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Die Deustches Garten Hund
(The German Garden Dog)

by Paul Smith


This is the piece, originally posted to the list in 1995, which Paul has now updated with a postscript. He sent and asked that I make it available to the list. I think it is a classic and I hope you agree and find it fun. Thanks, Paul!

Die Deustches Garten Hund - A Brief History

The German Shepherd Dog as we know it was developed by Von Stephanitz in the 1880-90s. Very few people realize that Von Stepanitz also attempted to develop its counterpart the "Deustches Garten Hund" (German Garden Dog- GGD) as a complement to its more famous relative the "Deustches Schafer Hund". Having successfully developed a dog that could be used for guarding and herding farm animals it was only natural that a similar dog be developed for assisting in the sowing, raising and harvesting of crops.

What was needed was a dog that combined all the fine qualities of the GSD (intelligence, loyalty, bravery, and determination) along with agricultural abilities such as natural instincts to dig, root, plant, weed, water, fertilize and attack insects. Von Stephaniz realized such traits were not natural to most dogs but nevertheless set out to incorporate behaviours exhibited (from time to time) by other breeds such as the Dachshund, Beagle, Collie, Boxer, Afghan, Dalmatian, Pug, Poodle, and the little known Heinz 57.

After much trial and error the GGD emerged and was introduced at the 1898 Chicago Exhibition. The GGD was a total failure. In:

  1. weeding trials: carrots, peas, turnips were ripped up along with the target weeds

  2. watering: the GGDs refused to use the hose preferring their own more 'natural' methods

  3. fertilizing- see above

  4. cultivating and plowing; holes were dug indiscriminately

  5. insect control: the honey bee exhibit was totally destroyed and the GGD demonstrated a strong fixation with June Bugs

  6. harvesting: only portions of tomatoes, pieces of lettuce and tips of asparagus were successfully retrieved.

Subsequent breeding of the GGD was strongly discouraged and it was thought that the breed had been discontinued. Unfortunately, due to their strong resemblance to the GSD it appears that they successfully intermingled with them and to this day these various recessive 'gardening' traits can be seen in the modern GSD.

Next time your GSD digs up the garden, chews holes in the hose, rips out plants, demolishes shrubs, runs across recently planted beds its probably due to the recessive GGD genes.

Paul K. Smith
And the Usual Gang of GGDs
On Sunny St. Margaret’s Bay
Queensland, Nova Scotia


May 29, 2009

A Post Script:

After having identified this issue 15 years ago, I have been conducting extensive research on identifying GSDs that carry these recessive traits. I am afraid that the problem is so widespread that as many as 100% of GSDs are affected.

There is a now a medical classification for this problem – CGGDS (Chronic German Garden Dog Syndrome).

What can we do?

Commands such as ‘OFF’, ‘NO’ and ‘LEAVE IT’ do not work.
A recently developed treatment of `Mineral Therapy` (AKA Pitching a Small Pebble at the Pup as It Wanders Thru the Garden) is ineffectual.

All I can suggest is that you join the recently founded CGGDS Support Group and commiserate with each other.

There is no cure.

Seven GGDs Later
Paul K. Smith


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