The German Shepherd Colors
The German Shepherd Dog Standard has this to say about color: "The German Shepherd Dog varies in color, and most colors are permissible. Strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified." This description is not very complete, but it does support the premise that color is not to take precedence over the working qualities of the dog. The basic colors are sable, black and tan, and solid black.
The vast majority of German Shepherd Dogs are some variation of black and tan with a black mask. The tan markings can vary in color from pale fawn and silver to rich red and mahogany. Most fall somewhere between these extremes. The gradation of colors in the tan points is quite arbitrary and not distinct. All shades are acceptable but the richer shades are generally preferred. The amount of tan markings also varies a great deal, with some dogs having very few markings and appearing almost black, to other dogs that have very little black.
The sable in German Shepherds is the color that is genetically known as agouti or wolf gray. The sable or wolf color can also vary a great deal with dogs that are almost silver in color with black tipping to the hairs, to dogs that are gray, golden or mahogany sables. All of these sables have guard hairs that are banded in color and tipped with black.
Solid black is also a very acceptable color, but it is less often encountered. It is seldom completely solid, with most dogs showing at least a few tan hairs between the toes and around the rectal area, under the tail.
White markings are frowned upon, though a small white spot on the chest is usually not penalized. All white dogs are disqualified from conformation competition, though they can be shown in performance events.
The eye color should be dark, or at least blend well with the color of the dog. Light eyes are especially unattractive in dark or black dogs. Also, any nose color other than black is a disqualification. This effectively disqualifies any liver or blue-pigmented dogs, as their nose color would not be black. In addition, both livers and blues usually have pale, yellow eyes, which as mentioned above, are not desirable.
Crate training is not cruel nor should it be punishment for Puppy. A crate the proper size for Puppy is: a safe place to be while sleeping; safety when you are not around to watch him; a place to eat uninterrupted; a place to go to get away from it all. Dogs are den animals and many like a place they can curl up in and feel secure.
WHY USE A CRATE?
You can leave Puppy or Doggy home alone with peace of mind. He is comfortable and not forming bad or destructive habits. He also is not going to be confused by your reactions to bad behavior when you return. Remember, dogs do not have the reasoning humans do. When we return and see the garbage rooted through and then punish Puppy, chances are he will not realize what you are punishing him for. He may think you are punishing him for something completely different. Crates also make house training easier. Puppies and dogs generally will not soil their sleeping and eating area. Used with a consistent schedule, a crate can be your best ally with house training. Crates offer safety when traveling. A dog in a crate is far less likely to be injured in an accident. A crate keeps your dog from bouncing around, getting on your lap, blocking your view or even getting under the driver's feet! If crating while driving is not possible, at least train Puppy to lie quietly in the back seat or use a doggy seat belt available at many pet supply places.
WHAT A CRATE IS NOT!
A crate is not a substitute for human companionship. Use of a crate should be limited to no more than eight hours, less for a younger animal. If your work schedule is longer than that, consider getting a dog walker to exercise Puppy or Doggy for you midday. There are also Dog Day Care centers cropping up! Crates are not to be used for punishment. The crate must be viewed by Puppy as a safe place to be. Do not allow your children to torment Puppy while crated. Make sure he has fresh water, a sturdy bed and safe toys (rotate toys daily so he always has different ones and a different combination).
HOW TO MEASURE A CRATE
If buying for an adult dog, get a crate big enough that he can fit in from tip of nose to base of tail (a few inches longer in each direction). He should be able to stand up, sit, turn and lie down on his side stretched out comfortably. If buying for a puppy, get one that will fit him as an adult. Some manufacturers even make crate dividers so you can expand the crate area as Puppy grows. If in doubt of size, I opt for the next size up. A crate slightly too large is better than one too small!
WHERE TO PUT THE CRATE
Put the crate in a people area such as family room, kitchen or even the bedroom. You do not want your dog to feel banished when crated so the cellar or garage is no good.
INTRODUCING THE CRATE
First remove your dog's collar so he will not get caught. It happens rarely, by why take the risk. NEVER crate a dog with a choke collar on. Choke collars should NEVER be used for everyday use - they are for training and walks only, then should be removed. The same for a pinch collar! Set up the crate in the place you wish to keep it. Encourage your dog or puppy to enter the crate by enticing him with bits of food. Use something he cannot resist like cooked chicken or hot dog slices. Praise as he enters. Let him walk in and out a few times. Now start to encourage him to lie down quietly and relax. Give him a couple safe toys and close the door. Sit with him and talk softly. Let him out. Now start to leave for a short time. Even if he cries and whines, do not weaken. He should adjust to the crate eventually. Just keep making it a positive experience.
HOW LONG TO USE THE CRATE
Some dogs can never be trusted with run of the house unattended. Some dogs are fine. If you think your dog is able to behave uncrated, begin testing by leaving his loose for five minutes while you walk outside. If that works, increase to ten, fifteen and so on. Should he begin to misbehave, continue using the crate. It is safer for Doggy and saner for you!
CRATES AS A HOUSE TRAINING AIDE
Always have a feeding and potty schedule for your puppy or adult dog. This makes house training much easier. If you are not able to be with Puppy, put him in the crate. Take him out on lead and encourage him to go potty. Once he does, praise lavishly and bring back inside. Should he not go, put him back in the crate and try again in a little bit. Dogs do not like to soil their beds as a rule. Should he soil the crate, take him out while someone cleans the crate. Do not punish for eliminating in the house unless you catch him in the act. DO NOT rub his nose in it or hit him. Just give a loud, firm, growly "AAAAAH! NO!!!" and get him out immediately. Try to get him to potty outside and then praise lavishly when he goes. Remember, the younger the Puppy, the smaller the bladder capacity. It is unreasonable to ask a young puppy to hold an eight-hour day. Consider a dog walker for a midday potty break. Also, sometimes older dogs have bladder control issues. Sudden house soiling in a dog without problems could be a sign of an underlying problem such as a bladder infection. Unaltered or spayed dogs are also more apt to soil in the house. Males if not neutered have a greater chance of wanting to mark their territory and may do so inside. I also know females who mark. Do not paper train or use those pads designed for puppy to eliminate on. This only teaches Puppy it is OK to potty in the house. Paper training could actually delay house training.
