JUDGING THE GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG
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
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SEPTEMBER 2020 | 237
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