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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone,

We are looking for a GSD and wanted to get some general advice. We've done lots of research – talked to several breeders, but it's hard to know who to trust given many might just be telling us we want to hear, and hard to know what will be best for us in the future. We are trying to make the best decision overall and could use some input.

About us: We are a family of four. We have two young kids and are both active in our day-to-day lives. We both have strong personalities and feel confident about our ability to train/manage and raise our GSD. We would like a dog that can play with us, take a hike once or twice a week, protect, but also relax with us and watch a movie/cuddle on the couch. A dog that we won't have to worry about biting us or others. A dog with a mild drive that is well suitable for a family vs training for an IPO.

We have spoken to several breeders – all breeders seem nice, knowledgable, but I wonder if they are telling us what we want to hear.....The reason I mention this is when in conversation with K9 trainers, showline breeders, they all seem shocked when we mention we are considering a workingline breed. I realize these may be political jabs because they don't like the particular breeder we are considering. But should we be concerned by this? Specifically, this happens when we mention breeders who's dogs are titled and train for IPO's

In short, can a workingline be a good family pet? Who is telling the truth? Based on what you know about us, what/who do you recommend for us? We are just a little confused and are wondering how we can determine who will be the best breeder for us....and how we can determine temperament/suitability over the phone or in person.

Also happily accepting referrals in California (North preferred but can travel as far as SD.

Thank you for your help
 

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Any well bred German Shepherd is a candidate for a family pet. Key words, well bred. This breed is getting split into all sorts of different things and it makes trying to find a good dog frustrating and confusing.
They probably hate me by now, lol, but contact T17 working dogs. I know they have a facebook page and periodically can be found here on the forum, @mycobraracr. They are in your area and I know they are breeding balanced dogs that do well with families. I don't know if they are planning a litter.
Others will chime in here, expect your question to devolve into something that resembles a dysfunctional family thanksgiving dinner. Ignore the bickering about show line vs working line. Everyone on here gets rather passionate sometimes.
 

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Health and temperament testing is going to be your baseline... how is a dogs temperament tested, well basically through some sort of work or sport. Because IPO has multiple components (ppl tend to only focus on bitework) and was created for this breed...it’s the most common titles that you’ll come across. It’s not a perfect system at all but at least you know that the dog is being worked/trained and if nothing else, gives the breeder information about the dog.

Next...
If you were looking for a dog for search and rescue or herding or some other specialized field, you’d get suggestions to find a breeder with dogs that have proven successful in that field. To me, a family pet is no different.... look for a breeder whose dogs (in addition to working/training/competing) also live with them and are integrated into their day to day routine.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Others will chime in here, expect your question to devolve into something that resembles a dysfunctional family thanksgiving dinner. Ignore the bickering about show line vs working line. Everyone on here gets rather passionate sometimes.
😂no problem thank you for the context
 

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I’d recommend you look for an adult dog. If the dog is already matured you’ll know and be able to see exactly what you’re getting. It will be far more likely to get along with your kids. A puppy may start off with lower drive, and then develop into an entirely different beast. Puppies can be very trying on your patience, even more so with kids. My have been and I don’t have to worry about kids. You’ll be teaching the kids how to interact with the dog and also trying to teach the dog you’re expectations. If you’re willing to look all across California like you say, I promise there will be breeder who fits your goals. There will also be plenty of adult dogs who do as well.
 

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From first principles. Do the characteristics and needs of a working dog fit the characteristics and needs of an average family pet?

My Jupiter is relatively lazy and mild-mannered, yet I still exercise him twice a day, with extra work on weekends; train him every day; and he is still nothing like a Golden retriever in temperament, how he reacts to other dogs, or how other people react to him. He has working line in his recent lineage, but show line too, and we also got the chance to pick out the laziest pup.

