Last Updated: 18 March 2008
Philosophy and Educational Information
The Kirschental Legend & and UPDATE to my philosophy
What are our dogs like and what do they produce?
Here is what we are hoping to produce in our breeding program:
My objectives are simple. The most important characteristics I want in a dog are a steady temperament, intelligence, and trainability. I want to produce dogs with the ability to work (whether working as a guide dog, search and rescue dog, a police dog, a schutzhund do, etc). I want dogs with the ability to THINK and move. I want to produce dogs that make steadfast and loyal family dogs, who will be loved for their whole lives.
This is not to say I have no care for conformation, because what I have learned from my experience in horses, is that function (the way parts function) follows form (the way the parts are put together).. good conformation leads to good movement. So, I want a dog with conformation that will be a good foundation for the dog to be able to perform in movement. I personally dislike over sized dogs. There is a size standard for our breed, and those who insist upon increasingly pushing the size limits are not doing the dog any favors. The medium/correct sized dog is capable of optimal movement, speed, endurance and isn't putting the extra strain of too much bulk on joints/tendons/ligaments and hips. Bigger is not always better!
Some Background and How We Chose Our Foundation Bloodlines
I have been interested and involved in the breed for many years. My Grand Uncle bred GSDs for 50 years before he passed away. He bred German line dogs years before it was fashionable to do so in this country, and before there was any Schutzhund here! I learned a great deal about bloodlines from him. I edited on the USA Schutzhund magazine for a while in the late 90's-2000. I went to Germany to several Sieger Shows. I went to Schutzhund Trials and watched the WUSV Worlds, which we were lucky to have here in Boston! I met people, saw what they were producing, watched them compete, and tried to get educated as best I could.
I also came into contact with many GSDs through my work as a dog trainer. And I quite accidentally discovered that several extremely intelligent dogs, dogs who excelled in class, ALL came from a German kennel called Kirschental. I had heard of this kennel in relation to the HGH trials.. Karl Fuller and his Kirschental Kennel have an unsurpassed record in HGH.
While I was editing and writing for USA Schutzhund, I had occasion to interview Mrs. Robey Kaman, of Fidelco. Fidelco raises/supplies Guide Dogs to the blind. Mrs. Kaman told me that some specific traits are important for guide dogs - namely intelligence, trainability, steady temperament. These dogs need to problem solve, but they also need to be able to defer to their handler. Fidelco has developed a 'breed within a breed' to meet needs as guide dogs. And, Fidelco based their breeding program on Kirschental lines!
With our goals firmly in mind, we concluded that the pillar of our program must be the Kirschental heritage!
I admire Karl Fuller's dogs. He consistently produces dogs who excel at HGH, and who are very, very trainable. Over the years, Karl has crossed his good working/herding lines on "High" Conformation lines, to achieve a dog that looks good and has a brain! He has had dogs titled HGH, and Schutzhund, who have gone VA! He has bred HGH Siegers and Siegerins, as well as World Sieger, VA1, Eiko vom Kirschental! Karl never lost sight of the need for working ability. He doesn't sacrifice 'brains' for 'beauty'.
The Kirschental Legend
When it came time to lay a foundation for my breeding program, I went to Germany to see Karl and Marion Fuller, and was fortunate to be able to import a young, titled bitch, who is very well bred, has a good show record, and has already produced a good litter. She has the characteristics I desire in a dog, and she has the bloodlines of many, many excellent dogs behind her.
We also acquired a young star quality Kirschental female who we are very excited about! Karl produces very nice dogs on a very consistent level. Those of us who are devotees of his work believe strongly in his philosophy and his ability. I have met and spoken with other breeders, who also began with Kirschental dogs, and attempt to carry on developing the type of dog that Karl Fuller has worked so hard to achieve.
These lines are not current 'fad' lines or the newest trend. They are solid bloodlines that have been carefully created and diligently developed to stand the test of time.
What should you look for in a breeder?
The recipe for producing world class puppies is not as simple as combining a VA male and a VA female. A careful breeder has to examine genetics closely, know what lines cross well on other lines, know what needs improvement in his/her bitch and what sire will likely improve those characteristics.
A breeder must have knowledge and starts with researched bloodlines, titled females, who have proven themselves in work and in a breed survey, getting a KKL 1, have certified hips of OFA good or "a" stamp normal, and are special in some way (- meaning they have great conformation and a nice temperament, or meaning she has adequate conformation, but has impressive work ability, drive etc.) combined with good bloodlines, and overall health.
Further, if the bitch a breeder is choosing to found a program, has siblings who are also showing success and/or producing good puppies, this is another indicator that quality is coming through. You do not want to look for the one 'fluke' dog in an otherwise nondescript family.
A bitch's past litters are also a good place to see what she can produce. If a breeder is happy with a particular mating, he/she may repeat the breeding. If you are purchasing a puppy from a repeat breeding, you can be sure there is a reason why the mating was repeated.
