Posts Tagged ‘German Shepherds’

My interest in the name debate of this breed was sparked off when my cousin insisted that GSDs were different from Alsations.

Me, being the aspiring vet (at 15) that I was, took him all the way to Connermara library in Egmore to prove my point.

Many people think that Alsations and German Shepherds are two different breeds, but they are actually the same dog with different names.

The breed was named German Shepherd as they used to help shepherds herd and protect sheep. But when World War I was over, dog breeders felt that the inclusion of the word “German” would affect the dog’s popularity, because of the anti-German sentiments prevailing in Britain then. So the British  Kennel Club renamed the dog as ‘Alsatian Wolf Dog.’

Again this caused problems as the media published reports that the Kennel Club was letting loose half-bred wolves in Britian. It was as late as the 1970s that Alsations came to be called German Shepherd Dogs again in Commonwealth countries like India and Britain.

But even now my cousin insists they are two different dogs. He says, there is a German breed and an English breed. I of course have to learnt to ignore him and his opinions 😉

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I have always wanted to own a Siberian Husky. There is something so graceful, upright and noble in its carriage and bearing. Unluckily, I have never been able to own the dog (since it comes with a Rs 1 lakh + price tag in India). Other than patting the few that come my way at the Chennai dog shows, I have not been able to really get close to my favourite dog breed.

My first introduction to Huskies came while I was reading Call of the Wild by Jack London. The images the books conjured were spell-binding – beautiful, furry half-wolves, forging their way in the Arctic cold; furry feet running on soft snow, the struggle between civilisation and the wild. In the North, Siberian Huskies are primarily used as working dogs. They were used to ferry people and goods across the vast, white expanse of the Arctic pole. White Fang, was another book of Jack London’s in which Siberian Huskies figure; though the hero of the novel is actually a half-bred wolf.

Now you might wonder what a dog, which was named Siberian Husky, was doing in Alaska? Well with the Nome Gold Rush in the US and Canada, many gold diggers used these dogs to pull sleds while they hunted for gold.

But being the extremely handsome dog that it is, it soon became a show dog and a family pet. And that’s how the poor thing which was bred to battle the severe northern cold, found its way to tropical India. Go to any Indian dog show, and the richest idiot there will be sporting a Siberian Husky. So far the half-a-dozen Siberian huskies I have met at the Chennai dog shows, spent the whole three days of the event in their AC trailers. They stepped out for a brief 15 minutes at the show ring and for another brief 5 minutes to receive the awards before they were hustled back into their AC trailers.

The poor things are carted all the way from Ooty (where again they are kept in royal seclusion in AC rooms during the summer) to attend the dog show in hot, dry Chennai.

Siberian Huskies come from the Spitz family as do Pomeranians. I had a lovely white spitz myself named Achu (Watch out for the Life and Times of Achu, in the coming posts)

Many people accuse Pomeranians of being nasty and short tempered.  Well, so would I be If I had long, thick lovely hair, ideal for the northern climes, but forced to live in Tamil Nadu; where even the native Rajapalayams, Chippiparais and Kannis feel the heat.

All the spitz varities – Akita,  Malamute, Keeshond, Laika, etc, have a wolfish look and are very handsome dogs.

The first time I saw a Siberian Husky, I wondered if it had some kind of deficiency, but it was only later that I realised that pure-bred Huskies can have different coloured eyes. Accentuating its wolfish tendencies, this dog prefers to howl rather than bark.

But there are also other issues which arise, for instance many people adopt huskies seeing its good looks. But if they don’t have the time and energy to keep their dog usefully engaged, this hyper-active dog can become destructive. This is the reason, why many Alsatians/German Shepherds (There is actually a very interesting story as to why GSDs came to be called Alsations) and Dalmatians, which owners initially choose for their good looks end up in dog homes. People don’t realise that working dogs can get easily bored and restless if they are cooped up in small flats without exercise.

Siberian Huskies have also lost out on the dog-racing front to hybrid breeds like the Alaskan Husky, which are faster and have less hair. Nowadays you can spot the Siberian husky only in dog shows, recreational mushing or in homes.

Watching Walt Disney’s Eight Below, I was again filled with longings for this beautiful dog of the snowy regions.

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