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Discussion Starter #1
I've never particularly like German Shepherds, but sometime last year I started paying attention to them. There is a guy that has two black and tan's that are incredibly patient and driven dogs. They really seem to have a bond with him to, it's like they never look away. One of Hallie's dog park friends is an incredibly active, smart, and athletic German Shepherd who seems to never stop moving.. but he still has that connection with his owner and listens well. The main thing that attracts them to me is their intelligence and how loyal they seem to be. In approx 2 years it'll be possible for me to get a German Shepherd, I've already found a good breeder that's a reasonable distance away.
Here are the things that concern me:
Hallie will react badly to a rough puppy
I won't have time with Hallie, or the puppy won't leave Hallie alone
I'll end up with one of those horrible not trainable destructive dogs

I know that most of those can be nearly eliminated by the breeder. The breeder I'm looking at health tests all dogs and gives them temperament tests early to determine which dogs are best for what people. I'm mainly worried that I won't be able to keep up with a GSD's needs because I've gotten used to my lazy Beagle. Hallie's 'accident' left her with shattered hips so exercise can't be strenuous. We used to go for hikes that lasted hours, and I definitely want my next dog to be able to keep up with me.

Another concern is I have small animals and I foster, which is why a breeder pup would be best for me.

Any advice is welcome! I'm in no rush, I have 2 years to decide. I guess I'm just wondering if I'm way out of my league with this caliber of dog, or if I'm just worried unjustly.
 

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First thing I'll tell you is that GSDs are loyal. Very. That loyalty, however, is trained, just as much as it is natural to a breed. The dog won't just be that way.

A GSD CAN make training seem like a breeze...especially after having a hound (as they aren't known for being terribly biddable). But they can also be insanely pushy. Pushy to the point of sheer obnoxiousness. It is very, very important to be sure about the breeder you're purchasing a dog from.

Are you going with a show line breeder, or a working line breeder? What are the credentials of that breeder? There are some instances where no titles are perfectly ok, but you need to know what you're looking at. Can you discuss the LINES of the dogs with the breeder? Do you feel the breeder is knowledgable about all things GSD, or are they just trying to sell you a dog?

Are you looking for purely a pet, or a potential sport dog? A puppy can be introduced to an adult in the household fairly easily (we should be doing it again in our house soon), and as long as the adult isn't going to try and maim/kill the puppy, squabbles are normal. Things must always be monitored, but a puppy being corrected is nothing to fret about.

A GSD must have an off switch, so if your prospective breeder will allow it (and they shouldn't have a problem with it), you should really go and visit the dogs if at all possible. See how they settle, if they can settle. Ask them about past puppies and puppy buyers, and talk to them if you can. If they have puppies available, see if you can view them (with the understanding, of course, that you're not looking to buy, you just want to evaluate). Do they pick your puppy, or do you pick your puppy? If you get to pick your puppy, to they aid you in your selection?

I'm hoping you're aware of the various health issues that plague the breed. Do all the research you can on available testing.

Good luck.
 

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There isn't much I have to add that Jackie didn't already say so well, but I'll contribute a few anecdotal, rambling thoughts of my own, for what they're worth.

Firstly, I have an obvious bias towards the breed, and think German Shepherd Dogs are absolutely incredible. Intelligent, driven, intuitive, powerful, self-assured... that being said, I've never personally been able to describe a dog as "loyal" so I cannot confirm that particular perception. Handler oriented, aloof towards strangers, biddable, and yes, they are dogs that generally naturally desire and work best with someone they can consistently turn to. As Jackie said, however, while many of the elements of temperament that contribute to the overall picture of "loyalty" is innate (genetic obedience, handler orientation, etc.), it also comes down to training and the day-to-day interactions involving your dog, which will shape the relationship you two share. This isn't a breed to be permissive with, although each dog is an individual and should be treated as such.

Trent, as an example, is not a naturally biddable dog. He is fairly handler hard and independent as far as the breed goes. For the first 6-12 months he honestly had little to no interest in what I thought. He was VERY food driven, but his play drive was low and once he got past his "follow the humans everywhere" phase, he couldn't be trusted off leash. My changes in voice tone would get him amped up if I used a happier tone, but rarely had the effect I was looking for. Yes, I did a lot wrong and any lack of success in training was and is purely handler error. However, I still can recognize a biddable dog when I see one. Easy to train because of food drive is not the same as genetic obedience, as I wound up learning.