The first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life. It is well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It looks substantial and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness or soft living. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility--difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Secondary sex characteristics are strongly marked, and every animal gives a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex.
DID YOUE KNOW
The German Shepherd Dog is distinguished for loyalty, courage, and the ability to assimilate and retain training for a number of special services; he is not pugnacious, as his reputation posits him to be, but a bold and punishing fighter if need be.
The German Shepherd Dog is one of the most popular and recognizable breeds of the AKC.
German Shepherd Dogs are utilized often as police dogs, service dogs, agility dogs, conformation animals, obedience dogs, and sentinels. Their high trainability and extreme loyalty and commitment make them an excellent choice for any agenda.
In terms of show presentation, the German Shepherd Dog has a unique stack or "pose", featuring one rear leg under the body and one extended, as opposed to conventional "square" stacks (parallel front and rear) or extended stacks.
The German Shepherd Dog has been in the public eye and media many times, recognizable as "Rin Tin Tin" and other canine characters.
The German Shepherd Dog does not give affection lightly and is known for his dignity and stature; it is also known as a "one-man" breed for its tendency to display serious loyalty and fidelity, especially to its owner or main caretaker.
GERMAN TITLES AND RATINGS
(Note: These titles cover all breeds, not just GSDs. A ranking of 3 is the highest.)
Used farther back in pedigrees to save room and denotes kkl-l or kkl-II.
Before a dog's name, indicates dog has been surveyed and approved for breeding
"a" stamp indicating the dog's hips have been evaluated and fall within limits
considered acceptable for breeding
Sufficient show or performance rating
Endurance title (test includes a 12-mile run & simple obedience test)
Recommended for breeding
German Companion Dog
Must precede SchH I
Blind guide dog
BpDH I, II
Railroad police service dog
Most advanced tracking title awarded by the SV
Good show or performance rating
Border patrol dog
IPO I, II, III
Schutzhund III according to the international rules
Especially recommended for breeding
Suitable for breeding
Breed surveyed for lifetime
Faulty show or performance rating
Dispatch Army dog (messenger dog)
Polizei Dienst Hund
Working Police dog
Police protection dog
SchH I, II, III
Obedience, tracking, and protection titles
Very Good show or performance rating;
highest rating obtainable by dogs under 2 years old or at USA SchH shows,
the highest rating that can be obtained by an untitled dog
Red Cross dog
Unsatisfactory show or performance rating
Excellent show or performance rating
Excellent Select show rating at Sieger show;
highest award obtainable by a German show dog;
typically awarded to 12-15 dogs and bitches each year
Sufficient show or performance rating
Conformation show rating
ZH I, II
Zollhund I, II
Passed a breed survey, recommended for breeding
European International Champion
Working Dog Champion of the Year (Leistungssieger)
World Champion SchH III dog
Herding Dog Champion at German herding dog championship
Working Dog Champion of the Year (Bundesieger)
Sheepherding Champion of the Year
Grand Victor title at the German Sieger show
Highest Sieger bitch title
The History Of The German Shepard
If any breed of dog is most deserving of the title Noble with Natural Beauty then that dog is the German Shepherd.
He is a dog with elegant yet flowing lines, glamorous to behold, with a shining coat, erect ears, and an intelligent expression that will command attention wherever he is seen. His eyes indicate the love and affection he has for those who care for him and his sweeping tail will show his mood whether it be gay or sad.
By nature a German Shepherd is wary of strangers, though once one is accepted by him he is a friend for life. He is an efficient obedience worker, quick to learn and what is learned will never be forgotten. It is an active breed and thrives on work—little is beyond its capabilities. Fleet of foot, powerful yet graceful and nimble, he is the epitome of those qualities considered to be ideal within a dog.
He loves human companionship and will respond to his owner's mood whether this be lying quietly by his side or romping across the fields; indeed, at all times, his one desire is to be with you and to please you.
He has a keen sense of humor and enjoys playful games yet, in defense of those he loves, can become a frightening adversary that one would be well advised to keep clear of. He can fit into a flat or a mansion as the need may be, for he is happy wherever you are happy.
In bringing a German Shepherd into your home, you are making an addition to your family and he will quickly feel a part of it. Your house, your garden, your possessions and in fact all that you own will from then on be in his special care. He needs your love, but he needs also correct attention to his grooming, exercise, food, and general welfare. Given these, your German Shepherd will devote his very life to you and you will be the richer for this and for the companionship and love you both will share.
In a short work such as this, one cannot look too deeply into the history of the breed for this would take up a volume in itself. However, it is important that all Shepherd owners have an insight, brief though it may be, into the development of the breed for it is this development that has given us the German Shepherd we see today. Only a few early dogs and only one person is named in this history, though it will readily be appreciated that there were many dogs and many people whose efforts and sacrifices have furthered the growth of the German Shepherd.
Almost from the very dawn of mankind the dog has figured prominently. Early
man quickly recognized the dog's ability to complement those faculties in which he was weak. The dog could run better, see better, hear better and had a far more acute sense of smell than man.
Wild dogs were captured and reared within man's encampment, and in return for food, shelter, and protection, would help man hunt and give him advance warning of predatory animals. This was the beginning, and as man settled from his nomadic wanderings his requirements of the dog changed. He now needed more diversity in his dogs. There were those for hunting, those for protecting his home and family when he was away, those for carrying small burdens, and those for helping tend his flocks and cattle. The dawn of the pastoral shepherd dog had arrived. Throughout the world slow development was taking place, but the pace quickened in Europe where man himself was raising his standards more rapidly.
