by Acheron on 24 March 2020 - 02:03
Back in 2007 when we began researching GSD breeders, we settled on Karen Priest's breeding program, Traumhof German Shepherd Dogs. We picked up our first dog from Karen in 2008 and despite some initial issues with lack of communication and paperwork, everything went ok and we actually became friends with Karen. We kept her up-to-date on our dog's progress through obedience (basic, intermediate & advanced), CGC, and the TDI test, which she passed 1 day after her 1st birthday. The friendship between us flourished for quite a few years until Karen mentioned in passing that a fellow breeder she knew was, in clear violation of the law and basic morality/ethics. I fully understood Karen's reluctance to out this individual herself as I quickly learned just how brutal the world of breeding can be, but I could not continue on with the friendship when she refused to provide the name to me so I could go to the authorities with it. It simply wasn't right to allow that to continue. That has zero bearing on what follows, but I wanted to be candid about our prior friendship and its termination.
In any case, the female we obtained from Karen in 2008 was truly an incredible dog. Aside from some aggression issues with selective strangers and essentially all unfamiliar dogs (in spite of extensive training and socialization) that presented as adulthood approached, she was amazing. She was gorgeous, brilliant, obedient, affectionate, motherly (with our other dogs), benevolent, and above all, extraordinarily intuitive.
We were so enamored with her that we purchased a second dog from Karen in 2011. Right off the bat, he had not one, but two undescended testicles. He also had a number of inherent character flaws, including a lack of courage and confidence. He was fearful and had a tendency to become fear and/or defensive aggressive. With his family though, he was and is the most loyal, loving, gentle dog you could ever hope for. Despite his fear, he has never hesitated to put himself at risk in order to protect us (e.g. If I am playing with one of the other dogs and he feels she is getting too rough or if a stranger starts behaving oddly and gets too close.). I love him more than words can express.
With Karen's claims that her dogs were living to 14-15 years old and that the lines were devoid of major genetic disease, I thought my 2 Traumhof GSDs would have been with us for a long time. Sadly, things have not gone that way. Our female died very, very suddenly at the young age of 9 from hemangiosarcoma, a largely genetic cancer you are all familiar with. When I posted about it on my private Facebook page, one of our mutual friends reached out to me and out me in touch with another Traumhof dog owner who claimed that her dog died suddenly at age 5 while playing in the yard with her young son. The cause, she said, was indicated to be congenital heart disease. Now, our male, who just turned 9, has just been diagnosed with leukemia, another largely genetic cancer. We are going to do everything we can for him, but he may have as little as days remaining.
So why am I posting? My wife and I are truly heartbroken and I simply wanted to share both the positive and negative of our experience with these lines 12 years down the road. Despite doing everything right throughout their lives, our efforts could not complete with what seems to be a genetic predisposition for terminal disease. Whether or not Karen was aware of these seeming genetic predispositions within the bloodlines years ago when we purchased these dogs, I can only speculate. Regardless, while I would gladly deal with this pain all over again to have the time I did with these 2 dogs, I wouldn't get another knowing that this is how the story ends.
(I know how these threads turn personal almost immediately, so I won't be returning for the inevitable arguments. You're all entitled to your opinions and the above is simply my experience and my opinion after 12 years with 2 of these dogs.)
by Western Rider on 24 March 2020 - 04:03
Sorry for your pain and loss as many of have felt.
by Hundmutter on 24 March 2020 - 04:03
Y'all know by now, I hope, that I will always speak my mind and the truth as I see it, and yet try not to be insulting to the questioners or offensive in any way. Some posters still do not like that, but one can only speak to those actually willing to listen.
The OP here says he will "not get another" dog, but is a bit ambiguous about whether that's another GSD full stop because of the health issues, or just another Traumhof-bred GSD. I feel it is only fair to point out that a lot of owners of this breed, when faced with some of the health problems, then give up and find a different breed of dog. That is their choice. Sometimes, they even succeed in finding no problems whatever in their dog(s) of the new breed.
