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Background on my dog - her mom was a purebred german shepherd, her dad was an am staff, both intact for possible breeding in the future; My friends got married and intended on fixing both, but it turned out the bitch was pregnant when they took her in for the pre-op appointment. (the dogs are both now fixed) Anyway, I say this because I've known my dog since she was born, visited her many times before I took her home, was there to help socialize her with other humans and animals, and know a great deal about how she was raised before I brought her home at 12 weeks.

My dog has an interesting personality, as every dog does. She loves other dogs, gets along great with cats, but she is very aloof around humans. She is extremely loyal to me, and only me. Even my dad who walks her once a day (I drop her off at my parents during my work day for "doggy daycare" with their husky) she could care less about, and she generally avoids him unless he has the leash, and is ready to go. She is also very protective of me, especially around men. To the point where if some one she really does not trust is in the room she sits in front of me between us and keeps them from getting close. She is not aggressive though (no growling, barred teeth, barking or lunging).

This post is quite wordy, I need to work on making what I say more concise :). But my basic question is, where do these traits come from? Is it a breed specific thing? Or do you think it has to do with something she expirienced? Where do you think dog personality traits come from in general? Nature vs nurture. Id love to hear thoughts on this.

Also, I truly appreciate everyone's opinion, but I would rather not start a discussion about my friends decision to not spay or neuter their dogs. All the pups found great homes and they are both fixed now.
 

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She loves other dogs, gets along great with cats, but she is very aloof around humans. She is extremely loyal to me, and only me. Even my dad who walks her once a day (I drop her off at my parents during my work day for "doggy daycare" with their husky) she could care less about, and she generally avoids him unless he has the leash, and is ready to go. She is also very protective of me, especially around men. To the point where if some one she really does not trust is in the room she sits in front of me between us and keeps them from getting close. She is not aggressive though (no growling, barred teeth, barking or lunging).
In bold are very common German Shepherd traits, although I will say that "protective" is a description I am usually skeptical of because of the different definitions from people to people, and how an action is perceived as a "protective" trait vs. reactivity, fear, general pushiness, etc. I also personally try to avoid using the word "loyal", but GSDs are often described as a loyal breed, and they are certainly one person dogs and much more handler oriented than most other breeds. The Am Staffs I know typically love just about everyone unconditionally :)
 

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In bold are very common German Shepherd traits, although I will say that "protective" is a description I am usually skeptical of because of the different definitions from people to people, and how an action is perceived as a "protective" trait vs. reactivity, fear, general pushiness, etc. I also personally try to avoid using the word "loyal", but GSDs are often described as a loyal breed, and they are certainly one person dogs and much more handler oriented than most other breeds. The Am Staffs I know typically love just about everyone unconditionally :)
I had read those things about GSDs, but I also have read contradicting information about them as well (that they are great family dogs ect). By loyal I mean she only obeys my commands, and constantly wants to be by my side. By protective I mean she makes sure she is a physical barrier between me and the other person and watches them very closely - she seems very skeptical of certain people. How do I tell if it's fear or pushiness? i had never thought of it like that before... (thanks for the insight) And yes the crazy-happy-human-loving-staffy is one trait I'm a little sad she doesn't have, though I wouldn't trade her for the world!!
 

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I feel that nature vs nurture both have a huge role in dog behavior. You cab breed strong nerved dogs, certain traits, etc. However I feel socialization and proper handling do play a role. Many trainers I work with don't like puppies, and wont get a dog before at least a year old. They also want green dogs with not much handling, which in this situation usually means not much socialization. The good dogs are started, come along nice and are strong dogs.
Aloofness I feel is nature, as you can see this in very young pups. You can have a middle of the road dog, nurture and socialized, exposed to everything turn out pretty good. Though to have the best chance, I feel bathe is the biggest factor. That's why you choose a good breeder, poorly bred dogs, no matter how much nurture is applied, usually have nerve or fear issues.
 

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My guess would be that this behavior is innate. She thinks her job is to be near/protect you. And that is ok. Sounds like you've done a good job at socializing her. Dogs love to do jobs however small they may seem to us. I do not know about Am Staff's personalities, but German Shepherds are so versatile that if you change their job midlife, they seem to learn quickly what their new job is. My Shepherd watches over my animals whereas years ago she was a watch dog over my place and only took care of car sounds!

