German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Excuse my ignorance here. I'm new to the breed and looking to get my first GSD soon. Would a working line puppy be suitable as a companion dog? I'm not looking to do trials or protection work. I want a puppy that is family and kid friendly. However, I also want a dog that could be protective of his home if necessary but not necessarily an attack/guard/personal protection dog. A dog that I can feel comfortable bringing around strangers (dog park, walks in the city, pet stores, etc). Can tell between a threat and non-threat.

Would a working line have more natural aggression and wouldnt fit the mold I'm looking for vs a show line?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
311 Posts
I think working line would be a good choice. My dog has relatives on both end, but most recently WGWL great grandparents that were imported for breeding, and he's extremely protective of his home, but completely docile at dog parks. Literally just lays down beside me at the park. But at home, he barks at family friends if he hasn't seen them recently and goes wild if someone is on my parents property or near it. The only thing he deems a threat outside of his property is anything bigger than him, or wild animals. He mauled a small coyote a few months ago, and isn't all that fond of dogs who are close to his size(which is very rare), but in general he's very nonchalant in public.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,889 Posts
In most of the WL litters that I know of, there will be a more laid back individual --- and that dog may do well without "work." Mine love work. Due to the recent weather, we've been without it until very recently and then just sporadically. The dogs are a bit bonkers and really really really missing "work."



I don't know anything about show lines. But I know my dogs are happier when they are worked. So - when you find a breeder, talk to them about what kind of a dog you want.
(temperament wise that is)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,399 Posts
German shepherds in general need mental stimulation and exercise. They are very physical active dogs with different levels of energy and different drives. They all though thrive being engaged and active with their owners. I had all three they were very calm and quiet in the house once matured. You would need to talk to a working line breeder to let them know what your are looking for. Each pup in a litter is different and they should have a pup that fits your needs. My working line who I owned was a pretty mellow dog with strong drives he was police trained would of seriously destroyed a burglar who entered the house. He never responded to a false threat. My asl I feel extremely safe with- if something went bump in the night he would be the first to intensely check it out. He is naturally very protective of me and the house and kids. If some stranger was on the property the the oilman in the back yard he would go ballistic or find me in the house and want me to follow him and alert to a intruder in the yard. If it was a close friend or family member he did not know or have met and I invited them in the house and gave them hugs he would have to be in the middle. In my experience the males are more intense and protective although, my female shepherd is protective of her yard like a demon. One night my friend had stayed over and Luna - my wgsl-must of forgot she was here and heard stirring downstairs. Luna ran down stairs and charged my friend during the night when my friend went to get a drink. when she smelled my friend she stopped when she recognized who she was and loves and gave her kisses as an apology. Lol! I did sleep through the entire thing lol!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,581 Posts
Speaking in rough generalizations, yes a working line dog is likely to have more aggression than a show line dog. That said, you can find a safe dog in any of the lines. I will say this, though. Plan to do lots of training. These dogs need structure, and their brains need to be worked. They also need quite a bit of physical exercise.

What I would do in your shoes would be go to clubs in your area and see dogs of different line types doing various things with their ownders/handlers. Local kennel clubs, your local GSD club, schutzhund clubs. It doesn’t matter if you have no interest in pursuing those venues once you have your dog. Observe lots of dogs. Talk to owners. Find out what their dogs are like at home and out in public. Ask if they are good with kids. Ask if they are reactive. Ask what their health has been like. Ask if they have a good off switch in the home. Ask what the experience with the breeder has been like. Find your breeder by seeing dogs you like, not simply by recommendations on the internet.

I have not owned either a WGSL or an ASL dog, but I have met nice, stable representatives of both line types. Both line types would be a visual deterrent, and both would likely alert you to someone at your home. I have two working line dogs. One would be an absolute nightmare for someone who wanted a kid friendly, take anywhere kind of dog. My girl could live as an active pet as long as someone was willing to provide an outlet for her, mentally and physically. Both have more aggression when pushed than show lines I have seen. Don’t rush to get a puppy. Do your due diligence with finding an honest breeder who produces healthy, stable dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,834 Posts
The club I belong to is a mixture of working and showlines and I have seen a few litters of each growing up at this point. They seem to run the gamut in any event. One SL I know will let you walk in the house if you are company...the other SL I know I wouldn't dare unless I was accompanied by his handler.

