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German Shepherd Temperament

 Reviewed 4 January 2019 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion dogphoto
 
German-Shepherd-Temperament Definition

Or Alsatian Temperament, yes. It's the same.

Once you understand what determines dog personality, you realize that dog temperament actually is only a small fraction of dog personality: namely that fraction that is determined by dog breed.

Thus here German Shepherd temperament.

"Small fraction" does not refer to the number of identified dog personality traits (this will be huge for any dog breed!), but refers to the extent of any trait that is inherited vs acquired.

From reading dog personality you should also know that the dog-individual factors from upbringing can change dog temperament into the opposite or any other direction!

That's why it's so very much true that:

Upbringing is everything!

But German Shepherd breeders

  1. cannot know nor influence if you are going to raise your dog to behave well in a high value home and outside. Right?
  2. and many dog breeders have no personality anyway, as you know so very well from our Periodical about the German Shepherd downfall! Right?

And so breeders focus on dog temperament, not personality. - Amazing how it always fits once you give it thought! mrgreen

And German Shepherd breeders accordingly focus on German Shepherd temperament.

What is German Shepherd temperament?

I haven't found anyone able to offer a valid (=disjunct) definition of temperament, so let's do that at the Cynology Hub MyGermanShepherd.Org. grin

German Shepherd temperament is the sum of only inherited breed characteristics that may shape behavior.

Namely when they are not overturned by upbringing!

Again, I am aware that different people see it different, but as academic cynologist I have to promote precise, clear, and consistent definitions (called disjunct definitions) to improve understanding, not mindless copying like elsewhere. mad

Note that genetically nothing suggests that what is popular to be considered dog temperament actually are inherited dog personality traits.

Instead, observation and analysis of dog behavior that is found to show across thousands of dogs within a dog breed, this is what suggests dog temperament, and so here German Shepherd temperament. Okay?

German Shepherd Temperament Individual Traits

GSD

This is a later edition in the English language available at amazon

Having observed and researched thousands of GSDs as well as studied the "breed founder" v. Stephanitz' original authoritative guide book "Der Deutsche Schaeferhund in Wort und Bild" and related literature, in my experience the most common denominator are these German Shepherd temperament traits:

  • alert, watchful, vigilant
  • protective, territorial
  • zealous, keen, fixated, compliant, devoted, eager-to-please, trainable, willing, loyal
  • confident, assertive, brave, courageous
  • calm, quiet, sensitive, gentle, caring, thoughtful, considerate
  • people-friendly, animal-friendly, pleasant, docile
  • intelligent
  • vocal

  • frisky, spry, zippy, energetic, fast
  • curious, excitable, enthusiastic
  • loving
  • powerful

German-Shepherd-Temperament

You notice these are behavior adjectives, some with similar meaning, others with a great variety of meanings, hence why I grouped them.

Less precise but easier to understand, in particular for non-native English speakers incl. myself:

The inherited German Shepherd temperament primarily comprises the dog personality traits that enable the GSD

to manage (= organize, lead, control, and protect)

a herd of livestock (= group of individuals).

And so:

  • to organize a bunch of individuals, at least sometimes you need to be confident, assertive, intelligent, calm, quiet, sensitive, gentle, caring, thoughtful, considerate, eager-to-please
  • to lead a bunch of individuals, at least sometimes you need to be courageous, vocal, zealous, keen, fixated, people-friendly, pleasant
  • to control a bunch of individuals, at least sometimes you need to be alert, watchful, vigilant, assertive, territorial, docile
  • to protect a bunch of individuals, at least sometimes you need to be watchful, devoted, brave, assertive, protective, loyal, powerful.

This is why at least originally (before the the German Shepherd downfall), the above listed dog personality traits had been inbred into the GSD breed as German Shepherd temperament.

But specifically which characteristics of the German Shepherd temperament, and to what extent, become apparent in an individual German Shepherd puppy and later the adult German Shepherd, this is shaped by the dog personality factors 2, 3, and 4:

  1. socialization
  2. rest of upbringing
  3. and life experiences: for example owner change, shelter, abuse (and not only physical!), dog trauma?

Thus in short: determined by upbringing. Hence why dog temperament really is only a small fraction of dog personality.


Extreme example: If as despot you raise a German Shepherd puppy with a lot of physical punishment, then there will be next to none of these temperament traits left in the adult German Shepherd:

  • confident, assertive, brave, courageous
  • protective, territorial
  • zealous, keen, fixated, compliant, devoted, eager-to-please, trainable, willing, loyal
  • calm, caring, thoughtful, considerate
  • frisky, spry, zippy, energetic, fast
  • curious, excitable, enthusiastic
  • loving
  • powerful

Another example: If you raise a German Shepherd puppy the way that "I don't want to be disturbed by you", and so you disapprove of barking and nudging you, and you ignore the dog most of the day and all night, then there will be next to none of these temperament traits left in the adult German Shepherd:

  • alert, watchful, vigilant
  • confident, assertive, brave, courageous
  • curious, excitable, enthusiastic
  • vocal

All clearer now?

 

 


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