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Thinking about a GSD, have some ?'s

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  • #81
    Originally posted by wendy View Post
    From your comments about the breeder, I'm guessing this is an american pet line. They are, unfortunately, often neurotic, fearful, and/or aggressive, and devoid of useful drives. Hopefully you can meet the individual and see for yourself what this particular dog is like. Sadly many of the "pet" GSD we see have horrible temperaments. Statistics indicate they are very high up on the lists of "dogs that bite people", and are also way up on the lists of "dogs that attack other dogs".

    I have to admit this is one breed I'd be quite reluctant to accept as a "rescue" dog- the odds of "lucking into" a healthy individual with a good temperament in the rescue system is quite low.
    Originally posted by Megaladon View Post
    I can count on my hand how many GSDs I've met that don't meet that description--and I've met/know a good many. Temperament wise, this breed is in a desperate situation.
    Here's where I have to disagree, or at least offer my own experience. I don't own a GSD, but I've worked with lots at my local animal shelter. I worked with one 4-5x a week for about a month and a half, socializing and training. All the GSDs I've worked with have been pet quality, and I'm sure most if not all of them were BYB. Some have come from less than ideal situations. None of them had bad temperaments, and it makes me really sad when I hear things like this. None of the dogs were perfect, but they didn't have any more issues than any other high-drive dog. Most dogs will have minor issues, but those can be easily worked out once the dog is in a home environment.

    But then again, this shelter treats it's dogs better than a lot of owners. They get walked twice a day for at least 15 minutes, they get played with, trained, and generally socialized. For a lot of dogs this is more activity than they've ever had.

    In my opinion, while there are some dogs out there with bad temperaments, GSDs included, most of bad dog behavior comes from poor management or breed choice. German Shepherds are not going to be your best friend when they meet you, you have to work for their loyalty. But once you have it, they will be the most loyal dog you've ever had.

    They're smart. If you don't give them a job and set rules, they will create their own job. And that job will most likely be something destructive. These are not dogs that can be thrown in the backyard while you're at work, be walked once a day and call it good. Basically, they are not the dog for the "average" pet owner. But this may be a bit cocky, but I don't think that any of us on this board are the "average" pet owner. We know how to train our animals, we know how to troubleshoot problems, and we know when we are over our heads and need to seek outside assistance.

    The issues I see with GSDs are not behavioral, they're medical and societal. As previously mentioned, this breed has some severe medical issues. The only way to avoid most of these is to do your research and get a puppy from a very respectable breeder. If you're rescuing, it's a bit of a crapshoot. Also, GSDs are on nearly all breed restriction lists for apartments, and are on a lot of housing insurance lists as well. Definitely double check your policy.

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    • #82
      Statistics are a funny thing. I've seen the same study that says German shepherds bite more than any other breed. But when novices identify a dog by breed, anything with up right ears or that is black and tan is a shepherd. Malamutes and huskys were identified as shepherds!

      I've seen 20lb 6month old puppies called shepherd crosses because they were black and tan!

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      • #83
        There was a study done by an insurance company organization a number of years ago that - believe it or not - listed Dachshunds as the top/most frequent biters in the country!

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        • #84
          I would have bet on buff male cocker spaniels!

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          • #85
            Originally posted by jherold View Post
            I would have bet on buff male cocker spaniels!
            The nastiest dog I ever met was a cocker. She would attack the door when people were coming or leaving, had to be put down when she attacked her owner during one of her "door" episodes.
            "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville

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            • #86
              Originally posted by chism View Post
              The nastiest dog I ever met was a cocker. She would attack the door when people were coming or leaving, had to be put down when she attacked her owner during one of her "door" episodes.
              Same here, except the one I knew was a male. What is really blowing my mind is it was the same thing that set him off - he went psycho when anyone came to the door! His owners would drag him snarling and foaming at the mouth off to the bathroom, where he had to be incarcerated for at least an hour to "calm down." He wound up chewing an entire corner off the solid wood door over time, in his frantic rage to get out. This was our neighbor's dog and I was fairly friendly with their daughter so I went over there a couple times a week. The damn dog scared the bejeebers out of me, though.

              We were told his behavioral issues stemmed from him being abused as a puppy before they got him, but he never got any better over the years... Looking back I'm fairly certain that dog was just plain unhinged/cuckoo bananas. Once he was out of the bathroom you did well to give a wide berth. A favorite move was to hide under the couch and lunge out in an attempt to bite you on the ankle. Why they ever kept that dog is beyond me - he was a walking lawsuit ready to happen!
              "Horses lend us the wings we lack." ~ Pam Brown

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              • #87
                Originally posted by Sku View Post
                Here's where I have to disagree, or at least offer my own experience.... All the GSDs I've worked with have been pet quality, and I'm sure most if not all of them were BYB. Some have come from less than ideal situations.

                In my opinion, while there are some dogs out there with bad temperaments, GSDs included, most of bad dog behavior comes from poor management or breed choice. German Shepherds are not going to be your best friend when they meet you, you have to work for their loyalty. But once you have it, they will be the most loyal dog you've ever had.

                They're smart. If you don't give them a job and set rules, they will create their own job.
                I agree with sku's disagreement I suspect many of the "nasty" behavioral problems in GSD are caused by owners who don't know how to handle the dogs. They aren't inherently a "mean" breed, they shouldn't be randomly aggressive, but if you don't give them clear instructions regarding their job in life, they can get pretty neurotic!

                Some of you may remember me posting a question about my GSD rescue who was scaring me because after about 3 months of low-key, super mellow living with us he had starting barking and lunging at people in certain public situations. On the advice of the posters here, I enrolled us in a basic group obedience class at a good training/boarding facility. There I learned how to read and react to my dog's signals and how to make sure I could get his attention when I needed to.

                I also realized my dog wasn't "turning aggressive" - he was just getting more confident and attempting to take on more responsibilities on his own. When he got excited or unsure, he reacted with more enthusiasm than required. Now that I know how to be the boss, I can redirect his attention and we've not had any more incidents. This dog even sat with me on the porch this Halloween and calmly greeted hundreds of kids and adults - even full masks didn't freak him out!

                They aren't terribly difficult dogs to work with, but you do need to WORK to keep those brains engaged. They're bred to help, we need to give them something to do besides bark at people from the backyard all day.

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