Tuesday, March 30, 2010


How many times have you seen some dogs shown week end after week end and year after year? Now some people may think that this person is wasting their time showing this dog. And maybe he is. But to this person, he’s doing what he loves to do and most of all, he loves his dog. He wants to attain his dog’s championship and he spares no cost in doing it. Are all dogs worthy of their championships? I mean after all, many of them don’t have any disqualifying faults.

What is a disqualifying fault? According to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, these are the things that can disqualify a dog from the show ring: cropped or hanging ears, dogs with noses not predominantly black, undershot jaw, docked tail, white dogs and any dog that attempts to bite the judge. When you think about it, these things may disqualify a dog from the show ring, but besides the biting of the judge, really how serious are any of these things?

So let’s take a look at the difference between a pet dog and one that has made his championship. Looking at those things that disqualify a dog, it is easy to see why so many dogs attain their championships. So he doesn’t have to be a great mover. He doesn’t have to be “pretty as a picture.” In fact, he really doesn’t have to meet the “standard” set forth by the parent club at all. He can be taller than the 24 – 26 inches at the wither. He can be a long coat. Heck he can even be a blue or a liver. He can have round yellow eyes; have an over shot jaw, be Golden Retriever in temperament. None of these are disqualifications! With that said, will he have a harder time finishing his championship? If he’s shown under a judge that knows the standard, he will!

On the other side of the coin, show him under judges that don’t know the first thing about our breed standard, and you just might find a few of these types of dogs that now have the champion title in front of his name. What I want to know is, how can anyone apply to the AKC to get his license to judge the German Shepherd Dog and they don’t know the first thing about this breed? Now I’m talking about a person that might have owned and finished championship titles on his Welsh Terriers. How can this judge apply and get his license to judge our breed when he knows nothing about them. This is a movement breed and even some of our breed judges could still learn a thing or two about it.

Some people in the breed are of the feeling that because the entries are down at shows, let anyone that wants to show their dogs show them. They believe we need to welcome all the new people to the breed that we can. Then there are those that believe we need to educate these new people BEFORE they step foot in to the ring. Then later on these very same people are now complaining that some of these dogs that are finishing they wouldn’t even give kennel space to. Will our need to “open the doors” to the new people backfire and bring to the ring more mediocre dogs? Is every dog that doesn’t have a disqualifying fault really worthy of his championship title?

Each breed of dog has a standard for which that breed is judged for quality and how much he represents what his breed should look, act and move like. Naturally no dog is ever perfect and these things are taken in to consideration by the judge when you enter your dog under him. It is his job to put up the dog that most closely represents what this breeds standard calls for. When a judge swerves away from what the standard calls for and puts up anything that is shown to him, he does this breed a disservice. He either needs to re-study the standard for the German Shepherd Dog again, or turn in his license to judge this breed. Some believe it serves no purpose to continue to finish mediocre dogs because this is saying to the world that this is what a German Shepherd should look like. A champion should be something special. He should stand out from the rest of the crowd. It should be obvious why this dog is a champion and why Uncle Harry’s is a beloved pet sleeping on the sofa. Oh yes, a champion likes to sleep on a sofa as well, but he should have that something special that indeed, says that he’s special.

So what’s the difference in a dog that’s worthy of his championship and then the dog that has no disqualifying faults? I believe that a dog that’s worthy of his championship doesn’t have to be dragged from one show to the next for the first seven or eight years of his life. Do you know how expensive that dog’s championship is going to be? Oh sure, these owners love their dogs and who are they harming you may ask? They love the sport of showing and they just love their dog so much. In my opinion there are many other ways they can compete with their dog but don’t you think a conformation dog should be as close to the standard as we can get?

I suppose then one can say that there are different conformation champions in this breed, and maybe they’re right. There may be ones that can only be shown in All-Breed shows because the Specialty shows would be too hard for him to compete. Then there may be those that are good enough to show in both rings. Then would we say that only the best of the best is shown at the National Specialty show every year? Could the dog with no disqualifying faults compete and win at this level? Have we seen yet another division in the breed……….All-Breed vs. Specialty winner? We already have American vs. German. Standard Shepherd vs. White Shepherd, etc. Some people feel that the "Specialty People" are too snooty and should relax more. Are we not all on the same page?

Many people say, live and let live. If people are having fun showing their dog, what’s the harm? Let them enjoy it. We want to encourage the new people to the breed, not discourage them. Let them all do what they want. They’re happy so leave them alone. Then one may wonder why there is a breed standard at all.

Showing is supposed to be fun after all, isn’t it?

My rating: No disqualifying faults types of champions: (1), Champions that adhere to the breed standard: (4)


  1. LOL Well... if this is directed at the single breed of the GSD, I would say, without reserve, that it's a political arena. I've been a show person since the early 70s though I would never walk into a show ring with a GSD for two reasons. The politics, first and the pathetic structure of the show lines of the GSD of today second. The rears droop and churn around like an egg beater and most have the most horrible movement giving the illusion of being crippled.

    My 2 GSDs are both DDR dogs (East German) and can move at a trot for hours if needed. The one is not the best mover but the female is awesome and floats when she moves. NO droopy butt and no cowhocks.

