President Joe Biden’s two German Shepherds became minor celebrities during the 2020 election campaign, and media outlets were particularly taken by the 3-year-old rescue that the long-time senator and former vice president affectionately named Major. Biden said that he wanted a younger dog to keep his older German Shepherd dog (GSD) Champ active, but he may have got more than he bargained for with Major.
Major has already been involved in two biting incidents at the White House that left government workers needing medical treatment. People reading media stories about these incidents could be forgiven for assuming that German Shepherds are dangerous and prone to biting, but that is really not the case. When GSDs are bred carefully and trained properly, they can be loving and gentle family pets.
Major Bites a Secret Service Agent
The first incident involving the president’s rescue German Shepherd took place on March 9. According to the White House, Major lashed out after being startled by a Secret Service agent. Reports indicate that the dog had previously rushed at or jumped on several White House workers. It was soon reported that both of Biden’s German Shepherds would be returning to the family residence in Delaware for more training.
Major Bites a Gardener
That training does not seem to have done much good. Just days after returning to the White House from Delaware, Major was involved in yet another biting incident. This time, Biden’s younger dog bit a gardener while a Secret Service agent walked him on a leash on the residence’s South Lawn. When questioned about his dog’s behavior, Biden told reporters that his German Shepherds were still adjusting to the frantic pace of the Executive Mansion.
Choosing the Right German Shepherd
President Biden may be dealing with these problems because he got the wrong type of GSD. Major and Champ both come from East German bloodlines that are known to produce great military and law enforcement working dogs. East German Shepherds have endless energy and enthusiasm, but they can become destructive and even dangerous if they lack purpose and are deprived of exercise.
Lax regulations and large breeding operations have led to the market being flooded with East German Shepherds that are unlikely to be fulfilled, healthy and happy as family pets. Eastern German bloodlines were originally created for the canine or police force, and even the departments will not purchase them from this country anymore, because their minds and bodies can’t be trusted. So the departments are going to the Czech Republic.
West German Shepherds may look very similar to their eastern brethren, but their temperaments are very different. West German Shepherds are bred very carefully, and they are the preferred option for organizations looking for service and therapy dogs. They are also calmer and gentler than East German Shepherds. If you want to know more about the different kinds of GSDs, you should check out our blog post about the pitfalls to avoid during the purchase or adoption process for a GSD.
The Importance of Careful Breeding
Dogs inherit personality as well as physical traits from their parents, and experienced breeders take this into account. If you are having problems getting answers about a German Shepherd puppy’s parents, you are probably not looking at a line bred dog.
Line breeding is only possible when breeders maintain 10 to 12 generations of dogs. Breeding males and females with family ties allows breeders to predict with confidence how puppies will behave, but sires and dams are always kept at least three generations apart.
Line breeding is a more expensive approach, but respected breeders are willing to invest time and money to ensure their puppies are well-behaved and free of common elbow and hip problems. Regis Regal offers a lifetime guarantee on adoptions because we line breed.
Out Line Breeding
Many breeders breed males and females with no familial ties. While this is less expensive and easier than line breeding, there is no way to predict with any confidence how healthy the resulting puppies will be or how they will behave.
Temperament and health are the only two traits in a GSD that can never be trained or fixed. As mentioned previously, the ones that Joe Biden owns are East German working line dogs. They are also outline bred, and, unfortunately, when you outline breed, it makes it impossible to determine the temperament or health of your dogs.
Avoid a “Major” Problem
Getting a German Shepherd puppy from a reputable breeder is probably the best way to avoid the kind of issues the First Family is currently dealing with. Other ways to prevent biting incidents include:
- Using a leash at all times: Even well-trained dogs can become distracted and run off. This is why German Shepherds of all ages should be kept on a leash at all times while out in public.
- Going to training classes: An untrained dog can be a real handful, and this is especially true when the untrained dog in question is as big as a German Shepherd. The pandemic has made finding traditional dog training classes difficult, but some breeders are now offering remote dog training.
- Getting plenty of exercise: Working dogs like German Shepherds have endless energy and love exercise. Giving your puppy the opportunity to stretch his or her legs at a local dog park is both enjoyable and a good way to avoid behavioral issues.
- Setting a good example: Dogs pick up cues from their owners, which is why you should try to be calm and assertive when you take your German Shepherd out for a walk.
Protection You Can Hug
At Regis Regal we produce West German bloodlines, otherwise known as Sieger or show line dogs. If you live in the Chicago area, you can visit Regis Regal and ask us questions about our West German Shepherd puppies. If you live in another part of the country, we use a private courier service that can ship a puppy to your door. We are an American Kennel Club Breeder of Merit, and we offer a lifetime health guarantee and a comprehensive training program. To find out more, you can reach us on (847) 721-1908, or you can fill out our online contact form.