I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about the anatomy and movement of the German Shepherd Dog. I do believe I know enough, however about what is good movement and what is not.
I love seeing all the wonderful pictures of some magnificent looking German Shepherds that people have advertised on “Facebook!” I’ve got to say the German breeders have produced some of the most handsome looking dogs that I’ve ever seen. As far as pigment, coat length and heads go, it’s hard to beat them. That said, as much as I love their breed type, what disturbs me is the shortness of back on some of these animals. And then here in this country, we sometimes have bred an animal with too much length of back or loin.
I did some research on the internet about the movement of our breed. Now I’m not going to write a description about it here on this blog. If you want to read about it, take a look on the GSDCA’s website about the standard. What I did find is many, many videos on “You Tube” showing the German Shepherd Dog in motion. Many of them were downright awful, in my opinion. For the novice seeing these videos they might think that this is what our breed looks like in motion. If we only had some of the great movers of our breed on video in slow motion, what an educational piece of work that would be.
My question is this, if the dog’s back is too short, where is he going to go with the rear thrust of his hind legs? The back hunches up from the powerful thrust of those hind legs. The front in many cases lacks the proper lay back of shoulder or the dog has a short upper arm. This being the case, the whole top line in motion gets distorted.
If on the other hand you get a dog that is too long in back, his back is whipping all over the place…….too much movement going on over the back. He carries a soft top line and this makes the dog look weak instead of the strong, powerful animal he is meant to be.
If one looks at some of the animals in the wild…..the ones that are known to be powerful movers, I can’t think of any of them being short in back. Take for instance the big cats. These animals are long striding. Their powerful hindquarters propel them forward through a strong back to their powerful fore assemblies.
Because the German Shepherd is a herding/working breed, the anatomy of this breed is extremely important in order for him to do the work he was bred for. If he is built correctly, he won’t tire as easily. If he’s built incorrectly, then he has to put forth more energy due to a faulty anatomy.
Having a bad croup also takes away from the proper movement of the breed. Too long, too short, too flat all will disturb the correct movement of the German Shepherd Dog. They will kick up in the rear; they won’t get their rears up under them and they won’t follow through in their motion. Once again, I’m not an expert on this subject, but I know it when I see it.
I think it’s so beneficial looking at people that advertise their dogs especially when I see them put moving pictures up of their beautiful animals. But I’ve got to ask this question and I see it time and time again. Why advertise a dog in motion and it’s obvious that his best quality is not his motion? What do I mean by this? Many times I see pictures of dogs in motion and they are reaching from their elbows. Then I’ll read the feedback on these dogs and people will say, “Lovely moving animal.” Are you serious?
Anyone can pick out a beautiful looking dog. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do that. Handsome is handsome and I believe most people can agree on what makes a dog to be so. Knowing what a good moving dog is, is having a good eye through education and studying of this breeds anatomy while in motion. If you are one of the lucky ones that owns a good moving dog, well he’s just about all the education you’ll need. But seriously, you need to know why that dog moves the way he does. You see it for yourself, but do you know why he’s moving that way? Do you understand about each component of that dog’s structure that enables him to move as well as he does?
In an ideal world, I would like to look at a gorgeous representative of this breed standing true under himself…..meaning his front assembly doesn’t have to be rearranged for a picture. He doesn’t have to be hand set because his front is straight under him. He’s not pinched in at the elbows and he doesn’t stand east/west in the front. His top line is strong without being overly long and not bunched up because his back is too short. He’s not caved in in the rear because his hocks can’t handle an overly angulated rear. The dog should present a beautiful picture when standing on his own without a handler having to “fix” his imperfections. He shouldn’t look like a hyena with a quirky looking front, a rounded top line and a rear that looks like he’s squatting all the time. Yup, that’s what some of the pictures that I’ve seen looks like in this writer’s opinion and others that I’ve spoken to about this subject as well.
From the book: "GERMAN SHEPHERD VIRTUES: LESSONS LEARNED FROM OUR FAITHFUL COMPANIONS"......There are certain characteristics we find honorable in each other and valuable to leading a good life. We call these characteristics virtues. -Melissa Sovey. This beautiful gift book uses the model of the German Shepherd-with their associated traits of service, loyalty and honor-as guides or role models for virtuous behavior. Stunning photographs of German Shepherds are accompanied by quotes reflecting on 44 virtues. The quotes and the subject matter easily apply to all of our canine companions. This book would make the perfect graduation gift, or as a token of appreciation for anyone who owns or works with a service dog... or for anyone who loves and appreciates the lessons that all dogs have to offer us.
My rating: Understanding the GSD anatomy and its functions: (4)