    I am probably the most critical person in the judgement of my own dogs because I do know structure and movement. I was taught by my mentor who was actually an Afghan Hound breeder. She had the top winning AH bitch 2 years in a row and I trust her eye. My dogs are NOT show worthy... IF you look at structure for the show ring but they do move tried and true like a GSD should move... not the awful look of the "American Shepherd" in the political show ring these days.

    This IS JUST my opinion but if you talk to any person in the show fancy world (outside the GSD show ring), they will agree that the crippled movement of the GSDs is horrible.

  2. Thanks for sharing your opinion about the movement of the GSD although this can't be said for ALL GS's. If they are built the way that you describe, then I can certainly see what you mean. That said, there are some truly great moving dogs. I have owned and bred a few of them myself. I believe in ANY breed you can get the good and the bad. It is the knowledgeable that knows how to recognize which is which!

  3. Recently, the BBC had considered refusing to air the Crufts Dog Show due to the representatives of some of the breeds there, the GSD being one of them. After watching some of the videos of those sad creatures attempting to ambulate around a ring, I would have to say that I wholeheartedly agreed with their decision. With the roach back and horrific rear motion, they appeared to be seriously crippled. The dogs in the video were German line dogs.
    While there are still some American show lines that have more angulation than others, I do believe that breeders have corrected the worst of the problems while retaining that beautiful suspended flying trot.
    While competing at Westminster recently, I had many people come up to me and comment how they did not like the German Shepherds who were "squatting" in the back...and were they dysplastic? I took out my own Champion male and showed them that these dogs are POSED to look like that. They were amazed at the difference of seeing the dogs in person and looking at the photos of a "stacked" GSD.
    And while I am sure your friend was knowledegable in the movement of Afghans, the movement of a correctly structured GSD is absolutely NOTHING like any other breed; so using Afghans to teach you GSD movement would not be very helpful.

  4. Isschade - I have an Am show lines bitch, went select at the '08 GSDCA National show, and I would put her trotting all day long against either of your dogs any day. That's the thing that kills me about comments like yours - they are such blanket statements that there is no way they encompass the entire pool of Am show lines or Am lines period for that matter. And, I'll also take you up on your offer to ask others not in the GSD breed at shows what they think of our dogs - for the most part to a one, those that I have asked, or the friends I have in other breeds, are extremely complimentary toward the GSDs that I'VE seen - not sure where you are going to shows, but in my area of the country many people admire the conformation, movement, and structure of the GSDs in the ring.

  5. This is not a blanket statement... just my opinion on why I don't show. Ask some people who are NOT your friends. Stand back and watch your dogs go away from you. I've had total strangers come to me and say "she's not show line, huh". I saw the smile on their faces and respond... "No.. she is from German working lines". They just nod and smile and say "I thought so, she's not crippled."

    Keep in mind the average person who only sees a dog trying to move around a show ring...dogs that show in the rings that are WRONG are what people will think when they leave. I've had GSDs for 10 years and every time... absolutely EVERY TIME I talk to someone about my dogs, they ask if I have "one of those droopy butt show dogs?"

    So this is not my exclusive opinion. I've shown all over the East coast and it's not exclusive to one area either. The GSD show people need to take a good look at their dogs GOING AWAY from them... and not look at them with a "kennel blind" eye. Even better, get someone at your local mall look at the dog and see what they say.

  6. Well I must be one of the "odd ones" then because I've owned German Shepherds dating back to 1972. My dogs were never known for having too much hindquarter. They were known for their outstanding front assemblies and side gait. I never had crippled looking or moving dogs. They were more balanced. I think you saw the types of dogs that you're talking about more back in the 70's and 80's. I think for the MOST part, many breeders have gotten away from the extreme hindquarters.

  7. I would guess, isschade, that it would depend on who you asked, and where they were when you asked them. At an AKC show? Was it a major in GSDs so there were many to look at? Were they trying to be "nice" to you about your dog? As I said, here in the MIDWEST we don't have the crippled-looking dogs you lament about in your posts. And yes, I'll put my SEL EX CH bitch up against yours any day and we can compare clean coming and going. And by the way, the lines she comes from are the same way (clean), as are her sire's lines, as are her siblings, as are her progeny, and they have all won Best of Breed awards, Major wins, and Group placements. Balanced moving, out-reaching side gait, clean coming and going, and level topline. Again, quit making blanket statements and then trying to make them not seem like they are so.

    And yes, I have asked people who were not my friends (re-read my post - you must have missed that part?) and almost all of them told me that they preferred the type of GSD they saw in the show ring at whatever show we were at vs. those "crippled up, roachy backed German dogs who don't even look like German shepherds" (their words, not mine). To use your own line, this is not MY exclusive opinion. It is not just at the shows that I hear compliments on my GSDs and how gorgeous they are, I hear it at the local feed store when I go to buy dog food. I hear it at the softball diamonds when we go for walks in the park. And I hear it from people who pass by my back yard and stop to watch and admire them.

    I guess to each their own. I prefer what I have and what I am producing, and am not "kennel blind" as you note in your post - perhaps you need to be looking in your own back yard for that? And by the way, we can't control what the judge in the ring decides to do.