My concern is not what happens in Germany where a ''breed value system'' will be put in place and there is 'authority over judges and surveyors' but in countries outside Germany such as Australia that try to follow this, try to interpret and literally apply it and where no such 'authority over judges and surveyors' nor a ''breed value system'' exists.
Frankly I believe that this gives oversized dogs a breather for the next 6 years. The intent is commendable and Australia tries to do it by not having a maximum size for class II, but based on my experience it will fall short of its intended mark and in countries like Australia there will be confusion and contradiction as individuals try to interpret and even publish its meaning and intent.
What I am about to say is very presumptive and I will be accused of being so but I think its pretty accurate.
The SV over the last 15 or so years have tried to bring down the size. All their efforts that were based on the phenotype of the dogs and the genetic information this gave them including applying sanctions against oversized dogs didn’t work and the facts are that contrary to their breed survey and show reports their dogs are getting larger not smaller.
The basis of this new initiative is to look in a more detailed way into the genotype of every dog relating to his genetically based abilities to bring factors for size and as such as from next year a "breeding value system", similar to the system they have for HD will come into force.
The "breeding value system" is based on a mathematic formula and includes all information about size-relevant genetic influence of a dog´s family i.e how large are the parents/ grandparents/ littermates and what are they producing in regard to size? What sizes does a dog produce in his progeny etc.?
To obtain this information the SV have to "feed" this formula with detailed facts, specifically feed it with real measurements not fictitious measurements.
The SV have concluded that they can not get the true sizes when the system that exists means that a dog that is measured oversize is not well used for breeding, that its studs are curtailed, that a dog that is declared as being 'oversize' can’t get an excellent grading and when the reporting judge or Körmeister fears sanctions against himself if he declares a dog especially one of note as being oversize.
Currently in the German Kör-reports it is estimated by people with 'at the rockface insight' that more than 80% of breed surveyed males declared as 65 cm are not 65 cm but somewhere just above 65 cm up to 70 cm.
So with 15 odd years of going nowhere in regard to oversize the SV have decided the only way forward is to get factual data for the breed value formula and publish it in a meaningful format for judges and breed surveyors, clearly set out the rules for size, explain the benefits of this for the breed and then the big one - enforce it, make it happen so that by 2020 oversize is no longer a major problem!
The intent of the SV is not that dogs can be as big as people want, as point 4 demonstrates, they require that size should still be a major point of a critique and evaluation and that oversized dogs should be penalised by placing them back in the class. But there's the crunch!
The SV believe that this new approach will see judges and Kormeisters declaring 'the real size' of dogs For example if a dog is 67cm or 68cm he is recorded as being 67cm or 68cm and place him accordingly without fearing that their action will result in the dog being shunned as a stud dog and without fear of them being ostracized as a judge or breed surveyor at future events.
So that’s it, well at least as far as I believe the SV see it.
As I said at the start of this paper I applaud the initiative by the SV to do something but I have reservations especially in regard to other countries trying to follow suite and the best way I can articulate my reservations is to give an example of my attempts in this regard.
What follows was written and published by me about two years ago. The basis of my thoughts and actions back then are so close to what the SV rationale is now its extraordinary and as such I think my experience has some relevance at least as far as I am concerned.
''Unfortunately for the breed and the integrity of many judges and breed surveyors, too often the approach to measuring tends to be one where if the dog is an average to poor specimen it’s penalised for being oversize along with much public chest beating by the judge but if it’s a lovely dog the measurement is falsely stated as being within size to allow the dog to attain a high place and grading.
My opinion - have some sense of idealism, respect the very basic principle that people who are of good character, who value their integrity, do not lie. If you lie about a dog’s height simply because it is an otherwise beautiful dog you are pandering to your ego, very often succumbing to peer pressure and thereby showing a lack of self-confidence and above all things placing these things above the best interests of the breed. We have all heard the justification for oversized dogs especially from the owners but my advice is to record the dog’s correct size and then deal with it in an appropriate manner. People looking for a stud dog, especially a novice can then make breeding decisions based on fact not fiction. This is an historic issue signified by great rhetoric and chest beating that produces no results other than more chest beating.
Example: At a large show I judged recently I measured an open dog called 'Zony vom Gerstenberg' at 67.5cm. I was aware that he was a German Class I dog with a German survey height of 65cm and I was aware that he had won BIS at a number of major shows under German judges, I was aware that the measurement of 65cm had been checked and confirmed as being correct/factual by Breed Surveyor and friend Barry O'Rourke at a Breed Survey here in Australia. Barry was actually sitting with me in the judging tent at the show. The dog was a beautiful dog and as I said, he had done a lot of winning and in this very strong class of Open dogs he led the class and arguably he could have won the class but I dropped him 3 places because of his size and explained this on the microphone. I explained that the dog was no less valued by me, indeed I said that I held him in high regard ‘providing his true size is taken into account in the selection of breeding partners’. I said that by judging honestly as I did enthusiasts at the show could then consider their own evaluation based on fact not a lie.
Did this decision have a positive impact?
For a few idealistic people yes, but for the majority, no not really! I say not really because it was overshadowed by politics, personalities, egos and a lack of idealism. Why? Because under the façade and rhetoric, the vast majority of people involved in the sport do not place oversize in its correct context; that is they do not place it in the context of the impediment that this has to a trotting endurance dog. Just as is the case with overangulation they see the German Shepherd Dog as a show dog not a working dog and therefore it is of little relevance regardless of what the standard states and what impact this has on the dog in its inherent working environment.