Different Types of GSDs
to you by the F.A.S.T. Co.
This is an introduction
to the various types of German Shepherd Dogs in the world today.
& text by: Kelly S. George
here to see photos of various GSDs
types of GSDs
This is provided to educate
about the GSDs and the off-types of this noble breed.
Specialty and All-Breed -- The All-Breed type of American Show Shepherd
is slightly less angulated than the Specialty type, but both have the same
spooky type of temperament and are trained to gait like blazes in the ring.
The only real training they ever receive is to pull out on the leash. Also,
any AKC registered dog is bred to any other AKC registered dog with no
thought at all to temperament. Is it any wonder why we see so many shy
dogs in the show ring??? The Specialty type is the extremely over-angulated
type. They are so sloped that they actually have their hocks touching the
ground. It looks very flashy gaiting in the ring but it is very structurally
breeders of these two types pay lip service to temperament and working
ability, but their dogs speak for them. These two types can NOT do the
work they were bred to do. They only look flashy in the ring with their
fluffed up bryl-cremed coats. But this is only for show as their eye expression
betrays the fact that they have no working ability or intelligence. It
is like a beautiful woman -- she is extremely beautiful on the outside,
but there is no inner substance or intelligence. Most of these dogs are
the standard black and tan in color.
The Sport type is the Schutzhund dogs we see. They are imported and some
are "trained" for police work. Most of the higher level Schutzhund dogs
do not do well in police work as they were trained and titled a certain
way. They have better structure than the show types but the temperament
usually leaves much to be
The dogs are bred and trained to bite and hold on. Schutzhund is a sport
that is so predictable that many times we see the dog anticipating what
the helper is going to do before he does it. The sport dogs today would
it in work if the Schutzhund trials were conducted as true tests -- the
way Max von Stephanitz wanted it to be and the way it was done originally.
The colors of these dogs vary from black and tan to different colors of
German shows are much different than American shows. In a German dog show,
the dog has to defend" the handler from the judge, who wears a sleeve to
test the dog's "defense" capabilities. The judge also walks down the line
of dogs and fires a cap pistol nears them. These dog's structures have
varying degrees of a roach back -- from mild (which is acceptable) to extreme
roach back (which is really hideous). It really depends on the judge as
to what extreme of the roach back wins. Also, every year is a Sieger show,
which determines the best German Shepherds, male and female. This is similar
to the AKC German Shepherd Dog Club of America's National
every year. The male is called a Sieger and the female is the Siegerin
and both have written critiques by the judge. The judge also places the
other dogs according to his choice and critiques them as well. These dogs
are usually black and red or black and tan in color.
-- These dog are big boned and some are long-coated. Their structure is
reminiscent of the old type German Shepherd (pre Lance of Fran Jo). Their
size ranges from 26 (females -- 26 to 29) to 32 (males -- 28 to 32) inches
so they are basically the same size as the King Shepherd. They were bred
to be home companions with little protective ability.
-- This is an oversized
German Shepherd. Basically it is descended from the German Shepherd, Alaskan
Malamutes and breeds such as the Great Pyrenees so many are long-coated.
The ideal size for this breed is 27 to 29 inches (25+ for females) and
from 75 pounds (females) to 140 pounds. The King Shepherd comes in a wide
colors. These are as follows: Sable (a brownish tan with brown or black
markings or a grayish silver with black markings); bi-colored (predominantly
black with red, tan or cream); black saddle with red, tan, gold, cream,
or silver markings. These dogs are bred to be protective of home and herd.
They are basically mixed breed dogs.
This type is becoming very popular now since this type seems exotic. They
are German Shepherds but have been bred apart for quite a long time. I
see many kennels, both online and in the magazines, advertising them. But
this can also lead to fraud as unscrupulous people can say that any type
of German Shepherd is from the Czech Republic since the registry for these
dogs is so screwed up. But these dogs are usually black sable in color.
This type is going the way of the American Show Shepherd but there are
exceptions to this. Some of these dogs still have working ability without
the German lines that are being brought in to inter-breed to regain
ability. My co-moderator has a good working dog that is not from German
Shepherd (Byelorussian Ovtcharka)
-- This breed was introduced to the (former) Soviet Union around 1920.
This is basically the original type of German Shepherd.
-- This is the basic white GSD. It is registered with the United Kennel
Club as the White Shepherd. This breed is disqualified in the AKC conformation
ring although it is allowed in other AKC performance events (such as Junior
Showmanship, Obedience, etc.). It is not overangulated like the other American
(Lapland Reindeer Dog) --
developed by crossing the German Shepherd with the Collie and Lapphund.
Bred to herd reindeer and is able to withstand bad weather conditions.
This breed can do anything he is trained to do (it is extremely intelligent)
and is the close companion of the Lapponian Herder. This breed is extremely
adaptable to any circumstance.
This is basically a wolf hybrid. It was developed by crossing a German
Shepherd with a zoo-kept wolf in 1921 to try to improve the GSD's trainability.
They used the Canadian Timber Wolf (which is pack oriented) rather than
the Carpathian Wolf (which is solitary). Some were unsuccessfully used
for police service work. It is rarely seen outside of Holland. It's temperament
is more like a wolf than a dog. This includes an intense
instinct, tendency towards shyness, and a need to roam.