The size, coat, and color of sheepdogs at this time varied greatly, dependent upon many factors. The weather clearly dictated that dogs working in cold areas would have profuse coats while those of temperate climates would have shorter coats. Areas where predatory animals were found in large numbers would need more powerful dogs than those lands dominated by man. The wolf, the bear, the large birds of prey—all would influence man's choice of sheepdog.
In Germany, as in France, the United Kingdom, Holland, and others, the growth of large industrialized cities meant that predators were declining quickly and also that there was a greater awareness of the excellence of the shepherding dogs of different areas. The establishment of dogs of fixed type was now at hand although there were still great variations to be found from one area to another. Breeders would meet and discuss the relative merits and shortcomings of certain dogs, and it followed that dogs of high merit were much in demand as breeders tried to fix into their stock the sterling qualities seen in dogs from other areas. It came to pass that in Germany, in 1891, a group of enthusiasts formed the Phylax Society with the aim of fostering and standardizing native German breeds. The society was short-lived and in 1894 it was disbanded, but it had sown the seeds from which the German Shepherd was to emerge.
At this time Capt. Max von Stephanitz appears in the breed's history and indeed it is this man who is acclaimed as the father of the breed. Von Stephanitz had long admired the qualities of intelligence, strength, and ability found in many native sheepdog breeds but had yet to see one which embodied all of his ideals. Chance was to play its part, and while visiting a show with a friend in 1899, he saw a dog that impressed him greatly to all accounts so much that then and there he purchased the dog and promptly formed a society, the Verein fur deutsche Schaferhunde or SV as it is called. This was a milestone in the breed's history and marked the beginning of a new era for it. From this date the German Shepherd as a specific breed had arrived.
The dog was called Hektor Linksrhein but was later named Horand v Grafeth by Von Stephanitz, who used the animal as the basis on which much future development would be made. Horand was greatly admired by many breeders who were quick to use him in their breeding programs. Not surprisingly, he became the dog that best exemplified the goals of early breeders.
Horand's most celebrated son was Hektor v Shwaben, who in turn sired Heinz v Starkenburg and the litter brothers Beowolf and Pilot.
Each of these dogs in turn sired many progeny and became pillars in the development of the German Shepherd. Von Stephanitz was a cavalry captain and was ideally suited to impose his strong will over the SV of which he was president. In this capacity and with uncompromising dedication he directed the breeding programs. The dogs of Thuringia, Frankonia, and Wurttemburg were all used, each area providing dogs which had special merits of tail and ear carriage, size, color, and temperament.
The degree of inbreeding was necessarily high at this time, for although it carried risks of incorporating faults, it likewise enabled the breeders to fix permanently those qualities which today are such features of the breed. Von Stephanitz believed above all else that the German Shepherd should be bred for utility and intelligence and this was to become his motto. It was this adaptability that was later to make the dog the world's greatest all-rounder.
With the oncoming of the twentieth century, and having seen the SV develop into the largest single breed club in the world, Von Stephanitz was turning his attention to the long-term future. He was able to foresee that in a growing industrialized nation the role of the pastoral shepherd dog would decline and the breed must be able to adapt to other work if it were to continue as a functional animal.
It seemed that the very qualities that made the German Shepherd such an exceptional sheepdog could well be put to good use by government departments. This was the thinking of Von Stephanitz and this was to be his next campaign. As always, he achieved this and during World War I was seen as messenger dog, rescue dog, sentry dog, and personal guard dog. Servicemen from the USA, UK, and the Commonwealth would see first hand the dog's bravery, intelligence, and steadfastness, and many stories were taken back home. Not surprisingly, a number of dogs were acquired by servicemen and transported home with them.
In 1919, when the English Kennel Club gave the breed a separate register, some 54 animals were included, but by 1926 the ranks had swelled to 8,058, such was the unprecedented success of the dog. At the end of the War it was thought that the breed would not flourish were the word German to appear in its name and it was therefore decided to call the breed the Alsatian Wolf Dog after the German-French border area of Alsace-Lorraine. The "Wolf Dog" tag was later to be dropped—again as it was felt that this would prejudice the breed. Thus we had for many years the misnomer of the breed brought about by national hostilities. In 1977, following numerous campaigns by breeders the name of the breed was changed back to the German Shepherd Dog by which it is known in the USA, Australia, and most other countries.
With the breed arriving in Britain mainly on the strength of its reputation as a war dog, its sterling qualities as a sheepdog were largely overlooked. At that time Britain already had a string of quality working sheepdogs such as Collies, Corgis, and Old English Sheepdogs. Therefore, the pattern of development of the German Shepherd in the USA, UK, and Australia was to be dictated by its adaptability. The Seeing Eye dogs in the USA and Britain were predominantly German Shepherds and only later did the Labrador challenge this position.
At the outbreak of World War II, the trained dogs of the Allied Forces were seen wherever the troops traveled, spreading the breed's popularity like a blanket around the world.
Post War Development
Since World War II German Shepherd has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the world's most popular breeds. This is as it should be, for while task for task other breeds may surpass it, no other single breed has been able to master such a wide range of skills as the German Shepherd Dog.
The German Shepherd is large enough to tackle a man and win a contest, yet agile enough to cope with a flock of sheep. He may not be able to outrun a Greyhound but he can show an amazing turn of speed, and having developed from natural working strains, he can maintain a steady canter far longer than most other breeds.
It can be seen from the foregoing that our modern German Shepherd is a king among dogs, noble of head, athletic in body. Here is a dog developed to be functional, the epitome of dedicated and carefully planned breeding.
The problems that have confronted the post-war breeders have in their own way been as great as those confronting the early pioneers.
Most early German Shepherds were predominantly working dogs and it was therefore not difficult to ensure that working qualities were maintained and that the breed's natural intelligence was put to practical use. Once established it was difficult to retain qualities, let alone improve on the breed, yet this breeders strived to do. For this reason working trials were introduced in addition to obedience trials where qualifications such as C.D. (Companion Dog), T.D. (Tracking Dog), P.D. (Police Dog), and U.D. (Utility Dog) could be earned. Between the two World Wars many clubs came into being which rendered great service to the breed. In addition to the many shows and meetings they hold, they have acted as public relations offices to defend the breed against periodic maligning from the public. The German Shepherd has throughout its history had to contend with condemnations from the press. The great fluctuations in registration figures over the years serve to illustrate this and the very popularity of the breed has itself been the cause of much trouble.
