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TRC: It seems like there is becoming an increasing divide between breeders who show and bred for the AKC show ring and breeders who bred from dogs that are all or mostly German-lines and show their dogs in the German-style ring, do you find this to be the case? 

FL: Yes, but if you have an excellent Rottweiler it can win at either German or AKC shows.  Although the judging in the two shows is quite different.

TRC: I want to explore the American, German issue in a moment but you mentioned the difference in judging. How do you feel that the judging is different?

FL: The Germans have certain priorities and AKC judges have some of the same priorities but also other priorities that are different.  It also depends upon the individual judges. German Judges, and I am talking about the real ones, are inculcated with the priorities of the German system and follow it or they are given no more assignments.  �Play ball� is the name of the game.  American judges are more autonomous.  As long as their ring procedure is right and they don't put up a dog with a DQ fault and a complaint is not lodged they go their merry way. Most Rotties in AKC shows are not judged by those who really know the breed.  Most of the big winners do NOT go on to consistently produce correct stock. 

TRC: Most judges don�t know the breed? You don�t feel that most judges have a clear understanding of the Rottweiler breed standard?

FL: They should, but that�s not the case. Most judges start with a number of handicaps: they don't know the breed well enough, they don't know the standard well enough, they don't put emphasis in the right areas, they don't know structure and movement well at all, they go by opinion and emotion and not reason and fact.  They are fallible human beings and are not held accountable for their mistakes.  If they worked in a factory and were doing quality control they would soon be out of a job.  If they worked for an auto company I would advise everyone to NOT purchase a car inspected on their shift.

TRC: Okay, back to the American breeder versus the German breeder issue. I initially framed the question in terms of conformation and the show ring but it is really more about temperment than conformation. American breeders have purposely toned down the temperment of the breed to make the Rottweiler a general-purpose family dog and some would say, with protective instincts. The Germans, and I hope I am not making gross generalizations of either perspective, place a great deal of emphasis on protection, courage, hardness and whether or not the dog will bite an aggressor. People from both sides accuse the other of �ruining� the breed. Now, here is the question, which perspective is �ruining� the breed? 

FL: Well, firstly, temperment is an issue that Americans were initially concerned about but the Germans are concerned about it now also. The Germans realized they were going in the wrong direction with temperment. 

TRC: Right. I think that now everyone wants a dog that is stable and is not over-aggressive but do the American breeders go to far in softening the temperment of the Rottweiler? Shouldn�t our dogs have strong protection drives? And should we use activities such as schutzhund as breeding tools to determine whether or not the dog has the instincts a Rottweiler needs as a working dog?

FL: Well, some people do breed soft dogs. My dogs aren�t soft or wimpy. My dogs are bold, high confidence but also have discernment. Because a dog doesn�t have a schutzhund degree doesn�t mean they don�t have strong protective instincts. And many times it is to the contrary. Many people in schutzhund don�t select the dog with high confidence and then teach them the job. They get over-aggressive, territorial, high drive dogs. These dogs may do well in schutzhund but can they function in everyday situations. Most people need a dog with high confidence and discernment, not a biting machine.

TRC: Do you think dogs from the Srigo line are capable of doing the work for schutzhund?

FL: Yes, many of my dogs are capable of Schutzhund work.
Srigo�s On The Wings of a Hawk had a SchH I and was capable of a SchH 3, as was his brother, Srigo�s On Dangerous Ground. I had Srigo�s Flashy Nightingale tested by Robert Fortin, at his request.  Robert said he was pronounced and excellent in all instincts, including being friendly afterwards.  He also tested Lux von der Gruberheide, whom I owned, and he was also excellent and was used by a friend of mine for patrol duty and did his job well. Srigo�s Point Blank had a SchH I. A Bronco son in Texas was in training.  The owner said he was well on the way, and admired by all in his club as a level-headed dog with correct working instincts.  But after awhile I stopped hearing from him. Another dog, Srigo�s Youngblood Hawk was in training and the owner assured he was almost ready for his SchH I.  Another owner that I stopped hearing from. I'm sure there were others that were fully capable of the work.  However, Americans are generally not interested in "biting" dogs.  Those that are, erroneously think by and large that they can get a good worker only from people who specialize in �Working Dogs�.  If that is ALL you want, their point is valid.  However I feel that most of these people over specialize and put too much emphasis on biting to the exclusion of other aspects of a dog that are VERY important in an American dog.

TRC: Is there a difference between what is important in a Rottweiler that lives in American and one that lives in Germany?

FL: Most Americans don't want a "dog house" dog.  They want one that will live in the family setting and be safe.  I don't mean you can�t EVER treat a dog trained to bite the same as a dog who was never trained to bite, supposing that both dogs were not overly aggressive, alpha, etc...I am referring to those prone to bite when they should not.  A gun is a gun and must always be treated as if it was loaded and the safety was off.  The unexpected happening can turn the dog on inadvertently. 

