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Old 01-28-2012, 06:58 AM
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skittledoo skittledoo is offline
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Default German Shepherds- curious

When I was younger I always ALWAYS wanted a German Shepherd second to a border collie of course.

Anyways, I have met some pretty amazing GSDs in the past...

Fast forward to now. I work in a dog daycare and we have a LOT of German Shepherds that come to our daycare. I can't stand a single one of them. They are off the WALL boisterous dogs and SUPER pushy and they are some of our worst humpers. A couple owners own two of them (male and female pair) and the GSD pairs that come in are super clingy with each other. If you take one of the dogs away from the other even for a moment, they will both throw a huge fit. They're stubborn. They also are so needy with their owners that they literally scream bloody murder in the lobby when their owners come to pick them up. They just aren't at all what I imagined a German Shepherd to be and to be honest, these dogs are ruining my adoration for German Shepherds.

Is what I described a typical temperament for this breed? Or does it depend on the lines? I know we are right near Virginia German Shepherd Rescue and we give discounts to people from the rescue which is probably why we end up with so many, but sadly I don't like any of the ones at work.

Describe to me what a normal temperament should be? The differences between some of the different lines (American, German, Czech etc).... I know that looks wise I love the look of the European working lines, but again.... The temperament is the part I'm unsure about right now.

This is a breed I would like to want.... But if the way they are at my work is the way they generally are.... Then no way.

And an obligatory picture of one of our GSDs at work. Meet Tempest. She is super smart but one of the major pushy dogs, young and a pain in my ass. She's lucky she is cute lol...
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:10 AM
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I've only lived with one GSD, and only for a short while. However, I can tell you I was told by a ton of people that the behaviors I thought were crazy and weird and abnormal were "normal for a shepherd."
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Originally Posted by skittledoo View Post
They are off the WALL boisterous dogs and SUPER pushy and they are some of our worst humpers.
I would have called Ruca pushy, to a point. She was definitely pushy with other dogs who let her be that way. She was not a humper.

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Originally Posted by skittledoo View Post
They're stubborn.
She would have been labeled stubborn by most people but it was truly a lack of understanding.

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Originally Posted by skittledoo View Post
They also are so needy with their owners that they literally scream bloody murder in the lobby when their owners come to pick them up.
I worried initially about Ruca being a one-person dog as it took her a while to want to interact with me and seek me out for things. However, she didn't end up appearing to be so. She formed a loose bond with me and her other foster mom within a couple weeks. She appeared to adore her new owners the second time she met them. For as much work as she was, I really believe she was a stable dog underneath it all. I think a lot of it comes down to overall stability![/QUOTE]
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:39 AM
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Sounds about right. LOL

They're VERY, I repeat VERY vocal dogs. They are pushy, oh god are they pushy. They cling, a lot. Stubborn, yes, they need a reason to work a lot of the time, some lines are less stubborn but ime they all have a degree of serious stubbornness.

I love a good GSD, like I would totally own one in a heart beat, but the vocal part can be a true headache. My Malinois are noisy but they have a volume off switch. Most every GSD I know only has a volume knob, they can be loud or a quiet continuous whimper and grumble. Also the pushy isn't a bad thing, imo, nor is the cling, they should be very into their family, even the stubbornness isn't an issue for me (although I like a biddable dog) most of the time it's just a matter of finding what makes them tick and they're far less stubborn. If these don't suit you then yeah, I'd stay away.

I will say you're probably not seeing them in a scenario where you can appreciate the breed (unless you're looking for a daycare dog). A GSD should be working in some capacity and the mind will be a lot calmer, less edgy, less anxious, more confident, etc. Hold your opinions on the value of these behaviors until you've seen the breed work.
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdrianneIsabel View Post
I will say you're probably not seeing them in a scenario where you can appreciate the breed (unless you're looking for a daycare dog). A GSD should be working in some capacity and the mind will be a lot calmer, less edgy, less anxious, more confident, etc. Hold your opinions on the value of these behaviors until you've seen the breed work.
This.

I think too many people get these dogs because they are easily accessible and they have some sort of preconceived notion of how they behave (which is usually wrong), or they get them just for their looks. Then they go to work, leave them in daycare for the day, pick them up and go home and sit on the couch for the rest of the night. Thus, the dog is insane because it does nothing all day.
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:51 AM
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I've run into a lot of the same things, just a lot of really poor examples of the breed. However, there are a couple that come in that aren't neurotic, raging @ssholes. Few and far in between, but they do exist.

I comfort myself with the idea that GSD's just suck at boarding and they're awesome dogs at home. I hope. Otherwise, yeah, I don't get the appeal.
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:59 AM
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I read your description of GSDs to my husband and he said "sounds like GSDs".

