German Shepherd Dog - Showsight

German Shepherd Dog Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard of the German Shepherd Dog General Appearance: The first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life. It is well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It looks substantial and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness or soft living. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility - difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Secondary sex characteristics are strongly marked, and every animal gives a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex. Temperament: The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, such as tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character. Any of the above deficiencies in character which indicate shyness must be penalized as very serious faults and any dog exhibiting pronounced indications of these must be excused from the ring. It must be possible for the judge to observe the teeth and to determine that both testicles are descended. Any dog that attempts to bite the judge must be disqualified. The ideal dog is a working animal with an incorruptible character combined with body and gait suitable for the arduous work that constitutes its primary purpose. Size, Proportion, Substance: The desired height for males at the top of the highest point of the shoulder blade is 24 to 26 inches; and for bitches, 22 to 24 inches. The German Shepherd Dog is longer than tall, with the most desirable proportion as 10 to 8½. The length is measured from the point of the prosternum or breastbone to the rear edge of the pelvis, the ischial tuberosity. The desirable long proportion is not derived from a long back, but from overall length with relation to height, which is achieved by length of forequarter and length of withers and hindquarter, viewed from the side. Head: The head is noble, cleanly chiseled, strong without coarseness, but above all not fine, and in proportion to the body. The head of the male is distinctly masculine, and that of the bitch distinctly feminine. The expression keen, intelligent and composed. Eyes of medium size, almond shaped, set a little obliquely and not protruding. The color is as dark as possible. Ears are moderately pointed, in proportion to the skull, open toward the front, and carried erect when at attention, the ideal carriage being one in which the center lines of the ears, viewed from the front, are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. A dog with cropped or hanging ears must be disqualified . Seen from the front the forehead is only moderately arched, and the skull slopes into the long, wedge-shaped muzzle without abrupt stop. The muzzle is long and strong, and its topline is parallel to the topline of the skull. Nose black. A dog with a nose that is not predominantly black must be disqualified. The lips are firmly fitted. Jaws are strongly developed. Teeth - 42 in number - 20 upper and 22 lower - are strongly developed and meet in a

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scissors bite in which part of the inner surface of the upper incisors meet and engage part of the outer surface of the lower incisors. An overshot jaw or a level bite is undesirable. An undershot jaw is a disqualifying fault . Complete dentition is to be preferred. Any missing teeth other than first premolars is a serious fault . Neck, Topline, Body: The neck is strong and muscular, clean-cut and relatively long, proportionate in size to the head and without loose folds of skin. When the dog is at attention or excited, the head is raised and the neck carried high; otherwise typical carriage of the head is forward rather than up and but little higher than the top of the shoulders, particularly in motion. Topline - The withers are higher than and sloping into the level back. The back is straight, very strongly developed without sag or roach, and relatively short. The whole structure of the body gives an impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. Chest - Commencing at the prosternum, it is well filled and carried well down between the legs. It is deep and capacious, never shallow, with ample room for lungs and heart, carried well forward, with the prosternum showing ahead of the shoulder in profile. Ribs well sprung and long, neither barrel-shaped nor too flat, and carried down to a sternum which reaches to the elbows. Correct ribbing allows the elbows to move back freely when the dog is at a trot. Too round causes interference and throws the elbows out; too flat or short causes pinched elbows. Ribbing is carried well back so that the loin is relatively short. Abdomen firmly held and not paunchy. The bottom line is only moderately tucked up in the loin. Loin Viewed from the top, broad and strong. Undue length between the last rib and the thigh, when viewed from the side, is undesirable. Croup long and gradually sloping. Tail bushy, with the last vertebra extended at least to the hock joint. It is set smoothly into the croup and low rather than high. At rest, the tail hangs in a slight curve like a saber. A slight hook- sometimes carried to one side-is faulty only to the extent that it mars general appearance. When the dog is excited or in motion, the curve is accentuated and the tail raised, but it should never be curled forward beyond a vertical line. Tails too short, or with clumpy ends due to ankylosis, are serious faults. A dog with a docked tail must be disqualified . Forequarters: The shoulder blades are long and obliquely angled, laid on flat and not placed forward. The upper arm joins the shoulder blade at about a right angle. Both the upper arm and the shoulder blade are well muscled. The forelegs, viewed from all sides, are straight and the bone oval rather than round. The pasterns are strong and springy and angulated at approximately a 25-degree angle from the vertical. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed, but are normally left on. The feet are short, compact with toes well arched, pads thick and firm, nails short and dark. Hindquarters: The whole assembly of the thigh, viewed from the side, is broad, with both upper and lower thigh well muscled, forming as nearly as possible a right angle. The upper thigh bone parallels the shoulder blade while the lower thigh bone parallels the upper arm. The metatarsus (the unit between the hock joint and the foot) is short, strong and tightly articulated. The dewclaws, if any, should be removed from the hind legs. Feet as in front. Coat: The ideal dog has a double coat of medium length. The outer coat should be as dense as possible, hair straight, harsh and lying close to the body. A slightly wavy outer coat, often of wiry texture, is permissible. The head, including the inner ear and foreface, and the legs and paws are covered with short hair, and the neck with longer and thicker hair. The rear of the forelegs and hind legs has somewhat longer hair extending to the pastern and hock, respectively. Faults in coat include soft, silky, too long outer coat, woolly, curly, and open coat.

