Becoming a “German shepherd person”

We talk a lot about breed stereotypes, but I think there’s also something to be said about those stereotypes of people with certain breeds.

For example, culture sees a person with a pit bull and assumes they’re really tough and macho. A lady with a chihuahua? She must spoil it to death and always refer to it in the third person. Border collie people? They’re super-INTENSE.

Naturally, these stereotypes are not completely true. Plenty of pit people are utter softies! There are chihuahua owners who are very serious about training and conscientious care. And maybe there are even some border collie people who are lazy?

Hanging out in the backyard

But there are perhaps types of people who gravitate toward certain breeds or breed groups. I have always loved dogs in the herding group. I can’t say that I will ever be interested in owning a brachycephalic dog or any dog in the toy or terrier category. But that’s just me! Every other dog owner has his or her reason for the dog they chose.

Play-date with Ozzie

But I, for one, never set out to become a “German shepherd person.” I was roped into it by my husband, who has his heart set on a GSD after his summer in Ireland with a noble, loyal Alsatian. I just wanted to adopt a DOG, any dog! But then we found Southeast German Shepherd Rescue, and the rest, well, is history…

I don’t think I fit the typical profile of a “German shepherd person.” Many of them are very tough, macho-presenting people; many have backgrounds in the armed forces or in police work (which makes sense, seeing as GSDs are often service dogs); and many like choke chains, shock collars, prongs, and heavy-corrective training. I am a small young woman who prefers dresses, reads poetry, and runs a calligraphy business in her spare time. I have met GSDs who WEIGH more than I do!

But all that said, I love our girl and I love her rescue and the dogs we’ve fostered. I still think GSDs are a very difficult breed with a lot of issues (both health and behavioral), due to the way they’ve been so poorly bred in the United States. But I love these dogs. They are so intelligent and sensitive and loving. They latch onto their people and devote themselves utterly. They are fun and quirky and neurotic and whip-smart. In short, I am glad that this breed found me.

Now, my fellow dog-loving coworkers send me articles about GSDs, pages from their dog-a-day calendars featuring a regal shepherd, etc. It’s fun to live into this stereotype of the “German shepherd person.”

Three dogs

What about you?

Do you ever feel stereotyped because of the dog you have?

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10 thoughts on “Becoming a “German shepherd person”

  1. I’ve always been drawn towards larger dogs, fortunately my husband and kids feel the same way. When we first started looking at shelters for our first dog years ago we discovered the majority of the dogs (at least in this area) were pits or pit mixes. All we knew about pits was the misinformation from the media. Did our own research though and four dogs later the rest is history 🙂

    Not sure if we fit the pit bull stereotype though….

  2. Without even knowing it, I may have become a “hound person.” I love Ru’s independent yet loyal personality. I love that he gets so excited to sniff every inch of the grass. I don’t LOVE that he’s weary of new people, but it also isn’t a deal breaker for me when considering a new dog. My favorite thing is that he is up for a 10-mile hike just as much as hes up for chilling on the couch all weekend.

  3. I’m not sure what a “Doberman person” is supposed to be at this point. I’m not a Marine (though they were used by Marines in WWII, not at current). I’m not German. I don’t have a junkyard (and I’m so very to see that stereotype existing, if not that reality). I’m not a movie villain. Really, I guess I’m pretty disappointing as a stereotype! 😀

  4. My parents have a 10 year old shepherd and quickly became diehard german shepherd fans. As a couple of middle-aged people who live in a very picket-fence type neighborhood, I am not sure they are typical german shepherd people either(my mom is also pint-sized!) But you are so right about these poor dogs having behavior and physical problems, though we love her to death of course. And I am definitely one of those “softie” pit bull owners and I freak out when people try to make them look tough!

  5. I think people definitely gravitate to certain breeds based on their own preferences and needs. I can’t imagine not having a Greyhound in my life. I love and appreciate a lot of different breeds, but I will always be drawn to the Greyhounds. I love the Shepherds, too, but right now, I’m tired of the constant battle with one or both of them over certain issues. I would never part with either of them, but I’m not always certain I’d sign up for the same rodeo again.

  6. What a great post! I have my favorites for breeds and boxers and pitties are it. I will probably at least always have a boxer in my life until I get to a point where I’m at an age that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to handle a larger dog.

    I’ve been stereotyped just based on gender! Talking about my dog, people for whatever reason assume I have a smallish or possible purse dog. They are shocked to find out I don’t. So strange!

  7. Good post. 😀

    Myself. Yup. I’m kinda the human version of the GSD. They always fit my personality, my lifestyle, etc. Because of this my first two partners were GSDs, I switched to a Golden this past time and realized just how un-Golden like I am. They attract SO much public attention.. and here I’m aloof like my GSDs. Don’t get me wrong I adore my little golden boy, but I’m not filled to the brim with joy and sunshine 24/7 (if you ask him he thinks there is something seriously wrong with me – don’t even ask my GSDs though, they will give you proof)

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