This is another wolf hybrid. It was created in 1958 by crossing a GSD and
a Carpathian wolf at a police dog breeding station. The temperament of
this hybrid is suspicious of yet friendly towards humans (this is
typical behavior of wolf hybrids as they are confused, in other words they
have the suspiciousness of wolves yet
friendliness towards humans of dogs). They were commonly used as Czech
army dogs and border patrol dogs.
-- What's it all about?
Janice L. Hastings
translated in English, this is a German word for "protection" dog which
simply means a dog has passed a testing evaluation consisting of three
temperament 2) ability 3) willingness to work for
The objectives are described as identifying working dogs that possess the
working ability and test their temperament, scenting ability, focus, willingness
to please, athletic ability and fighting instincts. It is also claimed
is a proven and fail-safe method to evaluate these objectives and abilities.
The first phase is TRACKING (worth 100 points) and is best
described as able to test concentration, focus and drive by channeling
a natural tracking ability into precise scent discrimination.
are four levels in tracking:
I, II, and III with FH being the highest title.
first level is to test training, physical condition, endurance and stamina.
The dog must follow a human trail in a series of turns and angles and alert
to articles of all shapes and sizes (such as wood, plastic and articles
covered in leather and cloth) that are dropped along the track. The dog
is evaluated according to precision and intensity.
The next phase is OBEDIENCE (worth 100 points) which demonstrates
a willingness and eagerness to obey the handler. The dog is evaluated on
precision, speed and this willingness to obey specific commands. They are
heel (on and off leash), sit, long down, stand, retrieve, jump and climb
over obstacles, stay and come on command.
The third phase is PROTECTION (worth 100 points) which measures
the dog's courage (willingness and ability to confront and resist opposition
without support), fighting instincts (eagerness to engage in combat and
willingness to continue the fight until recalled) hardness (ability to
withstand a threatening under extremely stressful conditions)
dependability. He must find and alert his handler to the presence of a
hidden human being, protect if necessary and prevent the deliberate escape
of the human. The dog is expected to perform with precision at varying
distances and at times under extreme stress from verbal and physical threats
from the "villain". During this time, the dog may not be overly aggressive
nor harm the "villain" unless there is a physical attack on the handler.
Basically, this is Schutzhund "in a nutshell." For more information on
this subject and the United Schutzhund Clubs of America go to
is Schutzhund? Or look up (on Yahoo) Schutzhund #2 Draft Version
by Cindy Tittle Moore, or
GERMAN SHEPHERD BOOK by Susan Barwig (page 431 -- Schutzhund)
All of this looks great on "paper" but has been proving to be a curse when
applied to police dog training. Schutzhund is a sport and should be treated
as such, which will likely bring on some heated comments but, nevertheless,
should be entirely separated from police dog development and training.
To train a PSD using Schutzhund concepts and techniques is like teaching
a child how to play baseball using football rules. With Schutzhund, the
performance is the same all the time with all the movements never varying.
The dog has memorized it to the point that he/she anticipates the commands
and moves of the helper and many times acts before the command is given
-- resulting in a verbal or physical correction. This is unrealistic in
the world of the police dog where each moment changes quickly and sometimes
violently and the K-9 must be flexible enough to change with it.
-- What is it?
Schutzhund is an exciting and dramatic sport the whole family can enjoy.
It is as full of action and emotional involvement as football, basketball
and soccer, etc. I enjoy it very much myself and root for my favorite handler
and dog. But! There are conditions that disturb me -- particularly
when a dog is trained in Schutzhund and then put on the street as a police
dog. This difference is like night and day and apples and oranges. In this
sport, many trainers teach their dogs to track using food which makes them
keep their noses deep down to the ground continually and unnaturally. Pieces
of food are dropped onto the track every few feet, which they eat until
the dog gets to the end of the track, then they are given food again, this
time as a reward for "locating" the person. Basically, the dog has then
been trained to track food and not a person and this sets up in the dog's
mind that food is always to be found at the end of every "track" and from
a human hand. From then on, they have been conditioned to expect this.
This same concept applies to toys. The dog is no longer working for his
handler, he is hunting food and seeking play time. Some have been taught
the dog will only work for food or play. The dog seems to be the only one
who has figured out that he will work for man (as he has always done) for
love, praise and companionship, although he is not above sometimes taking
advantage of mankind's misguided thinking. What happens, though, when a
dog is not hungry or does not like the particular food? The obedience phase
is always useful for all dogs whether working breeds or not. It makes for
a well mannered, social, reliable and controlled dog under any circumstances
a joy to own. This is something I support fully and not just for Schutzhund.