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Color : The German Shepherd Dog varies in color, and most colors are permissible. Strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults . A white dog must be disqualified . Gait: A German Shepherd Dog is a trotting dog, and its structure has been developed to meet the requirements of its work. General Impression - The gait is outreaching, elastic, seemingly without effort, smooth and rhythmic, covering the maximum amount of ground with the minimum number of steps. At a walk it covers a great deal of ground, with long stride of both hind legs and forelegs. At a trot the dog covers still more ground with even longer stride, and moves powerfully but easily, with coordination and balance so that the gait appears to be the steady motion of a well-lubricated machine. The feet travel close to the ground on both forward reach and backward push. In order to achieve ideal movement of this kind, there must be good muscular development and ligamentation. The hindquarters deliver, through the back, a powerful forward thrust which slightly lifts the whole animal and drives the body forward. Reaching far under, and passing the imprint left by the front foot, the hind foot takes hold of the ground; then hock, stifle and upper thigh come into play and sweep back, the stroke of the hind leg finishing with the foot still close to the ground in a smooth follow-through. The overreach of the hindquarter usually necessitates one hind foot passing outside and the other hind foot passing inside the track of the forefeet, and such action is not faulty unless the locomotion is crabwise with the dogs body sideways out of the normal straight line. Transmission - The typical smooth, flowing gait is maintained with great strength and firmness of back. The whole effort of the hindquarter is transmitted to the forequarter through the loin, back and withers. At full trot, the back must remain firm and level without sway, roll, whip or roach. Unlevel topline with withers lower than the hip is a fault. To compensate for the forward motion imparted by the hindquarters, the shoulder should open to its full extent. The forelegs should reach out close to the ground in a long stride in harmony with that of the hindquarters. The dog does not track on widely separated parallel lines, but brings the feet inward toward the middle line of the body when trotting, in order to maintain balance. The feet track closely but do not strike or cross over. Viewed from the front, the front legs function from the shoulder joint to the pad in a straight line. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs function from the hip joint to the pad in a straight line. Faults of gait, whether from front, rear or side, are to be considered very serious faults. Disqualifications: Cropped or hanging ears. Dogs with noses not predominantly black. Undershot jaw. Docked tail. White dogs. Any dog that attempts to bite the judge.

Approved February 11, 1978 Reformatted July 11, 1994


The German Shepherd Dog Club of America ( ) is pleased to present this article for ShowSight Magazine . by MORTON GOLDFARB

T here are three phases involved in judging the breed: 1. Temperament 2. Standing pose 3. Motion A very specific temperament test is required of all judges presiding at our spe- ciality shows. The judge approaches the entry for the first contact with the dog standing on a loose leash with no double handling and the dog must not show any fear, apprehension or aggressiveness. The same procedure is done for each entry. We must insist on sound temperament to continue the functionality of our breed and, if not sound, must be excused from the ring. The standing pose must exhibit what the standard implies within the specified parameters. Motion is judged as any other breed coming and going, and side gait. With these in mind it is important to read and understand our standard, which is very detailed and should be reviewed before every assignment. We have objective parameters, but some degree of subjectivity must exist in each judge’s hands. HISTORY As its name implies, the breed began in Germany with founders Herr Artur Meyer and Captain Max von Stephanitz. These men were looking to create the perfect, most versatile dog known. Its functions were to be of service to mankind, which today it has lived up to many times over and is a tribute to the breed’s found- ers and the generations after them. Herding stock from different regions in Germany were combined to form the German Shepherd’s origin with the first registered animal whose name was Horand von Grafrath. The German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany, or Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde, was founded in 1899 and still today is recognized as the largest and most influential club of our breed, with membership worldwide and whose numbers have surpassed 100,000 members at times. The largest German Shepherd speciality show in the world is held each year at various locations in Germany to determine the best from entries worldwide. In 2012, this show had 1,531 entries in conformation alone! The classes begin with sexes judged separately and never competing with each other. Unlike our shows, only three classes exist; 12-18 months, 18-24 months and open 24 months and older, with a winner sieger or sieger in each class. Now there are separate classes for proper long-coated dogs. All entries must have hip and elbow certification, and the open classes must have working titles (sch or ipo or hgh-herding) with herding dogs judged separately in conformation. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America was founded in 1913 on the East Coast by a group of influential owners and breeders, and its goals and purpose exist today in the hands of a very devoted board and membership that numbers in the thousands—“the keepers of the breed.” Each year, our national speciality has many events besides conformation; these include obedience as well as herding and many other performance events.



