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CONTRADICTORY GERMAN SHEPHERD STANDARDS

Canadian KC judge provides a pictorial discussion of current topline and movement

 

 

 

Gordon Garrett, B.A., CKC Judge (All-Breeds), GSD Authority

 

There has always been thought as to whether the German Shepherd Dog gait was as the Breed Standard called for so let us examine movement.

 

I looked at some great dogs in relation to the American Standard trying to equate what I was seeing with what I was reading. Then slow motion videos came out, putting a whole new perspective on the study of gait. It also made me realize that the Standard I was reading was wrong--yes wrong. I will explain.

 

When I was judging I always looked for dogs for Best in Show that moved as close as possible to the way I felt German Shepherds should move. In my years of judging I only put three German Shepherds Best in Show. A few years ago there was a youtube video proclaiming that the dog in it was the best moving shepherd ever{1} and I too felt it was the ideal movement.

 

The full extension of the rear legs followed through low to the ground without drag or curl of the hind toes as the stifle almost straightened and almost together, the diagonal front and rear opposite feet came down. The rear foot landing was only an instant ahead of the front foot as the front foot extended far forward. Both diagonals took the weight together and they pushed off together, distributing the dog’s weight evenly.

 

Look at the dog standing. Is this what you would expect the greatest German Shepherd mover to look like? Probably not but when you see the video in slow motion it appears faultless. Standing we see moderate rear angulation in the rear, a straight almost level topline, strong pasterns and overall balance.

 

Pictured on right is another dog posed naturally, a combination of a VA dog bred to a German working dog. I see this dog as somewhat similar to Dingo, maybe Dingo has a better croup and Hussan is sable. Hussan moved without a lead around a yard outside his kennel home in Nova Scotia--flying and floating-- showing the same perfection in movement that I saw in the German Sieger pictured above him. Wonderful coordination, great reach in the front and extension behind with a level imoveble back. He always remembered me when I returned. I would take him out and just watch him move.

 

In a North American show neither of these dogs would be expected to win. To my knowledge the sable has never been shown but a daughter I saw looked great and when shown did well. These dogs would not conform to the American Standard but perhaps close to that of the FCI.

 

The general rule of dog standards is that they are regulated from the country of origin. The FCI and German Standards are identical. The American Standard calls for a right angle in the stifle (90 degrees) that is supposed to balance that of the shoulder assembly - impossible because there is one more angle in the rear than the front.

 

The FCI calls for a 120 degree stifle. It also calls for a 23 degree angle of pelvis (the croup). Americans have developed a much steeper croup that creates the increase in rear angulation. It also creates a restriction of the femur as it moves backward. In so many American dogs this angulation is too close to fixed - never straightening as the hind leg pushes off - thus we have either dragging or curling back toes in the follow-through which is restricted.

 

Recently I studied dozens of all breed videos of different Best Of Breed dogs competeing in Westminster in the U.S., Windsor and Crufts in Britian. Crufts had 39,000 dogs in 2017 and they showed a bit of each breed winner in slow motion. Except for dogs that called for a hackney gait in their Standard, all had the coordination of front and rear diagonals that I described above. Why should the German Shepherd be different?

 

In Germany their show dogs have developed into a breed of humped-back animals that no one is explaining the reason for but it coinsides with the efforts of the Martin brothers to irradicate the sables from the German lines. It is ironic because the sable is the dominate color and is never carried recessively. Once it is gone it will not show up again. Sable is also the dominate color in the working lines that have good backs.

 

The president of the SV, Dr. Funk, brought the sable working dog ClaudiusVon Hain back into the mainstream to broaden the base and correct faults. No doubt it could be used to correct the back problems as well as fix what was lost since Dingo, Sieger in 1983. Europe seems content with the humpbacks along with distorted movement blatently displayed in slow motion videos.

 

I had the next picture marked as "great gait" in my picture collection and to a large extent it is true. She reaches supurbly with the front foot hitting just after the rear that is taking the initial weight from the landing. The back is excellent as is the follow through behind except the stifle does not straighten enough and perhaps the forward metacarpus has collapsed and taken too much of the landing blow. If I had a picture of this bitch standing she would probably display too much rear angulation but chances are--under me--she would win. I also think from the position of the rear front foot she could be down in the pasterns.

 

Pictured left is a Modern German Sieger. Notice how high his front leg is at the point when the metacarpus has hit the ground causing the hind leg to take the entire landing weight. The back also has extreme slope with a roach and stuck on tail. The drive behind looks correct. This German image is so completely different from the German Show dogs of the last century even though their Standard has not changed. The dog looks like it is running on his hind legs.

 

A lady that had been in a conformation class that I conducted 30 plus years ago sent me a slow motion video of her dog winning at an American Specialty. It was classic German Shepherd gait but it was a Doberman Pinscher.

 

I believe the masters of the German Shepherd breed set out to redesign something different, a black and tan dog that passed off as a working dog that they could sell to the world as correct, but these dogs are not correct nor are the dogs in America that are being bred to conform to a faulty Standard. The real working dogs are somewhere else. The police forces are buying their dogs from East Germany and the Czech Republic, dogs that do not show up at the Sieger shows.

 

In the meantime, as mentioned above, I see Doberman Pinschers, Siberians and other breeds moving as German Shepherds should be moving.

 

Reference (offsite link opens in window) and Related Gordon Garrett Articles and Information:

{1} Best Moving Shepherd Ever Video   ~   Dog Judging Perspective   ~   German Shepherd Toplines

1712 http://www.thejudgesplace.com/CenterRing/contradictory-German-Shepherd-Standards-gg.asp

 

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