Mixed Up Shepherd

I touched on this subject awhile back in my frequently asked questions post, but today I had a remarkably random encounter with a complete stranger and unfortunately 140 characters is far too limiting to express all my thoughts.

Having been one of those people that had no real knowledge of the GSD prior to my partnership with Yara I totally get it when people think that my girls are not shepherds but an entirely different breed or a mix of some sort. Given that I have the time, I’m always happy to enlighten people to the myriad of colors and patterns that German shepherds come in. That’s not what happened this afternoon at Price Chopper and so this particular interaction was simultaneously that much more hilarious and frustrating:

Stranger: *peering around my shopping cart to look at Uschi* That’s not a German shepherd.

Me: Yes, she’s a shepherd.

Stranger: A German shepherd? A purebred?

Me: Yes.

Stranger: No, that isn’t a German shepherd.

Me: Yes. She is.

Stranger: No. She’s a mix. *walks away muttering in another language*

Me: *dumbfounded* A mix of what?

At first I thought he just hadn’t gotten a good look at her given his odd vantage point, but this gentlemen didn’t offer any explanation as to why Uschi wasn’t a shepherd despite his firmness in stating that she wasn’t one.

As I stated above, the general public isn’t quite on the up-and-up with their GSD knowledge so I get a lot of questions about coloring and markings. And by “questions” I mean “thinly veiled accusations that I’ve somehow been duped into thinking my dog is a shepherd when she is obviously something else entirely.” I figure those people either take my word on the information or continue to think I’m a moron. Either way I don’t really care because there really is no harm being done and we both go our separate ways.

I find myself disgruntled by this random stranger only because he wasn’t merely alluding to my mistake but outright telling me Uschi couldn’t be a shepherd. He may as well have told me, a completely colorblind person, that the sky is purple because I’d have just as much ability to refute the allegation.

Mostly I’m amused by his obvious lack of knowledge on the breed juxtaposed with his staunch assertion on Uschi’s breeding. I can’t help but wonder where he sees the chain of information on my dog failed me and how a complete stranger’s comments trump my own sources.

Sadly, I’m pretty sure he’s from the same ilk that have no clue why a backyard breeder is to be avoided just as much as the mall pet store.

EDIT: I can’t believe I forgot about this, but I had another random stranger encounter earlier today that consisted of the person walking by me and stating to another person, “That isn’t a guide dog. It’s not wearing a jacket.” I was literally rendered speechless by that one.


  1. Cyndy, I often have people tell me that my dog is a pretty GSD. Some will ask if my dog is a Golden Retriever mix.When I tell them that my dog is a Belgian Shepherd,they tell me that he can’t be a Belgian because he has long hair. Then I explain that he is not a Belgian Malinois, He is a Belgian Tervuren. Then they tell me there is no such breed…………….In fact, he is a Fawn colored Belgian Tervuren.They usually walk away saying “that there is one of them long hair German Shepherd doggies”. I also get told that my dog is not a guide dog because he is not wearing a vest. Do you ever get the idea that there are some very weird people walking around our planet?? Take care, Mardi and Shaman the FBTGD from Tucson Arizona.

    • I’ve had a few people think the sables were Belgiums and then basically argue with me when I tell them that they’re not. A not small number of people have claimed they’re Aussies and I can only infer from this that those people have never seen an Australian shepherd.

      A friend of mine has a service dog that has been mistaken for a bear on a number of occasions, though, so I figure at least everyone realizes she’s a canine. Even if sometimes they wonder if she’s a wolf.

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