And I would not begin to chastise anyone for not fixing their animals. It is really no one's business.
 

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Many trainers I work with don't like puppies, and wont get a dog before at least a year old. They also want green dogs with not much handling, which in this situation usually means not much socialization. The good dogs are started, come along nice and are strong dogs.
I'm a little confused. Do you mean they won't adopt a puppy before it's a year old, or the won't train one? How would someone find a dog of that age who hadn't had much handling or socialization? I wouldve assumed not socializing as a puppy would be detrimental.
 

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I'm a little confused. Do you mean they won't adopt a puppy before it's a year old, or the won't train one? How would someone find a dog of that age who hadn't had much handling or socialization? I wouldve assumed not socializing as a puppy would be detrimental.
Most won't even get one til at least a year old. Usually they are kennel kept dogs, but bred to be very strong nerved regardless of socialization. These aren't pets, and grand to be aggressive, super high resource and food guarding, barkers, destroy house hold items, etc. I would never recommend one for a family. Yet they are fearless, take to training immediately and make just as good working dogs as a pet raised dog of the same line.

I would rather have a pup, raised right, they bond with you much better.
 

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Your dog exactly describes mine, my folks cared for her for a while for me & she never "took" to them. In fact I had to take her back cuz they couldn't handle her (she can be very pushy, aggressive, mean in the wrong hands) but with me she is a puppy :). She is also a very good judge of character & if she doesn't like someone there is usually a good reason , weather unannounced to me lol.
 

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I agree with Equinox's opinion. I would guess fearful rather than pushy.

There are two kinds of socialization: Starting from age 3 weeks at the breeder with all family members, then With lots and lots of different people from 6/8 weeks - 12 weeks, the goal is at least 100 people. Then, lots of dogs and other animals from 12/16 weeks onwards.

You can probably introduce her to lots of different friendly people, a few at a time, and slowly socialize with more people...
 

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I had read those things about GSDs, but I also have read contradicting information about them as well (that they are great family dogs ect).
Not contradictory at all. In my book, an aloof, protective, handler oriented, well balanced German Shepherd Dog IS the perfect family pet. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to dogs, and mine is for more reserved, serious dogs. My German Shepherd does not care for strangers, but is very willing to be around those in the family, and he is mush when it comes to kids.

By loyal I mean she only obeys my commands, and constantly wants to be by my side.
I don't mean to say that I think you're wrong in calling your dog loyal, I just wanted to say that personally, I always found it difficult to use such terms to describe a relationship between a dog and handler. Just a personal quirk when it comes to wording. It's all semantics anyway. I use phrases to describe dogs that anthropomorphize them on a daily basis, and I don't think "loyalty" is even an anthropomorphic word, as far as those go. I just feel that it is a very broad, generic word thrown out there to describe all dogs extremely often - I just like using and hearing more tangible words such as "strong genetic obedience" and "aloofness towards strangers".

By protective I mean she makes sure she is a physical barrier between me and the other person and watches them very closely - she seems very skeptical of certain people.
See, now I'd wonder what you would mean by "skeptical" and if there was any reason she'd be skeptical. There are some dogs bred to be heavily suspicious and defensive aggressive with low thresholds that yes, would be very wary of anyone they did not know who got too close, looked them in the eye, etc. Then there are other dogs that are resource guarding their owner, who they see as their resource, and reacts when that resource is shared, in which case I suppose the dog would be considered "protective" in the sense that a food aggressive dog will "protect" it's food! And there are dogs that are just nervous (not necessarily obviously so) around strangers and feel uncertain in unfamiliar situations, around unfamiliar people.

My dog used to have a problem where he would be a physical barrier between me and another dog and watch the dog intently. If that dog ever came too close, he'd come down on the dog with a correction. After a bit of work, he improved and was at the point where he would just shove himself in between me and the other dog... still not okay with me. I do NOT need "protection" from my friends' dogs and he was not protecting me. He was guarding me as "his" resource and he had to learn that I was not something in his possession to be guarded.

