Full house for my seminar in Medan. Great to see the club issue certificates to the attendees. Always such a pleasure to be with people who have the passion and desire to learn about the German Shepherd Dog.
A five hour Breed Lecture hosted by the Taiwan Kennel Control. Big turnout included 20 aspiring judges and 10 All Breed judges. Many thanks to Alex Zee for translating. Lovely to be with so many enthusiastic people so keen to learn about the German Shepherd Dog.
Some words from the breed's creator and initiator of GSD breed surveys - Max von Stephanitz.
Breed Surveys have nothing whatsoever to do with showmanship or show business. Neither sport nor competition should play any role whatsoever in it. The aim of breed surveys is to find out those animals who are suitable for breeding.
A pity that for many enthusiasts those fundamental core elements have been lost in time and that they see breed Survey classification as being no more than a piece of paper that is necessary to get an excellent grading.. To have the view that there should still be two classifications is to see Breed Surveys as a show dog classification - akin to a blue ribbon is only prestigious if someone is standing behind you with a red ribbon - it is about ego not the breed.
Putting aside whether you like the style or type of this dog, it shows where the full back starts and finishes and shows that skeletally and functionally the back consists of two quite distinct parts - thoracic and lumbar. The thoracic spine can't bend, but the lumbar spine can and does to a significant degree.
The German Shepherd Dog standard calls for the back (full back) to be straight and sloping slightly from the withers to the croup.
One of the most common argumentative exchanges one hears and reads about relates to the backline of the German Shepherd Show Dog. Is it straight, is it curved, is straight better than curved, and within those parameters, what is the best backline for a trotting dog anyway?
In these exchanges, a number of thoughts I have had are;
The following photo is a typical example of what one sees. The comment one reads is that the photo demonstrates the optimum backline for a trotting canidae, and in a tone of authority it is stated what you see in the photo represents a straight back - inevitably, just like their German Shepherd Dogs back!
There is no argument that 'in terms of endurance' there is no adult domestic dog, never mind a German Shepherd Show Dog, that can out-trot, out endure, a healthy Grey Wolf, but as to whether what is seen in the Grey Wolf topline constitutes a 'straight back' is another matter.
Not withstanding evolution designed the Grey Wolfs backline and that the Grey Wolf is one of the planets greatest endurance trotting canidae, whilst the lumbar back is straight, the full back, the section that spans between the commencement of the withers and croup, is slightly concave. In more specific terms, the anticlinal region, the more forward part of the spine consisting of both thoracic and lumbar vertebrae has a perceptible hollow.
As this post relates to comparisons to the German Shepherd Dogs backline, I also add, the back on the Grey Wolf slopes downwards from the rump to the base of the withers, in comparative terms, the Grey Wolf is overbuilt in the hindquarter!
To give some sense of balance to the argument that evolutionary created endurance trotting canidae have a backline like a Grey Wolf, the following photo is also an example of an evolutionary trotting endurance canidae'. A canidae that is just as old as the Grey Wolf. A canine who's method of catching its primary prey, the antelope, is to trot without stopping for a distance that is so great, so enduring as to cause the antelope being pursued to eventually collapse from exhaustion.
Is this is a 'straight back'? It's not (and I have seen African Painted Dogs in the flesh), its slightly convex, the anticlinal region is higher than the withers and croup and I suspect from my personal observation the tops of the thoracic spires within the withers are higher than in the Grey Wolf, but that's another story!
Straight is straight, curved, be it convex or concave, is curved, and straight does not mean level!
The point of my post is this;
As I said in my preface, the standard for the German Shepherd Dog states very clearly the back, withers to croup, should be straight and slightly sloping and whilst one might wish to debate the definition of 'slightly sloping', the backline that most closely reflects the words of the SV German Shepherd Dog standard is seen in the introductory photo - diagram.
I wish to make it very clear; I am not criticising the backline of the Grey Wolf nor any wild canidae, nor am I suggesting their backlines could be improved upon, far from it, in the context of function and purpose their backlines are highly efficient. What I am saying is this; A straight, and I mean straight not curved, slightly sloping backline as seen in the German Shepherd Dog in the opening photo/diagram is a very good example of the SV standards requirement for the backline of the German Shepherd Dog and that this photo/diagram demonstrates what a straight sloping backline looks like. To use a Grey Wolf or any wild canidae to demonstrate what a German Shepherd Dogs backline should look like and to use them to demonstrate what a straight back looks like is very wrong. Apples for apples and oranges for oranges as they say!
Breed Type - Is it possible to have half a dozen different types of GSD in a typical class of say a dozen dogs? The answer is its not possible! Is it possible to have such a number but of a different style? The answer is yes!
The word 'type' is very often incorrectly used instead of 'style' to refer to an identifiable 'style of appearance'. The word type in reference to a dog refers specifically to the description of what defines that breed and what makes that breed of dog different from every other breed, as can be found in that breed's written Standard. When comparing dogs of the same breed, you look at type first and foremost, and then you look for different styles of dogs within that breed. The term style refers to characteristics that are different in each dog that already has breed type. There can be a vast variety of styles existing in each breed of dog. These characteristics develop from a breeder's desire to create a distinct 'look' (or style) within their line. Breeders create their own style within their line, being careful not to stray from breed type.
Semantics many would say, and the word style will never replace the word type in the show dog sport, but for me it is not semantics, and the reason I say that is because when one uses the word 'type' in general terms, terms that for some people, even though they might not even realize it, are referring to a dogs colour, changes in type can take hold because there is no red flag indicator at work.
Breed type change
Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a clearly articulated and common goal.
Being able to inspire others and being prepared to do so.
Effective leadership is based upon ideas whether original or borrowed, but won't happen unless those ideas can be communicated to others in a way that engages them enough to act as the leader wants them to act.
The leader is the inspiration and director of the action. He or she is the person in the group that possesses the combination of personality and leadership skills that makes others want to follow his or her direction.
My shared thoughts after being inspired last night in a long discussion with WUSV/SV President Professor Dr Messler.
Mr Louis Donald – Candidate for GSDCA President
For many decades, the GSDCA has served the GSD well in Australia, unifying all clubs and remaining at the forefront of breed improvement schemes. It must continue to be progressive and innovative to ensure our breed’s future.
To that end it’s time to bring forward new leadership and importantly, a strategic vision, a strategic vision that is based on a clearly articulated and achievable five-year plan. A plan based on a shared, transparent and committed vision by those who have the idealism and passion for the GSD not just as a show dog but a healthy, reliable and trustworthy family dog, as an obedience, agility, herding, working utilitarian service dog.
As I stated in my CV provided to the GSDCA for publication, if elected President, a detailed five-year plan will be presented at an early year meeting of all Club Presidents who shall be an integral component to that plan in regard to discussion, debate, content, agreement, commitment and execution.
Some of the more important items on that 5 year agenda:
Photoshopping can profoundly change a dogs style but not its type
The same dog. Top photograph taken by me a few months before the below pro photo was taken