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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