Promoting responsible German Shepherd Dog ownership
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Honestly to me they are very different than shepherds. There are similarities of course but the overall package comes together to form a different sort of dog. For example a german shepherd can be used on sheep, heelers generally can't as they are too aggressive on animals in general.
Headstrong, feisty, and not very social. Most of the ones I know are not very good with other dogs. Very strong willed and won't back down and may instigate. It's not uncommon for fights to suddenly break out between them and other dogs even ones they've been around a lot as they can instigate a fight or not back down from any sort of challenge and begin a fight when challenged. Which makes sense when they're used to take on angry backcountry cows.
I have met very very few that are social with strangers. They range from ignoring you to be being standoffish to nipping if you try to pet.
I haven't noticed them to be as versatile as other breeds. They want to herd and that's what they'll do.
That said I know of one person back in my hometown. Not a single one of his dogs go to working homes but he has people across the country as repeat buyers for pets. From what he was saying they are much more mild and sociable than a normal heeler. But for example unless either of you had a ranch and cattle there are a lot of heeler litters up here that you wouldn't be able to buy puppies out of.
Im not sure what the heelers in Texas are like but there is a couple of unique lines down that way from what I've heard. The one I know should 100% to be fully happy be living out on a ranch herding cattle, he live with a female dog and that's where the strong willed fights can come into play even between male pairings. The owners are very diligent and have worked hard to keep them from happening but it does.
i know of a lot of heelers that are good until maturity but after that are more likely to bite somebody than let them pet them. Not a fault either as most are ranch dogs that see a very limited range of people and leave visitors alone unless they try to pet them.
That said many heelers I know have an issue with going after cars/car tires. Obviously not a desirable thing but super common issue people have with them and have to work on.
I really hope they don't become a more common pet breed. They may be pretty dogs but it'll very quickly go south unless there is some intense selection in breeding. Thankfully the selling to ranch homes only and the reputation prevents a lot of that up here.
I watched some ACD videos and it looks like most of them are not only bred to be working dogs but they are raised outdoors, on farms and mainly get socialized toward cattle, not people. I think almost any herding breed that is worked, and then left alone would have anti social tendencies. That is why some farm dog owners insist their dogs also live indoors with people.
an example, my WL breeder has a lot of dogs because she supplies LE with scent detection dogs, and some are suited for dual purpose. She also breeds for intense IGE. Then she pulls out the working dogs from the pet dogs. Mine was supposed to be more of a happy, pet dog but he still has intensity and drive. Anyway, with all those dogs, she rotates every single dog through her house at night so each dog is forced to interact with people and with other dogs in close quarters. I think that is probably in case she ever decides to rehome a dog if it isn’t used for breeding or isn’t a special pet of hers. She tends to keep her elderly dogs but if a dog doesn’t breed or it gets to age 3 and she decides she doesn’t want to breed it, she sell a trained dog to a good home.
That is true and probably has a role in it for some. But I've met plenty that are raised indoors and the same way. I've met plenty of farm dogs of other breeds raised outside only that are still perfectly sociable. My aunt's dog was a border collie that had occasional issues with face nipping but was good otherwise. The GSD that I got was raised outside since she was a tiny puppy and heavily abused and is still the sweetest dog you'll ever meet.
Meanwhile my friends heeler that was in the townhouse with them a lot of time wasn't a dog that you could pet. She's ignore you like you didn't exist for the most part. A fair few heelers are intensely one person dogs, some to the extent of not really socializing with other members of the family a whole lot. They have their person and screw anybody else.
And since they can be hard pets to own the one raised as housepets only tend to have more issues with nipping and other behaviors you want to avoid. I've seen that more in the mixes that take after the heeler part. That's why I ended up not keeping the 3 month old puppy. It was clear that contrary to what the people had told me he that he very much had the heeler edge. At that point he was very sweet with people but very much a little brat to other dogs. My dog is extremely tolerant and hasn't had any issues with other dogs even ones trying to start a fight and he was causing problems with her. They told me after I said that I was having problems with him that they'd had no issues but they'd separated him out cause the others picked on him. What I saw was more likely that he was being a pain in the butt and was getting schooled a lot. They can be extremely hard headed when they want to be. He liked to go for sensitive places on other dogs and did tried to herd and control them with the other dogs would not have put up with.
I agree and disagree. The traits you list as common for an ACD are absolutely traits that one should expect in a well bred GSD.
I do agree that a GSD can be more versatile. I recently spoke with someone that has titled multiple ACDs and GSDs in IPO. I asked their opinions on comparing the breeds. Oddly, they said that the GSD was easier to train and needed to have a job.
I do want to point out that it is common for a male GSD not to be able to be safely kept with a female or vice versa. Male on male aggression is fierce among GSDs and is NOT forgotten once they have begun to fight. The people that you see talking about male male aggression being nothing compared to female female aggression have not owned two males that fight, usually they haven't had two females either, and those people only parrot what they have heard.
Attacking car tires is a function of prey drive as is herding. When dogs are not provided outlets for their drives, they will create their own. Dlila adores herding the bigger dogs when they get unruly. I hope to start her on treiball.
The main difference I am seeing is in the prey drive. Some of my dogs have strong prey drive, not necessarily high prey drive. Dlila has strong prey drive. She definitely is an ankle biter and will nip at heads too if she must. FWIW, GSDs grab necks, ribs and hind legs. IF properly bred, the GSD and the ACD should both lack the kill bite and both should possess a bite and release genetic grip.
Manfred Heyne was well renowned in the GSD herding circle. He states that a GSD needs to have very high prey drive and that it should be triggered by sheep. I see a keen interest by Dlila in animals in general but in the most curious and affectionate manner. She "turns on" with big and unruly. I can't really say the same about GSDs and Manfred states that today's high prey drive is not wired right and ill focused. I agree. I see GSDs as being highly intuitively unfocused resulting in hectic drive that must be channeled. That might be good for sport or work venue but it is a drain on good herding and does not qualify as good pet material.
I have only met a few here and they were challenging for their owners, but those owners only had experience with softer dogs.
Isn’t some of that high, frantic drive bred into them for LE?
Only 5 -10% of GSDs qualify for LE. The rest should be lower drive and better balanced BUT it is the sport breeding that has brought on these changes.
Those numbers are probably for apprehension or dual purpose dogs. Scent only dogs may have a lower threshold for acceptance and maybe more qualify.