It is the protection phase that disturbs me the most when applied to PSD
work and training. This phase is scored on three levels:
hold and bark (or revere)
attack upon an agitator
and hold). It is here that trainers may be getting their concepts
clouded or confused in their understanding about the mind, personality,
character and application of the police service dog. There is an exercise
called the blind search -- where the dog must search six "blinds" (which
Indian teepees) to find an agitator (the person who eventually engages
the dog in physical combat). The problem here, in application to police
dog training, is the agitator is ALWAYS in the sixth blind -- and the dog
has come to expect this although he must search through the others. This
never varies! Too many dogs are so programmed they become robot like in
their thinking ability and in any variation in the exercise throws them
mentally off. For example, during one trial a judge instructed the agitator
to hide behind the fifth blind. Although the dog saw him, he went to the
sixth blind as he had been programmed. The dog became so
anxious and disoriented when the agitator was not where he expected --
the handler had to go get him and remove him from the grounds. The next
exercise the dog must perform while at the blind is the Hold and Bark,
which consists of the dog positioning himself just inches in front of the
agitator, barking while rearing up and down but not attacking. This is
rather dramatic and exciting particularly when the dog is energetic and
animated but rather dangerous when the police dog engages the suspect in
this manner. Beng only inches away would enable the suspect to shoot, knife,
kick or hit the dog as many times as he wished -- while, if the dog had
been Schutzhund trained to follow a certain program of not attacking, could
and has resulted in a K-9's needless and pointless injury or death. Another
exercise is when the dog is unleashed to pursue and attack the agitator
which is also exciting to watch. Watching a hard running dog fly down a
field and launch himself into the air onto a person wearing a body suit
and sleeve and spinning him around onto the ground is breathtaking. Much
like watching a quarterback throw a 75 yard pass to a teammate resulting
in a touchdown. What's wrong with that you may ask? Nothing except for
too much airtime when the dog is off balance and the suspect has those
seconds to take advantage of that to grab or shoot the dog. Otherwise,
it is a spectacular catch. What is possibly better is to have the dog make
ground level hard contact with the agitator/suspect and when the person
is down redirect his attack to keep the suspect off balance and then redirect
the attack again until his handler arrives and takes charge. In Schutzhund,
another exercise is when the dog is sent after the agitator and grabs the
sleeve with a full bite and holds on while the agitator flails him with
a lexible stick (or shlagstock) on his hindquarters, ribcage or withers
several times. This dog is praised as courageous and points are awarded
for this. This is fine except these points are useless on the streets where
the dog can be killed instantly by holding on and accepting the physical
abuse. When my daughter and I watch a segment on K-9's on Cops or other
shows, we can tell instantly if this dog has been Schutzhund trained. We
groan out loud and count the number of times the "suspect" could possibly
stab the dog or shoot him. On the streets, any person the dog is sent after
will be intent on getting away by any means he/she can, even if it means
killing the dog. They will use anything they can get their hands on, such
as iron pipes, guns, knives, fists, kicking and which cause the greatest
amount of pain and death. The dog trained on Schutzhund has been conditioned
to accept the discomfort of a few light blows and when confronted with
a real life situation of intense and continued pain will fall apart immediately
under stress he cannot accept or understand. It has happened many times
with K-9 teams and will continue to until trainers understand that Schutzhund
is only a sport and designed for sport conditions on a well groomed field
under certain rules. The well trained police dog has been trained to deal
with those who do not recognize or operate under any guidelines or policies
and to win under actual street conditions. As far back as mankind can remember
there have been competitions involving animals and there will continue
to be long after we are gone, I suppose. But the concept of Schutzhund
as developed by Captain Max Von Stephanitz is far different from that now
developed by clubs in the U.S. since the mid 70's. In the 1920's, the purpose
of Schutzhund was to evaluate each dog and breeder as to the ability to
produce the true working dog to demonstrate their use for police and military.
The Captain was a stickler
that and insisted that form follow function -- that ability was preferred
over beauty. Later on, the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (SV) required
the sire and dam of any litter have a SchH title before the litter could
be registered. Then, SchH had a purpose -- no title -- no registering of
the litter. The true working dog with all its abilities flourished.
Now it is merely a title and/or status symbol and has become mainly for
"good old boys" to play at much like men do with their Sunday afternoon
catch football games. It is a sport that rarely transfers worthy
dogs to the mean streets of any city -- although a few have. But there
are a few who train for sport that do have my respect, Dean Calderon, Wayne
Simanovich, Gene England and Gary and Pam Hanrahan. These understand their
dogs. But there are many who don't, such as the woman, Sabina Davidson,
who ordered some videotapes of Schutzhund and attempted to train her Rottweilers.
The result? Two of them mauled and killed a teenager who was simply waiting
on a corner for the school bus. When trainers have to bribe their dogs
to work for them, they have missed completely the insight and understanding
of the deep relationship and connection between man and dog. The dog works
for the love and desire to be near man -- it is not that hard to understand.
And when trainers misunderstand the true concept of courage, sacrifice
and development of the true working dog, they will continue to flounder
around on well groomed training fields and spotless kennels and watch dogs
they trained die uselessly -- still wondering what went wrong. If they
don't understand now what it all means -- no one can explain it to them
even if it takes a hundred years. Schutzhund is a sport and really should
not be used to train police dogs who must deal with the hard and violent
world of the criminal and must be composed of true working abilities, breeding
and the nature to deal with
and the stress that accompanies it. Then and only then will we not lose
so many police dogs for so pointless a reason who were not trained for
the real world.
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