I have talked to people that claim they need to take their dog running or biking for miles every day. I met a lady who would go to an empty lot, let the dog out, and drive away to exercise it. I once saw Belgian Malinois brothers that played fetch at the dog park; one was so hyper he literally ran circles around his brother, over and over.

I have no idea if the dogs you're looking at are that type of dog, but I think it makes a lot of sense to make sure that you can handle that type of dog before you get one. There are a lot of shepherds at the shelter, and that first year can be rough at the best of times.
 

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Working lines make great family pet/companion animals. A good, experienced breeder will pick the right puppy to suit your needs. All GSDs take work - time to train and exercise daily, regardless of what bloodlines they come from. There are working line pups who will gladly hold down the couch for most of the day (both of mine, for example) and there are showlines that bounce off the walls all day long regardless of how much exercise they get.

Find a good breeder, and talk to them about what you are looking for. Also, talk to people who own their dogs if you can to get an idea what they are like to live with. You should have no trouble finding the type of dog you are looking for in a working line gsd.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Working lines make great family pet/companion animals. A good, experienced breeder will pick the right puppy to suit your needs. All GSDs take work - time to train and exercise daily, regardless of what bloodlines they come from. There are working line pups who will gladly hold down the couch for most of the day (both of mine, for example) and there are showlines that bounce off the walls all day long regardless of how much exercise they get.

Find a good breeder, and talk to them about what you are looking for. Also, talk to people who own their dogs if you can to get an idea what they are like to live with. You should have no trouble finding the type of dog you are looking for in a working line gsd.
Super helpful thank you!
 

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Hi everyone,

We are looking for a GSD and wanted to get some general advice. We've done lots of research – talked to several breeders, but it's hard to know who to trust given many might just be telling us we want to hear, and hard to know what will be best for us in the future. We are trying to make the best decision overall and could use some input.

About us: We are a family of four. We have two young kids and are both active in our day-to-day lives. We both have strong personalities and feel confident about our ability to train/manage and raise our GSD. We would like a dog that can play with us, take a hike once or twice a week, protect, but also relax with us and watch a movie/cuddle on the couch. A dog that we won't have to worry about biting us or others. A dog with a mild drive that is well suitable for a family vs training for an IPO.

We have spoken to several breeders – all breeders seem nice, knowledgable, but I wonder if they are telling us what we want to hear.....The reason I mention this is when in conversation with K9 trainers, showline breeders, they all seem shocked when we mention we are considering a workingline breed. I realize these may be political jabs because they don't like the particular breeder we are considering. But should we be concerned by this? Specifically, this happens when we mention breeders who's dogs are titled and train for IPO's

In short, can a workingline be a good family pet? Who is telling the truth? Based on what you know about us, what/who do you recommend for us? We are just a little confused and are wondering how we can determine who will be the best breeder for us....and how we can determine temperament/suitability over the phone or in person.

Also happily accepting referrals in California (North preferred but can travel as far as SD.

Thank you for your help
You didn't mention it, what types of dogs have you owned in the past? Do you have to live differently with a Shepherd then you would with your basic Lab? Probably. If you want dog that will protect, that's a dog that will need different boundaries and rules, things you'll need to pay attention to that aren't difficult, but really depend on you.

Mine is somewhere between indifferent and pretty friendly in public. IPO3 whose traveled and camped all over the place with us. Went to work with me every day for almost 7 years, but will not accept strangers in my house. For me thats no big deal. For you, that may not be what you want.

He's also pretty pushy and determined, not automatically a respectful dog. Obedience is key with him. Another one we owned came home gentle and respectful with my kids, but again, no strangers. Always indifferent in public, but very selective with the friendly other then family.

Besides talking, go see the dogs. See how accepting they are with you. There's no exact science to it, but I tend to like a female that's accepting of you, and I don't worry too much about a male being more territorial. Thats not in stone, but just one thing to think about when you get to the point of trying to evaluate the dogs.
 

