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Posts Tagged ‘Harzer fuchs’

Harzer Fuchs tricks

I’d love to have one of these dogs someday. I don’t know if anyone is breeding them in the US, but I’d love to be able to have some over here. They are so much of what I like in the standard working GSD. The expressions are so much of what I love about Anka.

These dogs are so sporty that I’m actually surprised there isn’t a larger international following of them. They are sort of a GSD meets border collie.

 

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The answer to this “Identify” query is that these dogs are Harzer Fuchs.

Fuchs means fox in German, and these dogs do look quite a bit like foxes.

They are border collie-sized herding dogs that remind some of German shepherd dogs and to others B, elgian and Dutch shepherds. In my eyes, they are a bit like gold-colored mudis, a somewhat smaller Hungarian herding dog.

The Harzer part of the name comes from the general geographic location of these dogs.   These fox-like sheepdogs are very common in the Harz mountains of northern Germany.

These dogs are actually a type within a greater landrace called the Altdeutsche Hütehunde (Old German herding dog or Old German shepherd). Various dogs of this type have existed in the German speaking world for hundreds of years. The modern German shepherd is derived from regional forms of the landrace, exspecially those from from Thuringia and Württemberg.

Dogs like the Harzer Fuchs and its relatives within the landrace would have been the dogs with which my ancestors would have had the closest relationship.   When I was a child, I thought they actually used modern German shepherds to herd sheep and mink-like dachshunds to hunt badgers.

But the truth is that as German working class people who lived long before there were “improved types” that became breeds, they used dogs that were much more varied in appearance and type.  They didn’t have time to breed for giant German shepherds, as the Shiloh shepherds are, or to breed dogs with sloping backs, which we see in modern show shepherds. They just bred dogs that could do the task. If some were red and fox-like and others were shaggy or even blue merle, they really didn’t care that much.

I would love to see some genetic studies on dogs in this landrace to see exactly how they fit with modern breeds. They appear to transcend out concept of breed entirely, and they are so varied that it is obvious that they have very little ancestry from modern breed dogs. Because they may have never existed as true breed dogs,  they might prove to be as genetically diverse as some Asian and African dogs, which means they could tell us a lot about the evolution of dogs in Europe.

I don’t know why these dog haven’t been studied more.

It may be that most people just don’t know about them.

One can see in these dogs what might be the rough form of a variety of breeds. The shaggy ones could be proto-schnauzers or poodles– some of which are called Schafpudel (“Sheep poodle”). The merle ones, called “tiger dogs,” might have played a role in founding the Australian shepherd, which was developed in the American West from diverse herding dog stock.  One can see collie in some of these dogs, along with German, Dutch, and Belgian shepherds.

So it’s possible that these dogs represent the ancestral stock that formed all of these improved breeds, but they have existed for centuries outside of the closed registry system.

The notion that these dogs might be at the root stock of many European breeds is not new.

Buffon believed that the chien de berger,  the French herding dog landrace, was the ancestral dog from which all dog breeds descended.

He was stretching it a bit, but Germany is at the crossroads of Europe. Lots of different people have moved across its plains over the millenia, bringing with them diverse dog strains.

Within the DNA of these dogs is a story that is waiting to be revealed, but as far I know,  no one has closely examine them.

I think it’s time.

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