That article ''Directive for the Measuring at Shows and Breed Surveys'' [slightly abbreviated and now followed here by additional material'] starts this post.
Subject Matter: Directive for the Measuring at Shows and Breed Surveys.
Lothar Quoll Türkenfeld, den 04.06.2014
At this year’s Annual General Meeting our application of “restricted intermittence of the Standard in regards to the size limits for the time being approx. 5 ½ years – up to 1.1.2020 – with the further option of an extension” was resolved unanimously.
Under no circumstances can we disappoint the meeting, that has put such great faith in us.
This means greatest care and integrity is to be utilised during the measuring of our dogs in determining the measuring results. The goal set is as follows: Implementation of a Breed Value for size. The prerequisite for this is absolutely reliable size data.
„Breed Values are only as good as the presented data“
In addition to the determined size, the depth of chest is to be ascertained.
The size is to be determined with our mechanical survey- measuring stick. The measurement is taken from the wither, falling in a plumb line, just touching the elbow joint, whilst the dog is standing with the four legs in a normal position on a firm surface – i.e. a board with non slip surface, 2m x 1.5m.
The measuring of the depth of chest is achieved in the same manner from the wither to the underside of the chest – the measuring stick touches the elbow –. (attachment 2)
At the BSZS there will be boards of the above listed size and construction in every ring. I ask of the State-Breed wardens to remind their State Clubs, that for show – or breed survey events, the appropriate boards are to be available from now on.
The measuring results will be transferred into the lists prepared in advance, and must be sent to the Head Office, SID- evaluation department, within 10 days (by post, fax or e-mail) by all colleagues.
NOTE: With this pre-prepared list, you will also receive important information in respect to the Breed Value as well as the HD/ED results of the respective dog.
This email address is: : email@example.com
Those of our colleagues who have not yet sent in the measurements taken over the first half year, should for completion, please attend to this now.
In future you will receive a list of the dogs entered in your classes, sent by the Main Office, before the event. For the exhibited dogs the following parameters will have to be completed.
1. Size. (Measure in cm.)
2. Depth of chest (in cm)
3. Foreign country (bred in which country)
4. Abbreviation for population: (Zucht (Z), Leistung (L) nicht ermittelbar (U))
Note: (Show (S), Performance (P), not known (U)
5. Line breeding less than 3-3 (only if LB info is missing in the list.)
The data-material is collected by the Head Office and used for the development of a data basis.
It is clear to me, that there will also be differences in measuring results reported back. In all, this will level out to the mathematical mean, as the figures given for the individual dog are worked out, so that we shall derive at a very correct measurement of the dogs.
The “Project” Size is assuredly a lengthy process, and must be viewed from the genetic side as well as lived with in phenotype. That means, that from this year we shall start, at our largest breed event – the BSZS - in the Jugend Class, only place those dogs in the top 30, that stand within the preceding standard limits i.e. a max. +1cm over size.
Analogous to this, we plan, from the next year onwards, to extend these measures also to the Junghundklasse, as well as in the year following that, expand this also to the Gebrauchshundklasse.
Please begin to put this into place immediately.
I wish for us all, much success.
Action Recommended to the Executive of the SV, by the Working Group for “Size Reduction put in place by the Vereinszuchtwart.
Application by the Executive, to the Federal AGM.
After preceding juridical investigations to be presented to the board for further recommendation, and for resolution, to the AGM.
Action concept of the SV for the reduction of size.
Addendum to the Standard, to the Breeding Regulations, the Show Regulations and Breed Survey Regulations.
- For the improvement of the information for the breeders in reference to the attribute „Size“ there will be, after detailed consultation with the population-geneticist Herr Dr. Reiner Beuing, a recommendation to establish for the characteristic of size, the method of Breed Value Assessment, in order to attain the breeding goal, to stabilize the size of the dogs within the limits of the standard. The Breed Values are descriptive numerical values.
- The Breed Values will be, based on the current data – with the inclusion of measurements covertly taken throughout the past years, that were by agreement tolerated even if diverging from the standard – mathematically worked out and offered to assist in the decision making for planned matings.
- In order to scientifically safeguard the data basis, the present tolerance measures will be strictly adhered to for about three generations.
- Every deviation of size from the word of the standard is to be viewed as a fault the severity of which should be in direct proportion to its degree, at shows.
- Through the use of this methodology there arises a self regulating procedure that is geared towards those dogs, that comply fully to the requirements of the standard in reference to size, being more successful, all other qualities being equal, than others. That motivates the breeders to breed for a little below the upper limit of size, in order to if possible, keep all of the progeny within the standard.
- The measurement of a dog is worked out from the average of all the measurements by the Breed Book Office. The more measurements are available, the more reliable the average information for the Breed Value Assessment. The gathering of data will be actioned through the forms at every breed event. Who ever is the owner of the dog at the time of the measuring, can lodge an objection in writing, to an individual measurement , at the Breed Registry office, within 8 days .
The dog can then be presented on prior application in writing, to the Vereinszuchtwart. The measurement taken by him, will then be added to the average measurements.
