written by Bonnie Wittrock
submitted by Marj Brooks
I think one of the things people must start to realize is that we CAN have awesome drives and liveability in our working dogs. If you own or are looking to buy a working breed you must realize that you need to be a person with the time to exercise the dog properly. If you expect to have a Doberman that lays around all day and would be content to lay around all night then you are in for a eye-opening experience. It simply is not in the recipe for a good Doberman. However, it is not asking too much to have a dog that is capable of relaxing and being a good house companion. The dogs that are unable to do that are faulty in my perfect picture of the total Doberman. It is not an either/or choice. As breeders we should be striving to produce the dog that does have the drives to be a good worker and the nervous system to control the behaviours.
Years ago when I started to separate the nervous system from the drives in my evaluation process everything became much clearer to me as to why certain dogs behaved in the way that they did.
Try to visualize the drives and the nervous system as if they were an electrical system. The nervous system is the center wire that runs the dog. The drives are the wires that connect to the core or nervous system wire. So, in your thinking you see a center (nervous system) wire with lots of wires coming into it (drives). If the drive wires are big and can carry a lot of stimulus and the Nervous system wire is small then what you have is a dog in overload mode most of the time. The stimulus coming into the nervous system is just too much for the dog to handle and remain calm. Improving nervous systems will calm the dog to his drives. It is possible to have a high-drive, high-energy dog that can be calm but only if the nervous system is a strong part of the dog’s makeup.
A dog with a weaker nervous system is in conflict or overload. Many make the mistake of breeding less drives to compensate for a weak nervous system instead of breeding the same or more drive with better nervous systems. For some reason breeders have a tendency not to see the end goal and mistakenly choose the wrong road to follow.
Start to look at dogs and their faults and reverse what you are seeing and then decide if your are on the right path of choices. You cannot successfully increase drive and decrease nerves.
You can expand this thought process to other aspects of breeding. Heads are another place that wrong choices are often made. Just go to any show ring and think of this. Years ago when muzzles began to get to narrow and were lacking under jaw the choice in breeding seemed to tend toward narrowing the skull to put the muzzle in balance with the head instead of increasing the muzzle to be in balance. Now many dogs have that narrow collie-type head that has no power or substance to it. The head is not functional for the purpose of the breed. When you take substance out of the head you can’t help but take it from the body too. When you take away substance you take away power.
Every breeder has to have a talk with themselves in their heart of hearts and evaluate their breeding programs without making excuses for it. Evaluate honestly and your breeding program can’t do anything but improve. Your idea of the perfect Doberman is what your breeding program should represent, not anyone else’s. You should read and educate yourself. You should train and go to all types of training seminars in order to expand your ideas on what a perfect Doberman is and should be. Talk to other breeders, trainers, pet owners, etc. to build your opinion on what you want. That opinion should expand, change and evolve as time goes by. Don’t just parrot what you hear others say. Know why you believe your opinions to be true and be able to share your knowledge with others and let them pick what
they want to use for themselves. There is a place in this world for all types of Dobermans … those with character, hardness, trainability, beauty, etc … the buying public has a wide range of needs.
Now that you have started to arrive at what you want in your breeding program you need to understand that your type of dog may not be right for everyone. This requires you to select the right homes for your puppies so they can excel in the area you believe to be most important. If you have chosen to breed a softer, quieter type of dog you will send the buyer on to someone else who in looking for a high drive, high energy type dog. You have nothing to gain by trying to place a puppy into a home that is
not going to be optimum for the pup or the people. The reverse of this is if you are breeding for the hard core, sport type with energy to burn you need to send a buyer on who is not in a life style to keep up with a dog of this type. None of use can benefit from breeders placing dogs in home that have little chance of success.
Buyers should be aware that just because a dog barks at the fence when people walk by does not make them a personal protection dog. That is where choosing a dog that is training in the sports that require more is where the buyer should go to choose a dog for their protection needs. Choosing from a pedigree that shows some proof of trainability, courage, stamina, character, temperament, physical beauty, and companionship will increase the chances of their getting the dog they are looking for. Remember that in everyone’s minds eye their dogs are perfect but it is in the performance arena that reality often slaps one in the face.