Rapid popularity has meant that at times many undesirable breeders have appeared on the scene with the sole object of making money. In this situation mediocre dogs are bred from in almost factory style thus perpetuating faults. The sheer numbers of dogs meant that sooner or later disaster would happen. The wrong people obtain the wrong dogs and ultimately someone gets hurt.
The breed's wolfish appearance makes it a prime target for the press who often fan the flames of public dissent. As a result, sales decline and the hard core breed lovers are left to put their house back into order. This is most difficult for often in the turmoil bloodlines can become a puzzle to sort out.
In spite of these setbacks, serious breeders have maintained the breed though there are, of course, periods when much debate takes place over varying points. Backs may be getting too long, angulation too steep, ear and tail carriage faulty, dentition lacking, movement poor, and other aspects appearing to illustrate that we must be continually on our guard lest our breed degenerate. In Germany, the SV has, since its inception, controlled very tightly the affairs of the breed, has maintained complete records of all dogs, and has made periodic surveys with recommendations to all owners. In the USA, the Register of Merit (R.O.M.) is an attempt to ensure that only the better dogs are used in breeding programs.
HOW TO SELECT A WORKING PUPPY
Selecting the Breeder:
The selection process in picking a puppy begins with choosing a breeder that you trust and have confidence in. I can not stress this enough. Some people breed because they have a sincere interest in producing top quality dogs, some people breed because they want to make a few extra dollars and finally some people breed because it would be nice for the kids and they think their house pet will somehow become a better dog if it has a litter of pups before they neuter it.
The last place on earth to look for a puppy is in a pet store. Any breeder that is forced to sell his puppies to a pet store has no credibility. This only indicates he has no reputation as a breeder and no where else to sell his dogs. The majority of the dogs that end up in pet stores come from puppy mills. Puppy mills are a legitimate (despicable) business in many states. There are certain days of the week that we are not allowed to ship dogs out of the Delta office of the Minneapolis Airport because they are shipping so many puppies from "puppy mills" in Minnesota and Northern Iowa.
When you select a breeder, try and get a feel for his interest in the breed and his experience. Everyone that breeds has to start somewhere and just because this is the first or second litter a person has bred does not mean that this is a bad breeder. It is important that a person that is new to breeding should have been involved in dogs for a few years. There is no such thing as a 6 month wonder in the dog breeding business. Expertise in this area comes from experience and the only way to gain experience in this business is through a lot of hard work.
Working vs. Show Lines:
As a general rule, if you just want a pretty dog and have no interest in anything other than a good looking house pet a German Show dog if fine. I think these dogs are very good looking. The problem is they could not fight their way out of a wet paper bag.
I am continually drawn back to a quote from the founder of the German Shepherd breed, Max von Stephanitz In 1922 Max Von Stephanitz wrote in his book on the German Shepherd dog. In this book he wrote "German Shepherd breeding is working dog breeding or it is not German Shepherd breeding." That statement was true in 1922 and it is still true today. It will also be true a hundred years from today.
My advice is that if you talk to a breeder and they brag about all of the shows their dogs have been in or all the champions in the dogs pedigrees, walk away from them. If you look at a German pedigree and see the letters "VA" before the names of dogs in the pedigree - walk away from them. These are show ratings. Don't be fooled by "VA" dog with a "sch III" (schutzhund) tiles behind its names. Many Germans are excellent trainers. They can title dogs (i.e."VA dogs") when in fact the dogs would no sooner protect the owner than their toy poodle would. So its important for novice handlers understand that a schutzhund title does not in and of itself mean that this is a good dog.
I would like to say that its very easy for new people to become confused at this stage of puppy selection. They are swayed by how good looking some of these show dogs are. I am the first to say that these German show dogs are very good looking (American show dogs have been hit by a big ugly stick.) People see beautiful black and red dogs (few working dogs are black and red) and want them. Only to find out 3 years later that the dog runs and hides when someone comes to the door or when they are approached by a strange when taking a walk at night.
Pedigrees and Hips:
The scope of this article is not intended to get into pedigrees, but a good idea is to ask to see the pedigree and discuss it with the breeder. See if he is familiar with the dogs in the pedigree. A breeder should be familiar with the genetics of his own dogs.
In our breed (the German Shepherd) it is critical that all the breeding stock be OFAed. If a dog is not OFAed and it is being bred then the breeder should have a preliminary x-ray at the kennel or available at his vet to look at. The breeder should be prepared to show you the OFA certificate if you ask to see it.
A point that needs to be mentioned here (especially for new GSD owners) is that "just because both parents have had their hips x-rayed does not guarantee that the pups will not have hip dysplasia." In my kennel, every dog in the pedigree either has the OFA or a foreign hip certification and you can still get a puppy with a bad hip. The point is that the odds in getting bad hips are less when you insure that all the pedigree has been clear.
The fact is hip dysplasia is in the GSD breed. I have heard people bad mouth breeders because one of their dogs got hip dysplasia. If that breeder had x-rayed stock then this is an unfair criticism. Bad hips can just as easily be a result of what was done with the dog after it left the kennel. Over exercise (jogging) with a puppy will cause problems, over feeding a young pup and allowing it to get fat can cause hip problems.
The most important part of a guarantee is the breeders commitments to back it up. In other words, you can offer the sky but do you plan on following through with the promise? Ask him if his guarantee is in writing. Ask him how often he has to replace pups. It can be difficult for someone who only breeds once a year to replace very many pups. That's something that needs to be taken into consideration.