hindquarter angle becomes approximately 120 to 130 degrees. The underline should be as long as possible with a small degree of tuck-up, age dependent. The loin should be short. Pasterns are approximately 25 degrees and the feet are short and compact. The long-bones when viewed from the front should be abso- lutely straight and should be approximately one foot width apart when standing naturally. The pasterns are well-formed and strong, with the hocks being short and powerful. Pigmentation should be strong and rich with dark eye color, and ears should be fully erect and approximately perpendicular to the skull and closely parallel to each other. Much has been discussed about the motion of the breed. It has a characteristic gait sequence that is similar to other breeds, but more extreme. The natural gaits of the German Shepherd Dog are walk, slow-to-medium-trot, and gal- lop. There is nothing in the standard that men- tions the “flying trot” which, in most cases, has been taken completely out of context. Our breed, in motion, can best be described as having a very powerful gait that is buoyant and suspended. There is tremendous power generated from the hindquarter, transmitted over a very strong back to the forehand, which reaches to the nasal tip and remains very close to the ground without lifting. An analogy is that the hindquarter is the engine—the back is the transmission and the forehand is the steering mechanism. The hind- quarter generates approximately 97 percent of the power in motion, with the forehand con- tributing three percent to the forward thrust. The last ounce of power from the hindquar- ter is seen with the last flip of the rear foot as it extends back before starting its forward motion. The racing gait that some find exciting and crowd pleasing is really incorrect and, as mentioned, the slow-to-medium trot is correct. Suspension and buoyancy can be seen with- out racing around the ring, and judges should insist on the proper gait. (If this were the case, many owners could show their own dogs with- out “being able to keep up.”) The dog single tracts in motion and is naturally coordinated in all phases of its gait, covering as much ground as possible with no wasted motion, seemingly effortless—that is the German Shepherd Dog! Proper anatomy results in proper movement and the German Shepherd Dog is a trotting breed that can herd sheep all day, scale a fence with little effort, search a building and appre- hend a criminal without endangering its officer, patiently guide a blind person through a maze of traffic, play ball with a child, and sleep next to you when you are feeling terrible, knowing he is needed to watch over you without being told—this is the German Shepherd Dog!

At our centennial show in 2013, we recognized and honored the armed services war dogs and handlers (as a tribute to our breed’s worthy existence) that have served—and continue to serve—our country on a daily basis. JUDGING We can’t stress enough: “Read the standard and read it again and again” to help understand this wonderful breed. You the judges—all-breed and speciality—control our destiny and must (repeat must) take this responsibility seriously, as I know you will. The anatomy of the breed is functional as well as aesthetically pleasing, and strong secondary sex characteristics are a must as we do not have a “unisex” breed. It should be easily determined if it is a dog or a bitch without looking at sexual anatomy. The male is distinctly masculine with a broad backskull, and a strong muzzle and underjaw with strong teeth numbering forty-two. Serious faults are more than one missing premolar. The females have an equally strong head and muzzle, but feminine. The topline is smooth with no sag or roach and with equal proportions of wither, back and croup, with the back being short and straight—remembering that the back is that portion between the wither and croup and is not the topline or overline. The with- er represents the highest part of the topline and gradually slopes into the back, which then gradually slopes into the croup, which should be approximately 23 to 27 degrees. The croup should be judged in motion, as the angle varies according to the hindquarter placement set by the handler. The overall appearance of the topline or overline is one of smooth, flowing curves with no break. We say a dog is long if these proportions are not equal, and is stretched if the proportions are equal, but slightly lengthened. Judging begins with overall appearance and starts at the nose and ends at the tip of the tail. Forehand angulation is approximately 90 degrees and, with the dog standing four square, the hindquarter angle is the same—but, in the typical show stance, the


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PART I: INTRODUCTION C anines were considered the earliest domesticated animal (Ratliff, 2012) and today, there are more than 400 dog breeds in the world. The pro- cess is thought to have begun between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago with the transition of the grey wolf to the dog in Europe or Asia. Experts agree that it all started with wolves that became vil- lage dogs that eked out an existence on the “human fringe of millennia”. Those least frightened by the presence of humans fed on the garbage left behind. Eventually, a mutual need developed that made the process work. Early humans lived in dangerous times with large animals that saw them as poten- tial prey. Wolves that lived near a village probably looked at the settlement as their territory (Coren, 2008). Whenev- er a stranger or wild beast approached they would bark sending a message of potential danger. This is thought to have been the beginning of the human- animal bond and the first step in man’s use of the “watch dog” function. Once domesticated, dogs were selectively

