Sport Vs Working

ElizaBeth and Eros training for the sport of SchutzHund

" cannot demand more from a trial otherwise it will become a goal in itself, a sport, and will harm instead of being useful to the breeding effort."
~Captain Max von Stephanitz

Deja performing her work of herding

"Take this trouble for me: Make sure my shepherd dog remains a working dog, for I have struggled all my life long for that aim.''
~Captain Max von Stephanitz

I often read with interest the GSD VN Boards, and inevitably, trolls turn every discussion into "my dog's better than your dog" rants primarily because the poster professes his dog is a "working dog" and therefore epitomizes what Max had in mind when he founded the breed. To support their claim, they issue forth with much bravado the ubiquitous quote, "German Shepherd breeding is working dog breeding or it is not German Shepherd breeding." However, if I may be so bold to ask, do SchutzHund titles really mean you have a working dog?

Now, I am not belittling the sport of SchutzHund or Working Dog Sport and their associated titles. They are extremely fun activities: however, I don't understand how a sport magically translates into work when it applies to dogs. There is another von Stephanitz quote much less frequently bandied about that seems to hone in on what Max considered the work of German Shepherds, "The true and most noble job of the German Shepherd dog is of course looking after the herds and, as the name says, specifically the sheep herds." According to the founder, the TRUE job of a GSD is herding. I have to wonder how many people with self proclaimed "working dogs" actually have dogs who tend herds or are even anywhere near livestock other than the occasional herding trial, which again, is a fun sport but worlds away from real life herding work. In real life, the countryside isn't a nicely tended enclosure, and there are real predators as competitors with the survivor earning the title of "Still Standing".

We have done some SchutzHund training and had a great time with it, but comparing SchutzHund to the work we do on a ranch is like comparing football to a war zone. The bottom line is that today's SchutzHund titles indicate how well a dog performs a sport, but they come nowhere near predicting how well a dog works in the real world anymore than the Heisman predicts how well a football player will do in combat. So the next time someone asks us about SchutzHund titles on our dogs, I'll say...someday after the kids are grown and we've sold the cattle and horses, I'll have time for sports, but until then, I'll have working dogs.

And for all you breeders whose goal is to produce sport dogs for bragging rights on placements at schutzhund competitions, Max v Stephanitz held the same opinion we do on "sport Vs work" and made the following statement:

“Trials always remain trials, they can never be completely like real life, same as the exercise can never be equal to war. But we can all recognize if the leader and his troops are ready for the real thing, and so it is for trials.

It is the responsibility of the judges to conclude based on the exercises and the way in which they were solved if the dog is suited for work. Of course, the mistakes of the handler and of the training must be taken into account. Such a judgment about the suitability for work is useful for the breeding effort, but you cannot demand more from a trial otherwise it will become a goal in itself, a sport, and will harm instead of being useful to the breeding effort.

We must realize that we do not breed and work for exhibitions or trials but for our breed and to serve the general public (common good). Trial artists do not serve this purpose anymore than empty exhibition winners, and performance trials are to real work as a school exam is to real life as many pupils will fail in real life that excelled in school exams and had an excellent final report.”

(p.1130 Max v Stephanitz Der Deutsche Schaeferhund in Wort und Bild 8th edition 2nd replication print of 1932 edition, SV 1987)

For working dogs on a ranch, competition is a matter of life and death. Real life isn't a game between teams or with dogs against men in padded suits pretending to fend off attackers with a stick. Every WindRidge dog must be able to do real life work on our ranch to be included in our breeding program.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so instead of telling you, I'll show you what it's like living on an Oklahoma ranch.

See how we introduce herding to our pups by clicking here.

See Logan and Deja moving cattle to a winter pasture by clicking here.

WindRidge is a working ranch which means getting the job done requires riding horses and baling hay .

Enzo surveying his kingdom

Kaios and Windy

Endurance? Our dogs typically follow our horses several miles nonstop across all types of terrain. It's nothing for them to run full speed across twenty acres in pursuit of predators or tresspassers poaching our wildlife. Our ranch has numerous meadows, pastures, woods, and ponds as far as the eye can see providing a daily endurance test.



Deja and Riddick watching the herd atop hay bales

Rikkor and Echo

Dreamer and Zochite

Kaios deep in the brush

Stormee on her daily patrol

Satin in the wheat field

Rikkor in the wheat

Torro lovin' life


Enzo cooling off on a hot day

Gunnar loved water even as a pup.

Misty ever vigilant

Stormee caught a scent


Merek, Logan, and Deja exploring as boys always do.

Nena and Enzo II

ElizaBeth and Havik

So, whether it's a beautiful sunny day, freezing cold, or stormy; ranch life means there is work to be done from dawn till dusk.

Eros carrying a 16 foot 2x4 trying to get someone to play fetch


Riddick riding on the tractor



Nena and Enzo II

Dreamer and Enzo II

Riddick and Hunter

With an occasional nap in between.

ElizaBeth and Enzo

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