What the Sam Hill is So Special about German Shepherd Dogs Anyway?

CroweKitty inspired me to write something today about German Shepherd Dogs.   Eventually, Dog related topics WILL be the focus here at the Dog House once “you know who” is behind us.  So here goes.

I’ve always been into rescued pets starting from childhood.  You parents know how that goes – by the time your kids are old enough to walk around outside, they are bringing home whatever stray animals they find on their adventures.  Yes, I was one of “those” kids.  This carried on into my adult life where first it was rescued cats and then an “accidental” puppy who was supposed to be a kitten, and then more dogs. 

One day Mr. Doggy announced he wanted a German Shepherd Dog.  And he wanted to learn the sport of Schutzhund.  I said “ShutzWHAT??”  He explained that Schutzhund is a test of dogs in the areas of tracking, obedience, and protection.  Needless to say I was very concerned about the “protection” part of this.  Mr. Doggy calmly explained that “protection” is the part where the dog bites the bad guy.  WHAT???  You want to TEACH our dog to BITE??!!??  That’s where my education about the history of the German Shepherd Dog Breed, and Schutzhund began.  Once it was pointed out to me that “all dogs already know how to bite…”  things started making more sense.  That particular part of the training is just directing and controlling what they instinctively know how to do.  In fact, all three phases of Schutzhund training involve directing the dog based on what they instinctively know.  That’s a big part of what makes it so interesting to me.

Here are a few photos from both obedience and protection when our female earned her Schutzhund I Title.

For German Shepherd Dog lovers everywhere, whether you have pets, or working sport dogs, or dogs with real jobs, I highly recommend the following book.  The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Pictures by v. Stephanitz, originally printed in Germany in 1925.  My copy (in English) was reprinted in 1994.  Many consider Rittmeister (Cavalry Captain) von Stephanitz to be the “father” of the German Shepherd Breed.  He was one of the initial founders of the Verein fur deutsche Schaferhunde in April 1899.  (Please excuse my lack of correct German characters).  This organization today is commonly referred to, at least in my USA circles as “The German SV.”  The German SV and Herr Stephanitz established the breed standard for the German Shepherd Dog in 1899, and The German SV is to this day considered by many to be “The Keeper” of the German Shepherd Dog Breed Standard.  Of course the breed standard is fraught with controversary for the GSD’s just like with many other breeds.  Especially breeds with foundations in working standards, where many claim that “conformation showing” has ruined the breed – taking the breed too far away from the original standard.

I have found it interesting to learn about the breed and it’s original purposes.  It is equally interesting to me to look at the GSD’s of today – whether they are family pets, sport competitors, or the dogs who save lives in the war on terror as one example of real dog jobs.  I try to be understanding about all points of view – and there are many.  Most of all, I love our GSD’s and have found the experience training them in the sport of Schutzhund to be a very rewarding journey.   In the right training environment, it is so clear to see that this work simply builds on the instincts that the dogs already have.  The “people training” part is more challenging for our trainer, that’s for sure!

Hmmm… what GSD topics are folks interested in?  Let me know.  I don’t have lots of answers, but I’ve sure got lots of opinions.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “What the Sam Hill is So Special about German Shepherd Dogs Anyway?

  1. CroweKitty

    Ahhh… Thank you for the pictures. I’m drooling. 🙂

    I didn’t want to take you too far off the current subject (Heidi), but I can’t help it because GSDs are just so beautiful!

    I will definately track down the book. Does it also explain the sport of Schutzhund? Also, do you have a breeder you trust? You can email if you prefer not to put in online.

    Thanks

  2. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is a nice pic.I know that Schutzhund dogs need to have a good, strong bite on the sleeve.
    But dogs are smart, too. If you teach a Schutzhund dog to play gently with his mouth, he could still be a good Schutzhund dog, right?

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