Proportions – Table Size – Depth of Chest
Size Depth of chest 45% Depth of chest 46% Depth of chest 47%
Subsequent to this article the SV released a follow up paper ‘‘Judges’ and Breed Surveyor Meeting – Working Party on Size’’ based on a meeting held on the 30/11/2014 and this gives further clarification - a translated version is attached below. Clause 3 is the real cruncher and the one that concerns me and I will come back to that in my comments at the end of this paper.
Judges’ and Breed Surveyor Meeting – Working Party on Size
At the Judges’ and Breed Surveyor Meeting on the 30.11. and 1.12.2013 the Verein’s Breed Commissioner Lothar Quoll has instituted a Working Party with the assignment to investigate the size problem in the German Shepherd Dog, with the goal of implement an action plan for the reduction of size in our breed.
The following members are part of the group:
Helmut Buss, Frank Goldlust, Christoph Ludwig, Wilfried Scheld, Leonhard Schweikert, and Margit van Dorssen.
The following action plan was presented to the SV board of Directors, also with the request for legal advice, in order to see to the necessary steps for presentation of the action plan as an application by the SV Board to be presented to the Executive Committees and the Federal AGM, for their resolution.
The following action plan was met with great approval by all committees, and was passed as law at the Federal AGM 2014 with only 4 votes against. The concept was passed as law in the following form and released for immediate implementation.
SV Action Plan for the reduction of size.
- For the improvement of the information for the breeders in reference to the characteristic ”size” after detailed consultation with the Population Geneticist, Dr. Reiner Beuing, on the dealing with the characteristic, the method of Breed Value Assessment is recommended, in order to achieve the breeding goal of stabilizing the size of the dogs within the standard. The Breed Values are descriptive numerical values.
- The Breed Values are worked out from the data material received, and offered as decision-making assistance in respect to planned matings.
- The respective guidelines of the Breed Standard and the Regulations will be set aside in the interim, for the scientific safeguarding of a correct data basis, up to the year 2020.
- At Shows, every deviation of size from the guidelines of the standard is to be seen as a fault, the value of which shall be in the exact proportion of its degree.
- Through the application of this methodology, a self regulating procedure will be established with the aim that the dogs which meet the requirements of the standard in reference to size, will, to a great extent, be more successful at shows, than others, with otherwise equal qualities. That will motivate the breeders, to breed for a little below the upper limits as desired in the Standard, in order that if possible, all progeny will be kept within the guidelines of the standard.
- The size of a dog will be calculated from the average of all measurements, by the Breed Commission. The more measurements are present, the more meaningful the mean-information for the Breed Value Assessment will be. The data collection ensues through the use of a form utilized at every Breed event. Any person who is the owner of a dog may lodge an objection at the Breed Commission, in writing, to an individual measurement taken on the day, within a time frame of eight days. The dog can then, on prior application in writing, be presented for control, to the Verein-Breed Commissioner. The measurement taken by him, is then taken into the average measurement.
1. What is the reason for the involvement with the problem of size?
The Characteristic “Size” has been a strongly debated topic in the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhund (SV) e.V. right from the beginning. As a first step, already in the earliest years the size was increased by 5 cm., because bitches with a wither height of a maximum of 55cm and dogs with a wither height of 60cm, were too small and therefore too weak to assert themselves against strong sheep. Since then the desired height of 55 to 60 cm for bitches and 60 to 65 cm for dogs, has been set in the Standard. A further gain of size and weight is undesirable, because health problems might arise through this, and the working dog attributes be diminished; over and above that, the handling of these animals will become more difficult for private individuals.
As the breeders predominately prefer breeding animals on the upper limit of size, this will result, in accordance with the laws of natural science, a normal size distribution in the mean, ranging from small to medium large, large and over sized dogs in around equal part. If one were to set the upper limit for bitches at 60 and for dogs at 65 cm for acceptance for breeding, and already sanctions deviations of up to 1 cm, (previously B.S.Cl. 2, and up to the AGM no “Excellent” possible at Breed Shows.) then one excludes around a third of the population from breeding, because of a definite over size.
To make it quite clear: In the past the oversized animals – apart from special cases – were nearly all kept within the official measuring frame.
There were, however up to around 1/3 incorrect size declarations, and that has been quite rightly, criticised by the members for years. Now everybody can find out the actual measurement – it is reported to the Breed Registration Department after every show.
In natural science the hitherto system in dealing with the characteristic “size” is designated as Breeding to independent Selection Limits. “The shortcoming of this method of selection is the loss of top producing genes. In this type of selection, the mean performance is favoured. “ (Quote Prof. Dr. W. Schleger, Hundezüchtung in Theorie und Praxix, S. 127, Verlag Jugend und Volk – Wien, 1986)
Breeding to independent selection limits means, that the Verein sets limits, here 60 cm for bitches and 65 cm for dogs – and animals that surpass these selection limits are excluded from breeding and/or from the highest gradings, irrespective of any other virtues that these animals possess.
The selection limit is called independent, because there is no relationship to the overall quality of the animal.
