The GSDCA in Trouble, part 2 I know from personal experience that the mental state of the American show GSD deteriorated to an alarming degree. I’m told things have improved, but how much? Moses, Amidon and Rinke all talk about the working ability of the breed, but agility, rally, obedience, “watching the kids” and weekend herding are not work. These fun activities are not objective tests of working temperament. Many breeders’ claims of “wonderful” temperament in their dogs are without objective evidence. A good GSD should demonstrate that it will, unaccompanied, hold its ground under threat, has the drive to persist on a difficult track, and the stability to withstand applied stress. Rinke says that taking the dog home off lead will show you its temperament, but that won’t show you working aptitudes unless you arrange for a capable tester to assess the dog.
There probably are no really strong American show line dogs. A dog that “shows you its molars” (a comment made by a well-known American show breeder about one of his well-used studs) in its own backyard is showing you nothing. American dogs are not objectively tested for stable defensive drive. Show judges are not able to judge temperament in a show ring except to cull the truly defective. Without working titles, working ability in a line degenerates. Rinke comments that, “There are good dogs that are doing protection, obedience, leader-dogs, guard-dogs, and family dogs. (What) I’m talking about (are) animals that are very close to the Standard – extraordinary specimens”. He seems to imply that the great American show dog is superior to the true working dog, and that the capabilities of a true working dog still exist in modern show lines, despite dozens of generations of untested, untitled and unqualified breeding. I’d be happy if they did, but there is no evidence that this is true, and much evidence that it is not.
Most American breeders of AKC show lines seem to have little experience of working dogs. They don’t differentiate between German show and German working lines, which are quite different. They appear not to understand bite work and the differences between drives and defense, or the importance of nervous stability and how it is tested. They seem to prefer to avoid the issue and produce soft, low drive dogs (drive and energy are two different things). Show breeding has become pet breeding. When I got into the breed over forty years ago, it was understood that the shepherd was not just an everyman’s pet. A shepherd required training, discipline and exercise, and was “more” dog than average. Show breeding has changed that.
None of these three breeders discuss the working dogs they bred or the dogs of their breeding that are guiding the blind, serving on SAR units or as police service dogs. Have any dogs of their breeding achieved advanced schutzhund titles, or even advanced tracking? Why are the Best in Shows and ROMs and Selects so much more important? They are to a conformation breeder. They are not to the breed.
To be continued…