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Working German Shepherds as Pets and Companions

I apologize if this topic has been brought up before and I missed it when searching through the threads, but I was just curious what you all thought of this article.

I bumped into it on Google (Not even sure HOW, after all the searching I've done! :p ), and just wanted all you lovely Working Line GSD owners to comment on it. =) I'm kinda torn between getting a Working Line or a Show Line, and my primary reason for hesitating on the Working Line (Czech) is that it might be too much dog for me to handle. This is probably a stupid question, but could I find a Working Line GSD that's a bit more 'mellow' than the average Czech Working Line dog and have it function as a wonderful family pet/companion (I plan on attempting a few things like agility, carting, obedience but not too heavily), or would even the mellowest of working line dogs still have somewhat of a strong will and dominant personality? Is that just how they're bred?

:thinking:

My heart isn't dead set on the Czech Lines even if I do decide to go with a Working Line GSD, so any suggestions or a helpful push in the right direction towards a line that could be more suited to me would be wonderful.

For a Czech Working Line dog, however, I'm looking at Van Den Heuvel K9.
For a German Show Line dog, I'm looking at Mittelwest.

=) Any comments or thoughts on those breeders are welcome (and preferably discussed through a PM).
 

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My boy is a Czech line and he's a family/companion dog when not working the Sch field. I guess I'm not understanding what you're so hesitant about? Could you get a "mellow" GSD? Sure, but what fun would that be? My Titon brings much joy to my life with how active he is.
 

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Well I could be wrong about this, but aren't Working Line GSDs kind of intense? As in they might require a bit more exercise and mental stimulation than the average pet?
 

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Any German Shepherd requires more excerise and mental stimulation (especially) than your "average pet".
 

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Any German Shepherd requires more excerise and mental stimulation (especially) than your "average pet".
which is exactly one of the many reasons we love them so much.
 

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I agree with Elizabeth. My GSDs are Pet lines, Molly is VERY active, Tanner is a bit more mellow but has his hyper moments.

Any line of GSD will have a lot of energy. Some more than others, but any will be active.
 

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The article won't open for me but.....

I can't make the decision for you as to what would work best, that comes with research, spending time with different lines, talking to other owners/trainers/breeders but I can give you *my* experience.

I grew up with German Shepherds, never have I or any of my family ever owned another breed. There was no question when I was ready for a dog as to what breed it was going to be. But one of the hardest decisions was what line would work best for me? I really had to be honest with myself - I asked myself the following questions and made sure I aswered honestly. That was hard.

1. What can I handle?
2. How much time can I devote to the dog (training, socializing, excerise, etc.)?
3. Was I looking to get into any specific sport/venue?
4. What did I want (in terms of temperament, drives, nerves, structure, etc.)?
5. What did I know about each line I *thought* I was interested in?
6. Did what I *think I know* and what the more expereinced people/breeders/owners/trainers/handlers know correlate? Basically, did I know about that line or did I think I know? Two totally different things.

In the end, I decided on a breeder who had bred a working line and a showline - not usually heard of. There was a litter born two years previous so I was able to meet the dogs, assess what I liked and didn't like and if this was something that I would be interested in. Did it meet my criteria? What was it about each line that I liked? Was it apparent in each dog being bred? How did the off spring from the previous litter compare to what I was looking for? It seemed to match everything I wanted in a dog at the time.

Stark is a DDR (East German working line) and West German Showline cross.

Now, 18 months later, although I love my dog I know what I can handle, I have a better understanding of what I want and to be honest - it is not a showline or a mixture of this line.

I find that although he has excellent temperament and nerves (two of the most important things ANYONE should want/look for) his enthusiasm to work is lacking.

We train in schutzhund and we dabble in agility in the winter and I will say that having a dog that you must motivate every step of the way while working is exhausting and extrememly frustrating. It's hard. I think having a dog that was born of dogs that liked to work and wanted/needed to work would make my life so much easier. Some people say this is drive or is a dog who is 'always on the go' or 'hyper' but I see it as potential.

You have this dog who is excited to learn - who WANTS to work with you/for you! You already have one step in the door!

My boy took FOREVER (this is also based on his siblings from both litters) to motivate. He would get excited to work and then start to loose interest, there was no working stamina (if that makes sense). Training "fuss" was one of the most difficult things I have done in my life - and I am a Graduate student finishing up my PhD in Cognitive Psychology!!! No joke!

I really wish I would have spent more time actually meeting different lines, watching them work and watching them in every day situations that my decision on which line(s) to choose would have been different.

