At the last special exhibition "la Nationale d'Elevage", the CBEI (Club des Bergers de l'Est et Italiens = Club of Eastern and Italian Shepherd dogs ) has introduced a new test to our dogs, at the moment optional, "the test with the sheep".
Two female dogs from my kennel took part and so I got some pictures regarding their participation.
Since then, I wonder what conclusions the organizers can have from such a test. As I already described in the first article of this series:


As I already described in the first article of this series:
"All those breeds have the instinct of protection in their genetic patrimony. The work of protecting from an adult dog will be the result of its heritance and from its integration into the flock life assimilated to the “pack”.
To be a good protecting dog, the dog has first of all to act independently, he has to be able to take decisions when needed, he should not at all have the instinct of hunting in his heritance; he should not be too rough, and not too playful towards the sheep. On the other hand the sheep should be a breed which stays together, in a flock, not too much dispersed, otherwise the dog will not get the feeling of living in the pack and will not enough get attached to them.
The preparation of the puppy to its future task of guarding the flock starts at the age of 7 to 8 weeks. The puppy will be separated from all other dogs that made up its pack, as well from the shepherds family. It will see the least possible humans. It will be put in a pen of about 15 m² with 3 to 6 lamb or ewe-lamb when lack of lamb and will have a little corner for him, where he can eat and rest. It is necessary to change the cohabitants, so that the dog can get used to other sheep of the flock, which he will have to guard. In the first period, when a sheep is showing itself too aggressive towards the puppy, it has to be replaced by another, friendlier one. The purpose is that the dog is getting attached to the flock, much more then to its master and his family, that he is not escaping and going back to the house. Playing with the lambs will reinforce its bond with them, but the game should not become too violent. The dog should not follow other wandering dogs or those from the farm. On the other side, it should correctly act in presence of the dogs who are conducting the flock, who are not independent and work on the commands of the shepherd. The difference between those two groups of dogs is that the herding dogs of the flock consider the livestock as their prey but with an instinct of inhibited predation while the protecting dogs consider the livestock as equal species to themselves."


The bitches who participated in this test have never had any contact with the sheep. Judging from the behaviour of the sheep they neither were used to dogs. One female dog was 4.5 years and the other was young, 1 year old.
When the adult bitch entered, the sheep positioned themselves in block to be ready to attack the bitch. The bitch was clearly feeling uncomfortable although she already many times proved to have an excellent socialization in many situations.
The young bitch was first allowed to look at the sheep, through the fence. The small herd had a different behaviour and after some time, Hodessa, such is her name, has clearly shown the willingness to play with the sheep. Unfortunately the test was stopped at that stage.
I think, as it were dogs that did not grow up among the sheep, you could only judge if they show a big aggressive behaviour towards sheep, or not. In other words, if it was possible to incorporate them in the herd while knowing that those dogs will never be equal, in terms of their protection job, to those who were prepared for this task from a very young age. For that the bitches had to run free. These are bitches who perfectly obey when you call them back and it was possible.
The final conclusion is that this test had added a bit of folklore, but in practice it is quite useless, especially when there is no clearly established goal!