“OTHER TRAITS PRIZED IN HERDING, SUCH AS INTELLIGENCE AND INDEPENDENCE, AS WELL AS CONFIDENCE,
ALSO HAS MADE THE GERMAN SHEPHERD IDEAL TO SERVE AS SERVICE AND GUIDE DOGS AS WELL.”
best traits of the various herding dogs being used in Germany: diligence, obedience and independence. Th e dog had to be able to work 200 to 1000 plus very large heavy sheep, taking them out of the sleeping pen in the morning and keeping them in order on the road as they walked to the grazing fields for the day. Th e human would lead the flock, but the dog had to be capable of working long lengths of the flock, as the roads were narrow and the flock must be kept on the road and out of the fields to the sides. Th e dog must have incredible endurance as he continually moved along the length of the flock. After arriving at the grazing area, the dog defined the bor- der that the sheep must graze within and then continued to patrol those borders for many hours. He must have courage to face down an irate ram, the patience and good temperament to deal with silly lambs, always have one ear cocked and listening for his handler so he could respond imme- diately to commands, but also the intel- ligence as well as independence to assess an ever changing situation and deal with it appropriately without constant input from the human shepherd. In addition, the ideal dog needed an instinctual protective nature to keep the flock safe from strangers as well as the occasional wild animal. Captain Max von Stephanitz said, “ Th e most noble profession for a shepherd dog is that of tending sheep…”, but he also wanted a breed that could serve mankind in other ways. Th e traits that made Ger- man Shepherd such a great tending dog, also made it a natural to move into mili- tary service and law enforcement. Captain Max von Stephanitz said, “Our shepherd dog is a born police dog, for when he is with the flocks and the herds, he is also ‘policeman’.” Other traits prized in herd- ing, such as intelligence and independence, as well as confidence, also has made the German Shepherd ideal to serve as service and guide dogs as well. Th e Captain recognized that choosing the best herding dogs wouldn’t always be possible with the changing world, so for
dogs who were not working sheepdogs, he developed a three part test of obedi- ence, protection and tracking to choose suitable breeding stock for his developing breed. Over the years, Schutzhund evolved into more than a breed test and is now a very popular international sport enjoyed by many di ff erent breeds. Th e sport has changed names and is being known most recently as Internationale Prufungs- Ordnung , IPO for short. Th e Verein für Deutsche Schäferhund , or SV, is the origi- nal German Shepherd Dog breed club in Germany. Th e SV still requires that all dogs used for breeding be either titled in IPO or Herdengebrauchshund (HGH), the German Tending/Herding test for German Shepherds. Th e AKC German Shepherd breed stan- dard states, “ Th e first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life.” STRONG. Th e German Shepherd
needs to be capable of confronting one or more 300 pound sheep that really think the grass is greener over the border. He also must be able to take down a criminal in his job for the military or police. AGILE. In the HGH, the dog should be capable of jumping a one meter fence into the hold- ing pen. In IPO, the dog must retrieve a dumbbell over a one meter jump as well as scale a wall which is similar to, but steeper than, an A-Frame in AKC agility. WELL MUSCLED. A proper German Shepherd needs to have stamina and be capable of hard labor; tending for hours on end, patrolling with the military in the moun- tains of Afghanistan, tracking and search- ing for a lost child. ALERT. As a tending dog, the German Shepherd must always be aware of his surroundings, where the sheep are eating and any potential danger to his flock. As a military or police patrol dog, it goes without saying that this trait is of paramount importance.
This dog is a GCH and was the 2014 Herding Victor and 2014 Tending Sieger. Left: GSD standing at entrance to bridge as sheep go back to pen. Right: GSD moving to put sheep in a large graze. (Photos by Valerie Harrington)
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2015 • 245
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