Monday, January 24, 2011


So the photographer has sent your dogs show winning picture to your house. You buy it and can’t wait to share it with everyone. You post it on some German Shepherd Dog lists that you belong to. You put an ad in the GSD Review. You even put it on Facebook. That’s how proud you are of your dog. You hope everyone shares in your enthusiasm. Some time goes by and you don’t hear from nearly as many people as you had hope to. And even the few that you do hear from are only with a lukewarm response. You feel disappointed and let down. How could they not love your dog almost as much as you do? The judge thought enough of him to put up. How come the public doesn’t see his outstanding quality?

Have you really taken a good look at the picture that you are putting on display? Is it really worthy of your dog’s quality? Does your dog really look good in the picture? Sometimes we are so excited to share pictures of our dog with everyone, we sometimes are showing pictures of him that doesn’t do him justice. I’ve always been of the belief if your dog has won an important win at a dog show and you want to brag about it but yet the winning picture isn’t all that good…..don’t use it. Use a good picture of him (perhaps at another show) and just brag about his latest win.

Please look at the picture and how your handler has your dog set up. People will introduce their dog to the public and the handler has him bridged in the front or stretched too much in the rear. If the picture isn’t complimentary to your dog, don’t share it with everyone.

Another thing about first introducing your dog to the public and this is just a personal beef of mine is when an owner comes on a list or Facebook and says “I’m sharing this picture of my Bozo, but he wouldn’t cooperate but I wanted you to see him anyway.” Why? Knowing that first impressions are lasting impressions wouldn’t you want his first picture to have a positive impact on his viewers? All they’re going to remember is that the dog was turning the other way, wouldn’t stack for the picture, he’s trying to sit down, etc. In our over enthusiasm to share our dog’s picture, we sacrifice the type of lasting impression we really want to have on the public. Be patient until you get the right picture to showcase the real beauty of your dog.

I’m going to use an example here that I just saw on Facebook last week. Someone posted a youngster winning a big win at a show. The dog was obviously way over stretched in the rear. Sometimes a handler will do this if a dog doesn’t have a lot of hindquarter to make him appear as if he does. This dog’s hindquarter was well angulated and didn’t need this exaggerated stretching. Well the comments that this picture generated was the talk of those that shared in the conversation for a few days. I almost jumped in, but instead decided to sit back and read what others had to say about this dog. Of those that commented, I didn’t see one person say that the dog was overstretched too much. Instead they were saying how crippled the dog was and no wonder there’s hip dysplasia in the breed. In their opinion, this dog wouldn’t be able to do a days work herding sheep or anything else that may have been asked of him. Comments continued that no wonder the American breeders are in the trouble that they’re in breeding cripples like this. As I said the dog had a good deal of rear but not as much as everyone went on and on about. He appeared to have much more rear because of the handler overstretching him. I don’t know who owns this dog and even if they gave their permission to use their dogs picture on a public network like Facebook for all of these people to pull him apart like they did.

If you go and pick up a copy of “The German Shepherd Today” by Strickland and Moses you will see pictures in there about how to set a dog up. A dog can look like a square box and given to the professional handler can look like he has more rear than he really does. The example is in this book. I believe a sable youngster is standing four square and then she is set up to look absolutely gorgeous and curvy in the hindquarter. So pictures can do your dog justice if you know what you’re looking at before you buy it and show it off. Or on the other hand, it can do a disservice to your dog.

The key here is for the owner to know what they are looking at. Another example of poor advertising is when an owner shows a dog in motion that is obviously a poor moving dog. He’s lifting in the front……it’s so obvious he’s lifting at the elbow and I always scratch my head wondering how hard this is to see. Just take a look at the picture and if you see the elbow is bending in the front while he’s moving…..well then this is incorrect and you’re advertising it! But time and time again, owners are advertising their “beautiful” elbow movers and exclaiming it as great side gait. Then you’ll see those dogs that are kicking up in the rear and the owner brags about his dogs wonderful follow through.

A picture can make or break your dog. The public sometimes is very unforgiving when they look at a picture of a dog. One bad picture and your dog is remembered looking like that. It is up to the handler to make sure your dog is set up properly and just as much responsibility lies with the photographer taking the picture. If it’s a German Shepherd Show photographer well then he knows how this breed should be stacked before he snaps the photograph. He wants you to like the picture enough to buy it.

So sometimes a picture can make a good dog look bad or a bad dog look good. Not unlike some people that are photogenic and some that are not. But we’re really not talking about whether or not your dog takes a good picture or not. It’s whether YOU know what YOU are looking out in the finished photograph before you advertise him. Is your advertising dollar being well spent?

So every picture tells a story doesn’t it? Not necessarily! Sometimes yes and other times pictures can be very deceiving.

My rating: Using good photography of your dog: (4)

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