work, but the dog was flat. Someone commented how obedient the dog was. To me, it wasn't that this dog was as obedient, as that he didn't possess the necessary drive to be disobedient. Don't get me wrong, trainability is a great quality. However, we should not confuse trainability with natural ability."

So trainability (being biddable) is not a natural ability and would not then be a trait that we want to actively breed and preserve?
 

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When I think of hardness I am thinking of the dog's ability to deal with setbacks/obstacles/correction/etc and then come back to normal. The resilency of the dog in dealing with an issue that they are not successful and come back and attempt it again. Example....if dog attempts to climb six foot flat wall, hit the top with the front paws and falls over backwards. The effort that the dog will exert to try to go over that obstacle again if at all is reflected by the hardness of the dog. (Many shepherds today will not try again or try halfheartedly the next time ), the hard dog has the resilency to try again as hard if not harder to accomplish the command. This reflects the hardness of the dog IMO, and has been watered down to a point that some GS won't even attempt something difficult. He's just saying that breeding stock should have this kind of recovery to adversity or obstacles. I purposely used a non protection example to let the people who turn off immediately with protection examples, be able to see that hardness can be evaluated without biting. You see it is the hardness that would allow an extremely angulated dog be able to herd all day. That determination to keep going and not quit in face of adversity. Don't see it much in some lines anymore, therefore you don't see these dogs in real work much anymore.
 

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Just read the article last night and it was excellent!!!

The traits he felt needed to be strongly guarded were fight drive, hardness, aggression and power, none of which are a bad thing in everyday life in a well bred German Shepherd Dog.

Regarding trainability, yes of course a dog that is biddable is a desireable trait but a dog that really shows the heart and drive for the work is what is really desireable. That is why if you read the rulebook for the sport of SchH it is stated that <span style='font-family: Arial Black'>"Rating protection work is of great significance for the breeding selection of working dogs. For this reason, the assessment of the protection work has the HIGHEST priorty. It is essential to differentiate natural and useful performance aptitudes from learned behaviors</span>"

So in other words, differentiating a well trained, even a well trained, biddable dog vs a dog with the correct level of drives is the key.

Hope that helps explain things.
 

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Thanks Cliff and chruby for the explanations. I really like the article. The funny thing is at one point Nate mentions how some people will be too specific in what they want in a dog and ask a top sport dog to be 60 prey and 40 defense and police dog to be 40 prey and 60 defense - and that was the exact percentile breakdown someone gave me the other day when we were talking about me getting a new dog!
 

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Cliff's explanation of hardness is one of the best I've seen. While different people indeed have different meanings for different buzzwords, he has covered what is the most common, and IMO correct, definition of "hardness".

Biddability/Genetic Obedience or whichever term someone chooses is something completely different, and it is not contrary to hardness. One can have a very hard dog who is also very biddable.
 

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to this article. The sad thing is this isn't rocket science but in fact common sense, yet most are unable to grasp the basic idea. Even sadder is that this article was needed at all.
 
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