Now, almost 3 years into this, I'm focusing more on our relationship and shaping that through training than I am just focusing on little tricks. Behaviors and mindset first, and specific actions I want as a result. Trent's a dog with high, high play drive, always gravitating around me and keeping an eye and an ear out for me. He's affectionate and responds extremely well to verbal praise. He works better now when I use verbal and play rewards than he did when I used collar corrections. Not saying this is the way to approach it for every dog, just hoping to make the point that there should never be the expectation that the dog will come biddable, loyal, and hanging on to your every word. Oftentimes, you have to work for it, and you have to work hard. German Shepherds are well known for being one person dogs, but just because you bought the dog, doesn't mean you immediately become that one person ;)

As far as rough puppies go, I did say once there are puppies... and then there are German Shepherd holy terror demon sharks! Of course, this is an exaggeration based only on my own experiences, although it is good to keep in mind that some puppies really are pushy, bratty, landsharks. When Trent was a puppy, the majority of adult dogs we met could not keep up with him, nor could they stand him. I know if I ever brought a puppy home, Trent won't take to the puppy very well just because he's a grumpy only child when it comes to other dogs. Which is why the crate can be a wonderful tool, or really any type of separation and rotation system. Supervision is definitely a must, as already mentioned. If it's an issue of the puppy bothering the other dog, leash the puppy to you (great for potty training/preventing destructive behaviors anyway, as I'm sure you know)!

I would also like to know exactly what you are looking for. What type of dog, for what purposes? It's extremely important to understand this breed and what you are getting into before you purchase a German Shepherd (true for all breeds). Meet the prospective dam and sire (if possible), on the field, in the ring, and in public or family settings. Talk to people about different drives, about the importance of a good foundation and solid nerves. Talk about lineage and what each dog brings to the table in each breeding. There is a wide range of puppies born to each litter, and each breeding is combination of two separate dogs with different drives and thresholds, not to mention the consideration of genotype and phenotype when it comes to evaluating the dam/sire and the results produced in the progeny.

If possible, could you share the link to the breeder? If you're not comfortable doing that on a public forum, send me an inbox message via Facebook! I'm always available to chat or talk if you'd like. If you're looking into showlines, I won't be nearly as much help as Jackie, though, and I may just do more damage than good. If you're looking into working lines, I'd at the very least be personally interested in knowing more about the breeder and the dogs/lines.

Not sure how many times I've said this, but it's really just a good rule of thumb that I try to follow - KNOW what you want, and what you are getting. So much easier said than done, huh?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Wow, thanks Jackie and Grace! That definitely helped. I can't describe in one word what attracts me to the breed. It's something that I notice in most German Shepherds I've met but can't put into words. It's the drive they seem to have that's coupled with their intelligence. I think a German Shepherd would give me what I'm looking for in a dog. I want an active dog that is content to be with me all of the time and go with me everywhere. Hallie is as well trained as Beagles come, but I know that a German Shepherd has much more potential. I love working with and training dogs. However, with a rescued hound I am limited to what I can achieve. Hallie has two first place winnings under her belt but she couldn't ever compete at a 'professional' level. She can only do big fundraising shows where the competition only knows sit and down. I want a dog that I can work with and have lots of fun with at the same time. I have a very active lifestyle and I'm confident that a GSD could keep up.

That said, the breeders I've talked to are all working line breeders. I cannot find a reasonably local show line breeder, it seems like working line is more common around here. However, the breeder I have my eye on temperament tests to give each puppy the appropriate home. The thing that concerns me is that the majority of her dogs compete in shutzhound and I don't want a dog quite that driven. I want a companion that can also compete in obedience with me. Some of her dogs compete in obedience and herding. She seems like an awesome breeder. She's only about an hour and half away. She also encourages people to come visit her dogs before deciding to go with one of her puppies, which as Jackie mentioned earlier, is certainly a plus.

Here's her site, please tell me what you think
http://sequoyah-german-shepherds.com/
 

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I'm not sure about america but I know in australia if you want a dog for agility or something like that, you go for working lines as show lines don't fair as well and don't have the stamina. Could be different there though
 

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I've heard many good things about Sequoyah Shepherds, and there are some dogs with pedigrees I really just love. Have also heard that the breeder is a great person to work with. There is a 9 page thread on the German Shepherd forum started by a few Sequoyah German Shepherd Dog owners.

When it comes to getting a dog that is right for your needs and goals, I encourage you to speak to the breeder about different drives. I think more of her dogs are trained and titled in PSA rather than Schutzhund, but either way, all that says is that the dog performed the routine and the judge was satisfied enough to award the dog the title. Some breeders produce dogs specifically for the sport, some will breed dogs to the extreme for prey drive, some for strong uninhibited active aggression and civil drive. Additionally, a high drive dog is the easiest dog to train and work with. Training, higher end thresholds, and a good nerve base contribute to the off switch desired in a family companion.

Sequoyah Shepherds is primarily Czech working lines. Personally I would take the time and effort to assess and talk about genetic obedience and biddability among the dogs produced by this breeder, especially if you are looking for quick and flashy obedience.

