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From GSDCA:

. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, such as tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character.
From FCI/SV:

UTILIZATION: Versatile working, herding and service dog.

Character

The German Shepherd Dog must be well-balanced (with strong nerves) in terms of character, self-assured, absolutely natural and (except for a stimulated situation) good-natured as well as attentive and willing to please. He must possess instinctive behaviour, resilience and self-assurance in order to be suitable as a companion, guard, protection, service and herding dog.
Last week at training, some friends were talking about an upcoming litter. The phrase "Use it, or lose it" was thrown out, in regards to the working ability of sire & dam.

Another person interrupted with, "No, you're wrong. Prove it, or lose it."

That struck an interesting note with me.

The breed they were arguing about was meant to be a single purpose breed, so "proving" work ability is pretty straightforward. Since the GSD is meant to be a versatile, multi-purpose, utilitarian working dog, it leaves more grey area..... I see GSD litter advertisements fairly often that advertise the puppies as suitable prospects for such-and-such venue, even when neither sire, nor dam, nor handler, has ever set foot in the venue. In those cases, I admit to a pretty healthy dose of skepticism, until shown otherwise. A CGC doesn't prove competition obedience potential.... Rag play does not prove IPO suitability.... And the list could go on.

What, as a breeder or as a discerning buyer, would prove true versatility to you?
 

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Versatility - "Prove It Or Lose It"

For me? After five years getting to know this breed a little?

I think it would be seeing an array of roles, tasks, and high level achievements on the part of the puppies. Not just the show dogs and finished champions, but all of the dogs produced by that kennel.

I want to see dogs doing a variety of things: Maybe some are active pets. Maybe some are conformation champions. Maybe some do herding. Scent work. Agility. Service dog work. Therapy dogs. I want to see that the program produces dogs that can do the things, and where they aren’t pigeonholed to JUST show or JUST do some narrow task or family of tasks.

But the above is necessary but not sufficient. I also want to see actual achievements. A whole bunch of dogs earning rally novice titles isn’t going to convince me; nor are CGCs or herding instinct tests alone. Real, sustained, high level achievements are important; they show that the dogs can excel.


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For me? After five years getting to know this breed a little?

I think it would be seeing an array of roles, tasks, and high level achievements on the part of the puppies. Not just the show dogs and finished champions, but all of the dogs produced by that kennel.

I want to see dogs doing a variety of things: Maybe some are active pets. Maybe some are conformation champions. Maybe some do herding. Scent work. Agility. Service dog work. Therapy dogs. I want to see that the program produces dogs that can do the things, and where they aren’t pigeonholed to JUST show or JUST do some narrow task or family of tasks.

But the above is necessary but not sufficient. I also want to see actual achievements. A whole bunch of dogs earning rally novice titles isn’t going to convince me; nor are CGCs or herding instinct tests alone. Real, sustained, high level achievements are important; they show that the dogs can excel.


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And to add to that: I want to see a given individual dog demonstrate ability to do multiple things. Like a show champion that can herd, or a dog that does both herding and agility and does them well, or a scent work superstar who is also in the show ring on weekends and works as a therapy dog at the library. That kind of ability to wear multiple hats.


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Thus the reason schutzhund was created.

Along with dogs with IPO, HGH and the RH2, I would consider lifting the limited registration for a dog that has gotten an advanced obedience degree (CDX or above) AND an advanced tracking degree (TDX, FH1 or FH2), maybe advanced levels of nose work, a working detection dog or a working SAR dog. Though I hate the lack of scent work in some of the protection sports, I would consider good dogs that are titled in any of those sports. I would also lift the limited registration for dogs working USAR/FEMA type search dogs due to the exceptional nerves and hunt drive, their ability to work on their own and also be obedient. For me, the dogs must also have no disqualifying faults in structure. Health testing is a given.
 

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Thus the reason schutzhund was created.

Along with dogs with IPO, HGH and the RH2, I would consider lifting the limited registration for a dog that has gotten an advanced obedience degree (CDX or above) AND an advanced tracking degree (TDX, FH1 or FH2), maybe advanced levels of nose work, a working detection dog or a working SAR dog. Though I hate the lack of scent work in some of the protection sports, I would consider good dogs that are titled in any of those sports. I would also lift the limited registration for dogs working USAR/FEMA type search dogs due to the exceptional nerves and hunt drive, their ability to work on their own and also be obedient. For me, the dogs must also have no disqualifying faults in structure. Health testing is a given.
What about dogs actively herding on a ranch or service dogs(although aren't they usually spayed/neutered?).

