Disclaimer: I'm a novice. I have ZERO claims to knowing a whole lot about the world of German Shepherds, but I can pass along what I have learned along my 3-year journey with my big dog...
I got my first German Shepherd in 2013; I have him now. He will be with me his entire life. I got him because the guy who owned him was neglecting him and after I basically tricked the guy out of ownership, I paid him what he had paid for my dog (and he went on to buy and neglect 2 other Shepherds who both died). My dog wasn't cheap. He isn't now. He's full of allergy problems and his special food costs more than my food does per month. Boarding him when I travel costs me huge sums of money. But he's so worth it. And I love him more than I can say (Mashallah).
I think he has a stupid name, but it came with him, so I kept it. I would have liked to have named him, "Jake" (which you might think is also stupid), but his name is Mike; or affectionately, "Mikey".
German Shepherds have 2 distinct lines. My dog is a "show line." He's pretty and spoiled and makes a good house/family dog (but just don't piss him off because they are loyal and protective when they have to be). They are usually the show dogs at events. Very pretty posers. Work lines are most often used for police work because of their high drive. They are smaller and more hyperactive than show lines. The distinction is VERY important in knowing what type of dog to buy if looking at German Shepherds. Either is a big responsibility and like any breed, you must ensure that the characteristics of the dog matches your lifestyle and family.
At about 6 months old (Mikey), I called a professional trainer and he asked me, "Work line or show line?" "Show line" just sounded better to me because I had no clue and that is what Mikey turned out to be. I also had no clue about where Mikey had come from when I first "acquired" him and to my extreme good luck, he is from a very reputable breeder with champion blood lines. He also has a docile and sweet temperament. I could have been in a whole lot of trouble had he turned out otherwise, but I just got extremely lucky.
NOTE: Although they may be from champion blood lines from dogs with pedigrees - dogs born in Kuwait do NOT have pedigrees or registration papers (and they can not be obtained) which would allow them into international shows abroad. KCA is working on changing that by setting standards that would include Kuwait in FCI - see post and information below about their upcoming show.
Show lines and work lines come in a variety of colors and coat lengths. My favorite is the sable color. My friend has a beautiful dog, named Eros, who is a sable. Mikey is a black and tan.
Here are a few abbreviations surrounding German Shepherds that may confuse you. I had to look them up and I'm still having a hard time with the language of Shepherds:
- Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) (World Canine Organization) is an international federation of kennel clubs based in Thuin, Belgium. (For more information on FCI, see HERE and HERE). Note that my post below relates to a group (KCA) which is trying to get Kuwait recognized by FCI locally. This will allow dogs here to be issued pedigrees. Currently, even though a dog may have champion blood lines (like Mikey), they are not recognized as a pedigree if born in Kuwait. It is very unfortunate for local breeders who want to show dogs at FCI level events internationally. There are some extremely talented dogs and trainers in Kuwait (as witnessed at this weekend's Sieger show and several others that I've attended).
- Weltunich der Vereine fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (WUSV) is the world union of German Shepherds. (For more information on WUSV, see HERE and HERE.) KK9A is the only WUSV approved group in Kuwait. Most of the kennel and dog owners regularly travel to Germany to either perform in or participate in German Shepherd events.
Alianz group also has a lot of German Shepherd members (and some attend KK9A events also), but Alianz includes many owners of smaller breeds of dogs and they dedicate a lot of their time and resources to public education; including education for children. Worthy causes.
- Everybody has an opinion
- Everybody knows better than you do.
- Just because they've watched the entire box set of "Dog Whisperer" does NOT make them an expert and/or a trainer.
- Just because it says, "Trainer" on their card doesn't make them one.
- You can be a trainer too - as long as you educate yourself. Then you can get cards that say, "trainer." (I should have cards made that say, "Incompetent Trainer"! Ha!)
- Don't listen to others' BS. I can't tell you how many times I heard (or overheard) people saying, "Your dog isn't 'original' German." "Look at his tail. It's too long." "Look at his nose, it's too big." Blah blah blah. So what?
- Don't listen to people who tell you that an electric collar is the answer to your dog's obedience problems. He/she will only lose brain cells every time it is shocked and immediately fear everything. Don't train a puppy on a sleeve. Wait until 6-plus months because his teeth are still forming. You can buy toys with the same training sleeve material (kind of a heavy burlap) if you want him to get used to tugging at it; just as long as it isn't hard.
- Socialize your puppy around other dogs and in different noisy situations to make him self-confident. I made the mistake with Mikey of not socializing him enough around other dogs and OMG do I regret it. He has no problems with little children or even cats, but goes crazy when he sees any other dog (scary, although short-lived).
I overheard a woman recently saying, "I could never own a German Shepherd. Those dogs turn on their owners." Well hey, I got news for you: So do Chihuahuas and just about any other breed of dog if it isn't properly handled. Just make sure that you educate yourself.