The male should also be exemplary in health, and similarly proven by title, breed survey, and a good progeny record (if he is old enough to have one!). A family history of the characteristics you desire is a good basis. My wise Uncle used to say, "Show me the Pedigree on the Dog's Back!" Which means that even though the pedigree is important the individual and his/her accomplishments are important too! Remember, a VA dog does not produce all VA offspring. Claims about the sire being a Sieger does not in itself justify breeding the individual son/daughter!
So - while it is always better to begin with the best bred pup you can find.... and these world class litters that are advertised may well produce a wonderful, perfect pet for you... don't be heartbroken when Wolfgang isn't the next Sieger!
It is also very important for a breeder to have goals for what he/she is developing, and perpetuating, and the resulting puppies must be placed where they are best suited. Beware a breeer who will sell any puppy to anyone.
A breeder should know their dogs, and know what the dogs reliably produce. Someone who simply breeds the "flavor of the moment" and doesnt establish a bloodline over time is unable to see continuity over generations and is less likely to produce it.
WARNING: Read between the advertising lines
It seems that every web site I visit claims to have WORLD CLASS litters available. Glossy magazine ads portray beautiful dogs and promise you are buying your next winner when you buy from them. They also claim "Sieger Bloodlines"; which is nothing. It means somewhere in the pedigree was a VA male or a VA1 male.Most of todays dogs came from VA dogs becasue those dogs were frequently bred to.
While a good pedigree of titled dogs is important, the more pertinent facts are what the parents have accomplished/produced as individuals, and what their litter mates have accomplished/produced. In one litter, you might have had a single superstar, and the rest of the puppies might have been mediocre at best. Or, perhaps the breeding was a very strong one that produced several dogs who went on to obtain titles and produce well.
At any rate, anyone who claims to know that every puppy will be world class, before the litter is even born, is fooling himself ...and you.
I will let you in on a secret. Breeders usually keep the Best of the Best that they produce. Yes, it is true.. I will surely keep the most magnificent female puppy from my latest litter, and so will most other breeders! Sometimes, breeders save that promising puppy as a future breeding bitch for another breeder friend, and the two breeders exchange puppies to infuse new blood into their stock. So, you see, the World Class puppy is not as readily available to you, even if the breeding DOES produce one! Further, no breeder wants his most promising puppy to go to a strictly pet home where the pup won't have a chance to show his greatness by earning titles in Schutzhund or Herding or Breed Surveys.
Here is another reason why you most likely won't be purchasing the next Sieger or Siegerin: probability. What I mean by probability is this; you, have about as much chance of purchasing the future Sieger as you do of winning the lottery. Think about this; how many dogs just in Germany are bred, raised, shown at the Sieger show, and go VA? A small percentage. Of those dogs that go VA, how many turn out to be really pre potent sires; meaning they consistently produce themselves or better in their progeny? Not many.
Here is an example, I owned a wonderful pet quality (spayed) female who was sired by VA1 Sieger Zamb Wienerau. (I did not breed this dog myself.) Zamb Wienerau produced some wonderful females - Siegerin VA1 Nathalie von der Wienerau, VA1 Vanta Wienerau, Zandra Wienerau, Oscha Wienerau, etc. But, my female, while she was a wonderful individual, was a long coat and her hips were not great. Zamb Wienerau was a very widely used stud dog. And he has a number of successful offspring. However, he has a number of offspring who are not VA quality, too.
CARBON COPIES: More advertising claims
Another misleading tactic is the advertisement that a breeder's puppies will all do it all-whatever you want, any and all these pups will excel.
First, those of us who breed are usually breeding for a particular quality first and foremost. Within the breed you have lines that are known to produce "hard" working dogs consistently. A serious Schutzhund competitor or a Police Department looking for a K 9, might find those qualities supercede others in their search for a dog. Others are interested in Conformation shows. They breed dogs who are first and foremost, very beautiful, and who are (hopefully) adequate in working ability.
Someone interested in herding might find a pup from one of these places will herd sheep, but they might find a better suited or more competitive pup by going to a breeder who specializes in herding dogs, dogs titled in HGH.
So you see, there is variety within the breed. (For my horse enthusiast friends, here is a parallel: Take for example the American Quarter Horse breed, a versatile, utilitarian breed. Just as GSDs are working dogs, AQHA horses were originally working ('cow') horses. There are many disciplines that AQHA horses excel at and can be shown in. The horse who wins at Halter is seldom the horse who wins at Congress for Western Pleasure or Reining. The Hunter winner is not likely to be the Roping winner. While there are horses within the breed who show versatility by placing in several arenas, they generally are not at the top of the standings in all the events they participate in.)
What most pet puppy buyers DON'T need is a dog that is EXTREME in any of these areas. You don't want a very tough dog, you don't want a dog that is gorgeous but not very trainable... you want a dog that is somewhere in the middle! (Some call it the Golden Middle!) A dog that looks like a GSD, has a steady, reliable temperament, and is easily handled and trained, even if you aren't an expert trainer, familiar with how to cope with very high drives!