bred. The earliest hunting dogs were thought to be the Hounds, which fall into two groups based on their hunt- ing behavior. One group is the Scent Hounds that track their quarry (Blood Hounds, Fox Hounds, Black and Tan Coonhound, Bassets and Beagles). The second group is the Sight Hounds that keen eyesight and great speed set them apart (Grey Hound, Salukis, Irish Wolfhound, Scottish Deerhound and Afghan Hounds). By the 1400s, the period of artificial selection and inbreeding had begun as a way to produce dogs for specific functions and purposes. Breeders had learned that through the careful selection of breeding stock they could change body sizes, shapes, coats and colors. They realized that the more they learned about the fourteen ancestors of the sire and dam (three generations) the more traits and characteristics they could change. As science became involved, the differences between breeds followed. For example, the flop- py and erect ear was found to be deter- mined by a single gene on chromosome 10. Breed knowledge includes a breed’s

history and origin, health and uses. For example, the Borzoi’s (Hound Group) original purpose was to hunt wolves, foxes and hares. AKC recognized the breed in 1891 and today it is used in many Western states to control coyote populations. The earliest gun dogs were Pointers that were bred to move slowly and silently to find a bird. They marked their location by staring directly at the bird while holding a pointing position. Setters were the next to be developed based on another purpose and function. Setters were expected to wag their tails faster as they approached the game. The Spaniels, the undisciplined hunters that quartered the ground and flushed them out, followed them. Last were the Retrievers that were developed because the open lands were being cultivated and cities and towns began to limit the free use of dogs for hunting. With the popularity of hunting breeds, came the limited uses of land hunters began to set up their blinds near a body of water where hunters could sit and wait for ducks. These new hunting conditions required dogs to sit and patiently wait for long periods. Thus, the Retriever



was bred to stay quiet until needed, then was expected to go through swamps or swim in cold water to retrieve the game for its master. Canada, more or less, developed a more difficult kind of Retriever when it introduced the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. It was an orange and white colored dog of about 19" and weigh- ing 45 pounds. The word “toll” means to entice or attract. This Retriever was expected to attract birds and get them to fly within gunshot range. To do this, hunters would sit in blinds or in floating boats. Over time other kinds of hunt- ing dogs were developed for special purposes. The English Pointer and Ger- man Short-Haired Pointer were devel- oped to move more quickly to adapt to the hunting situation regardless of the weapon. HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT As time passed, Shepherd dogs and Hounds were used to produce other kinds of breeds for specific purposes (Goldbecker and Hart, 1967). During the 18th and 19th centuries, farmers in France needed dogs that could rid them of the badger that dug holes under the foundations of their barns and homes, creating major damage. In Germany, the selection of sires and dams resulted in a dog with stubby legs and a round body that could chase and kill prey. It is thought that some combination of hounds likes the Basset and Terriers were used to produce the Dachshund or “badger dog”. In another part of Ger- many, a small group of breeders led by a military captain (Von Stephanitz) set out to produce an all-purpose utility dog that would ultimately be called the German Shepherd Dog. All breeds have a beginning, some dating back several centuries; by the 1980s, breeders had learned that in order to produce better dogs it was nec- essary to develop their skills. Battaglia (2009) found that success in the dog sport involved three sets of skills. One set was needed by those who judge and officiate at dog shows, a second set for those who exhibit and trial their dogs and a third set for those who breed. Figure 1 shows the list of breeder skills. This article explains Skill #2 and uses the German Shepherd breed as the example of what is meant by under- standing the skill called Breed Knowles.

Breeder Skills: 1. Breed Standard 2. Breed Knowledge

and his friend and writer, Jane Murfin, introduced the breed to the film world. It began with a very large, trained police dog, “Etzel von Oringer”, who was renamed “Strong Heart”. He was featured in several silent movies, including Jack London’s Call of the Wild (1921) and White Fang (1925). It was “Strong Heart” who became the first canine movie star. The next GSD to make the big screen was a rescue pup from a bombed-out kennel in Lor- raine, France. He would eventually replace Strong Heart. Military records show that Corporal Lee Duncan and Rin Tin Tin (also called Rinty) would have an inauspicious beginning. It began when Corporal, Lee Duncan was sent to inspect a bombed-out German facil- ity in WWI. During his inspection, he came upon a concrete building at the edge of the German airfield where he found many dogs that had been killed by artillery shells. Among the dead, he heard the whimpering of a female with a litter of five puppies. He took the mother and her five pups back to the base. The dam and three pups were giv- en to another soldier. Corporal Duncan kept one male and female for himself. He named the female “Nenette” and the male “Rin Tin Tin” after a pair of good luck charm dolls made to honor a pair of young lovers who had survived a bombing in a Parisian railway stating at the start of the war. The male pup res- cued on that fateful day of September 15, 1918, would become a very impor- tant part of Hollywood history, not only for German Shepherd Dogs, but also for dogs of all breeds. He set in motion a career that would achieve stardom and fame along with other canine box office stars such as Strongheart, Teddy, Lassie, Asta, Pete the Pup and Benji. The third GSD to become a movie star was “Bul- let,” that was used by Roy Rogers on his TV Show. “Bullet” propelled the breed into second place in popularity in the United States. In 1927, legendary dog trainer, Carl Spitz, emigrated from Ger- many to California and opened his dog training school in Hollywood. Spitz quickly became the master movie dog- trainer. He did amazing things with dogs and became the trainer of “Rin Tin Tin” and the Cairn Terrier called, “Ter- ry” who portrayed “Toto” in the MGM film, “ The Wizard of Oz.” The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) continued to be popular in many