Some breeders guarantee temperament. In my opinion this is the mistake. I can give the best puppy I can produce to someone and they can still screw it up. Just today I had an e-mail from a professional trainer concerning one of my dogs that came to his facility for some work. He sent the dog back to the customer and said he would not deal with the problems. He wanted me to know how poorly this dog had been taken care of. He said the malnutrition was evident and that the owner had admitted that he did not have the time to socialize the dog. I know what that dog could have been because I have a litter mate laying at my feet. I gave him to my son as a puppy and he has turned into our house dog. What a shame. This makes me feel like I should start temperament testing customers before I sell them a dog.
The Kennel Facility:
When you go to a breeder, the first thing you should look at are his kennel facility. It must be clean. If its not leave, don't even bother going further. If everything is clean more than likely the condition of the adult dogs is going to be good. They should be clean and well groomed. This is so important. I can not stress it enough.
When you look at the adult dogs in the kennel, try and get an over all opinion of the temperament of the dogs. This may be difficult for people who are new to dog training. It's going to be normal for dogs to bark at strangers. What you don't want to see is adult dogs that are cowering away from you in the kennel during your visit. You also don't want to see the dogs charging the fence and acting vicious. Dogs that snarl, get their hair up on their back and show a lot of teeth are actually weak dogs. These dogs have weak nerves. These are dogs that cover their weakness through signs of aggression. This is not good. It's important to remember that some dogs bark for attention and some bark because you don't belong there. Don't confuse these different types of barks. Remember its totally normal and expected for dogs to bark at strangers.
The thing new people may be a little shocked at is the mother to the litter is going to be thin if she has had a large litter (6 to 10 pups). In my kennel we will feed the mothers a high quality all natural diet and they will still get thin when the time comes to wean the litter. We used to have a much harder time keeping weight on nursing moms when we still fed commercial dog food, as so much of the diet was filler. These days our bitches maintain condition much better on a higher quality diet but should they get thin it only takes 3 or 4 weeks to get them back in shape after the pups are off them.
The Selection Process:
Your selection process begins when you walk out and look at the litter. You want to see the puppies all charge the fence. If any of them hang back and act a little shy - disregard that pup right away.
If you go to see a litter and the pups are older than 9 weeks they should all be separated into individual pens. Pups need to be together up until 8 weeks of age. After that they are separated and given individual attention so they don't become too doggy. By that I mean they look to other dogs for friendship and not humans. Dogs that are left with litter mates too long may have problems bonding and training.
The bottom line is that if you visit or call a breeder and he has a lot of 12 week old pups left, there is a problem someplace. It's one thing to keep one or two pups back to watch them develop and another to have half the litter. Even this should not have to be a problem if the breeder has taken necessary steps to socialize and deal with the changing requirements for the pups.
To get a feel for the litter look at the litter as a whole. By that I mean a good breeding is one that is uniform in size and temperament. If all the pups look a like this is a good sign especially if you ever plan on breeding the puppy you buy. If the pups all act alike this is also a good sign. We want a swarming mass of puppies around us when we go into the puppy pen. The only difference in the whole litter should be the color. It does not bother me if we have different colors as long as the body structure and temperament are similar.
A Male or a Female?
This answer to this question obviously varies. Here are some things to consider:
Females are smaller, they average 60 to 70 pounds, males are 80 to 90 pounds. The females are a little easier to live with as a house dog.
Females never (or very seldom) get dominant.
Females are usually easier for novice trainers and handlers to control. They usually want to please their handlers a little more. So if you have a spouse that is not keen on a big dog in the family, it is probably a better idea to go with a female over a male.
Females come in season 2 times a year. On the other hand a male is going to have real distraction problem every time he smells a bitch in season.
As a general rule males are tougher. Females can do Schutzhund work just fine, but I have only seen 2 or 3 females in my life that could do good police service work. By that I mean patrol work.
If you want to start breeding, you always buy a female, never a male. You can take your female to a top stud dog for the price of a stud fee. This is usually a dog that you would never be able to own for yourself. The odds of buying a male pup that will grow up to be a super stud dog are slim to none.
If you need normal personal protection from a dog a female is just fine, they can be trained to bark at strangers. My feeling is that any intruder that comes into your home uninvited and comes through a barking German Shepherd is a very bad person that will need to be stopped by the police and or a gun.
If you want a patrol dog for service work, buy a male.
If you want to compete at the top level of Schutzhund, buy a male. Very few females make it to the top levels of the sport.
As a general rule, males have a harder temperament than females. This means they can take a firmer correction without going down in drive.
Females do not lift their leg on the shrubs and flower beds in your yard.
READING A GERMAN PEDIGREE
Many people purchase German imported German Shepherds. When the pedigree arrives it's written in German. This table is designed to help these people understand a little of their pedigrees.
Courtesy of United Schutzhund Clubs of America
What is Schutzhund
Schutzhund is a German word meaning "protection dog". It refers to a sport that focuses on developing and evaluating those traits in dogs that make them more useful and happier companions to their owners. Schutzhund work concentrates on three parts. Many are familiar with the obedience work of the American Kennel Club's affiliates and will recognize the first two parts, tracking and obedience. The Schutzhund standards for the third part, protection work, are similar to those for dogs in police work.
While dogs of other breeds are also actively involved in the sport of Schutzhund and often follow similar criteria for breeding purposes, this breed evaluation test was developed specifically for the German Shepherd Dog. Schutzhund is intended to demonstrate the dog's intelligence and utility. As a working trial, Schutzhund measures the dog's mental stability, endurance, structural efficiencies, ability to scent, willingness to work, courage, and trainability.
This working dog sport offers an opportunity for dog owners to train their dog and compete with each other for recognition of both the handler's ability to train and the dog's ability to perform as required. It is a sport enjoyed by persons of varied professions, who join together in a camaraderie born of their common interest in working with their dogs. Persons of all ages and conditions of life even those with significant disabilities enjoy Schutzhund as a sport. Often, it is a family sport.