Being able to attend doggy daycare is not characteristic of the breed. If one wants a doggy daycare, dog park dog they should not get a GSD. While some may have the temperament for it, they really aren't supposed to be gregarious dogs. When I worked at a daycare, the only GSD that was able to come long term was my own and she only enjoyed it because she was able to be with me all day long. It would have made her very sad to be left there all day. We had several GSDs who would come and do nothing all day, every day but wait for their owner. And a few who seemed to do fine until they got really comfy there and started having issues with certain other dogs.

Above all else, GSDs want to be with their people and have a relationship with their people. It can almost be hard to appreciate without having been a good GSD's person. You are their entire world. I don't find good GSDs stubborn, they have a pretty strong desire to work with you. However, they can have their moments in every day life where they want what they want and when and it's hard to sway them from that. GSDs can bond very strongly to dogs they live with as well, although sometimes there is the opposite issue (more on that later). They don't tend to tolerate situations that involve being left with strangers all that well. Again it is not characteristic of them them to be gregarious. It is characteristic of them to want to be with their people, their group or in their home. Things like boarding just don't make sense to them at all I think.

I'd say the screaming in excitement, frustration or because they are upset is not uncommon at all. I had three and only one screamed (Jora) but did she ever! If she was locked away when dinner was being prepared, you'd think a dog was being killed in the house (she really loved dinner time). She also screamed when I was cutting her toenails, screamed in excitement while waiting to do agility and screamed when I worked other dogs. Of course, I have Belgians that scream too but usually over different things.

Mine were all crazy food obsessed dogs (high food drive). They would stuff themselves until they looked fat and want to eat more. They are also very clever and great problem solves. This can be a problem. The two girls (Jora and Lexi) both learned to open up cupboards and the pantry, which required some pretty tricky child proofing. Jora figured out the first two childproof latches and how to pull a large cupboard drawer out to get to the garbage. Lexi figured out how to open the fridge and the pantry (which has a regular doorknob). Jora once got into the pa pantry and ate several pounds of raw potatoes and most of a bag of cat food. I got home from work, took one look at her and thought she was bloating, so took her to the ER clinic. At the clinic, she was begging for treats from the receptionist who told me " I can see why you think she's bloating but I've never seen a bloating dog in such a happy mood begging for food". The diagnosis after an xray and several hundred dollars was "she's not bloating, she just has a lot of stuff in her stomach".

My three were from different lines - Jora was from German show lines and Lexi and Doogie were half sibling from American show lines. Jora had a near perfect GSD temperament, to me. She was super trainable, so very smart, so willing to work, so devoted, so driven and also had very serious guarding/protective instinct. The two American lines differed from her in some ways. Doogie was also extremely devoted and very trainable and very lovey/needy in the way boy herding breeds can be. He was protective to the point that it was a problem, lacked the judgement Jora had and was a bit intolerant of too much interaction with strangers. He got progressively worse, until he really wasn't trustworthy to take everywhere. Then he started seizuring and ended up dying quite young because of that. So I don't know how much of his issues were related to brain problems and how much was genetic temperament. Lexi was sort of "different" for a GSD. She had a high food drive, high prey drive but not much work ethic. She was a bit lackadaisical Extremely good problem solver and she definitely had a bit of stubbornness to her, especially as she got older. She was the least guardy of all of mine and had no protective instincts except for a bit when strange people walked into the house without knocking (something that generally doesn't fly with GSDs) or came up to the fence. She didn't scream but she barked a lot. Recreational barker - barked because she liked to hear herself. barked and barked whenever she was outside. Also whined and carried on and "talked" about things all the time. She wore a bark collar during certain times to keep her quiet outside but eventually, she didn't really care about the correction and would bark through it, so I gave up and just tried to manage it so she wasn't barking too late or too early.

The biggest challenge I had with the GSDs was that all three were dog aggressive to some degree and DA or selectiveness or intolerance is a pretty common trait in the breed. Lexi could be a bit on leash aggressive with other dogs, which I was able to work her through. She also viewed very small dogs as prey (although she was awesome with all of my puppies and litters). Doogie was aggressive with some other males as he matured and his sire was as well. Jora was aggressive with any other female in the household. She could go tot daycare, friend's houses, trials, pet expos, etc, etc and never have any issues. But mature bitches living in the same household didn't ever work long term. It didn't matter how appropriate they were, how submissive they were or if she was raised with them. Her and Lexi lived together peacefully until they were about 3 years old (I got Lexi around a year old, had Jora as a puppy but they were almost the same age). Once the fighting started, it just got worse. They were kept totally separated and if they got together, they would start fighting immediately. That is the biggest reason I don't have another GSD. Same sex aggression is pretty common in the breed, happens in all lines and isn't something that can be easily predicted. Many people with GSDs living with same sex dogs end up in a long term crate and rotate situation.

