German Shepherd Temperament Tests

German Shepherds have been stereotyped as vicious and dangerous in the past.

By Dog World Eds | Posted: Dec 31, 2012, 5 a.m. EST

From the Archives of Dog World: Enjoy this all-access pass to dog history from the pages of the longest published dog magazine. This content remains in its original form and reflects the language and views of its time. Health and behavior information evolves and only the most current advice should be followed.

One custom has come with the German Shepherd from its native country of Germany which we not only dislike but detest. In our opinion, it has harmed the breed; we believe it be a well intentioned but ill-advised practice.

We refer to the practice of some dog show judges testing the German Shepherds in the ring for temperament by striking them, by threatening them with a newspaper, by firing a gun, by stamping the feet.

This is an unfair test to the dogs; any dog in most cases will resent this sudden attack or supposed attack; the dog has the instinct to protect itself, to bite against attack, and to protect its master against violence. That a dog under these conditions, taken by surprise, may snap or may step back in seeming fear, is not proof of shyness or of viciousness.

And why should this custom be adapted exclusively for German Shepherds? Shyness is not the sole vice of some shepherds; the sorry truth is that not a few dog breeds have more of this than their fanciers wish to confess.

And there is our exact point. These fanciers of other dog breeds have been quiet about the matter whereas German Shepherd fanciers have proclaimed the vice to the world by holding public exhibitions in search of it as thousands stand by the ringside and watch.

These same people who should be good prospects for purchasing a puppy after attending a dog show, go home muttering to themselves: "Those German Shepherds are dangerous and vicious.”

In justice to the German Shepherd, let’s abandon at once all ring tests for temperament. They are false tests; they do much harm.

Excerpted from Dog World magazine, April 1929, Vol. 14. For back issues of Dog World, click here.

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