Who We Are –
The Haven Kennels is a partnership of Sheryl Thompson and her son Doug Thompson. Sheryl has worked with dogs for over 50 years. The daughter of a circus animal trainer she grew up with a variety of animals and learned the art of communicating with animals at her father’s knee. Sheryl has worked with numerous breeds of dogs including Wire Hair Fox Terriers, Airedale Terriers, Golden Retrievers, racing Whippets, Keeshonds, Redbone Coonhounds, Beagles, Collies, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds. She has been breeding, training, and competing with dogs for over 50 years. Her son Doug started training with her when he was a teenager, showing dogs in AKC Obedience events and training personal protection dogs. Together, Doug and Sheryl represent 90+ years of working dog experience.
Our Breeding Philosophy –
The Haven Kennels primary breeding goal is to produce German Shepherds with sound and healthy confirmation; calm and stable temperaments; and high trainability for use as service dogs. The German Shepherd breed is highly suited for this work and German Shepherd puppies from Haven Kennels breeding excel in this type of training.
Over the years, the German Shepherd Dog has developed a bad reputation for health and temperament issues. When a breed becomes very popular (the German Shepherd is #2 in AKC registrations), there are a lot of people who decide that breeding would be a good financial endeavor. Because this type of “breeder” is just looking to make a fast dollar, they cut corners not investing in the best breeding stock, not attaining all the necessary health test clearances to prove the breeding dogs to be physically sound, and not willing to put the time into training to thoroughly test the dog’s temperament. Their criteria is simply AKC papers which prove nothing but telling that the pups are pure German Shepherds, but not necessarily quality pure German Shepherds.
We believe that a well bred German Shepherd is the best canine companion a person can have. There are different types of German Shepherds, and these types are very much divided by their country of origin and the work that they were bred for. The major types are –
- American Showlines – These dogs have been bred to suit the American view point of the German Shepherd which is a companion dog, a confirmation show dog, and a candidate for the AKC obedience ring, Tracking Trials, Agility and Rally competition dogs. They make great companions and are easier for the average owner to train than some of the European based types.
- West German Showlines – These dogs are very distinctive in appearance with deep red/black saddle coloring. This type of German Shepherd is heavier boned than the American show dogs and they are bred not only for confirmation but for ability to pass an endurance test, a tracking test, and a protection sequence to be “titled” (essentially an series of tests similar to IPO1 but not quite as involved). Only dogs that pass both the confirmation and working temperament tests are given their SV Breeding papers. They have wonderful temperaments and can be a great companion as long as they are given adequate training as they tend to have a bit higher energy and higher “drive” than the US Showline dogs.
- West German Working Lines – This German Shepherd will have a few more color variations that the showline dogs. They are bred for police work and have stronger prey drive than the showline dog. Bred to compete in European dog sports, they are great in Schutzhund and ring sport. They need an experienced handler willing to devote a lot of time to training.
- DDR/Czech Lines – This branch of the German Shepherd Dog got isolated from the rest of the German Shepherd lines by the Cold War. The USSR quickly realized that these dogs were the ultimate police dog and the military oversaw their breeding with one purpose in mind, making outstandingly brave and intense border guards. These dogs are physically different having straighter top lines than the show line dogs and are a little larger. The DDR Shepherds are usually dark in coloring, either solid black or sable grey. They have a police dog temperament that is very intense, with a strong prey drive, and a slightly more aggressive edge. They belong in the hands of an experienced trainer and not an amateur.
At Haven Kennels, we have taken what we consider “the best of both worlds” approach to breeding by combining AKC and West German Showlines. I feel that the AKC/GSDCA breeding practices have “Americanized” the dogs too much. It is my opinion that the American AKC dogs are slighter in stature and more feminine looking but I also feel that the West German Showlines have carried the rear angulation too far producing a severely roached top line and over-angulated rear in some lines. Line breeding and occasional in-breeding in the American AKC Show Line dogs has caused a number of health issues in the American dogs. Taking all these things into consideration we have chosen to breed the best AKC lines, by thorough health, genetic and temperament testing, with specifically chosen West German Showline dogs exhibiting sound structure, excellent temperament and working capabilities. In the spring of 2016 we whelped an amazing litter of 10 puppies of outstanding quality proving that our breeding theories had merit. Our goal to produce a German Shepherd Dog with strength and beauty, coupled with a sound healthy body, stable temperament and high trainability has been achieved and now we will work to maintain this breeding standard. We feel we are now producing the best German Shepherd for the average American family to own.