Jaquenetta German Shepherd Dogs
After living with our quarantine born bitch for eight years, I have just discovered a description of her temperament. It is the type known as ‘distrust’, which I have never come across before in any of the books or articles I have read, during twenty-odd years of living alongside German Shepherds.
I found the information in a book by CAPT. W.M.GOLDBECKER and ERNEST H.HART, entitled This is the GERMAN SHEPHERD. ( T.F.H.Publications Inc. New Jersey ) Chap 15 pg 217.
‘In their invaluable book WORKING DOGS, Humphrey & Warner describe another character trait found in their utility experiments with Shepherds at Fortunate Fields. This trait they label ‘distrust’ . The animals exhibiting this trait are normal and friendly with their own people, but withdraw hastily when approached by strangers. They do not show fear or other symptoms associated with shyness. They are not inclined to bite, are not barkers or overaggressive. They can be taught to attack on command. Their attitude is one of negative aloofness to strangers. They can be won over by close association. And even then, the animal itself must be left to make the first actual advances toward friendship.
This trait, distrust, is sometimes found in imported dogs until they become acclimated to their new surroundings. They give their trust, at first, to one person and, though they may appear shy to others they are not, they are distrustful and simply want strangers to leave them alone. Such animals, if trained ( and most imports are ), will attack fearlessly upon command and exhibit steadiness to sharp sound, noise of every description, and an overwhelming foreign atmosphere, evidence that they are exhibiting distrust and not shyness in their actions towards other people. We in America want a cheerful, outgoing dog temperamentally, but the Germans breed for what they label, “ True German Shepherd Aloofness.” The dog from Germany should not carry his heart on his sleeve. This, too, contributes to the temperament characteristic labelled “distrust”. When the import displaying this characteristic becomes at home in his new environment and accepts completely the change thrust upon him, he generally changes in his attitude toward other people, but he will generally always, in some small ways that perhaps only you, the owner, can recognize, be distrustful of any persons who are not included in the immediate family’.
When our bitch was surveyed at three years old by Percy Elliott, everytime he tried to measure her she moved away from him. Tom Syers, who was helping with the survey, was ready to give up and go on to the next one. But Percy, bless him, was willing to persevere, he must have seen enough dogs in his time to sense that she was not shy or timid, but something else. He suggested we stood one either side of her head, and then she allowed herself to be measured. He put her through a thorough test, to satisfy himself she was sound, at the end of her survey. He collected a crowd of people to walk straight at her and around her. He asked a woman to trundle an empty pushchair near her, he dropped his clipboard right next to her, and so on. Nothing phased her, she sat calmly through all the proceedings. Percy wrote in her general comments, ‘Not used to being handled, but overall temperament is sound. At ease with crowd.’ Now her behaviour becomes clear, it was consistent with the description of the ‘distrust’ temperament, which is very easy to live with and take out and about.
If puppies with this type of temperament have not been taken into account by puppy behaviourists, do they get put into the timid and shy category, which they obviously are not? And get rejected from breeding programmes or as working prospects.
We have a daughter of our bitch with the same temperament, who is now old enough to be surveyed. It will be interesting to see what happens this time!
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