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)