Interview with Ted Hoppe
Q: Ted how did you get into importing German Shepherds?
When I got out of the Airforce in 1982 I did quite a bit of training in South Florida with trainers who had imported dogs from Europe. I noticed there was a vast quality difference between Imported German Shepherds an American bred German Shepherds.
Q. Ted can you elaborate on the differences?
Upon research of the dogs in europe, specifically from Germany I found that the quality control standards for breeding dogs in Germany was very evolved as opposed to the breeding practices in America. In europe dogs have to meet very stringent criteria and be licensed before they can be bred, so not only do they have to fit into the german standard for the breed but they also have to work.
Q: What do you mean by work?
Ted: A Working title is required in Germany for breeding.
Q: Ted, what is a title?
Schutzhund a title means that someone raised the puppy and trained it in the discipline of the Schutzhund sport. Schutzhund sport is three phase sport with the following phase: Tracking, Obedience & Protection work with points given in each category. In order to be a bred a dog also has to have a conformation rating. Their hips and elbows must be certified and many other items are evaluated before it is okay for the dog to receive the breeding license, of course this is a lot of work and takes time and dedication. In america most people who breed German Shepherds aren't aware of proper breeding practices or they do not want to put forth the effort that our German counterparts do in their breeding practices. Also there is a collective of knowledge that exists in Europe regarding the genetics of German Shepherd dogs, that does not exist here in the U.S; specifically blood lines and their strength and weaknesses.
Most breeders in America only require akc registry to breed their dogs.They do not bother to x-ray hips or elbows nor do not bother to do any working or temperament testing on their dogs. the dogs produced in Europe come from many generation of dogs who have received working degrees. So in essence it boils down to quality control standards that have been set in place for many years in Europe.
Q. When did you import your first dog and do you remember their name?
Ted: I lived in Germany as a civilian in 1985 while I was learning to be a Schitzhund helper for the guy who builds the Schitzhund dog for the protection phase of the sport. The helper is the man who wears the arm sleeve/scratch pants and works with the handler and trainer to build the dogs confidence for the protection work. This is an art form in regards to dog training. I imported my first dog "Argus" who was a Schitzhund 3 . He was the son of the Great "Jupp". When I saw Argus it was love at first sight.
Q. What was it about Argus that drew you in?
He had a very large powerful expressive head, excellent color pigment, superior movement and he was fearless. He was social outgoing and confident. He met all the criteria that one would look for in a German Shepherd and to boot he was drop dead gorgeous and he could work! I sold this dog to a buyer in the United States and it was very hard for me to let him go because I liked him so much.
During my time in Germany I saw many fine dogs and met great people. My mother was German, I grew up in Berlin so i learned German as a second language which enabled me to learn about the breed. I would endeavor throughout my career to import the quality dogs that I worked with in Europe.
In the future as in the past I will strive to bring only the absolute finest import German Shepherds from my partners in Europe. One of the things about GatorlandK9 International that sets us apart form our other dog providers is our partnerships in Europe and the friendships and trust that have developed over many years.
We have loyal customers who are coming to GatorlandK9 International for their 3rd and 4th dogs since the inception of my business.