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                 Background on the Old-fashioned Olderhill GSDs
Site last updated: March 2009

The Olderhill German Shepherd Dog (GSD), or Alsatian (a different name for the same breed), is a unique bloodline of working police dogs. Bred from West German dogs imported to England after the Second World War, they have been selected for working ability and health for nearly half a century, and the last 25 years specifically for real police work. They are the original big, healthy, flat-backed German Shepherd Dogs of the 1940's that have been preserved over time and isolated from new bloodlines and fashion.

The late Ann Butler was the original breeder and Olderhill was her kennel name. She was an incredible woman who drove tanks and trucks between South Africa and Egypt during the war. It was in Egypt that she saw the German army's german shepherd dogs and was so impressed by them that she decided to use those specific blood lines to breed her own german shepherd dogs after the war. She did this, and by continual line-breeding kept the original type of dog unchanged. Olderhill german shepherds can be black, bi-coloured, or black and tan, and have short or long coats. Big, bulky dogs (males up to 70 kgs) with hearts and brains to match their size, the British Police and Prison Services soon realized the quality of the Olderhill GSDs and were keen to get hold of them. They allowed Ann (and later other breeders) to use their best performing Olderhill dogs in her breeding programme in return for pick-of-the-litters. This began a unique relationship which lasted 25 years and produced probably the best working dogs ever.

Breeding programmes in the past have shown that selecting for working ability over many years raises the percentage of puppies bred that are suitable for work from about 30 % (show stock) to more than 90%. So instead of three puppies, nine puppies out of a litter of ten will be suitable for training. Olderhill GSDs, selected for police work for 25 years, and other work long before that, have reached 100% suitability. All ten puppies will be easy to train and make great police dogs.

Another result of this selection is that the health of these dogs is far better than that of GSDs selected for unnatural shapes. Olderhill german shepherds have a natural 'square' shape. They are flat-backed and their hind legs straight, (unlike the show-ring german shepherd's sloped back and bent hind legs). Their spines are flexible like a cat’s, and so can easily take the pressure of high jumps and hard landings. People with show-ring GSDs call these flat, flexible backs 'soft' and judge them to be a fault. They want their dogs to have sloped, rigid backs and don't realize that this causes their dogs' spines to jar when they land after jumping. They just know that their dogs get damaged by jumping and so avoid doing it as much as possible. The Olderhill german shepherds don’t suffer from hip problems because they absorb their food well.  Their hind quarters are wide and powerful, and don’t degenerate after a few years because of pinched nerves in the spine. We believe this to be the german shepherd dog's worst medical problem and in our experience 90% of all GSDs are euthanased  because of this. We are not the only people to think so. Herr Raiser, the present breed warden of the German Shepherd Dog Federation in Germany, (the S.V - Schäferhund Verein), also estimates that 90% of today's GSDs are handicapped because of pinched nerves in the spine and that hips play a minor role. He is so gloomy about the modern german shepherd's health that he suggests putting belgian shepherd (malinois) blood into the german shepherd dog breed to make it healthier! Some of Germany's police agree with him and have started re-trenching their german shepherds and replacing them with malinois. If they knew that the original, healthy, flat-backed german shepherd dogs still exist in the Olderhills, then they would probably be glad to use them because they are much bigger and braver than most belgian shepherds.

Despite being veteran crime-busters, Olderhill german shepherds make excellent family pets and are great with children. This is partly because they’ve always lived in with their police handlers and their families, and so have had to be very social. They’re stable, confident dogs who know when to attack and when not. They’re naturally protective towards their family without any training, and will follow members around like a shadow. (A few of our untrained Olderhill GSD puppies - some only 6 months old - have protected their families from burglars and armed hijackers. Many of our young puppies try to pull children out of swimming pools because they think that they're drowning!) With little training you can teach them anything. They’re keen to learn and you often only need to show them something once for them to catch on.


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Learn to Speak with your Pet. (newsletter  21/6/06)


Many people have no idea that all animals and people have a 'part' that is connected to everything else. People can learn to access this 'part' and learn some amazing things.

We know a few ladies who 'talk' with animals in this way. They get some  astonishing information from them - even what medical problems their owners have! 