TRC: What priority should we place on the working ability of Rottweilers?

FL: It�s a high priority. Or it should be. But when you say �work� many people assume work means schutzhund or police work. Yet there are many kinds of work a Rottweiler can do.  Not every dog is suited to one kind of work.  There are also many people who have no need of a Schutzhund dog and all it's possible consequences, but who do need a companion-protector, a herder, a cart puller, a therapy dog, an agility dog, an obedience dog, a rescue dog, etc.  These are all worthy pursuits and needed by more people than those who need a Schutzhund dog.  The Rottweiler can fill those boots admirably.  The basic dog , if it is steady, trainable, physically strong, has endurance, etc�can fill many needs and still be a top notch, world-class Rottweiler.  I don't think it has to be a Schutzhund dog.  If someone wants to go that route, they need a VERY stable dog and they need to train correctly in order to have a safe dog. The standard says the dog should be harmonious and not overdone in any way.  I think that goes for temperament as well.  No one can convince me that a dog that has as it's major goal in life to �chew people up� is a happy dog, any more than a human who wants to maim people as their major goal in life is a happy person.  They are deranged.  You do the protecting as needed only.  That does not require a 24 hr a day mayhem mission.  Too much emphasis on bite work is detrimental to the balance of the dog.  Overkill is a waste of energy and destroys the balance of the intent of the work, no matter what kind it is. People who breed these overdone dogs should NOT sell them to the general public.  They do.  It has contributed to the very bad rap the breed has gotten, and in many instances it is deserved.  NO dog should kill a young boy waiting for his school bus.  A professional boxer�s hands are considered a lethal weapon.  A large dog with aggressive tendencies is a lethal weapon.  Dogs are CARNIVOROUS  ANIMALS.  This is obvious from their teeth.  Don't treat them as if they are lambs. Too many men use such dogs as an antidote to their own insecurities.  A good friend and the use of common sense can keep you out of most bad situations.  You don't need a policeman at your side all day, with a drawn loaded weapon.  I wonder how many of those who are overboard on biting have actually had the occasion to use these dogs in real situations in their daily lives.  I have a dog now, and have had in the past dogs with NO bite work that did the right thing when the chips were down.  All I had to do with Srigo�s Flashy Nightingale was yell: �Gumby, HELP!� He would leap the fence, hit the office door open with his feet and come in with all his teeth showing and a roar that shook the walls.  It was more than enough.  I just think Rottweilers are NOT pets, but companions.
You have to give as much as you get, and you have to pick the right companion, who is on your �wave length� and with whom you mesh seamlessly.  You need to understand and respect one another and have the same sensibilities.  If your companion thinks it is OK to pick a fight with an innocent person and uses a weapon to injure and intimidate someone who is minding their own business, YOU are in deep trouble as an accessory.  A reliable safe dog is that BEFORE he has schutzhund training or he certainly will not be safe and reliable afterwards. It all depends on the club with which you are involved.

TRC: So then would you say that is the German-style breeders �ruining� the breed?

FL: The ruining of the breed has nothing to do with the show people or the schutzhund people.  The ruining of the breed starts at a more basic level. Most of the worst breeding is not going exclusively by the �working dog� crowd.  The bad breeding is being done by the thousands of people who bought �pigs in a poke� and are using the dogs solely for reproductive purposes. Those people have NO idea of what a Rottweiler should be, in any way, shape or form.  As long as it has registration papers it is all right. They are so accustomed to low quality dogs all their lives that they do not know that their dogs don't look, act or move as they should for a DOG of any breed, never mind as a Rottweiler. 

TRC: And I am sure that there are people who fit this description in the show world and in the schutzhund world, both here in the United States and in Germany and Europe, or anywhere else in the world.

FL: People in general take their responsibilities too lightly. It is nothing new.  It has been thus for all of historical times, and one must assume before that, to some degree.  It was harder to be casual about it when there were few people, since everyone knew everyone and breechers of the moral code were punished heavily, even if only indirectly.  Ostracism was a powerful tool.  Nowadays people would just move somewhere else and do it to a new group: and they do!! No one is perfect.  We all make mistakes.  Owning up to them and making good on them is the right thing.  But those who consciously do devious deeds on purpose and not due to circumstances are not few and far between. We are all responsible for this earth and the creatures on it.  When we take them into our care and take on the role of mother-nature, we need to take on the responsibility of mother-nature and do the right thing by the animals we profess to love. 

TRC: Well, Ms. Luburich, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview with me. And thank you also for all of your contributions to the breed.

FL: Thank you and I hope that someone is able to learn something helpful from it.

Interview by
Karim Camara

Past Interviews


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