I have been researching a few different lines in great detail for my next dog - now this dog will be my "schH" dog - but I have been getting out to different clubs besides my own, meeting dogs of different lines, watching them work, talking to their handlers/breeders/owners/training directors, etc. I am still not 100% sure which line or combo of lines I want (it will be working though) even after living with the breed for 25 years of my life and working this breed in a sport setting for the past 6-7 months.

I think you really need to get out there and meet some dogs! This will help narrow down your decision.

I hope I didn't ramble too much, I just wanted to give you my experience on this topic.
 
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i like the extreme intelligence of the working lines. Shelby is showlines through and through and she's intelligent but nothing and i mean NOTHING compared to my Zena. Even when i'm doing a breeder search, i'm drawn to the working lines over showlines. for me, working lines are what pull me in. Shelby is perfectly fine with the occassional walk. It actually kinda annoys me.

I also have to agree with Elisabeth. Shelby is a PITA to motivate for ANYTHING! and she's pure showlines. she loves attention and she's pretty well behaved but i have no desire whatsoever to ever have another dog from showlines even if its partial.
 

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Any German Shepherd requires more excerise and mental stimulation (especially) than your "average pet".
I agree :thumbup:

And I also think that's the problem with putting a GSD in many homes (and especially if you do get a higher drive puppy). It's the HUMANS in the home that are the problem cause many people think they are ready for a puppy..............but just have NO IDEA the time and attention (plus probably way more dog skills than they were aware they were missing) that will be needed.

Most families I know are already WAY over scheduled already. School, homework, sports, scouts, playdates for kids....both parents with full time jobs and all the housework/yardwork etc.

Alot of the same families talk vaguely about 'the kids' helping with all the walks/exercise/feeding/training that will be involved ( good luck with that). And none of them have any idea where (or if there are any) places to train and learn about their new addition will come.

I don't recommend a GSD for any of my friends/people I meet. Let alone a 'working line' GSD. It's only if I have a much longer and involved conversation about their life along with a background/experience with dogs that I may stop trying to convince them to get a Labrador Retriever! :wub:
 

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All dogs require exercise/mental stimulation, the majority of gsd's are not couch potatoes, but they are such adaptable dogs, I think finding what you want should be easy, again if you find a breeder you trust and can pick a dog for you..

whenever I read your threads, I always think of "Kato",,from Crooked Creek, who lives with Lexi (she posts alot on the other board about him),,HE, in my opinion, would be the perfect dog for you...She got him as an older puppy, he's well rounded, out of working lines and to me anyhow, he is the type of dog who can settle nicely, but go all day if you ask him.. (check out lexi's posts on the other board to read about kato:)
 

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I find the american show lines more difficult than the europen working lines....but that's JMHO. People think it has to do with "hyperness" but I don't think that's really accurate. That's a misunderstanding of what drive is vs what a hyper dog is. My mother has a hyper dog. The dog is american showlines, and has the energy of my dogs combined. The dog has little drive outside of some prey drive. She'd be a terrible working dog. I don't find the true working lines to be "hyper." They have DRIVE. There is a difference.

German showlines are an entirely different thing and from what I've heard and read they are much more laid back than both working lines and american showlines. So if you want a potentially much more laid back dog, that may be the route to go.

I don't "work" my dogs in schutzhund but I do train heavily and they are very active "family pets" for lack of a better term. They aren't couch potatoes. But I find the higher drive dogs much easier to train and live with.

Dogs that are lazy couch potatoes and very ho-hum about everything drive me bonkers when trying to work with them. They have no excitement about anything, they don't want to work and train, and as elisabeth said above - you constantly have to motivate them.

I used to think malinois were nuts until I started getting to know some of them. Finally got my own pup because I realized they are not nuts. They want to DO SOMETHING. If you want a dog that wants to snooze on the couch all day, they would obviously be a terrible choice. But I find him so easy to train because he LOVES to work. He doesn't care what he job is, as long as he has one. This is the kind of dog I like dealing with. I would rather have to control and reel in the drive than try to bring it out all the time and get the dog focused.

IMHO, especially since you want to do something with your dog (agility, etc) you should look at the working lines like czech, DDR, etc. Not only that but consider the overall health and structure of the dog. Agility is not schutzhund, but it's a demanding sport on the dogs body and mind. You need a dog that is going to hold up to the jumps, tunnels, fast sharp turns, agile enough to do well if you want to go anywhere with it, and most of all smart enough to learn and focused enough to want to train.
 

