What does the average person in America think a German Shepherd Dog looks like? Now clearly I’m not talking about a breeder or a show person. I’m talking about “John Doe” that lives down the street from you. How would he describe the German Shepherd Dog? What would he say he looks like? What would he say about the disposition of this breed of dog? Are we the breeders representing the German Shepherd Dog the way most people think of them? Or have we designed a dog that most people wouldn’t identify as the “average” German Shepherd?
If “John Doe” came to a dog show or if he looked up kennels on the internet, I dare say he would be faced with many different types of German Shepherd Dogs being represented. Just take a look on Facebook at all the breeders and the pictures of their dogs on there. I have never seen such a variety of German Shepherds in one place.
What does the general public think a German Shepherd Dog looks like? I bet if you asked them, a majority of them would probably describe a black and silver or black and light tan dog to you. They would probably describe an ordinary looking dog with a protective type of personality.
I was disappointed the other night when I was watching “The Dog Whisperer” and a poll was taken asking the general public which dogs were the most aggressive breed. I knew that the Pit Bull would be the first dog people would name. However, the German Shepherd was rated as being the most aggressive right under them and then followed by the Rottweiler! It doesn’t look like our breed has such a great reputation! I’d rather them be listed as a protection breed for their family and loved ones rather than an aggressive breed. It really is two different things, in my opinion.
If a person “Googled” the words German Shepherd in the search window, thousands of breeder’s names and kennels would come up. Now if you went on those web sites, many times you would see a dog that looks different from other people’s dogs on their websites. Oh sure you’d see the same noble looking head with his ears standing up straight on his head that most people would associate with this breed. But many times this is where the similarity would end. You’d see many different colors of the German Shepherd Dog’s coat. You’d see short coats and you’d see long coats. You’d see average sized dogs and monster bone sized dogs. You’d see American style German Shepherds and you’d see German style German Shepherds. You’d see light pigment. You’d see deep, dark Mahoney red pigment. They’d be straight backs and there would be roach back dogs. You’d see short backs and long backs. Some would stand straight and look boxy and others would be slopping with their rears close to the ground. This could all be very confusing to "John Doe" for he wouldn't know what the standard for our breed is. All he would know is that they all looked so different.
When one talks about one of “those” designer breeds, are we too not designers of our breed the German Shepherd Dog? If you were to look at the first picture of a German Shepherd when this breed first became recognized and look at it now, you would think that it is a different breed. So indeed, we as breeders have designed the German Shepherd Dog and how it looks today! We changed the whole look to the dog. In many ways for the better, I believe. But we have designed him to look a certain way and not the original way at all. I wonder what the breed will look like in another twenty years or so. Should we be changing the looks of the breed so much? We have a standard, but I see very few dogs look like what the standard calls for. Because a breeder is a designer of sorts, he will have bred for a certain style of dogs. Many kennels have generations of their lines in their breeding program and one only has to look at their dogs to know that this is from their kennel.
Are we all heading in the same direction with the same goal to breed the best representative of the German Shepherd that we can? Or are we all doing our own thing and designing a dog that doesn’t really fit to the standard at all? Take a look at the dogs on some people’s websites or on Facebook. Have we created a designer dog or do they look like the standard set for our breed? You decide!
My rating: Breeding to the standard: (4)