The Three Parts of a Schutzhund Trial
The tracking phase includes a temperament test by the overseeing judge to assure the dog's mental soundness. When approached closely on a loose leash, the dog should not act shyly or aggressively. The track is laid earlier by a person walking normally on a natural surface such as dirt or grass. The track includes a number of turns and a number of small, man made objects left by this person on the track itself. At the end of a 33 foot leash, the handler follows the dog, which is expected to scent the track and indicate the location of the objects, usually by lying down with it between its front paws. The tracking phase is intended to test the dog's trainability and ability to scent, as well as its mental and physical endurance.
The obedience phase includes a series of heeling exercises, some of which are closely in and around a group of people. During the heeling, there is a gun shot test to assure that the dog does not openly react to such sharp noises. There is also a series of field exercises in which the dog is commanded to sit, lie down, and stand while the handler continues to move. From these various positions, the dog is recalled to the handler. With dumbbells of various weights, the dog is required to retrieve on a flat surface, over a one-meter hurdle, and over a six-foot slanted wall. The dog is also asked to run in a straight direction from its handler on command and lie down on a second command. Finally, each dog is expected to stay in a lying down position away from its handler, despite distractions, at the other end of the obedience field, while another dog completes the above exercises. All of the obedience exercises are tests of the dog's temperament, structural efficiencies, and, very importantly, its willingness to serve its owner.
The protection phasetests the dog's courage, physical strength, and agility. The handler's control of the dog is absolutely essential.
The exercises include a search of hiding places, finding a hidden person (acting as a decoy), and guarding that decoy while the handler approaches. The dog is expected to pursue the decoy when an escape is attempted and to hold the grip firmly. The decoy is searched and transported to the judge with the handler and dog walking behind and later at the decoy's right side. When the decoy attempts to attack the handler, the dog is expected to stop the attack with a firm grip and no hesitation. The final test of courage occurs when the decoy is asked to come out of a hiding place by the dog's handler from the opposite end of the trial field. The dog is sent after the decoy who is threatening the dog with a stick and charging at the handler. All grips during the protection phase are expected to be firmly placed on the padded sleeve and stopped on command and/or when the decoy discontinues the fight. The protection tests are intended to assure that the dog possesses the proper temperament for breeding.
Schutzhund Around the World
The first Schutzhund trial was held in Germany in 1901 to emphasize the correct working temperament and ability in the German Shepherd breed. Originally, these dogs were herding dogs, but the industrialization of Germany encouraged breeders to promote the use of their dogs as police and military dogs. The Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (SV), the parent club, became concerned that this would lead to careless breeding and undesirable traits such as mental instability, so it developed the Schutzhund test. Since then, many other countries and working dog organizations have also adopted Schutzhund as a sport and a test of working performance in dogs. International rules have been established, and they are administered by the Verein fur Deutsche Hundesport (VDH).
The Schutzhund Titles
The BHor companion dog title is a pre-requirement for Schutzhund titles. All breeds and sizes are eligible with the minimum age requirements of 15 months.
There are three levels of the Schutzhund test.
For Schutzhund 1 the dog must be at least 18 months old and pass an initial temperament test by the judge. The dog must heel on the leash and off, demonstrate the walking sit, the walking down, and the stay tests, as well as the send-out. It must retrieve on the flat and over a hurdle. In tracking, it must be able to follow a track laid by its handler at least 20 minutes earlier. There are also protection tests.
For Schutzhund 2the dog must be at least 19 months old and must already have earned its Schutzhund 1 degree. It must again pass all of the obedience and protection tests required for the Schutzhund 1 degree, but those tests, for Schutzhund 2, are made more difficult and require greater endurance, agility, and, above all, control. There is an additional retrieve required over the six foot slanted wall. In tracking, the Schutzhund II candidate must be able to follow a track laid by a stranger at least 30 minutes earlier.
For Schutzhund 3, the master's degree, the dog must be at least 20 months old and must have earned both the Schutzhund 1 and the Schutzhund 2 titles. Again, the tests now are made far more difficult. All exercises in obedience and protection are demonstrated off leash. There is the addition of a walking and running stand. In tracking, the dog must follow a track that was laid by a stranger at least 60 minutes earlier. The track has four turns, compared with two turns for Schutzhund 1 and 2, and there are three objects, rather than two, that must be found by the dog. The picture of obedience, strength, eagerness, and confidence presented by an excellent Schutzhund 3 team is a beautiful
illustration of the partnership of human and dog.
In addition to the Schutzhund temperament tests, the United Schutzhund Clubs of America offer three training degrees: the FH 1 and FH 2, advanced tracking degrees; WH, or basic protection degree which includes basic obedience, and the AD which is an 12.5 mile endurance test and includes obedience. USA also offers six seperate obedience and tracking titles that reflect the routines for SchH 1, 2, & 3 levels.
The Value to the Breed
Any registered German Shepherd that has earned a Schutzhund degree has demonstrated sufficient ability as a working dog to qualify for breed evaluation. The breed evaluation is a very detailed examination of the dog's structure, temperament, and pedigree and requires both a certification of good hip joints and sufficient performance on an endurance test (the AD). Dogs that do well in the breed evaluation receive a Koerklasse I or Koerklasse II. This is a recommendation and evaluation by a trained and recognized expert judge as to the worthiness of the dog for breeding. Dogs rated Koerkiass II are "suitable for breeding" and dogs rated Koerklasse I are "recommended for breeding." By thus screening dogs in order to select the suitable specimens for breeding, Schutzhund helps to maintain the quality of the breed at a very high level. Thus, there is a very high level of assurance that puppies born to Schutzhund dams and sired by Schutzhund dogs are more likely to be of reliable temperament, high intelligence, steady nerves, extreme endurance, great strength, and sound structure.
What Is the Judge Looking for in the-Dog?
At all three stages - Schutzhund 1,2, and 3 - each of the three phases: obedience, tracking, and protection, is worth 100 points, for a total of 300 points. If a dog does not receive a minimum of 70% - or if the dog fails the pretrial temperament test- it is not awarded a degree that day and must repeat the entire test, passing all phases of the test at a later trial. In every event, the judge is looking for an eager, concentrating, accurate working dog. High ratings and scores are given to the animal that displays a strong willingness and ability to work for its human handler.
