Showsight June 2021


Figure 4a. Horand von Grafath S.Z.1 1

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 coor- dination 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 power- ful 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 loco- motion is crabwise with the dog’s 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. ” What I would like to see in the ring is a German Shepherd Dog to be shown, at least for a short while, on a loose lead while “the head is forward rather than up and but little higher than the top of the shoulders.” It amazes me that so many of these dogs are shown strung up, charging out in front of the handler with the feet, especially in front and usually also in the rear, high in the air. The standard clearly states three times that the feet travel close to the ground, which I have emphasized in the paragraphs above. This is important because what is always desired of a dog in motion is that it expends as little energy as possible when going from point A to point B. If the feet are high in the air, much more energy is expended in order to do so. Another point that is not often seen is when the dog is in motion, the back should be firm and LEVEL (defined as a flat surface at right angles to the plumb line). This judge would simply like the dog to be shown, at least once, on a loose lead with the head and feet not high up in the air, and with a level topline. I often ask for this, but unfortunately, the majority of the dogs shown have not been trained to do anything other than a flat out run. I often ask those who attend my seminars on structure and movement if they have ever read the German Shepherd Dog breed standard. If they answer no, why not? I tell them, simply, it is one of the best written standards in the world. This breed has gone through a lot of changes in the 50 years I’ve been watching it. For quite a while, I feared that the breed was going to be lost due to an over emphasis on side gait alone and not much attention paid to the rest of the dog. It is interesting to me that this should be the case with any breed. It is usually the other way around—so much

Figure 4b. Horand von Grafath S.Z.1 (Hektor Linksrhein) as Drawn by Ernest Hart.2

He greatly admired those dogs with a wolf-like appearance and prick ears that were intelligent, had sharp senses and a willingness to work. He believed that he could create a better working dog that could then be used throughout Germany. When Captain von Stephanitz and his friend, Artur Meyer, were attending one of the first all-breed dog shows ever held, they saw a dog that was the per- fect example of their vision of the Shepherd breed they wanted to establish. The dog’s name was Hektor Linksrhein. To them, he rep- resented the true native working dog of Germany. Stephanitz pur- chased the dog on the spot for his Grafrath Kennel and renamed the dog Horan von Grafrath. He became the first registered Ger- man Shepherd Dog, S.Z.1. 1. (See Figures 4a & 4b.) The German Shepherd Dog has undergone many changes worldwide, but I think that those breeders in the US who are the true preservation breeders have done a good job in keeping the same make and shape as those early dogs in the breed. Worldwide, the breed has been separated into several different styles from different geographical areas—and there is a definite split between the “working” lines and the “show” lines that have become the norm, similar to what has happened with the show and field lines in the hunting dogs. The GSDCA (AKC) Standard for the breed devotes 444 words (out of a total of 1,861 words) to the description of the movement required of the breed. This is the breed known worldwide for its ground-covering side gait, but the standard states that “Faults of gait, whether from front, rear or side, are to be considered very seri- ous faults.” As a judge, I well know that the GSD, to be correctly evaluated, needs a larger ring than is normal. For many years, most of the breed have been shown charging around the ring with heads in the air and toplines sloping downward toward the rear, which is not exactly what the standard calls for in the gaiting section. It does state under the “Neck, Topline, Body” section: “When the dog is at attention or excited, the head is raised and the neck car- ried high; otherwise typical carriage of the head is forward rather than up and but little higher than the top of the shoulders, par- ticularly in motion.” The section on Gait states: “ General Impression—The gait is outreaching, elastic, seemingly without effort, smooth and rhythmic,


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