What I find interesting is the position taken by the majority of the commentators on this blog in regard to the ''Specialist German Shepherd Show Dog''. They have as an ideal a dog that was typical in the breed circa 1960 and as best I can read it from the myriad of examples of dogs posted this ideal can be reasonably represented by the German Sieger of that period, 'Veus von der Starrenburg'.
My comments and concerns about overangulation were posted on their blog and commented on but the concerns I expressed about this growing trait and the reasons for my concerns was totally whitewashed if not ridiculed by all commentators on the basis that I have a preference for the current Specialist GSD over it's 1960's counterpart therefore what I say is not something worthy of serious consideration, indeed what I say or believe is to be scorned, and historically this is symptomatic of commentary on this blog by its many supporters.
In certain areas the direction of the German Shepherd Show dog over the last 20 years or so has not been in the breeds best interests nor the best interests of many people taking part in the sport, and I have written extensively about this including recently in the UK magazine 'Our Dogs', one of the worlds largest dog magazines.
There are serious problems in the breed, the breed is in significant decline as a breed of dog, there is no question about that, but the blind bias and ignorance of many people who's comments I read on the 'Friends of Pedigree Dogs Exposed' in regard to the structure of current day show dogs is nothing short of staggering.
Speaking in a general sense what they seem not to understand nor accept is that there are more impediments to the dog’s ability to fulfil its inherent function in an optimum sense in dogs like 'Veus' than dogs like 'Remo' and what they can't accept, nor it seems are they interested in acknowledging is that all Specialist 'German Shepherd Show Dogs' in Germany or elsewhere for that matter are not the same, they are not clones of one another and in the context of overangulation they are not all overangulated. Some are many are not, and my efforts are to try and influence people in positions of breed authority to reduce the numbers of overangulated dogs and increase the numbers of moderately well balanced dogs.
I have stated that, for me, the thoracic and lumbar back is better in a straight just slightly sloping line because it creates a more efficient energy conduit and that overangulation is a curse on the breed because it brings instability to the hindquarter and its its most extreme case it can be crippling.
Why are current day German Shepherd Show dogs, such as Ober, Remo and Kronos who is certainly not over exaggerated, better in their fundamental inherent function than dogs like Veus?
The fundamental engineering facts are that dogs constructed like 'Veus' and keep in mind he was the best dog at that time, dogs like 'Veus' that are posted as shining examples of the correct GSD structure are nearly always short and steep in the upperarm and this impedes their fore reach and ground cover thereby reducing their endurance capabilities, Veus is very good in his hindquarter angulation but ironically most dogs from that period were too moderate in the length of their upper and lower thigh, many were underangulated, and whilst this was conducive to endurance it limited their speed and drive and finally they were nearly all short and steep in the croup and this reduced their ground cover and drive and they were nearly all weak in the back and this reduced the energy transmission from the rear to the fore. Most of these things were noted and confirmed in the written works and critiques of von Stephanitz.
If one was to compare say a 'Kronos' to a 'Veus' and taking in any impediments that 'Kronos' might have to his fundamental function, as a sheep herding and tending, working, trotting, endurance guard dog, 'Kronos' would win the comparison and if there is a suggestion that dogs such as 'Kronos' or 'Ober' and his ilk do not have the desired drive, working, combative and protective traits of 'Veus' think again.
What I am trying to say, and this applies to both sides of the breed's divide equally is that the closed minds, the disrespect shown to anyone who does not agree with them, the bias, and lack of basic understanding of the inherent German Shepherd Dog’s reason for being and locomotive function greatly diminishes the credibility and respect I have for many of these commentators and it undermines anything they may do to help the German Shepherd Show dog.
I try very hard to see both sides of the argument and I try very hard to be respectful toward the opinions of both sides of the divide. More than that, unlike most commentators I go to great lengths, including undertaking significant research to explain in great detail why I have my opinion. I am caught in the middle of two narrow minded, tunnel visioned worlds where one refuses to acknowledge or respect the other, a world where you are either with us or against us, a world where there is no in between and a world where the losing beneficiary is the German Shepherd Dog.
Working Dog Judge / SV Foreign List Judge / Breed Surveyor
For interest the following is a section from my 'Our Dogs' article published in October 2015 in the UK.
This is great to hear but for many people even those with the greatest degree of optimism there is a sense of ‘’we have heard it all before’’. If the sport has never been short of one thing it is good intentions and lots of rhetoric. We will wait and watch, with optimism of course.