Honestly, I think you can provide an excellent home for a working line German Shepherd :)

Stationgirl - As I understand, most show lines in Australia are high lines? Tell that to my neighbor's American show line x high line dog... he's got the amazing stamina and functional structure of a lovely working dog. I also know someone with two show lines (one Am show line x high line and the other all German show lines) and a Czech working line dog, and her two show lines are her "better" obedience and rally dogs. It's a very broad blanket statement to make...
 

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My mentor has german shepherds as pets, and then her corgis are what she shows.

I LOVE german shepherds, OMG. I plan on getting on in the next couple of years and my mentor has told me that River Rock German Shepherds are where SHE would go if she was getting one from a puppy and not rescuing.

But, I'll have to do my own research and figure out what looks I like and what I think I can handle.

The reason I got into cardigans was that I wanted a GSD type personality, but I wasn't ready for a big dog at the time I was looking. I really love dogs that take life seriously.

<3 <3

And not every GSD is going to be very biddable. Cardigans are kind of like that, too. You really have to work with them and earn their devotion. But, once you have it then they'll work for you until they drop. At least, that's how Opal is.

Plus, Shepherds may be stoic with other people, but man are they mushy if they love you. I adore that in them!
 

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German Shephards are beautiful, intelligent and loyal. I've never had one, but from what I hear they are great pets. I have a friend who used to have a German Shephard and that dog was incredible.
 

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The over angled shepherds I'd avoid, simply because if you want to do a lot, they may not be able to do so. I know a fellow who got a show bred dog to do agility, she couldn't clear 20 inch jumps or really run, she'd do the flowing trot and had to do 16 inches. Sweet dog but not a lot of drive. He got a border collie the next time around!

I've also seen a LOT of shy gsds, it seems to be a problem with the show lines mainly. I'd go with a good working line breeder as they'll be able to tell if there's a calmer pup, and you can adjust the drive and so on with the dog quite a bit.
 

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I saw mention of competitive obedience and herding... where is agility coming from? LOL Good points being made, of course. If you are looking to be competitive in any venue, you should consider physical capabilities in addition to drive and mental stamina. Just as some dogs are unable to clear 20" jumps, others do not possess the structure that allows them to efficiently tend sheep under HGH standards without long run consequences. Then there are dogs that mature much later than others, produced from lines known for hard headedness and handler aggression.

German Shepherd Dogs, as a breed, aren't the perfect breed for something such as competitive agility, but their versatility allow them to be successful in most sports. If someone was looking for a focused, competitive agility dog, I'd definitely think Border Collies and other similar breeds are the better option. However, everyone I know with a German Shepherd, including those competing in performance, chose the breed because they are so much more than a dog to play in agility with ;)

It really depends on what you are looking for in a dog.

German Shepherds are undeniably serious dogs, but they're also often affectionate and downright silly (namely the males). Trent's defense drives turn "on" at the blink of an eye when he perceives a threat, and he is very reserved around strangers, but he's also the dog that will take an old cardboard box, play tug with it, and then prance around the house like the proudest dog in the world.
 

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I'm from Australia and i went for a working line GSD, i wanted a straight backed dog that was built to work, most show GSD's here are horrid, they are slanted or roached that badly they look deformed, they are bred to prance around a ring not do serious work. That is NOT all Australian show breeders understand, but quite a few. Working lines for me, much nicer looking dog
 

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*Sigh* And there it goes.
 

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I have cattle dogs now (my heart breed I have found out) But I have owned a couple of GSDs .... They were mill seizure rescues so they weren't good examples of the breed I'm sure, but they were still German shepherds as far as German shepherds were I suppose. Tho I have had experience with well bred GSDs & I agree they are cool, IMO (now this is only my opinion now lol) they are a lot like cattle dogs in some ways, but I suppose most working dogs have the occasional similarities
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks everyone!

As far as show line vs. working line, I think either would suit my needs. I don't need a dog with extreme drive, not one that needs a constant job.

Equinox- Thanks for all of the help! It's good to know GSD people know of the breeder I'm looking at. She's very picky about where her dogs go. I definitely don't want to do agility. I'll stick with obedience and maybe rally obedience. I'm going to email the breeder soon and talk to her, I'm sure she'll know her dogs best. I'm just trying to figure what I want from the dog. Thanks Equinox! We need more pictures of Trent!
 

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No "but" should be associated with sharing a lifestyle with a GSD. I am a Lhaso Apso kinda guy and 2 years ago I completely changed my lifestyle to give my brother's GSD, Alexander, the guidance, structure, & discipline he needs.

Awesome animal and I am constantly challenging the established protocals of what this breed is able to accomplish. I would not recommend getting a GSD if they will be under the guidance of someone unable to be the alpha.

Everytime I am out with Alexander is an energizing new adventure.
 

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So disagree with the "alpha" crap. Has nothing to do with being "alpha". Has everything to do with establishing rules and boundaries.
 
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