Nicole, one of these ladies, visited us recently and gave us some surprising information that our dogs had to tell us! (See below for some of it.) We have asked her to give a workshop here at our centre to teach us how to also talk with our pets. She says that EVERYONE has been able to do it by the end of her workshops - even the strongest sceptics.

We spoke to an SPCA inspector who also attended a similar workshop, and she confirmed that all the participants were able to do it. She also said that since then a few doors have opened up in her head and she now 'hears' animals often - usually as she passes by minding her own business. Animals calling her to help them or telling her what medical problem they have. Sometimes animals telling her that they don't want to be euthanased....

Julie and I would love to learn to do this, and if you also would (and live in South Africa ) then please contact us so that we can determine a date for the workshop.  We need to get a group together. It will be from 9am to 4pm and include lunch and snacks from a professional caterer. The cost will be R450 per person. Our e-mail address is and telephone numbers 012-7992131 or 0824164961 or 0782923669. Our telkom line is stolen more than it is on, so if it just keeps on ringing then please just use our cel' phones. Our reception goes up and down so please be patient and try a few times. Thanks.

Nicole gave us interesting information from several dogs when she visited us, but one dog's story, in particular, we'd like to relate to you. His name is Tiva, and he's a german shepherd.

Tiva is one of the many dogs that we buy from the police every month. We out-bid security companies so that we can train these dogs and sell them to good families instead. We'd noticed that for the last 6 months the dogs coming from the police had been extremely thin and very nervous. Some were terrified and ran away when they saw a lead and choke-chain. Others, who we judged to be powerful dogs, and who reacted aggressively when teased through a fence, became completely docile or frightened when taken out of their run and faced with a 'criminal' with a 'sleeve' on ( a thick padded thing that fits over your arm so that the dogs can bite on it).


Tiva fell into this second category. He's a big brave dog who roared like a lion when teased through the fence. As soon as we took him out to let him bite the 'criminal' on the sleeve, though, he froze. Despite the other dog with him obviously enjoying himself chasing the very cowardly criminal, he just looked the other way!  When we put him back into his run he no longer reacted to the teasing either - not then or for the week afterwards. It was obvious to us that the police's training had put him off so badly that he wanted nothing to do with the game of attack-work. He hadn't associated our previous teasing with their training but as soon as he'd seen the 'criminal' with his padded arm, the penny had dropped.

We asked Nicole how Tiva had been so put off attack-work. We couldn't understand what the police could be doing to cause good dogs to hate it. This is what he had to say.

"A group of us stand with our police handlers.  A monster comes towards us." [this is someone in a 'full suit' which is so padded that he walks wide-legged and with arms sticking out almost at right-angles to his body - resulting in movement that doesn't look human!]

"The monster gives instructions to the handlers and if one of us tries to bite the monster before we've been instructed to, the monster waves his hand and the handler stamps that dog's head into the ground!"  [Some people teach a dog to go 'down' by standing on their choke - chain until the dog's head is forced to the ground. We assume that this is what he's describing.]

"A big white dog with only one eye gets his head trampled into the ground many times and I decide not to try to attack the monster at all. Rather have my arse kicked by the handler than have my head trampled into the ground!"  [Many dogs seem to have made this decision. They get punished for trying to bite the 'monster' so they don't. We have not confirmed with the police that this is the training method that they use, but Tiva's description sounds accurate, and explains clearly why dogs coming from them react the way they do.]

"I know that Grandma [that's me - Susan... and I'm not that old!] is kind and doesn't train the way the police do, but I wanted her to know what they do so that she can change it. Now that she does, I'll try my best the next time we do attack work." [The next time we teased him he once again was very aggressive. We took him out straight away and he attacked like a lion and has done ever since!]

For other accounts of what animals have told us please check out the psychic pet page of our animal welfare website

'Learn to speak to your Pet' is one of our newsletters. If you'd like us to send you  newsletters then please contact us on We have lots of valuable info' we'd like to share.


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links to other topics on site: - puppies and trained dogs for sale; - puppy training; - nutrition; - our Canadian Wolf x Olderhills; - photo gallery; - medical matters; - Press Coverage; - our kennel: Cornfields; - contact us & links to other sites