On the other hand, when someone raises their voice at me in anger or irritation, he will rush over and very plainly put himself in front of me and bark his deep, steady bark (not actually aggressive, but not in play or excitement, either). When some crazy kid hides in a bush and jumps out in front of me at 3 AM, he meets them head on all teeth and grumbling growls. That I could actually chalk up to reactivity, but there is the fact that when someone yells TO me (to come down for dinner, to help out with housework, etc.) there is never a reaction. But yell AT me and he is up and in front of me, and the moment I call him to me and tell him enough, he stops and wags his tail and licks me like mad.
How do I tell if it's fear or pushiness? i had never thought of it like that before... (thanks for the insight)
I'm sorry I can't provide a very good explanation, I'm much better at thinking about it in my own head and observing everything in person than I am in trying to explain it. And even then it is all personal speculation, as my own personal knowledge and experience is extremely limited.

And yes the crazy-happy-human-loving-staffy is one trait I'm a little sad she doesn't have, though I wouldn't trade her for the world!!
See, and in that aspect she sounds perfect to me, because if my dog was crazy in love with everyone he met, I don't know what I'd do!
 

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See, and in that aspect she sounds perfect to me, because if my dog was crazy in love with everyone he met, I don't know what I'd do!
Ugh, this is Colby to a T. She absolutely loves everybody she meets. To the point of crying excitedly whenever she meets someone. Can't say the same for dogs. I remember talking to her trainer when she was little and we agreed that its better to have a dog that adores all people than the alternative. I'm talking completely opposite as the alternative. There have been times when we're outside in the middle of the night to potty and some creep is lurking down the street that she wants to go meet...
 

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I don't mean to say that I think you're wrong in calling your dog loyal, I just wanted to say that personally, I always found it difficult to use such terms to describe a relationship between a dog and handler. Just a personal quirk when it comes to wording. It's all semantics anyway.
I think you might be over analyzing my wording just a bit :). Althought you're right; I do tend to describe my dogs behavior with human emotions and actions (it's just something I relate to). It's very interesting to hear common traits that you have found with German Shepherd. I never have done much research on them specifically untill just recently, as I didn't really choose the breed of my dog, I just loved her and could provide a good home
 

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Ugh, this is Colby to a T. She absolutely loves everybody she meets. To the point of crying excitedly whenever she meets someone. Can't say the same for dogs. I remember talking to her trainer when she was little and we agreed that its better to have a dog that adores all people than the alternative. I'm talking completely opposite as the alternative. There have been times when we're outside in the middle of the night to potty and some creep is lurking down the street that she wants to go meet...
Colby is still a puppy, isn't she? When my German Shepherd was a puppy he loved meeting new people, too, right up til he was around 2 years old or so. Maybe the time she is mature she will not be so keen on making friends with creepers...? LOL!!

I must say, though, that she is just beautiful! You should post photos more often :)

Lol there are deffinitely so many pros and cons to our dogs' personalities
Absolutely true! Sometimes it drives me crazy but it sure gives them character.
 

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Your dog exactly describes mine, my folks cared for her for a while for me & she never "took" to them. In fact I had to take her back cuz they couldn't handle her (she can be very pushy, aggressive, mean in the wrong hands) but with me she is a puppy :). She is also a very good judge of character & if she doesn't like someone there is usually a good reason , weather unannounced to me lol.
I'm so glad someone else has experienced this. Nadia has been socialized well as far as meeting plenty of people in positive environments throughout her whole life. But no matter how much time she spends with most other people, she just doesn't ever seem to care about them or follow their direction. And I do think she can read people well, so I tend to pay attention when she reacts in that way.
 

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where do these traits come from? Is it a breed specific thing? Or do you think it has to do with something she expirienced? Where do you think dog personality traits come from in general? Nature vs nurture. Id love to hear thoughts on this.
I have littermates. Same parents, same age, same environment, same exact training and socialization, same everything...