3. Method to select sires and dams 4. Evaluate pedigrees (depth/ breadth) 5. Record system 6. Evaluate litters 7. Pick best puppies 8. Manage, feed and develop what you keep Breed Knowledge has four parts: breed history, function, purpose and health. To better understand this four- part skill, the German shepherd breed will be used to illustrate what under- standing this skill involves. The breed’s history begins with the life work of Rittmeister van Stephanitz who began his efforts in 1899, along with a close friend, Arthur Meyer. Together they set out to develop an ideal utility working dog. Their new breed was developed with a medium size, yellow and grey wolf-like herding dog that demonstrated the working characteristics they were looking for in such a dog. They bought this dog whose name was Hektor von Linksrheim and changed it to Horand von Grafrath and registered him as the first GSD. His registration number was S.Z.1.AS part of the breed’s development; they also established the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde, S.V., the national German Dog Club. By the early 1900s, the GSD was becoming popular in the United States as an all–purpose companion and working dog. It was used in a variety of sports, including conformation (dog shows) obedience, rally, agility, herding and the Working Dog sport. Attesting to its popularity, thousands of German Shepherd owners have earned the AKC Canine Good Citizen certification dem- onstrating their good manners at home and in their community. The first GSD registered with the AKC was Queen Switzerland, (Registra- tion # 115006) in 1908. The first GSD to be exhibited in the show ring in Amer- ica was Mira von Offingen, that was shown in the open class at Newcastle and Philadelphia. Mira was imported by Otto Gross in 1907 and handled by H. Dairymple. The popularity of the breed quickly escalated thanks to the entertainment industry and the big screen in Holly- wood. It began when Larry Trimble




aspects of American life. In the dog show ring, the winningest dog of any breed was a GSD called Champion Alta- na’s Mystique. She was owned by Jane Firestone and handled by James Moses. With 275 Best in Show wins “Mystique” is not only the top-winning GSD of all time, she is also the show dog with the most wins in American history, earning the Top Dog award in 1993 and 1994. In 1993, she won 116 best in Show wins, which is more than any other dog in a single year. By 1925, the breed had become the number one in America. By 1950, the GSD was ranked in the top four breeds and has remained in the top ten in every decade since. From 1963–1972 the breed ranked number two and today it is the second most popular breed behind only the Labrador Retriever, which has held that top spot more than twenty years. TEMPORARY NAME No breed’s reputation suffered more from a war than the GSD. During World War I and II the intense feel- ings toward Germany resulted in the removal of the word “German” from the name of the club and the breed in the United States and England. In the US, the breed was renamed the “Shepherd Dog” and in England the temporary name given the breed was “Alsatian” or “Police Dog.” It was many years after WWII before the breed was again called the German Shepherd Dog. FUNCTION AND PURPOSE The second and third elements used to understand breed knowl- edge are called function and purpose.

These elements focus on the reasons and use that brought about the develop- ment of the breed. In this regard, the GSD was originally developed as an all-purpose utility dog. It did not take long before its versatile ability and work ethic made it the ideal dog for military, police, law enforcement and service/ assistance (Moody et al. 2006). Begin- ning with WWI and in every major war since, the German Shepherd Dog (GSD) has proven to be a valiant soldier respon- sible for saving thousands of lives. Some of its duties have included: mercy work (locating the wounded and guiding help to them), a messenger to carry medical supplies, sentry dog and search dogs for locating the hidden enemy, (bubby traps, snipers and mine). Bronze stat- ues of the German Shepherd Dog can be found throughout America, which is a tribute to their work and proven record of service. As the all-purpose utility dog, the GSD has been given a wide range of uses including those for service dog work. These assignments continued to accelerate the breed’s popularity thanks to the efforts of Dorothy Harri- son Eustis (1886-1946). Born in Phila- delphia, she became the founder of the Seeing Eye. She opened the first school for guide dogs in the United States based on the principles she observed in Germany where dogs were trained to assist blind veterans. By the time of her death in 1946, more than 1,300 blind persons had been matched with a guide dog. The success of the See- ing Eye ( based in Morristown, New Jersey has spawned many guide dog schools throughout the

United States. Eustis’s life is celebrated in the book, “ Independent Vision” by Miriam Ascarelli, published in 2010, by Purdue University Press. Much can be said and attributed to the GSD and the human-animal bond. The behavior most attributed to this bond can be found in this breed’s work ethic, playfulness and the fact that it is uninhibited. The GSD became one of the most popular breeds because of its devotion and trainability. Hart and Hart (1985) studied playfulness in 56 breeds and noted that there were differences between breeds. The criteria used to measure playfulness involved a willing- ness to chase balls, Kong’s or Frisbees and to engage in hide and seek type games. Their study produced five cate- gories that are used to separate breeds. They were called: • Most playful • Above average • Average

• Below average • Least playful.