I find myself more attracted to the structure and drive of a working line. That definitely does not mean they can't be a pet with a great off switch. Between my own dog and 2 that are always at my house one would look at their pedigrees and not peg them as good for home life and kids etc. Well, they are great...and two of my boys have autism, hand flap, squeal, run...they know they are kids and not lures to chase lol. They all get plenty of training, mental stimulation, reasonable exercise (that fit in with a career and kid schedule), easy going club level IPO on most weekends. These dogs are progeny of Pepper Von kap Kathargo, Quardes von der Staatsmact, Clif Vicona ..WL names that are known in both in sport and real life work. Sometimes they are what you make them AS LONG AS you give them mental stimulation, a reasonably active life. I know a few showlines at this point that would make lovely pets in my home as well, but like I said I just simply prefer the WL GSDs. Edited to add you can out train genetics which is why communication with a reputable breeder is important as well as getting feedback from others about the typical dogs produced by said breeder (IPO club is a great place to start even if you are not going to participate). But a stable dog without a genetic nerve problem can definitely live the active family pet life.

If you feel like you aren't going to be able to do any structured activity, if you think there will be a lot of chill at home expected from this dog, I would look to a SL...but to be honest any German Shepherd that is well bred is going to need more mental and physical stimulation than other breeds. Check that, I'd say any proper bred working or field dog like a Lab or GSP, nordic breeds, etc..if they are properly bred to type, they will need to be active and challenged mentally. I do a few 10 minutes a day with my dog on busy days and he is fine with that. Other days he gets much much more. As long as you are willing to give free time as dog time, and educate yourself on the breed beforehand, it should be fine. Also accept that using a trainer may be in the cards, and budget for it.

The best way to go about this is to a post asking for breeder recommendations in your area, then start talking to those breeders, tell them what you expect and what your day/life is like ...and leave it to them to tell you if they have the type of dog you are looking for and if they have a litter a good breeder will tell you which is a good fit for you.

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,834 Posts
I also noticed you mentioned dog parks in your post. While some here successfully enjoy them, German Shepherds in general, once mature are not known to be good dog park candidates. Bringing them as a pup could overstimulate them. GSDs that are "type" are aloof/neutral with people and dogs they do not know. Of course there are exceptions..but honestly the better bred ones will in general not crave or need "doggie socializing" at the dog park level. Most are happy with a friend or two that have stable dogs to chum around with (if that). When my friend and I go to the park or training together they coexist and pretty much ignore each other...which to us, is ideal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
160 Posts
It depends. I want to say a show line would be better for you because it doesn't sound like you want to "work" the dog. Its completely okay to not want to do sports or bite work, but understand a working line GSD will need some type of outlet/stimulation. Even a show line probably will, but less so. You also have no idea if either dog from either lines will end up being protective, all dogs are different. I will also specify, different working lines act different. For example, West German Working Lines or Czech typically have more prey drive and higher energy levels which makes them ideal for sport work. It is common that East German/DDR working lines have a higher defense drive and less working drive, some are more calm in the house. Show lines in my opinion can be anything and you just wont know what you'll be getting unless you know the dam and sire well. You could make an educated guess off of the parents. Im going to say a laid back pup from an East German working line litter could be a good fit for you as they have natural defense drive and tend to be less wired. I have a WGWL/Czech pup who can go all day without a break and loves to work but is also quite friendly to other dogs and people. While he looks like a demon, he probably wouldn't attack someone coming to my house if I am being completely realistic. He is also only 8mo old so its a bit early to tell and the defense drives could kick in as he matures.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,408 Posts
Speaking in rough generalizations, yes a working line dog is likely to have more aggression than a show line dog. That said, you can find a safe dog in any of the lines. I will say this, though. Plan to do lots of training. These dogs need structure, and their brains need to be worked. They also need quite a bit of physical exercise.

What I would do in your shoes would be go to clubs in your area and see dogs of different line types doing various things with their ownders/handlers. Local kennel clubs, your local GSD club, schutzhund clubs. It doesn’t matter if you have no interest in pursuing those venues once you have your dog. Observe lots of dogs. Talk to owners. Find out what their dogs are like at home and out in public. Ask if they are good with kids. Ask if they are reactive. Ask what their health has been like. Ask if they have a good off switch in the home. Ask what the experience with the breeder has been like. Find your breeder by seeing dogs you like, not simply by recommendations on the internet.

I have not owned either a WGSL or an ASL dog, but I have met nice, stable representatives of both line types. Both line types would be a visual deterrent, and both would likely alert you to someone at your home. I have two working line dogs. One would be an absolute nightmare for someone who wanted a kid friendly, take anywhere kind of dog. My girl could live as an active pet as long as someone was willing to provide an outlet for her, mentally and physically. Both have more aggression when pushed than show lines I have seen. Don’t rush to get a puppy. Do your due diligence with finding an honest breeder who produces healthy, stable dogs.
All of this is excellent insight to keep in mind.