The Schutzhund-Trained Dog in the Home
Since Schutzhund is the demonstration of the German Shepherd dog's most desirable characteristics, dogs well trained in Schutzhund are usually excellent companions in the home. The German Shepherd Dog - like any; other working dog that possesses mental stability-has trust and confidence in itself, allowing it to be at peace with its surroundings.
The German Shepherd Dog should not be timid or react nervously to unusual sounds or sights. A dog that is overly aggressive because of its overall fears of people and events can be extremely dangerous. The Schutzhund sport is designed to identify and eliminate such dogs from breeding stock. Because Schutzhund training gives the owner a great deal of control over the dog, the owner is able to let the dog have more fun. Not only is Schutzhund training itself enjoyable for the dog, but the Schutzhund trained dog knows how to please its owners, creating a stronger bond between dog and owners.
The Schutzhund-Trained Dog for Police Work
A dog that performs well in Schutzhund work is obviously a very good candidate for police work. Police dogs, like other service dogs, must have temperaments with a good foundation of intelligence and utility. A minimal amount of additional training makes many well-trained Schutzhund dogs ready for active police duty. Such fearless police dogs can also work around children and in crowds without worry on the part of their handlers.
Choosing a Puppy for Schutzhund
In every breed, the pedigree is the key to knowing the potential of the puppy. Schutzhund revolves around working lines with generations of dogs that have proven themselves and produced similar characteristics in their offspring. These characteristics include not only the physical structure of the dog, which is very important, but also its temperament. Selecting the bloodlines from which you want your puppy may require advice. Information from breed surveys can help. Of course, it makes sense to discuss your objectives with reputable and experienced Schutzhund handlers or enthusiasts.
Once you have determined that the bloodlines of the potential dam and sire are of high quality, you should observe the parents, especially the mother, if that is at all possible. The dam will be the main influence on the young pup for the first six weeks of its life. If the dam is nervous or unsure, chances are this uncertainty will be transferred to the offspring.
If you are able to see the litter, watch the puppies together and also separately, to try to determine which is the best puppy. Obvious structural defects or health problems should be watched for. It is important that the puppy have intense instinct to chase prey- a ball, a toy, etc- and also be the leader in the sense of be confident of the other puppies. The puppy should not show fear when away from its litter mates. It should not need to stay with the mother. The puppy should be adventurous and active, playing with objects shown to it by someone in the enclosure, but it should be independent enough to take that object and go off on its own as well.
It is independence and confidence, combined with the positive contact with the pack leader (the dam, at this time) that will develop into the traits of trainability that you need.
Raising a Puppy for Schutzhund Work
Puppy hood is the most critical period for the development of the characteristics you want to encourage. Your local Schutzhund club can advise you about nurturing and socializing your growing puppy. A puppy learns from its experiences, so you want to provide only positive ones. It should be provided with opportunity to explore and investigate new situations and new people, but always in a non-threatening way. Remember that your goal is to build confidence in the young animal. Your aim is not to dominate or oppress the young pup. Exposure to different environments is crucial to the general education of the dog and also to assure it that the world is a safe place. If something appears to make the dog unsure, give it the opportunity to investigate it slowly, but do not force the issue.
It is imperative to avoid situations where your dog would be dominated by another, older or stronger dog, or by another puppy. You also want to avoid having to discipline or correct your puppy and thus dampen its spirit or damage its self-confidence. You can do this by never leaving the pup in a situation where it can cause damage to your valuables or find itself in a dangerous predicament.
The final area of development is that of drive encouragement. The natural behaviors that you want to encourage are playing with the ball, tug of war, hide and seek, pulling toys on a string, pursuing you rapidly when you run away, and finally defending itself, its family, and its home. The latter really only shows itself between the ages of nine and 18 months, as the pup begins to mature, by barking at strangers or intruders. Acceptable manners at home and in the car and "play" training, like learning to sit for a food reward, with no corrections involved, is advisable. Real obedience work can begin once the puppy is more mature. It is better to leave for later formal obedience training with a young dog. The character of the puppy is not sufficiently strong to withstand the stress that may be involved in obedience training.
Do Dogs enjoy Schutzhund Training?
If trained in the right manner, dogs enjoy working, as anyone who attends a Schutzhund competition can see. The joy of the dogs in working with their handlers is evident. For thousands of years, dogs have adapted to serve humans in a mutually beneficial relationship. While dogs could move quickly, hunt prey, and protect flocks and their owner, the humans could provide food, shelter from the most severe elements, and protection from larger predators, besides tending to the dog's injuries. A dog's reason for being is to serve humans. Schutzhund training helps develop the dog's natural instincts to a high level. Self-confident dogs, doing work for which they are well trained, are happy dogs. Wagging tails, sounds of excitement, and strong pulling on a leash all show an observer at a Schutzhund trial how much fulfillment dogs find in this work.
SCHUTZHUND BEGAN AS A TEST
Its purpose was to determine which dogs should be used for breeding that had working ability. The growing demand for better working dogs made more sophisticated tests and training necessary. These dogs were needed for police training, border patrol, customs, military ,and herding activities. Schutzhund tests the dog's mental stability, endurance, structural efficiencies, ability to scent, willingness to work, courage, & trainability.
Schutzhund dog sport is similar to 3-day eventing with horses. You are judged in 3 different areas of training on the same day. Larger events (national and or regional competitions) may divide these phases into 2 or 3 different days. Club trials are normally in one day. It may take up to 2 years to become ready to trial. The most difficult part is to find the correct dog for the work. It takes a very sound animal in both mind and body to compete.
You are judged in the sport of Schutzhund in three areas, tracking obedience and protection You must first pass a temperament test and obtain a BH degree to be able to compete. The BH is an obedience degree only.
There are minimum age requirements to enter your dog for the various titles.