The biggest issues that I have seen people have with GSDs are not appreciating just how guardy they can be and not training/managing them appropriately. And the dog aggression/reactivity/intolerance issues. Many can also be very bad about handling, especially from strangers (such as vets or groomers), so they need to be socialized and trained to accept such things at a young age. They can also be pretty high energy and some can be a bit destructive as youngsters. Some GSD people also refer to GSD babies as "landsharks" because they are so mouthy, grabby and bitey.

So that's my GSD experience in a nutshell. They were my first love and I may have one again some day, if my situation changes. I'd probably only have one if it could be the only girl or only boy in the household though and considering I have multiple bitches and a boy puppy, that won't be any time soon. They're great dogs for someone who wants a dog who will be totally attached and devoted to them. Who is very into their dog and enjoys doing lots of interactive stuff with their dog, socialization, early training and developing the dog into what they want and who are willing to properly train and manage a dog with this breed's tendencies (protective, guardy, potential for dog issues).
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:51 PM
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We had a GSD cross growing up that was awesome but I've had the same experience as you as an adult. I've just not met many at all that I enjoy, even the few in my agility classes were so not my type of dog. At the shelter I hated working with them, they were just too unpredictable. It's probably really crappy GSDs that are ending up in shelters though.

There was one dog I LOVED that I saw at the park. I have no idea on the breeding but this dog was a sable, looked like a Czech or german working line. He was intense in everything he did and just exuded power. He seemed to ignore everything else around him except his owner. I have the feeling he was imported as the lady that owned him was always on the phone and spoke another language. I couldn't ever really place the language though.
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Old 01-28-2012, 02:44 PM
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My GSD Crash was definitely pushy, especially when young. Very mouthy, and pretty stubborn. Definitely a humper, mostly to adult males, lol. When he grew up, he was more willing to please, easier to train, listened better, etc. He was very clingy, great off-leash dog, always stuck close, and came when called.

He was a very good dog. Loveable, goofy, sweet. He was BIG and clumsy though, and always knocked things off of our tables, which is where he got his name, Crash, lol!

Aaaaand a picture, cause he was adorable...


Sorry about the quality, it's a phone pic of a pic lol!
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Old 01-28-2012, 04:17 PM
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I have/had gsd's "forever" Aleron summed it up pretty well.

I have/had dogs from all lines except west german. Joe Public sometimes think these dogs train themselves, are all like RIn Tin Tin..Not so

I agree they aren't good doggie daycare dogs in general.

I have had one couch potatoe of all the gsd's I've had/have. I have been truly blessed to have/had some absolutely wonderful german shepherds, purchased and rescued. I wouldn't change a thing.

They certainly aren't the breed for everyone, but I think people who have experienced the wonder of having a good dog never switch breeds

Right now, I have Masi who is 3/4 czech and 1/4 ddr. She is out of a narcotics certified dam/by a male who has so many titles I can't count, from SAR to high level agility.

She is definately a dog who doesn't sit around much She can be pushy, bores easily, happiest when her nose is to the ground and she's on a track. She's not a big barker , is totally into 'me', Love her to death,

Each dog I've had has taught me more than I'll ever know. I also have two aussies, which are comic relief )

Anyhow, here's Masi
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Old 01-28-2012, 05:07 PM
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Above all else, GSDs want to be with their people and have a relationship with their people. It can almost be hard to appreciate without having been a good GSD's person. You are their entire world. I don't find good GSDs stubborn, they have a pretty strong desire to work with you. However, they can have their moments in every day life where they want what they want and when and it's hard to sway them from that. GSDs can bond very strongly to dogs they live with as well, although sometimes there is the opposite issue (more on that later). They don't tend to tolerate situations that involve being left with strangers all that well. Again it is not characteristic of them them to be gregarious. It is characteristic of them to want to be with their people, their group or in their home. Things like boarding just don't make sense to them at all I think.
That's totally been my experience with them. They don't just adore you, they want to BE you. lol.

I think that if we were allowed to have two dogs when we were fostering Tengu, her separation anxiety wouldn't have gotten as bad as it did and we might have been able to keep her. The people who adopted her had a male GSD and she did soooo much better having him around.

And Skittle, all those things you listed are reasons why I'll never go out of my way to get a GSD again. I adore them, but to live with them just kind of drives me crazy. Give me hounds any day.
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