I'd like to chime in from the perspective of owning a show line dog (75% ASL/25% WGSL cross). I think a dog like mine would fit your bill very well, @khk410, and I don't think she's terribly unusual in that she is safe and stable and would do well with an active family with kids. My city has a lot of dog-friendly businesses, and my dog is a "go all the places, do all the things" dog. She will definitely alert me to any goings-on outside our house (she's trained that this is fine, I go and look out the window and then tell her to stand down), but when we're out in the community, she isn't reactive or quick to decide something is a threat. She's dog-neutral to dog-friendly, and she goes weekly to daycare and to the dog park on a regular basis. I'm not certain how typical the dog-friendliness is, to be honest, but she's been very easy in that regard.

I do want to emphasize that you should not discount the amount of physical and mental exercise required by a show line dog. Mine needs both. She can roll with one or the other if she needs to, but she really does best if she gets one thing from Column A (walk, fetch, dog park, active game) and one from Column B (Nosework, other class, tricks practice, puzzle toy, etc.). She can get pretty demanding about the latter, too; I don't have much luxury to be mentally exhausted at the end of a long day and not spend time with her. And that's fine, I signed up for that, but be aware that an ASL dog is not necessarily going to be your Netflix buddy even if they're lower drive. She's a pretty busy dog between about 6 and 10 or 11 PM, but to be fair to her, I'm getting home around 6 and my husband works from home full time so she has been taught that she needs to be chill during the day and the fun starts when I get home; we pack a lot into those 4-5 hours. Right now we do classes 2 evenings per week, and that seems to work really well for her. Put it this way, we're doing 2 classes per week plus we have 2 full-day Nosework trials and 3 half-day trials coming up in the next two months, and my only worry about her stamina is the weekend we trial all day Saturday and then turn around and do 2 half-day trials back to back on Sunday.

But if you are active and you/your family are able to spend quality time providing both physical and mental outlets for the dog's energy, a show line dog would probably be just as good of a bet. And I don't say that to take away from any working line dogs - I've met WL dogs who are easier to have in the house than my ASL/WGSL dog and who are every bit as stable and safe and fun to own. I have not ruled out owning one myself someday. As GypsyGhost said, you would be able to find a safe, stable dog from within either type, and I would repeat her advice to go out to clubs and meet dogs and owners and breeders, and ask all the questions. This specific type of research is actually not something I did, I gained it piecemeal after I got my dog, and although I'd have ended up with the same breeder had I done it, I would not hesitate to recommend that you try to do it beforehand.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,581 Posts
It depends. I want to say a show line would be better for you because it doesn't sound like you want to "work" the dog. Its completely okay to not want to do sports or bite work, but understand a working line GSD will need some type of outlet/stimulation. Even a show line probably will, but less so. You also have no idea if either dog from either lines will end up being protective, all dogs are different. I will also specify, different working lines act different. For example, West German Working Lines or Czech typically have more prey drive and higher energy levels which makes them ideal for sport work. It is common that East German/DDR working lines have a higher defense drive and less working drive, some are more calm in the house. Show lines in my opinion can be anything and you just wont know what you'll be getting unless you know the dam and sire well. You could make an educated guess off of the parents. Im going to say a laid back pup from an East German working line litter could be a good fit for you as they have natural defense drive and tend to be less wired. I have a WGWL/Czech pup who can go all day without a break and loves to work but is also quite friendly to other dogs and people. While he looks like a demon, he probably wouldn't attack someone coming to my house if I am being completely realistic. He is also only 8mo old so its a bit early to tell and the defense drives could kick in as he matures.
I agree that a SL might be a better fit. However, if the OP does decide to go with a working line, I’d encourage them to rely on an ethical, responsible breeder more than any subset of type within the working lines. My guy is half DDR and that has definitely not added any calm. Nerve, yes. More defense than is maybe necessary, yes. Calm, no. Meanwhile, my WGWL girl has the best off switch of any dog I’ve ever had. Drive for days, but she can easily turn it off and relax at home. It really depends on each individual pedigree, IMO. And it greatly matters what the breeder likes and is breeding for. Some breeders produce dogs that are much more sharp than I think this OP would be prepared to handle. Others have dogs that have less edge in their litters. It’s so important to meet dogs from breeders you are interested in BEFORE you settle on a breeder. And not just the breeder’s dogs, at the breeders house. A lot of dogs can appear stable in an environment they are completely comfortable in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
434 Posts
Find a reputable breeder and ask them about their dogs. In my experience WGWL generally have a higher drive and are more challenging for a first time GSD owner. A WGSL is softer and a better choice IMO. I had a WGSL that was just about perfect. She was my shadow and pretty easy going but would've died to protect me. She was an excellent companion. I currently have a year old pup that is a mix of the two lines and he too is just about perfect IMO. In fact, he's far easier to be around than my American SL female who is a hyper girl that doesn't care about pleasing you and would be useless for protection.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,408 Posts
It depends. I want to say a show line would be better for you because it doesn't sound like you want to "work" the dog. Its completely okay to not want to do sports or bite work, but understand a working line GSD will need some type of outlet/stimulation. Even a show line probably will, but less so. You also have no idea if either dog from either lines will end up being protective, all dogs are different. I will also specify, different working lines act different. For example, West German Working Lines or Czech typically have more prey drive and higher energy levels which makes them ideal for sport work. It is common that East German/DDR working lines have a higher defense drive and less working drive, some are more calm in the house. Show lines in my opinion can be anything and you just wont know what you'll be getting unless you know the dam and sire well. You could make an educated guess off of the parents. Im going to say a laid back pup from an East German working line litter could be a good fit for you as they have natural defense drive and tend to be less wired. I have a WGWL/Czech pup who can go all day without a break and loves to work but is also quite friendly to other dogs and people. While he looks like a demon, he probably wouldn't attack someone coming to my house if I am being completely realistic. He is also only 8mo old so its a bit early to tell and the defense drives could kick in as he matures.
I would tend to agree that a given SL dog might on average be a better bet for OP. But I'd throw in two caveats.