It happens in other breeds also. It is a choice I have never made, because although I have had dogs afflicted with 'early' deaths, including from haemangiosarcoma and GDV and auto-immune issues, all of which are now thought to have genetic components (though no leukemia or heart defects ... so far !), I am aware that I've had more opportunities than most owners to observe a large number of dogs over a wide span of years; and these have been dogs of varying 'families' and bloodlines, so also the opportunity to see commonalities and differences in this breed. More of them have NOT had this range of problems than have done so. I've been around the GSD breed for over 50 years now.
I have no contact with or affiliation to the breeder discussed here, I do not know Karen Priest and have not had dogs bred by her or related to her dogs. I'm not even in the same country.
What I CAN say without any doubt is that the German Shepherd IS prone to a wide range of illnesses, and bodily conditions. Some would argue more so than other breeds; personally I think if you study a range of other purebred dogs you will find that many other breeds actually have a similar number of issues; they may not be the same conditions or diseases, but there is no escape from the fact that owners can get unlucky with what ANY member of the domestic dog species, including cross-breeds, can have go wrong with them.
The dog is first & formost an individual, no matter how closely & deliberately bred, subject to genetic 'games of chance' - as indeed are the humans in their lives ! (Think about the number & variety of human inheritable conditions.) The fact that many, often those which would generally be regarded as 'good' breeders, try hard to health test and restrict their breeding plans to unaffected, healthy stock does not mean they can always avoid the roll of those genetic dice. We still do not fully understand genetics, especially in regard to the combination of alleles, and 'on' & 'off' switching. Most 'guarantees' offered by breeders are simply financial arrangements IF something goes wrong ( e.g. hip dysplasia); they are NOT warranties that the pups they sell will definitely NOT suffer certain conditions, just because they have tried their damnedest to breed away from those problems in their lines. NOBODY can really give you that sort of assurance.
Should everyone stop breeding dogs altogether, because health problems exist ? There are still a majority of dogs on the planet that live long and relatively healthy lives; I realise it is distressing when your dogs are not among that majority and I have every sympathy with the OP & his wife for their losses. But, please, everyone: get genetic diseases into perspective.
by astrovan2487 on 24 March 2020 - 09:03
I've come to the conclusion at this point that the breed is so full of genetic health problems that if any breeder says their lines are completely free of genetic health conditions then they are lying. Even the best breeders from time to time produce some bad dogs but I think the difference between a "good" and "bad" breeder is that the good breeder will be honest with you about this and try their best to not make the same mistakes where as the bad will lie to you and hide the imperfections, continuing to do the same as they have.
The fearful temperament you deal with in your male is not uncommon at all either.
I am in no way defending your breeder, but the problems her dogs have that you have mentioned are not at all uncommon in gsds, which is heartbreaking for me to say but is true. But the way she went about lying to you about knowing for sure the dogs have absolutely no genetic issues was completely misleading and dishonest, so there may be a whole list of other things she does with breeding that is unethical.
by Nans gsd on 24 March 2020 - 11:03
However we are still looking at many more years ahead of us before those answers arrive at our doorstep.
Love and hug your dogs every moment you have a chance to and try to remember how important they are and have been in your lives. So my point is these illnesses and temperament problems lurk around every corner and are in every breed. Some much more prevalent than others. Sorry but this is the dog world. Makes me sad but it is the way it is.
Have to try to be the best and more informed dog parent possible. Good day everyone, Nan
by DuganVomEichenluft on 24 March 2020 - 12:03
I do feel the OP'er posted out of emotions. It's obvious as he speaks down about the breeder, then commends her. He does the same about both dogs. So, emotions were what created the post. Unfortunately, it's a very unfair post to the breeder. I've had many dogs over the years. Some died of old age, others died of cancer. My first reaction is not to go to social media and down my dog's breeder. I feel the same about the OP'er. I also thinks it's very disrespectful and immature to post something then say, "so I won't be returning for the inevitable arguments". Then why even bother to post? Don't dish something out if you can't take it.
Anyhow, sorry for your loss.