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Works fine for us. Be sure to give exercise and mental stimulation. I am amazed at our working line GSD's intelligence and how quickly she learns things. She is always ready to go. Much better than a couch potato. But a warning...if you don't give this line of dog stimulation, they can become distructive and hyper in a negative way out of boredom. True with any dog, but especially so with one meant to do something.....
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Any German Shepherd requires more excerise and mental stimulation (especially) than your "average pet".
:blush: Well I meant by 'average pet' = 'average German Shepherd'.

Thank you Elisabeth for the check list! I have maybe half of it filled out in my head. I really think I should spend the next couple weeks filling the rest of it in -- especially

4. What did I want (in terms of temperament, drives, nerves, structure, etc.)?
5. What did I know about each line I *thought* I was interested in?
6. Did what I *think I know* and what the more experienced people/breeders/owners/trainers/handlers know correlate? Basically, did I know about that line or did I think I know? Two totally different things.
The more I hear about a working line GSD, and take into consideration what kind of sports I wanna get into, a working line GSD will be the better fit.

Kato you say? I think I've seen that name in passing through some active topics, but I'll definitely try and find him now.

=) Thanks for all your help guys. You guys have really been an invaluable help to me and can tolerate me in all my newbish ways. :hug:
 

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i have WGSL. he's mello in general but turns it on
on command.

My boy is a Czech line and he's a family/companion dog when not working the Sch field. I guess I'm not understanding what you're so hesitant about? Could you get a "mellow" GSD? Sure, but what fun would that be? My Titon brings much joy to my life with how active he is.
 

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GSD's are herding dogs.

Works fine for us. Be sure to give exercise and mental stimulation. I am amazed at our working line GSD's intelligence and how quickly she learns things. She is always ready to go. Much better than a couch potato. But a warning...if you don't give this line of dog stimulation, they can become distructive and hyper in a negative way out of boredom.

> True with any dog, but especially so with one meant to do something..... <
 

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I had an American showline GSD and now I have a DDR workingline GSD. I can tell you that my Workingline dog is a lot more work. He needs more mental stimulation than our showline, and is much more active. He is also much more intelligent, and very entertaining with a big personality. He just needs a good walk everyday, and some sort of job to do. For instance, if I am working in the yard, he loves to help carry sticks etc over to the pile with me. If I am in the house, he loves to help carry the dirty laundry to the laundry room. I hide things for him and he finds them, and I play different little mental games with him. He does ob classes once a week. He settles in well at night with a bone while we are watching tv.
 

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I wholeheartedly agree with the article. It sums up perfectly what any person on this forum will probably tell you about working line GSD's that have owned good ones. Crazy intensity when it's time to work yet cuddles on the couch like the best of them and has nerves of steel.

Oh, and don't forget about West German WORKING Lines...I don't think I've seen you mention them much. Little different look and type of drive than Czech or DDR.
 

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Id have to agree with the previous posts. My GSD is a Czech working line, I love her to death but if she didnt get for 3+ long walks a day i couldnt handle her. that said there intellegence and drive is amazing. everything i was looking for for my first GSD :D. good luck in choosing!
 

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Both my West German showline and my West German workingline dog do an amazing amount of this:



That's Halo in the back by the fireplace, and she's got tons of energy and drive, but has absolutely no problem being a carpet ornament - this was one Sunday while we were hanging out watching a Raider game on TV a couple of weeks ago. :D The day before they spent a couple of hours at the beach chasing balls and swimming in the ocean like lunatics and then most of that day they laid around and slept.
 

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I have a West German Working line girl. She settles nice in the house. Ready to work at any given moment. I think the Czech line dogs were bred to be more 'intense' for lack of a better word right now. Maybe a little more 'always ready to go'. Remember what the Czech dogs were bred for. To protect the border as military dogs. Look up breeders of the specific lines, and see what they have to say their dogs bring to the table. I did that about 5 years ago before settling with the West German line dog I have now. She was bred to work, but have an 'off switch' for a house dog. Let me tell you the off switch was always there, but is now more apparent after she turned 4yrs old. We do obedience training and have since she was 11 wks old. Her first litter of pups, she was bred to a male with DDR/West and very little Czech bloodlines. I think the mix of working drives turned out some nice working pups. There were a few more mellow pups in the litter and they are wonderful pets. Still doing great with obedience training too. Her next litter is going to be sired by all DDR line dog (Hena-C's Hey Ladies). I think the pups will have great working minds, correct structure with heavy bone, dark pigment. The DDR lines tend to have a broader head than the West German typically do.

Keep in mind these comments are generalized, and not directed at specific dogs. You will have variations within the DDR, West German, Czech bloodlines. As breeders all have their own idea of what they want in a dog and will breed toward that.
 
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