Based on their criteria the GSD was found to be “Above Average” for this trait along with the Vizsla, Fox Terrier, Lab- rador, Boston Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Wheat Highland White Terrier, Toy Poo- dle, Silky Terrier, Welsh Corgi and Shih Tzu. As mentioned earlier, the GSD is considered a multi-faceted utility work- ing dog. Its record of accomplishments is legendary having served as an assistant to soldiers in wartime and as a rescue worker after the September 11 attacks on New York City’s World Trade Cen- ter and the Pentagon, which are recent reminders of why it is cherished by so many.


By 2016, the American Kennel Club had recognized more than 188 breeds and classified them into Groups. The GSD was placed in the Herding Group along with 20, plus other herd- ing breeds. In appearance, these breeds vary significantly in size and shape, the smallest being the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Puli. The largest includes the Bearded Collie and Bou- vier des Flanders. In appearance, the GSD is more similar in appearance to the herding breeds from Belgium (Malinois, Sheep dog and Tervuren). While herding breeds differ, they have one common characteristic, which is their willingness to work indepen- dently alongside a shepherd who con- trols their work as they move sheep, goats and cattle. Selection and careful breeding have produced dogs with high prey drive and a willingness to serve. It is this natural and instinctive mental- ity that has endeared them to humans throughout the world. The GSD excels as a companion, herding and work- ing dog along with a dog for the farm, military and police, Seeing Eye and therapy service dog. Known for its good health and versatile work ethic, it is the most recognizable breed in the world. The striking architecture of the breed serves as a blueprint for its suc- cess. Because the GSD has a pleasing appearance and demonstrates both strength and stamina the breed con- tinues to be popular as a show dog as well as in performance and compan- ion events. It thrives on having a “job” whether serving as a companion, a guarding or doing work to apprehend criminals. The German Shepherd Dog needs a job and thus works for approval. It learns best when guided by positive rewards and thrives on daily attention. Many owners use obedience exercises or games to keep theirdog in condition and in good mental shape. HEALTH The fourth element of breed knowl- edge is called breed health. This includes understanding a breed’s health history and knowing its dreaded dis- eases, which are those that can crip- ple, kill, blind or cause early death. The dreaded diseases of the GSD are bloat/gastric dilatation volvulus (GVD), degenerative Myelopathy, cancer, hip dysplasia (HD) and elbow dysplasia.

Gastric dilatation–volvulus (GVD), affects many breeds including the Ger- man Shepherd Dog with a reported lifetime risk of 24 % in large breeds. It is one of the leading causes of death among purebred dogs. Risk factors include: management, environment and personality differences. Large, deep-chested dogs have the highest risk. Diet has also been a contributing factor. Feeding single or large quanti- ties of food increases risk, however, the addition of eggs or fish was associ- ated with a decrease in the risk of GVD. The GSD breed has made remarkable improvements in the incidence of hip dysplasia. In some breeds, HD occurs in only one hip (unilateral). In humans, the left hip is involved more frequently than the right at a ratio of 10:1. Unilater- al dysplasia follows a similar pattern in canines but the predominate hip affect- ed is breed dependent. For example, the left hip is more frequently affected in Labrador and Golden Retrievers, the Newfoundland and Akita breeds, but more frequently in the right hip in Rottweilers. German Shepherd Dogs do not have a side left or right predilec- tion. Other concerns that are less likely is pituitary dwarfism, congenital Mega esophagus (ME) and pancreatic acinar atrophy (PAA). PARENT CLUBS The American Kennel Club has determined that each breed will have a parent club that will be recognized as the organizational expert in everything related to the breed. It is responsible for guarding and promoting the breed stan- dard and the place to find information and responsible breeders. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSD- CA) was founded in 1913. Each parent club has oversight of their breed stan- dard and the traits that are most desir- able and those considered being a fault and disqualification. As such, breed standards are used as the guide for breeding practices by judges who offi- ciate at shows. The GSDCA offers own- ers the opportunity to become involved in a variety of activities. It begins with a large membership, 90 regional clubs and a robust website that offers ideas about training, nutrition, regional clubs and events. The GSDCA is one of the largest AKC parent clubs in the United States. In the United States, the GSDCA has more than 90 regional clues

