What is a Working Dog?

In his writings, Max von Stephanitz stated that the German Shepherd Dog (male or Female) must courageously attack a single sheep, which is always larger and heavier than itself, but must also hold its own even against the whole flock, which exercises an enormous force when pressing forward and will trample under foot any creature that falls down or does not immediately jump to one side. The Dog must show joy and enthusiasm, devotion to duty and master, initial wariness against strange and irregular things, docility and obedience, tractability and quickness to understand. 

Thus the German Shepherd Dog was developed with a balance of physical and mental characteristics that suited the breed to withstand harsh environmental conditions and exhausting physical labor.

Today’s German Shepherd Dog,  Works as a help to man for herding, help for the blind or handicapped, search and rescue, discovery of drugs or bombs, avalanche victims, partner for police officers, and as a companion to man and a family pet.

Over the years since 1899, breeders while adhering strictly to the standard for structure and temperament as set by Max von Stephanitz and maintained today by the SV, have selectively bred, creating two distinct groups; Working Dogs, and Conformation Dogs.

Working Dogs are chosen for their strong enthusiasm for  “the work” and are most often shown in competition TRIALs,  perfecting their  Title skills to achieve a perfect score of 300 (tracking-100, obedience-100, temperament-100).   Coat color can be black, black and tan, bi-color, sable, or the familiar brown and black. With a heritage to serve their master, if they have the temperament to be a strong and loyal protector, they may be chosen as a Canine Officer’s Partner.

Conformation Dogs are chosen for appearance and are most often shown at CONFORMATION shows, demonstrating liveliness, high energy, stamina, and virtually perfect structure.  To compete dogs are required to have titles (females – Schutzhund 1&2, males – Schutzhund 1,2& 3) and at each show must pass a temperament test.  Coats are preferably of the familiar brown with black saddle and muzzle.

White, considered by the SV to be a genetic flaw, is excluded by both groups.