I am perpetually interested in how certain personality types gravitate toward certain breeds or breed types.
For instance, I have always loved dogs in the herding group most. I love their look, their intensity, their intelligence and drive to work with people. I grew up with a beautiful Australian shepherd, and I dream sometimes about getting an English shepherd. But I also have a soft spot for sighthounds and spaniels.
Through no clear intention of my own, I have become a “German shepherd person,” now raising two shepherds and having fostered six. (*German shepherds are technically in the herding group, according to the AKC, but many shepherds these days have lost that herding instinct. But there is a growing trend of getting working-line shepherds back into livestock herding, which I find very interesting.)
And yet I feel very different from the typical German shepherd person. Allow me to stereotype, will you?
The typical German shepherd person
- ascribes to traditional, dominance-based training
- often has a military or law enforcement background
- is concerned with being “the alpha” or the “pack leader”
- has no problem with shock collars, prong collars, and choke chains
- finds schutzhund very appealing
- is likely a gun owner
- finds “toughness” and even mild aggression to be a virtue
Clearly, not everyone who has a shepherd fits most or even one of these stereotypes, but I find these traits to be more true of shepherd people than of other groups aligned with other breeds.
This person loves his or her shepherd as much as I love mine, and the generalizations are not meant to discount that but rather to say I often feel very, very temperamentally different from the typical German shepherd owner.
I am not tough, and I am not impressed by machismo. I do not and never will own a gun. I follow the science-based philosophies of positive reinforcement training and would never use a shock collar on my dog or on any dog. I do not think my dogs are trying to “dominate” me, a concept I find simultaneously laughable and dangerous.
For these reasons, I stay off the German shepherd message boards and have honestly distanced myself from a lot of our dogs’ rescue representatives, most of whom have bought into a shock-collar “training” franchise and encourage adopters to put their shepherds through their expensive programs, which promise fast results for “problem” dogs by the widespread use of e-collars. I’m OK with being an outsider.
It makes me curious, though, about other breeds, so I’d love to hear from you. What are some of the stereotypes of people with your dog’s breed? Do you fit those generalizations?