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It's a working breed. Different lines will emphasize certain traits more than others. So "working line" may be emphasizing working ability more than say a conformation breeder.

My experience has been that there are super dogs in all lines. It matters most that you find a really good breeder.

In my experience working lines tend to be more pushy, demanding and can have higher needs for exercise and mental stimulation. It makes sense. If you want a dog to work all day they've got to have the energy and the want to do that.

OP something in your first post made me wonder- you said a hike once a week, or something to that effect.

Just be realistic. Lots of GSDs, working line or not but perhaps moreso in the working lines, need to be satisfied. They need to run off the leash and really exercise and they need to do that daily. They need mental stimluation. Sit, down, give paw is not mental stimulation to a shepherd. They need to really think and do stuff. If they don't they will be bored, and they will find some way to entertain themselves, probably at your expense.

I think you will spend the same amount of time and effort either way-- either proactively working with your dog or reactively trying to deal with the disasters of an under utilized working breed.

You said "take a hike once or twice a week, protect, but also relax with us and watch a movie/cuddle on the couch. A dog that we won't have to worry about biting us or others. A dog with a mild drive that is well suitable for a family vs training for an IPO"

This description doesn't definitely sound like a working line dog to me, to be honest. It doesn't absolutely even sound like any German shepherd. I mean, it's a guarding breed. They are super bitey as puppies, and can tend to be territorial and protective as adults. I'm on my 4th now and they've all been quite stable, but they are shepherds and act like it. Most if not all of them would do an aggressive display at a stranger trying to come on our property. Because they are stable, trained and socialized I can tell them to stop and accept that person and they will. But that's work you have to put in, to teach them those things.
 

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Both our dogs come from title working lines on each side. I can offer two different point of views are both of our dogs are from same litter but have different temperaments.

our male is high drive, especially when it comes to his ball. He’s constantly on go and we have to make him take breaks when we are playing fetch or using the flirt pole.

That being said he’s also pretty great in the house overall. We do have to put his ball out of site when inside but as he’s gotten older and with training he can get into his lazy moods where he sleeps and chills all day, but for the most part he’s pretty active even inside. Sometimes we do have to tell him to chill out and he’s still pretty go go go even if he’s gone to the park for hours. He’s just very alert all the time. Likes to be engaged a lot and think everything is a game and time to play. I honestly don’t mind it too much cause that’s just him. But he does require a lot of physical and mentally stimulation.

He would make a great a working dog as he loves to please and is very high energy and likes to be given tasks. That being said he’s a wonderful house dog as well. As long as he has plenty of exercise.


Our girl Layla, is the complete opposite. Does she enjoy playing fetch at the park, yes but she has a habit of running to get the ball and instead bee lining it to a shady spot under a tree. She’s more interested in chasing her brother. She’s not highly motivated to do anything she doesn’t feel like she has the energy to do or doesn’t want to do. Sometimes we have to chase her to get her to run and exercise. It’s rare she’s running around for then 20 minutes before tapping out. But she does enjoy being outside she just like to take strolls and watch birds and bask in the sun.. Run around for a little bit until she’s had Enough and she just doesn’t need as much physical exercise as Odin.


But even as puppies before we took them home they were like this. She’s always been a. Cuddle bug and loved her napsand odins always been energetic.
 

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I so agree with them being territorial. We are dealing with that now at 2 seems to be coming in strong.. any tips for stoping barking when dogs are outside? My female can chill on the patio all day and if she barks will stop once we tell her enough. My male will not stop unless we Put him inside


It's a working breed. Different lines will emphasize certain traits more than others. So "working line" may be emphasizing working ability more than say a conformation breeder.

My experience has been that there are super dogs in all lines. It matters most that you find a really good breeder.

In my experience working lines tend to be more pushy, demanding and can have higher needs for exercise and mental stimulation. It makes sense. If you want a dog to work all day they've got to have the energy and the want to do that.