that host dog shows, puppy matches, companion and performance event that include: obedience, agility, rally, herding, tracking and the working dog sport. More about Breed Knowledge is available at the German Shepherd Dog Club of America site REFERENCES: Battaglia, C. 2009. Breeding Dogs to Win. BEI Publications, Atlanta, Georgia. Coren, S., 2008. Th e Modern Dog. Free Press, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc. New York, New York. Fortier, L., Clinical health Issues in the Ger- man Shepherd Dog. Report ed to the Ger- man Shepherd Dog Club of America, by author, American Kennel Club, NY. NY., 10010. Goldbecker, W., Hart, E., 1967. Th is is the German Shepherd. T.F. H. publishing Inc. Neptune, NJ. Moody, J., Murphy, K., 2006. Working dogs: history and applications. In: Os- trander, E., Geiger, U., Lindblad-Toh, K., (eds) the dog and its genome. Cold Springs Harbor laboratory, Preg Wood- burh. Pg. 1-18. Ratliff, E., 2012. New tricks from olddogs. National Geographic Magazine, Wash- ington, D.C., Feb., Pg. 34-51. Tsai, K., Noor, R., Star-Moss, A., Qui- gnon, P., Rinz, C., Ostrander, E.,Steiner, J., Murphy, K., Clark, L., 2011. Genome- wide association studies for multiple diseases of the German Shepherd dog. Mamme Genome, 10.1007/s 00335-011-9376-9. Wahl, J., Clark, L., Skalli, O., Ambrus, A., Rees, C., Mansell, J., Murphy, K., 2008. Analysis of gene transcript pro fi ling and imunobiliry in Shetland Sheep Dogs with dermatomostis, Vet. Dermatol., 19:52-58. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Carmen L. Battaglia holds a Ph.D. and Master’s Degree from Florida State University. An AKC judge, research- er and writer, he is a respected leader in promoting ways to breed better dogs. He is the author of more than 50 articles and several books and is a popular TV and radio talk show guest. His seminars on breed- ing dogs, selecting sires and choos- ing puppies have been well received by breed clubs all over the coun- try. Those interested in learning more about his articles and semi- nars should visit the website:



by BARBARA WOELFEL LOPEZ for the German Shepherd Dog Club of America Education Committee

I n Germany, around the end of the 1800s and early 1900s, there were many sheep herding dogs actively working on farms throughout the land. The breeding of these dogs within each region of the country, whether planned or accidental, had the effect of stamping the dogs within each region with certain distinctive traits that came to identify the region where the dogs originated. Some dogs had short coats, some long; some had erect ears, some floppy; some had sabre tails, some curly; some had wiry coats, some smooth; some tan, gray and black, and some multi-colored. Figures 1-3 are taken from The German Shepherd Dog by Capt. Max von Stephanitz (who came to be known as “the Father of the Breed”). Because there was a desire among dog fanciers of the time to bring togeth- er the best traits of these dogs into one, recognizable breed, on April 22, 1899, a society was formed and is known today as “Der Verein fur Deutsche Schaefer- hund” and referred to as simply the “SV”. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA) was formed in 1913 with 26 founding members. Then, when the SV formed the World Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs (WUSV), the GSDCA became a founding member representing the United States which remains in place today. In those early years of the SV, Cap- tain Max von Stephanitz attended a dog show and was captivated by a medium-sized, gray colored dog, with erect ears that had a reputation for pro- ducing progeny with his desired char- acteristics. And so, after purchasing

him for his kennel, he re-named him Horand v. Grafrath. With uncanny insight into the value of this particular dog, von Stephanitz and the SV soon registered Horand as “SZ1”, the first official German Shep- herd Dog from which all registered German Shepherd dogs descended. Horand and his kennel mate are shown in Figure 4. In von Stephanitz’s own words, Horand was “a very good medium size- with powerful bones, beautiful lines and a nobly-formed head; clean and sin- ewy in build; the whole dog was one live wire. His character corresponded to his exterior qualities; marvelous in his obedient faithfulness to his mas- ter; and above all the straightforward nature of a gentleman with a bound- less and irrepressible zest for living.” He went on to describe him as “the mad- dest rascal, the wildest ruffian and an incorrigible provoker of strife; never idle, always on the go; crazy about chil- dren and always in love.” The German Shepherd Dog retains many of these traits today. German Shepherd dogs are loyal and devoted to their family. As one of the most intelligent and active of the breeds, they require training, exercise, socialization with other dogs and strang- ers and a firm, but loving master. They are very trainable with an excellent will to please, easily housebroken and pro- tective when necessary. They can, how- ever, be strong-willed and happy to take charge with permissive owners. The German Shepherd Dog is in the Herding Group at AKC dog shows because its original purpose was to

herd sheep. The breed was devel- oped in Germany to help the human Shepherd to move the flocks of sheep from the villages along the roads to the pastures. The dog’s job, then, was to establish a perimeter by trotting around the flock in order to keep it in the des- ignated area. He was, in fact, a “living” fence. This is known as boundary herd- ing and is the basis for AKC “C” course herding events. Some fans of this breed may think that because the GSD excels in such activities as police work, bomb detec- tion, search and rescue, etc., that the GSD should be in the Working Group. And it is true that they are used in work- ing capacities such as police and search and rescue. But “working dogs” typi- cally have a build that is more square which allows them to perform such tasks as pulling (Rottweiler, Siberian), jumping (Doberman, Black Russian Ter- rier), swimming (Newfoundland, Por- tuguese Water Dog) etc. But to under- stand the correct anatomy as dictated by the GSD Standard, it is necessary to keep in mind that a steady, tireless trot is required for the correct func- tion of the GSD to achieve the purpose for which it was originally developed. For that reason, the GSD is slightly longer than tall making its body more suited to trotting. The GSDCA is cur- rently updating The German Shep- herd Dog Illustrated Standard which, when available, will be a valuable tool to both new and seasoned judges of this breed. Over the years, the GSD has evolved both in Germany and America as a dog of both beauty and service, but with


