Monday, November 16, 2009


Most people when they think of a German Shepherd dog they think that they all look the same. What comes to mind is a black and tan medium size dog of good proportions. These same people don’t even know that the German Shepherd dog comes in a few different colors or that their coats might be different lengths.

Is there really a difference in a dog that’s bred on the west coast compared to a dog that is bred in the East? They both have the same breed standard. If you went to a German Shepherd dog National specialty show, could you pick out the dog from the West coast and the one who was bred on the East coast? Should there be a difference?

This subject came to me when talking to a friend of mine who lives in the west and bought a dog that was bred on the east coast. She told me that she was having a harder time getting the points on this dog. She said that he wasn’t the type of dog that the judges put up on the west coast. Her dog is a hard dry, good moving dog. For those unfamiliar with the terms this means the dog is not a plush coated, “take your breath away” type of dog. He has a beautiful masculine head and is all male, but he lacks the trimmings that are so evident on the west coast dogs.

When one thinks of the west coast bred German Shepherd, the Covy Tucker Hill kennel might come to mind. These very well known breeders have produced so many champions that I’ve lost count. These dogs were known for their exceptional beauty. They had all the “trimmings” of what makes a dog beautiful to look at…..plush, good pigment, deep bodied, etc.

When one thinks of the east coast dogs, you might think of Mary Ellen and Bob Kish’s Kismet kennels. Most of the time their dogs have been hard, dry animals with excellent top lines who possessed strong backs.

Now the argument can be that a good dog is a good dog no matter where he lives. This may be true but I know that many times when I see a west coast judge come to judge a show here in the east, I will see them put up the type of dog that they are used to seeing. I’ll give you an example. One time I showed a youngster under a judge who came from the west to judge here in the east. My young dog was a hard, dry type of animal who had an exceptional top line and a wonderful side gait. The judge couldn’t make up his mind between my dog and the second dog. He kept switching them back and forth with my dog leading most of the time. He eventually pointed to the second dog as his winner and mine was awarded second place. The judge said he’d be happy to take either one of these two dogs home.

Later on I sat and watched the rest of the show and when it came to the judge’s winner’s class, there was no denying what he liked. All of his winners were consistent in breed type……dark, deep and plush coated. I wasn’t upset because had my dog been in the winner’s class, he would have stood out as being very different from the rest of the dogs this judge put up all day.

So although we have a breed standard for judges to use when they make their decisions on their winning dogs, it is how the judge interprets the standard and what he is used to seeing or owning. A good judge will judge the individual dogs quality and not be swayed by what he’s used to seeing or owning. A good dog is a good dog, is a good dog!

Some will argue that the west coast has the prettiest dogs and that the east coast has the best moving dogs. What about the dogs that are bred in the central part of the country? Maybe the central part of the United States has the best of both worlds having combined the best dogs from both sides of the country.

Some I heard say that the west coast dogs are more of a “wet” dog…..deeper, looser and that their top lines are not as good as the east coast dogs. Then some say that the east coast dogs are more ordinary or common in looks than the pretty west coast dogs. In an ideal world, the breeder aims to have the best moving and best looking dogs.

Take a look at the two dogs on the top left of this page.....Maturity winner Chieftain's Nuance and Chieftain's Rajah. Both of these dogs I bred. They were both from my BIM Ch Arbar's Xanadu ROM. They had different sires. The bitch, Nuance was sired by an east Coast ROM Grand Victor who was a wonderful mover, but not beautiful in breed type. The male Rajah was sired by a west coast ROM champion who was a very pretty dog. You can see that the male was better looking in breed type but the bitch was by far a much better mover.

Many times breeders will not ship their bitches from one coast to another to breed to a stud dog. Because of the economy some breeders are not willing or able to put out the money to do frozen semen breeding so they end up breeding to dogs in their own area.

When a judge judges a National specialty show, naturally he gets the best dogs from around the country shown under him. A good judge isn’t swayed by a particular “type” of a dog. He will select the best representative of the breed according to the standard to be crowned his Grand Victor or Grand Victrix. As I type this I’m wondering where most of our Grand Victors and Grand Victrix’s have come from. Were they bred on the west or east coast or somewhere in the central part of the United States? I wonder if anyone has a record of this. So has the west, east, or central part of the United States produced more winners?

My rating: a good one is a good one whether east, west or centrally bred: (4) judges judging according to the standard: (3)


  1. I think that it is true that there is a difference between East, West AND central. I was glad you mentioned central as that was what I was thinking just before I read it! Of course, there is some generalization here, but show me a dog pictured in the Review and I can usually identify what part of the country it came from without looking at kennel name or owner.

  2. So....the East coast has wonderful sidegaiters and exceptional toplines???? And the West Coast
    has just pretty and plush. Sorry, I don't agree.
    There maybe differences in "styles" but one is not better than the other. There are great dogs on both ends of the country.

  3. Oh boy, this show dog thing... whose prettier, whose got more reach, better back... Though not a word about temperament.. sigh, this depresses me like no other. Who wants a fluffy, iron backed sidegaiter that is an embarrassment to the breed? Not implying all show dogs have less than good temperaments... Just that the focus of our dogs should be on promoting them as working dogs... NOT pretty sidegaiters. **smile**

  4. I have to agree with the last post. I love a pretty dog just like everyone else but, to be perfectly honest, I have little use for a dog that shows no working potential. I don't expect every dog to have an excellent bite or high herding instinct but they should have SOMETHING that allows them to work in any of the many fields shepherds are employed in. And I just can't stand seeing dogs that wet themselves if you so much as look at them wrong. The prettiest dog with the nicest gait is still useless to a farmer or police officer if the dog runs scared everytime it sees something new. Obviously it would be great if a dog had looks, gait, temperament, and working potential but I'll take the latter two over the first two any day. Just the personal opinion of a girl raised on a small country farm. :)