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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Apples and Oranges

I have been asked to clarify the difference between working and show line dogs. I would be happy to! I will use Dobermans as my example, because they are "my" breed :-) I have often said that the two dogs are so different that they might as well be separate breeds and that's true. They should both be love bugs with their families, stable and safe (especially applies to working line, for reasons you will see!), and neither of them should be inherently aggressive. They bear some resemblance to each other too, of course, but that's where the similarities end. Once upon a time, Dobermans had a well-earned reputation for fierceness. Even the show-dog Ferry had such a bad reputation that no judge would touch him. Sadly, he was eventually killed in self-defense by a kennel hand. Breeders subsequently decided that stability and at least some degree of tractability were important assets, and today's Doberman, both show and working lines, reflect that emphasis. In my experience, Dobermans are some of the kindest (if the most cheeky!) dogs out there.

I like nice examples of both working and show lines, so my intent here isn't to show a preference for one or the other (though Murph is primarily of the "working" variety) but merely to highlight the difference. I think the best way to do that is through videos. The first video shows a well-know and quite lovely show Doberman named CJ strutting it out in the ring. CJ will show you a great of example of a show line dog, doing what show line dogs are bred to do:

She's really quite a beautiful dog!

The next video will show a working line dog doing what working line dogs were bred to do. Because so few people understand Schutzhund, I feel like I have to qualify a few things first. This isn't a mean sport where dogs are forced to attack people and become dangerous. Quite the opposite. For the dogs, this is a fun game that they've learned through careful training (about 95%  or more +R, btw) over many months to a few years. Schutzhund trainers are some of the best in the world, and their dogs are almost always beloved family pets. The dogs aren't "attacking a person", they are going for the sleeve which they've come to know as a reward for obedience. The high prey drive inherent in these dogs means that a toy is often more of a reward than food. The stick is NOT for hitting the dog, but is known as a "clatter stick". It is usually hollow bamboo slit lengthwise, and its intention is to make a lot of noise. The example I'm going to show is the "protection" phase of competition, but know that a Schutzhund-trained dog is also highly proficient in obedience and in tracking. I don't know the woman or the dog in the following video, but I chose it because the pair of them approximate Murphy and I proportionally (I think Murph might be a smidge taller), the dog looks a lot like Murph's dad, and his gormy mannerisms are very "Murph like" :-) Please take note of the amazing obedience on this dog, despite his obvious power and energy:

 As you can see, they are very, very different animals, each having a very different mindset and impact on the world around them. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges (ergo the title of this post, lol).  I hope this helps, and feel free to ask questions!

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