In summary last report I said the problems were primarily related to the following and this remains the case;
- The cost of keeping dogs, travelling to shows and training them especially in Germany because of the requirement for protection titles is huge.
- The great irony is that with the very best of intentions in publicly hammering home the schemes for hip and elbow dysplasia the general public has taken this as representing a huge health problem within the breed. Within Germany a great many people see the German Shepherd Dog as an unhealthy breed, a breed riddled with hip and elbow problems and that includes service providers who have turned to other breeds such as the Belgium Shepherd Dog.
- The German Shepherd Dog once upon a time was ‘extremely popular’ at a general public and service dog level because it was considered to be a healthy, strong, mentally reliable dog suitable for the family and service. Now a reputation ravaged and a reputation almost gone. The structural development of the breed which I have written about on my website www.louisdonald.com has trended in its frequency more and more and more toward a downward bend and curve to the lumbar spine, too long a lower thigh/tibia and consequently a lowered hip and knee position and overangulation of the hindquarter, by my definition of overangulation of the hindquarter and this was reinforced this year as a future increasing frequency trend for the breed.
- The general public see the German Shepherd Show Dog as a dog that is overangulated and ‘curved’ over the back. In their eyes they see a dog a dog that shuffles when it walks and is unstable when it runs but few people within the breed seem to care, indeed at an ‘authoritative’ level very few even talks about it! The retort by enthusiasts and the guardians when they hear anyone make a critical comment in this regard is ‘people outside the breed and many even within it know nothing, only we know’ our course is set, the trend is desirable, we can’t turn back’ and consequently structural exaggeration is probably here to stay! At this show I heard many comments from judges about ‘unstable hocks’ but rarely if indeed ever did I hear a reference to ‘overangulation’ of the hindquarters. It was as though the word ‘overangulation’ is not to be used, that overangulation at least my interpretation of it does not exist, and that unstable hocks and an overlong tibia do not inter relate!
I have to say this dismayed me more than one could possibly imagine. This was a message for the breed’s future that I did not think I would ever hear out of Germany but I did. It represented a fundamental victory for ‘show dogs’ over the fundamentals of ‘working dogs’ and a further significant ‘structural milestone’ in the breed’s development from a rectangle to an egg.
- Political factions. The only way change can come about is through strong, capable, idealistic and above all things competent management and support of that management and its leader. The problem is in the human race the inherent drive of self interest is much stronger than the inherent drive of idealism and individuals and often supported by their factions skillfully undermine anything and anybody who threatens their interests and or needs.
- Greed, self-interest, jobs and favours for the boys and politics. In many countries including Germany the extent of financial greed, satisfaction of self-interested wants, needs and political gain at the expense of the breed is breathtaking in its proportions. Too many people who put themselves forward as the breed’s guardians, very often people with great breed influence whilst clearly loving German Shepherd Dogs as a breed of dog are primarily motivated by the desire to benefit from the breed financially and or to satisfy their substantial ego’s and very often it is both. For these people, relatively small in number as they might be, the show enthusiasts who make up about 90% of exhibitors are no more than very necessary naïve fodder. Too often dogs are placed highly not because they deserved to be but because of who is on the end of the lead or who owns the dog, or to reciprocate a favour past or future, in effect they are favored to grease their wheel. Where years ago this greasing of the wheel was done with some sense of constraint, done with some degree of discretion and dare I say some manipulative skill, the level of arrogance today has risen to the point where the need for constraint and discretion is no longer required and this is because what they do in the ring or behind the scenes is no longer questioned or challenged, openly that is.
- One might ask the question how can such blatant open abuse of the sport and its enthusiasts continue and even grow? Fear of making a public comment is why. People who are disgusted or angry at what they see either walk away, as they are in droves, or say nothing out of fear of retribution. From judges themselves who fear losing future judging appointments, to a Breed Surveyor fearing getting no dogs to survey, to exhibitors many of whom are judges and the breeds guardians fearing the next time they show their dog retribution for expressing their opinion openly will ensue, and so publicly the majority say nothing, absolutely nothing and because nothing is said at any meaningful level everything is seen to be well on the surface and the self interested benefactors are smug in being able to say if things are bad, if people are unhappy they would say something but they don’t so that proves all is well. Those who are in a very small minority who do say something are openly and savagely criticized and ridiculed by the benefactors and their benefactors for being negative and destructive toward the breed and its institution, there is retribution and the problem continues unabated, but it continues with a profoundly damaging consequence.
- It is like a wharf’s timber pylon where above the waterline it looks as strong and robust as ever but under the water where it is unseen years of ravaging by worms has the pylon at the verge of collapse.