By the way, through this breeding method in view of various independent selection limits such as health, size, dentition status, working dog attributes etc., many dogs made it abroad. Because these dogs however were in part outstanding in other characteristic features from those characteristics in which they had failed here, a breed basis has been founded; partly with the help of these animals, whose results currently can increasingly be seen at our events.
What remains for us, see above is frequently only the “medium achievement” which can often mean as much as mediocrity. This development is to be prevented in future – also in order to prevent disadvantaging the breeders within the SV.
Only unsound dogs, and dogs of weak character do not belong in the breeding pool.
Because the numbers of our breeding population are showing a pronounced downward trend, we can, on the one hand no longer afford a loss of valuable genes in reference to character and anatomy, by strictly adhering to the independent selection limits of the standard.
On the other hand, those dogs must be favoured in judging that also fulfill the requirements of the standard in the aspects of size.
- What is the goal of the Action Plan?
From these figures in future, a Breed Value for the characteristic size will be worked out, and provided to the breeders as assistance in the decision-making, and not to create new “independent selection limits”. That has the advantage that in the evaluation of the inheritance of size of the breeding partner, that is the planned mating, the family back ground, the individual performance of the respective dogs, and later on also the heritability in reference to the progeny flow into the Breed Value.
The laying open of size without the up to now harsh consequences means, that during judging, over-size will flow into the gradings and placing, similar to other deviations from the standard in the ideal typical dog in all relevant aspects also according to the standard.
3. How will these new potentialities be put into practice during the judging?
As an example, let’s take the procedure at a Conformation Show. During the individuals, in stance, the dog will be judged with all his virtues and faults. He will also be measured on a firm base, that must be sufficiently large, ( 100cm x 200cm) and must have a non-slip surface, (carpet or artificial lawn) by the judge personally.
On conclusion of the individuals the dog will be allocated to a quality group within the intended grading. During this the deviation from the standard in size (66cm, 67cm, 68cm, etc) is of course a fault, that must also gain in its degree, just as it does in all other deviations from the standard too.
Lets take an Intermediate Dog class (Junghundklasse) with 20 exhibited animals as an example. The grouping for the pre-allocation is VG++, VG+, VG, VG-, that is four different quality groups.
On the table below this, in respect to a fictional class of 20 entered dogs, (catalogue numbers 1 – 20) it looks as follows. (In Example)
6, 4, 9 (66 cm), 10 (66 cm), 19 (66 cm), 14, 1, 7, 20, 11(66 cm)
16 (67 cm) 2,5,15,17, 12 (67 cm) 3,16,8, 13 (68 cm)
During the gaiting performance, some are put up, other back a few places. It will be tested whether the dog has been placed in the right quality group.
Should it turn our, that the dog with the catalogue number 10 clearly is the best dog within his quality group VG++, then he can win that class.
If, during the assessment of the overall quality including the divergence of size, it should be found that the dogs with the numbers 6 and 4 are of equal value, then they must remain on the two front places.
In the other quality-ranges ( V++, V+. V, V- / G+ - G-) it is the same procedure.
4. Will it be possible to utilize this new Breeding Plan to the Advantage of the breed?
Our Federal Chancellor would say:” This course of action is without alternatives”
How ever it can only succeed, if the Breed Judges and Breed Surveyors record the data correctly during their adjudications. It is their obligation to deal with this advance of trust shown by the Federal Annual General Meeting, in a responsible manner. If that does not succeed, other measures for the correct determination of size must come into effect.
The cooperation of the breeders and owners is however, at least equally important. Some behave at this time, as though they had not yet understood the chances offered by this new breeding method.
It does not serve our aims if one must observe at this time, how dogs are animated through the tricks of their handlers to duck during the measuring, in order to make a correct measuring difficult for the Judges and Breed Surveyors.
Only in unity can the present situation be improved and a procedure remain firmly established, which from the viewpoint of the genetics of the population is indispensable. Through the far sighted resolution of the Annual General Meeting 2014, we have the chance of participation for six years – for the good of the breed.
The immediate introduction of a Breed Value in reference to size – when sufficient measuring data is available – will then signify the deciding step towards responsible and goal oriented dealings of the breeders with the characteristic size - for the good of the breed!
My concern is that this whole thing is ambiguous and too open to interpretation i.e item 4 ''Addendum to the “German Shepherd Dog” Breed Standard, to the Breeding Regulations, the Show Regulations and the Breed Surveys of the SV'' even though those who wrote it will think it is and that often happens, and I also have to say I find it interesting that the example that was used was not tested by having an anatomically superior dog of 67cm or 67.5cm placed in column 1.
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.
Many organisations that conduct Breed Surveys have statistical information on all surveyed animals in relation to their height, any male recorded at 65cm or bitch recorded at 60cm I take with a grain of salt! I shouldn’t have to but I do''.
Louis Donald - 2012
footnote; Some years ago I had recommended to the NBC of the GSDCA that a ''Stud Dog Register'' be created and this would have included 'Zony vom Gerstenberg'. The register would have included breeding advice and in Zony's case breeding advice specifically in regard to his size and this failed to get support by the Breed Surveyors of the NBC. This was in the fact the trigger that caused me to resign as a Breed Surveyor because I had lost faith in the Australian Breed Survey Scheme and its objectives.