Friday, January 23, 2009

Sharpness and Schutzhund training


I’m reminded that the Germans rated dogs in terms of “sharpness.”  “Sharpness is a dog's constant readiness to react in a hostile manner to all real or imagined threats and stimuli. As trainers, when you analyze this statement, you'll quickly realize that too much sharpness is as undesirable as too little is. An "ideally sharp" dog is one that is far quicker to recognize and react to a REAL threat than one that may have too much or too little sharpness. In the Doberman, the medium ranges of sharpness are those most conductive to successful training results.”  (From )  This doesn’t mean that a Dobermann, for example, would, attack a person, but it means that it would be easier to get a Dobermann to do that, and to excel at Schutzhund training than it would be with a dog that hadn’t much “sharpness.”  Other breeds with suitably high “sharpness” ratings (or more likely to have individuals with suitably high sharpness ratings) were the Rottweiler, the German Shepherd, the Belgian Shepherds (and not that Appendix 19 has the Malinois rated number 1 but the Turveran is  rated 13 and the Groenendael 24, but in some places the Belgian shepherds are, or at least were, treated as one breed.


I know the Beauceron and Belgian Shepherds are put through Schutzhund training.  There is a breeder a few miles away from me who raises Beaucerons and Malinois as working dogs.  She prepares them for Schutzhund training.  Wikipedia lists the breeds most commonly given Schutzhund training as “German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Giant Schnauzers, Bouvier des Flandres, Dutch Shepherd Dogs, American Bulldogs, Boxers, and the like.” 


Here is the last with the Appendix One ratings where applicable: German Shepherds (17), Belgian Malinois (1), Rottweilers (9), Dobermans (27), Giant Schnauzers (8), Bouvier des Flandres (25), Dutch Shepherd Dogs, American Bulldogs, Boxers (15).   Repeating once again that Appendix 1 rates the Labrador Retriever as number 6 in aggressiveness, it would be safe to say that whatever Kenth Svartberg and his team means by “aggressiveness,” it is not the same thing the Germans mean by “sharpness.”


In regard to American Staffs succeeding at Schutzhund training, I found the following: which has it that, “The Amstaff has been known to participate in Schutzhund as a protection breed and has obtained quite impressive results.”     


When I was looking for a dog in the 50-55 pound range that could handle itself against feral dogs and coyotes (which we sometimes encounter on our walks), I briefly considered the American Staffordshire.  There is a breeder listed as being nearby and she had a web site, but she never responded to my query.   And then I chickened out because of the prospect of scaring the neighbors anymore than I already do with my Ridgebacks.    


By the way, my current thinking is to get a female Working Airedale as my second dog (thinking ahead to the time when I lose one of my present girls).  The size would be right and getting a female from a “Working Airedale” breeder (and there is one in Northern California) would enable me to avoid the Svartberg Show-dog syndrome.  I am still planning to get a male Ridgeback from the Oregon breeder that breeds small (75-pound) males.   And of course these plans are subject to change.  I was at the river two days ago and Ginger was chasing Sage.  Sage was paying more attention to Ginger than to me and ran right into me.  That was 85-pounds of running Rhodesian Ridgeback.  I turned so that she got the back of my right leg; so no joints were wrenched and I had no noticeable pain later on, but if one plans to grow older, the prospect of continuing such treatment from one’s dogs loses its appeal.   Do that too much, ye Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and I may be so enfeebled that I shall have to opt for something tiny like a Standard Manchester next time





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