The above taken from the book " TRACKING: the beginning" by Gary Patterson
SO YOU EANT A GERMAN SHEPARD
For many years, dog fanciers around the globe have been drawn to the noble German Shepherd Dog (GSD) for its intelligence, strength, courage and trainability, making it one of the most popular breeds registered with the American Kennel Club. Made even more popular by movie dogs such as Rin Tin Tin, the German Shepherd Dog is also one of the most recognizable of breeds.
However, no breed is ideal for every home or family situation. If you are considering adding a German Shepherd Dog (adult or puppy) to your family, please ask yourself which of the following statements is most accurate:
1. I want a dog that will be easy to train.
CONSIDER A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG. A GSD is one of the most intelligent, versatile and trainable of all breeds, making it suitable for almost any type of work. The American Kennel Club states, "German Shepherd Dogs are utilized often as police dogs, service dogs, agility dogs, conformation animals, obedience dogs, and sentinels. Their high trainability and extreme loyalty and commitment make them an excellent choice for any agenda."
2. I work long hours and want a dog that will be content to stay alone in the backyard until I have a few minutes to spend with it on weekends.
DO NOT GET A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG. The very intelligence that makes a GSD so appealing to many requires a commitment of time on the part of its owner. The GSD who is left alone for long periods of time and isolated in this way will become miserable, resorting to undesirable and even destructive behaviors, such as excessive barking or digging. He may even try to escape his confinement to be with his family. All dogs need to be part of a "pack," and this is especially true of the GSD breed.
3. I want a dog that I can take on hikes, that will jog with me, or that I can teach to play Frisbee.
CONSIDER A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG. The GSD is an athletic, active breed that will greatly enjoy any sport you share with it. She has the stamina to keep up with your every activity and will appreciate the exercise, but most importantly, will enjoy your companionship. These are the same qualities that cause GSDs to excel in agility, obedience and rally sports, and make them renowned for their work as search dogs and service dogs for the blind.
4. I want a dog that will be a good companion for children and at the same time a steady protector of its family.
CONSIDER A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG. A well-bred GSD has a steady, even temperament and many learn to look upon children as their special charges. However, keep in mind that the GSD is a large breed, and an exuberant adolescent dog could easily knock down a very small child without intending to cause it harm. As with all dogs, care should be taken to supervise them around children; and at the same time, children should always be taught to be considerate of dogs.
The GSD is also legendary for its protective instincts. Its very size and appearance alone are sometimes enough to ward off those with unpleasant intentions. The GSD will quickly learn to protect and guard what is his, without any special additional training.
5. I'm not a professional, but I've always wanted an "attack" dog.
PLEASE DO NOT GET A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG! Professionally-trained guard dogs, K-9 unit dogs and military dogs should always be in the hands of a professional trainer. Any GSD with a sound temperament, treated with kindness, will learn to love her family and will protect it with her very life if the need arises. There is no special training needed; this is the GSD's natural instinct.
6. I'm not very active, live in very confined quarters, and don't get out much. I want a dog that's a "couch potato."
A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG MAY NOT BE A GOOD MATCH FOR YOU. Although temperaments of individual dogs can vary within breeds, the GSD is a large, active breed that requires a certain level of physical exercise and mental stimulation. An owner who, for example, lives in an apartment would need to find a way to satisfy his GSD's physical activity requirements and prevent boredom.
It should be noted here that some GSDs trained as guide dogs have adapted well to apartment dwelling in many urban areas. This is especially true in inner city settings where persons needing assistance are in high crime urban areas. The mere presence of a breed such as the GSD in this role adds an extra measure of security.
Sometimes an older dog can also be ideal in an apartment setting. Care would have to be taken to find the right individual dog.
7. I want to make money selling puppies.
PLEASE DO NOT GET A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG! Please speak to a reputable breeder of any breed. They will tell you that done correctly, the breeding of puppies is not a money-making proposition, but one that requires an investment of your time and resources. And once you have made this investment, a number of things can go wrong: the mother dog can lose some or all of her puppies. The mother or puppies may require expensive medical care. Or you may not find enough suitable homes (and German Shepherd Dogs typically have large litters).
There are countless puppies and dogs of all breeds needing homes and many Purebred Rescue services trying to place them. Unless you believe your bitch can make an honest contribution to the breed, as evidenced by her success in the show ring, her adherence to the standard, or the value of her bloodline, please think twice about bringing even more puppies into the world
EASY TIPS FDR HOUSEBREAKING A PUPPY
If you are lucky enough to get a 7-week-old puppy, there is no excuse for any bad habits to develop over his lifetime. Puppies learn INSTANTLY when they are that young, and if you use the proper training methods, gentle but consistent, he will behave like an angel his whole life through.
The most important training, of course, is housebreaking. Boys are easier than girls because exploring outside is their favorite thing. They just cannot get enough of all the new smells out there!
The main key to housebreaking is watching. Watch your puppy AND the clock. Once every hour is not too often on a day he is active and the weather is good. The younger the pup, the more often he needs to go out, mostly because he is growing so fast. He must drink more water to fuel his metabolism than he does as an adult. Also, since he eats three or four times a day, you know what that means.
Watch him for subtle changes. If he is happily chewing his toy, and gets up suddenly with his nose to the floor, move quickly! He is ready to squat! If he has had a nice nap, get him out of his crate and outside right away. If he has just had a good grooming, it stimulates his circulation and guess what? Time to go out again. And of course after a meal, watch him extra close.
Things to remember:
— Do not punish him for mistakes. They are YOUR fault. Every time you take him out he will go, and praise praise and praise! Happy face, laughter, happy noises! He loves your happy face. When he makes a mistake, your frown and your face turned away from him is all the punishment he needs. He will get the point.
— He is learning English, you must use the same phrases over and over. "Good go potty!" "Hafta go potty?" "Wanna go potty?" He can learn in one afternoon that "go potty" means a jaunt outside and your happy face. Whatever phrase you choose, stick with it.
— I cannot recommend strongly enough getting a crate. They truly help with all phases of his training. They make him more secure, provide him with his very own private space and a place for him to hide his favorite toys and chewies. This is even more important if you have other adult dogs in the house.