If you are interested in competing/ participating in Schutzhund, and you are a novice, you STILL don't need to start with the toughest dog you can find. Will you be able handle that dog? Are you really in need of a dog who can compete at an international level, or will your dog be your entry into local level competition? Be realistic!
***Even when breeders are producing dogs for a particular specialty, not every puppy in the litter will be a carbon copy. Within a litter there might be one male dog that demonstrates qualities the breeder feels make this pup a good candidate for Schutzhund. Another male in the litter might be more laid back and show less drive. Perhaps he would excel at Therapy work, but might not be happy in Schutzhund work. It is my belief that the puppy as an individual, should be placed in a home where it will be most suited. I would not sell a prospective buyer a puppy and claim it will do everything with excellent results! While it very well, might perform adequately at many things, I would try to match you with the puppy that I feel is BEST suited to your particular situation!
Is the German Shepherd Dog the breed for you?
This breed has so many good attributes! The GSD is a highly intelligent dog capable of thinking and problem solving, as evidenced by the many roles a GSD plays in society. These characteristics can lead the dog to trouble if they are not harnessed and put to use! In other words, this dog needs a job! If you don't find a job for your GSD, he will appoint himself a job, sometimes with disastrous results.
These dogs ENJOY learning and they crave company. They have a great sense of fun, high drive, and they love praise. The good news is that this makes them easy to train! GSDs are easy to motivate. They are motivated to work for balls/toys, food reward, praise. Breeds of dog who are indifferent to praise, food treats, and have no drive for balls/toys are difficult to train!!!!
These dogs need time with you, love, exercise, socialization and some form of job. If you would prefer a dog that requires no training, no exercise, little time and no job... please choose a different breed!
GSDs make wonderful, loyal, loving family pets. They do have protective instincts. They do have herding instincts. Families with small children should be aware of this. Your GSD will likely protect your children... sometimes even from play fighting amongst playmates. Remember; these dogs think, problem solve, make decisions. Socialization and training are important!!! Your GSD may also feel the need to herd your children when out in the yard or walking. You should never blame a dog for doing what he has been selectively bred to do instinctively! It is up to YOU to teach your dog THE RULES OF YOUR HOUSE. You must show him how you expect him to behave, with proper training and consistency.
Meet the dogs
To find out more about our girls, or for information about our current /upcoming litters, click on Our Girls or Litters!
Copyright Traumhof, 2006-2010; No pictures or wording can be taken without express written permission from site owner. Contact us at :
UPDATE: In the years since I initially developed the website, my philosophy has changed a little. My belief in my foundation lines and in developing a motherline remains the same. My strict adherence to the use of titled dogs has changed. I still believe in the concept of a dog proving breed worthiness with work. However,many years of experience has altered my outlook on the system of titling. It is very time consuming to properly train a dog for a title. When one is developing several youngsters, it takes even longer. The frequent practice of sending one's dog off to be titled is very costly - average 5,500 per dog - and I am not comfortable sending my dog to someone else's care - and to life in a their kennel. Further, after estabishing a Schutzhund club with another breeder and trying to train for both Schutzhund and Herding, I was streched in too many directions. I greatly enjoyed working my dogs with sheep, I enjoyed the partnership and the chance for the dog to make decisions and really show me his/her capability to do so. I also prefer that there is generally no need for compulsive training in Herding. I began to start all young dogs on sheep vs Schutzhund. Unfortunately, there are very few opportunities to trial for HGH in this country. While my dogs continued to work sheep, I stopped worrying about titling them. And I found that in most cases, my puppy families come to me not for the titled dogs, but because I have a definite type of dog with reliable characteristics being passed, multiple generations to interact with, and I carefully match puppies to families. Further, with Karl Fuller's passing, the importance in preservign the Kirschental bloodlines for the future became evne more paramount. While others have dogs from Kirschental, most capitalize on the name & simply breed their K dogs to popular males. I have been combining several Kirschental motherlines for progeny with Kirschental blood on top and bottom, and, I have also done some line breeding on the incomparable Sherry v Kirschental. My dogs WILL carry tending ability into futuregenerations.
Karl Fuller trialing my Xeniali Kirschental
Xeniali v Kirschental, tending a flock
2X BSZS-HGH Sieger V1 Sherry v Kirschental SchH3, HGH, KKL1 "a"
The Best Dog I ever met
You should feel comfortable working with your breeder.
A breeder should be committed to his/her puppies - and that includes a willingness to take back an animal at any time.
A good breeder is concerned with placing puppies in the best suited homes for each individual - and in ensuring you are matched to the best puppy for your needs. In my opinion, this means that setting a pick order" where families choose based on order of deposit, - and might choose the "wrong" puppy - is a bad policy.