I've heard from people that show herding isn't necessarily the same as working herding in that show herding they have to exactly follow the commands and such versus in a working ranch dog it isn't quite so structured. I know one high winning border collie produced puppies that had no natural herding instincts because he was trained to herd by following precise commands. But obviously not all shows are created equal and I doubt it holds true for all. A lot of good bloodlines and dogs in competitive herding.
 

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Interesting question. You've touched on something that's always bugged me about conformation shows (much as I enjoy them), especially for working breeds or breeds that were originally so designated. Ostensibly, conformation judges assess how well a given dog fits the breed standard. That's all well and good. But, it always seemed to me that what the standard actually does is list the physical, temperament and other criteria leading one to believe that the dog looks like it could do the job for which the breed was originally developed. Looks like. That's always been too much of a stretch for me.

I don't pursue dog sports (unless you count wrangling the Wild Child), but it's one of the things that I appreciate about the development of working lines in GSDs. Done well (and I am deliberately avoiding the instances where it's not), you're getting a measure of the dog's (and hopefully the breed's) functionality which is what I think one would want in a working breed.

Back to your actual question. I'd love to see some kind of requirement or special reward (championship?) for dogs that are titled in at least two different competitive venues, excluding conformation. It could be tracking and formal obedience say, or formal obedience and pp, or tracking and agility, or any other combo that reflects that versatility. To me, it would be key that the dog demonstrate proficiency in more than one thing.

Aly

ETA. Just read Lisa's post. Never mind. LOL
 

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When I first started talking to breeders I was very clear that I was looking for a pup with working ability, and some of the responses I got were very disheartening.
I was watching little miss Shadow on our recent trip and thinking how odd it is that although I will always have a soft spot for protection dogs, I love watching her track. It is so instinctive with her that it is a pleasure to watch(even though she bumps her nose on the ground sometimes, lol).
I do love that protective/guardian aspect of this breed, but I have said all along that in with my next pup I very much want to pursue tracking and herding. Obviously since I will be on my own on a huge, natural property I need some of that protective instinct as well but I have serious doubts that I will ever want or need another PPD.
 

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A GSD should have protective instincts and they should have a natural drive to use their noses and work scent. They should also have a very strong desire to work with and for us. They should have environmental stability because without that the rest of the drives are useless. They should be physically sound with the structure needed to do their jobs. AND because they are GSD they should look like a GSD.
 

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Lisa's first post pretty much cut to the heart of my question. How to prove the GSD in front of you is actually a utility dog.

The parent club has some performance and versatility awards, but hardly anyone has ever heard of them. There was some talk this year about recognizing non AKC and non SV titles - NACSW Nosework and other herding venues, for example - but that was just voted down.

There was a lot of debate about what venues should "count" for a German Shepherd Dog. Breed people can (sort of, usually) agree on the value from demonstrable obedience, protection, tracking, detection/scent/nosework, herding, when done at a sufficiently high level.

Service dogs are debatable, to some, but a no-brainer to others.

And then we get into the even murkier areas. Agility (off leash, requires athleticism). Barn Hunt (requires a nose, and has its roots in a very important practical farm function)... Lure Coursing.... Dock Diving, Carting, Weight Pull. What should matter? And where does the line get drawn, if any?

I think one of the reasons it's so difficult for people in this breed to reach any sort of consensus is that the dogs are supposed to be truly utilitarian - not just a hunting dog, not just a racing dog. I don't know about the rest of you who also train at all-breed clubs, but the rest of the dog world around here seems to think GSD people are nuts and too confusing.

I like hearing different people's opinions..... The word "versatile" gets thrown around an awful lot.
 

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The GSD was developed to be a utilitarian working dog. Any specialized breeding is no longer GSD breeding.
 

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The GSD was developed to be a utilitarian working dog. Any specialized breeding is no longer GSD breeding.
This is EXACTLY why I was so upset with breeders telling me that their dogs were for sport homes and not suitable as pets.
The breed was supposed to be a go anywhere, do anything dog suitable as for work and play. If they have or are being bred away from the ability to serve as companions then the future of the breed is in jeopardy. I am not talking about laying on the couch eating cheese puffs all day, but there needs to be a balance.
 

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The GSD was developed to be a utilitarian working dog. Any specialized breeding is no longer GSD breeding.


Yes. The longer I own my dog and the longer we are in a sport, the more I agree.

And there was no convincing some that titles other than AKC should count. I recognize that perspectives differ because if showing is what’s most important to you, then that will inform what you think should be granted that legitimacy. And I know I’m biased because I have absolutely zero intention of pursuing my sport under AKC; I just don’t like much about how it’s set up or presented. I get that, I’m never going to see it the same way as someone who has a great personal stake in the ROM system as it stands now. But it was a deeply frustrating debate.


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