Night and day difference between their personalities though... :wave:
 

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I do think there is a large "nature" component to a dog's personality. I know plenty of people who had gobs of experience raising puppies "right" (plenty of socialization, etc.) and still got a dog that is reactive towards other dogs, is wary of strangers, etc. I'm not talking about your average family trying to raise a pup, but mostly people I know thru dog sports - people who have read all the right books, have had multiple dogs their whole lives, have enrolled in every puppy-K and obedience class, have thought thru every move, etc. If you can do everything right and still end up with a dog that acts as if it was poorly socialized, then the problem is in the dog's DNA, not in the way they were raised. On the flip side, my shelter mutt, Kit, probably didn't receive any formal socialization early in life (she certainly didn't receive any training!), but is convinced everyone is her long-lost BFF. Obviously this isn't a trait that everyone enjoys (see above for some examples - not all dog owners want this in their dog), but I'm convinced this is largely nature as opposed to nurture. I can train her to leave people alone, but I'm never going to kill her desire to deliver the face lick of death.

Because I think nature is a huge component of a dog's personality, I prefer to pick out an older dog (not talking old here - just not an 8wk old pup) whose personality is already set. DobermanGuy's point bears repeating: two dogs from the same litter that were raised the same way can still have very different personalities. That means that in a lot of ways, it's luck of the draw when it comes to picking puppies.

I disagree with Julie about the bonding: just because you don't raise the pup yourself doesn't mean you can't have a very strong bond. That bond comes from interacting with the dog, which can be done at any age, not from physically having it under your care from an early age. Nor do I believe that "poorly bred dogs" (whatever that means - plenty of different definitions out there) usually have fear or nerve issues. If their parents had fear or nerve issues, then they are probably more disposed to having them, too. But good breeders aren't the only place one can obtain dogs without these issues.

Mel, I'll let you know if Kit ever looses her intensity when it comes to greeting people. She's 3.5yo now, and not slowing down, so I'm pretty doubtful. Creepers for life, I think. Keep in mind that BC's are bred to work incredibly closely with people. For this reason, they tend to be very perceptive. I don't know too many BC's that I'd describe as "aloof". IMO, GSDs are much more of a one-person kind of dog.
 

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I have littermates. Same parents, same age, same environment, same exact training and socialization, same everything...

Night and day difference between their personalities though... :wave:
seen this many times. Most litters have strong(er) and weak(er) puppies. You can see this early on in the pups. Even having two very good parents, some just don't cross well and the pups can have issues. Then occasionally you can get a pup that takes longer to mature, seemed like a crap out at first, but really comes around later. One pup from my last litter was that way.

There was a breeding I had waited for about two years. Both parents were just awesome. The pups at four weeks were not very impressive, at eight weekdays even worse. I passed on the dogs, and I think only one from that breeding is now working. Either parent had produced exceptionally in the past, just not together.
 

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Colby is still a puppy, isn't she? When my German Shepherd was a puppy he loved meeting new people, too, right up til he was around 2 years old or so. Maybe the time she is mature she will not be so keen on making friends with creepers...? LOL!!

I must say, though, that she is just beautiful! You should post photos more often :)
She's a little over a year now. I think there is just one person in my neighborhood who she doesn't like and it is an older woman who walks her Westie at 5:30 in the morning when we go outside in the AM. She raises her haunches and growls and barks at them whenever we see them. Maybe that's a sign?

And thank you very much. :) She gets that a lot, haha! I'm sure to tell her how ugly she is so she doesn't get cocky. ;) I kid! I have an entire wall of my cubicle dedicated to photos of her. I am the definition of a crazy dog lady.

I've gotta get pictures of Ace up here, too. He's a blue merle with tan points and is absolutely stunning.

Mel, I'll let you know if Kit ever looses her intensity when it comes to greeting people. She's 3.5yo now, and not slowing down, so I'm pretty doubtful. Creepers for life, I think. Keep in mind that BC's are bred to work incredibly closely with people. For this reason, they tend to be very perceptive. I don't know too many BC's that I'd describe as "aloof". IMO, GSDs are much more of a one-person kind of dog.
I don't think Colby ever will, either. Since the day we brought her home she has loved every person she's ever met. Her brother (my parent's dog who is in the background of the picture all the way to the right in my sig) is the total opposite. Typically BCs aren't very fond of strangers and definitely have to be socialized extensively. We have done quite a bit of socialization, but I think I got a bit of an odd-ball to boot. ;) It's a double-edged sword, for sure! Our new pup, Ace, is much more leery of strangers (and loud noises) than Colby ever was.
 
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