a definitive ‘look’ that marks the breed with worldwide recognition. In Figure 5 we can see how the breed evolved in this country with the beautiful Mystique garnering top honors repeatedly with the young Jim Moses. Figure 6 shows that in 2016 in Germany the top honors were given to the equally beautiful Oililly bred and owned by the Piste Trophe Kennels. In 2011 the SV in Germany held the first classes for the previously disallowed “Lang- stockhaar” (long coat) which has grown steadi- ly in entrants since that time. In America, the long coat has always been allowed but rarely was awarded a high placing. Today, these long coats are finishing their AKC Championship certificates as judges recognize their virtues. My home-bred long coat female, Piper Hill’s Kodachrome ROM, was the dam of five AKC Champions including the 1988 United States Grand Victor and Best of Breed at the GSDCA National Specialty Show. Years ago the long coats were almost never seen except in Obe- dience competition and in fact, many breeders excluded them completely from their pedi- grees. Long coat is a recessive gene and there can be long coat and normal coat in the same litter as is the case of Leonardo and DaVinci from my kennel as shown in Figures 7 and 8. Currently, a DNA test is available that reveals if a normal coated dog is carrying the long coat recessive gene. As a show specimen, the German Shepherd should present himself to the judge an impres- sion of strength without bulk; of nobleness without refinement; of balance without exag- geration and above all, soundness of character and movement. Every judge should expect a German Shep- herd to be examined in a calm manner. Under no circumstances should a dog act nervous in the ring, although puppies can be given some leniency due to inexperience. In the past, many judges asked the handlers to exhibit the dogs in two phases: the slow and steady trot with the handler at a walk; and the extended trot with the handler at a run. Today, sadly, it seems to be an accepted practice to only “race” around the ring with the purpose of showing the judge how extended is the trot and especially how far the front ‘reach’ can be shown to the judge. A GSD with correct structure will have the bones of the shoulder and upper arm be relatively equal in length with the bones of the thigh and lower leg. This structure will show the judge a beautiful moving machine at either a slow trot or an extended trot. A German Shep- herd Dog that has an overly long bone structure in the rear coupled with a shorter upper arm and straighter shoulder, will not exhibit the same balance at the slow trot and will, in fact, hide this imbalance in a faster trot. So judges

Figure 6 VA1 Oililly von der Piste Trophe SV Siegerin 2016

Figure 1

Figure 7 DaVinci - long coat puppy

Figure 2 Smooth-coated Shepherd Dog around 1900

Figure 8 Leonardo - normal coat puppy

Figure 3 Long-coated Shepherd Dog – Northern Germany around 1900

Figure 9 Awkward Hand- Set Pose

Figure 4 Horand v. GrafrathFigure 1 Wire-coated Shepherd Dog around 1830

Figure 11 Ch. Lockenhaus Rumor Has It v Kenlyn, 2017 Westminster Best In Show

Figure 5 Multiple BIS Select Champion Altana’s Mystique in April 1993

Figure 10 Natural Standing Pose





Photo © Stewart Event Images

I open my front door and step out to the sounds of lambs calling for their moms, ewes answering their babies, the rooster crowing, peacocks hoot- ing, guineas screeching and, in the dis- tance, the ducks quacking and arguing as only ducks do. As I approach the sheep pasture, 70 heads turn my way, all look- ing to see which dog I have today. If it’s the Border Collie, they know there will be no rest for the wicked. Th ere is farm work to be done. Th e sheep may be sorted into small groups for lessons, perhaps it’s a day for worming, or maybe time to shear,

or trim feet or just filed through the foot bath. Th e sheep are relieved to see that it’s not the Border Collie, it’s the Ger- man Shepherd. Th e 23 ewes and 47 lambs all eagerly start toward the gate to meet us. Th is morning, they get to come out and graze new grass. Th ey don’t yet know which area they will be grazing, but it will be fresh and they know that the German Shepherd will define their grazing area by trotting along the borders. Th e German Shepherd Dog breed was developed in the late 1800s by Captain Max von Stephanitz. Th ere were many

types of herding dogs in Germany prior to that time. In his travels across Germany, von Stephanitz had the opportunity to observe these di ff ering herding dogs at work. He developed a desire to standardize an “ideal” German sheep herding dog, a breed that would encompass the character- istics that would also make the dog ideal for military and police work. While on patrol near the Rhine River, the Captain observed a prick eared lupine type sheep dog tending a flock while the shepherd took a nap. Von Stephanitz wanted his breed to resemble that dog as well as have the


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