The first is the caution to not discount the energy and need for exercise (mental and physical) of a show line.

The second is that the OP should be very careful to find a breeder who emphasizes sound temperament. Talk to owners - not just owner references the breeder gives you, but owners in general - if you can, and ask a lot of questions about what it's like to live with the dogs. Where do/can their dogs go, what have they (the owners) found challenging with training and raising the puppies, the off switch GypsyGhost mentioned, what are their most and least favorite things about their dogs. All the questions. Even dogs who all have great temperament can vary across kennels with respect to the particulars, so you're looking for a dog with good temperament who is likely to be a good match.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,313 Posts
Worry less about lines and more about dogs. Get out to some dog events, talk to people, pay attention to the dogs. My WL male was slow to mature but pretty laid back around other animals, no issues with other dogs, safe to take out in public but really territorial at home and always protective of me. High energy? Yes but controlled. Relentless, fearless, tireless. But go lay down and he would.
I have seen dogs from all lines that I would not have in my house if you paid me, and I suck as an owner. I happily encourage idiocy and misbehavior. Couch vaulting is an event around me, so imagine a dog I wouldn't live with. Before you narrow anything down to this line or that line get to know some breeders and their dogs and find someone you can trust because you will be living with this animal for a very long time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,834 Posts
Edited to add you can out train genetics which is why communication with a reputable breeder is important as well as getting feedback from others about the typical dogs produced by said breeder (IPO club is a great place to start even if you are not going to participate). But a stable dog without a genetic nerve problem can definitely live the active family pet life.
I'm quoting myself due to an annoying auto correct that turned my sentence into a false one lol. I meant to say you CAN'T out train genetics
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,514 Posts
I have seen dogs from all lines that I would not have in my house if you paid me, and I suck as an owner. I happily encourage idiocy and misbehavior. Couch vaulting is an event around me, so imagine a dog I wouldn't live with.


Sorry to hijack this thread, but I swear you are my spirit animal, LOL. This is so me.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,461 Posts
Worry less about lines and more about dogs. Get out to some dog events, talk to people, pay attention to the dogs.
:thumbup:

Go see lots of dogs. There's a giant, GIANT spectrum of different types within the breed.

I have two right now who couldn't be more different as far as pedigree is concerned, but in both cases I knew what I was buying because I observed a lot of dogs leading up to the purchase.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,313 Posts
Sorry to hijack this thread, but I swear you are my spirit animal, LOL. This is so me.
Perfect! If I drop dead tomorrow I am shipping the crazy one to you, lol.

Seriously though, one of the truths I have discovered in life is that there is just no replacement for good, stupid fun. Dogs get that, and people should to. Sometimes the best cure for a bad day is zoomies.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,099 Posts
Perfect! If I drop dead tomorrow I am shipping the crazy one to you, lol.

Seriously though, one of the truths I have discovered in life is that there is just no replacement for good, stupid fun. Dogs get that, and people should to. Sometimes the best cure for a bad day is zoomies.
This is both funny and SOO true! I cringe internally when folks ask how to get their puppy to settle in the house in the evening. I always think to myself "why would you want to?" Late evening zoomies are an event to look forward to for me, I miss it now that my dog is older (it still happens at times, but it used to be a nightly event!) and so much fun!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,399 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Thanks everyone! I didnt expect this much response! I'm visiting a working line breeder this Saturday and will ask him about his dogs temperaments. The guys seems to be a good breeder from what I can gather so far. I just really like how a working line looks!
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top