OP something in your first post made me wonder- you said a hike once a week, or something to that effect.

Just be realistic. Lots of GSDs, working line or not but perhaps moreso in the working lines, need to be satisfied. They need to run off the leash and really exercise and they need to do that daily. They need mental stimluation. Sit, down, give paw is not mental stimulation to a shepherd. They need to really think and do stuff. If they don't they will be bored, and they will find some way to entertain themselves, probably at your expense.

I think you will spend the same amount of time and effort either way-- either proactively working with your dog or reactively trying to deal with the disasters of an under utilized working breed.

You said "take a hike once or twice a week, protect, but also relax with us and watch a movie/cuddle on the couch. A dog that we won't have to worry about biting us or others. A dog with a mild drive that is well suitable for a family vs training for an IPO"

This description doesn't definitely sound like a working line dog to me, to be honest. It doesn't absolutely even sound like any German shepherd. I mean, it's a guarding breed. They are super bitey as puppies, and can tend to be territorial and protective as adults. I'm on my 4th now and they've all been quite stable, but they are shepherds and act like it. Most if not all of them would do an aggressive display at a stranger trying to come on our property. Because they are stable, trained and socialized I can tell them to stop and accept that person and they will. But that's work you have to put in, to teach them those things.
 

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Plus 1 for working line gsd as a good pet.
1) be very clear with the breeder a out what you are looking for, and let them choose the right pup for you.

2) be honest with yourself about how much time you are willing to put into training and exercise.

If the working line dog is stable and well trained it will be a joy. If not, well not so much.
 

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You said "take a hike once or twice a week, protect, but also relax with us and watch a movie/cuddle on the couch. A dog that we won't have to worry about biting us or others. A dog with a mild drive that is well suitable for a family vs training for an IPO"

This description doesn't definitely sound like a working line dog to me, to be honest.
I was trying to say this, but perhaps was too subtle. Jupiter needs twice-daily exercise, and he's not a working line, and he's fairly lazy and mild-mannered for a GSD.

What the description above sounds like is a mature Golden retriever. I've had two and I'm going to get another and they love nothing more than to snuggle with their people, yet are game for any kind of hike or swim or fetch or whatever. You have to mess up a Golden pretty bad in order for it to want to bite someone, whereas with a shepherd you more have to become fairly proficient and put in a lot of work in order for it to be safe around people.

Is it worth it? I think so... my GSD is my favorite dog yet. He's very tolerant of my 11-year old and I love him to bits. But it's probably better to make sure the breed fits into your lifestyle, unless you're so dedicated you're willing to fit into its lifestyle.
 

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Any barking GSD will be deterent enough if someone rings the bell or knocks. Just walking one people will give you space. Put a sign near your fence saying a "GSD on premises " or a wrought iron GSD garden ornament by your front door and no one will bother your house.

Keep in mind that there are breeders who breed for search & rescue dogs, therapy dogs, scent detection, and guide dogs. They may have lower protection or suspicion levels. The breeder we are getting a puppy from has a mom with various search and rescue titles and the father is IPO titled. We asked for a pup that my 12 year old son could help train. We are receiving one who has moderate drives, lower dominance to other dogs, a calmer puppy and is very people oriented. These may be characteristics that you would want to seek when speaking with breeders.

What breeds have you owned in the past? Children's ages? Is your house super busy?
 

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A well bred working line is a great family pet. It's an old argument filled with bias. Find a good breeder. :)
That is harder to do than say. Good breeders also ask a lot for pups because they put a lot into them. We are going through that problem right now. The breedings that look good cost an arm and two legs.
 

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That is harder to do than say. Good breeders also ask a lot for pups because they put a lot into them. We are going through that problem right now. The breedings that look good cost an arm and two legs.
Price for a working line averages around $2000. It's about what my free puppy cost in the first 3 weeks I had her.
I get that that it's not pocket change for most but I don't know that it's an arm and two legs.
 
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