“Breeding on a large scale and in a kennel is the ruin of all sound shepherd dog breeding……because a large collection of shepherd dogs is a contradiction in terms…… Breeding in quantities must always become a curse to the breeder, because it leads him along the wrong path and deprives him of all real joy in his breeding. Finally, it leads …to breeding for business considerations only.” And then “Dog breeding must be the work of a dog lover, and cannot be a profession…..and a means of acquiring bread and butter... The work of breeding service dogs must, first and foremost, be the work of dog lovers. Shepherds and hunters breed as dog-lovers, for they only have the desire to breed exemplary efficient and useful dogs.” Captain Max von Stephanitz
Even though written many years ago this philosophy shows much wisdom today.
We don’t breed large numbers of litters. Breeding German Shepherds is a labor of love. Love of the GSD from living and working with them so we breed only a small number of litters, breeding only the exceptional dogs which show great promise as producers of working dogs.
Because dogs are social/pack animals they shouldn’t be kept primarily in kennels and as smaller specialized breeders of GSD we don’t have kennels full of dogs.
Over the years our focus has been to breed working prospect dogs which can function as family companions but they are generally not couch potatoes! They will initiate and sometimes demand play and games.
Although we feel our working dogs should have the temperament to live in a family environment as companions and protectors they also have drives. They are intelligent and eager to please, highly trainable, but do need an active lifestyle.
We tend to breed towards balanced, versatile utilitarian dogs instead of show or sport dogs. While we always look at the structure of the dogs we are breeding, to ensure sound orthopedics, function and overall health, the “prettiness” of a dog is only considered after temperament and structure. Too often in purely sport breedings, dog are bred to emphasize one attribute that considered desirable in the sport at that given time (such as a “calm grip”…sometimes overlooking other important aspects of the breed. We always breed for the “whole” dog...looking to the dog’s ability to work.
In v.Stephanitz’s chapter on Schooling and Training, the Captain writes:
“ The impulse for work is born in our dogs…..Our shepherd dog has learned to work through work in a service extending over thousands of years with man, in the yard, and with the flocks and herds…..If we wish to bring up a dog and train him for a special duty, we must lay hold on that which is already in him…..It is indeed possible to train the dog for service by other methods, but drill never produces the same result as a training which penetrates the soul of the dog, taking into account it’s characteristics and identifying itself with it’s natural endowments.”
We breed for natural drives, solid nerves and temperament and most of all love of the work so that harsh compulsive training shouldn’t be needed because the dog enjoys the work and wants to please.
Living, traveling, training & socializing with our dogs every day or on a regular basis allows us to get to know the true character and temperament of the dogs that share our life. Extensive socialization is part of the program (see puppy raising) so that we can ensure the best match in a new home.
A great deal of time and effort is put into planning breedings and researching pedigrees. But selection of breeding partners is based not just on pedigrees but the individual characteristics of each dog. We don’t consider only dogs which have accumulated many titles. Sometimes titles can be a reflection more of the training than of the dog themselves and their genetic makeup. When choosing dogs to breed we look not only to the individual dogs but to what the lines have produced in the way of heart, temperament and the drive to work, plus overall stability. While there are certainly great titled dogs that participate in sports such as Schutzhund or Ring Sport there are also great dogs who are working in true utility jobs, serving the community, for which the German Shepherd Dog was originally bred.
The planning of the breeding is only the first step. Then comes the whelping and raising of the litter. Our puppies are not whelped and raised in a kennel environment. Instead we recognize that the first few weeks of a puppy’s life is an opportunity to imprint on him or her the foundations of a good working dog. They are born and raised in our home, amongst our family, with stimulation and challenges so that they are prepared for the world which they will enter when they leave our care.