So many things are affected by dog breeding, good or bad. This is true with the German Shepherd and most – if not all – other breeds as well. Since we have bred GSDs for nearly 30 years, we’ll take a look at this subject with the GSD in mind. Much of the same can be said for other breeds as well.
Everything – from the shape of the head, whether the ears are erect or floppy, skeletal structure, color, quality of the coat, the number of “heats” the female has per year, temperament, social ability or lack thereof – is all affected by the selection of the breeding pair. Granted, the environment and training can affect many things as well…but neither of these can overcome a poor specimen.
Let’s talk a little more specifically.
- Health. From hip dysplasia to pannus to heart issues to dental health, breeding either improves or diminishes the quality of the dog. Many health concerns within the breed are due to a “bottleneck” effect within the gene pool. These health issues are passed on to generation after generation for decades…or longer. Genetic testing is easily and inexpensively available these days…there’s no excuse for perpetuating health maladies into the population. Health screening – if breeders would just do it (serious breeders do) – would greatly enhance the health of the breed. Pups from a health-screened litter will cost you more up front but it will save you hundreds if not thousands in vet bills later.
- Trainability. Yes, the ease in which GSDs are trained is largely genetic as well. The original GSD was purposely bred to be easily trainable. These days, though, there is a large number of GSDs that are so stubborn that they are nearly uncontrollable. It takes the fun out of owning a Shepherd. It negatively affects the relationship between dog and owner. From teaching the Sit to the “Out” on the bite sleeve, breeding affects it all. Trainable dogs are not only a joy to work with but also reduce tension in the human/canine bond. The constant struggle to be in control can be very frustrating and to give up the fight for control is disastrous.
- Confidence. GSDs these days are unfortunately known for their timidity, snapping, and being untrustworthy around children or even strangers. This is especially true with GSDs from American or British lineage. Many West German dogs also suffer from this disorder as well. Yes, good socialization as a puppy can help the dog become more comfortable however socialization will never overcome bad nerves that are genetically hardwired into the dog. The GSD is supposed to be a confident animal. Confident dogs are not quick to bite, are not “snappers,” and can handle stress (from ear-pulling toddlers to thunderstorms to intruders) much more positively than their timid counterparts. If the parents are stressed and timid, chances are very high that your pup will be timid and easily stressed as well. He isn’t going to “outgrow” it.
- Working Ability. Bloodline is so critical in choosing a working dog, whether it be a personal protection dog or a police K9. With few exceptions, GSDs from American or British breeding cannot consistently produce working-caliber dogs. These bloodlines focus upon the looks (color, topline) of the dog and tend to ignore the qualities needed for true work. If you’re wanting a dog capable of defending your family, you’ll want to get one from a true working line (not West German), True working lines (such as German working line and/or Czech lines) have many generations of proven working dogs that possess the drives needed to be a dependable worker. See our related article on the difference in the GSD bloodlines.
We have several articles on our DogBlog to help you make a wise choice in selecting a breeder who takes things seriously and isn’t just after the money.
Furthermore, if you could bear with us a moment ????, we take our breeding program very seriously and are committed to providing a well-balanced GSD that can fit into a home setting as well as strong K9 workers who can confidently take down a suspect on the street. We’d be honored if you would consider us for your next German Shepherd. Check out our For Sale page or call us at 812-650-2394.