Monthly Archives: June 2008

Will the True Working Dog Disappear?

Fred Lanting

As most of you know, I have been involved with the German Shepherd Dog since 1947 as a trainer, breeder, judge, author, and teacher. My love for the breed is unquestionable and I count it an honor to have fought for its welfare and preservation for all these years. In my zeal for one of God’s great gifts to man, namely, the companionship and utility of dogs, I may step on some toes once in a while. But it never from spite or greed or self-aggrandizement that I call a spade a spade, and wish to correct error. Lately I have been railing against the deterioration of character in the show dog and the unwillingness of the working-only faction in the sport to make peace and use “gentle persuasion” in bringing the two communities back together.

For my usual show-and-tour description, look at “Impressions of the 2006 Sieger Show and Tour” on http://SiriusDog.com , www.angelfire.com/de3/jagenstadt/vonsalixHome.html , and http://www.aniwa.com/renvoie.asp?type=1&id=102350&cid=126426&com=1&lang=2&animal=1 , among other sites. In this companion piece, I want to extend those remarks and expand a bit on what the trends are in the world of the German Shepherd Dog. First, I’d like to give my modified definitions of the words type and style. The former word, especially when I capitalize it, refers to those essential, central characteristics that describe or illustrate the breed or an especially good representative of the Standard. The latter connotes the variation within and diverging a little from that ideal. Where the boundary line is between these words, is a matter of individual opinion.

We have already seen the loss of Type in the AKC dog and the old Alsatian GSDs. In England and its satellite colony-countries, this was caused almost entirely by the unfortunate quarantine system. When a species becomes isolated, it develops in such a way as to accentuate certain recessive traits and, by such inbreeding, fix a new type or style. My book, The Total German Shepherd, gives a good genetic explanation for this phenomenon. We cannot blame the rabies quarantine in the U.S., but isolation there is partly a matter of distance and cost. The great percentage of dogs do not go back and forth across the ocean for breeding and or competition, so the effect of isolation is just as bad. Maybe worse, since England’s proximity to the Continent and, later, the relaxing of those burdensome quarantine times, has allowed the international type to gain a position of prominence there. In North America, the home-bred AKC-style GSD is mostly a dog that very few people want. Instead of being Number One as it is in the rest of the world, it hovers closer to the bottom of the Top Ten in popularity. Canada might as well be considered another state in the USA, as bloodlines and clubs are almost indistinguishable.

In the other major quarantine region, Australasia, body style is still largely in the 1970s and `80s rut of the broken or banana-back topline that came about as a side-effect of the emphasis the Martin brothers put on rear drive, and (following their lead) the neglect by many top SV judges of the normal canine topline. It is improving, but the problem that remains is the Australian National Kennel Club, which is their all-breed registry and 1,000-kilo gorilla. The sport and proofing tool of Schutzhund has been banned by the all-breed club and the government, and the GSDClub of Australia has meekly gone along with them rather than put up a fight for the sake of uniting the breed or at least keeping it a true working-character dog.

So, what happens when the powers-that-be in Australasia, the AKC and CKC, The Kennel Club (UK), and smaller national dog registries have all that power to inhibit the training and competing with protection dogs? They make old Max von Stephanitz spin madly in his grave, for one thing. The breed was developed for the twin purposes of herding and protecting sheep, and protecting their owners and property. This expanded early into using their natural abilities for police and military work as well as Search and Rescue, and guides for the blind. The herding use has become an anachronism in this day of city growth and Border Collie replacement. Guide dogs are more likely to be Retrievers. Even the military and police dog jobs are being given to Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, and mixed breeds.

In the first 65 or 70 years of the breed, the German Shepherd Dog was one breed. The working qualities were stressed almost as much as the aesthetics were. Breeders put almost as much emphasis on training as on conformation. America still relied on imports to keep them reminded about what the GSD was supposed to look like and act like. About the same time that Americans were linebreeding extremely heavily on one dog with weak temperament (the mid-1960s), Germans were beginning to put all their eggs in the one “beauty basket”, at least those who wanted the prestige of a good rating at the Sieger Show.

For me, 1967 marked the biggest pot-hole and detour in the road the GSD had been traveling. In the USA, character was being ignored. The (U.S.) GSDCA’s Grand Victor of 1966 and 1968 produced a large percentage of “spooky” offspring. The 1967 Grand Victor also had a temperament problem and passed it along, notably to such weak dogs as his son the 1971 Grand Victor, as well as structural problems that became intensified due to unwise excessive linebreeding on him. One of the last German Siegers with really super breed character was 1967’s Bodo Lierberg, and he was passed over when he only got as far as Winners Dog (the chief non-champion class) at the American National Specialty that same year. That decision irrevocably skewed the course of the breed in the United States and Canada. After 1967, emphasis in Germany increasingly favored the exciting, driving gait over courage, and several dogs of questionable character strength (or at least, poor character in a large number of offspring) were rewarded with high placings, even Sieger, such as one notable choice in the mid-1990s. The gap was widening rapidly between working-dog and show-dog Type in this all-important feature.

And that gap kept widening. Despite new SV President Peter Messler’s stated desire to make it one breed again, we began to see many conformation-VA dogs with character weaknesses, and high-ranking Leistungs (schutzhund-trial) dogs with weak heads, extremely short croups, and upright fore-assemblies. These are OK for galloping, but not suited for endurance herding and therefore not representative of the historic body construction of the breed.

This trend is short-sighted, even suicidal. In Europe and elsewhere, there is a growing bias against the sport of schutzhund (protection and utility proofing) and the civilian and military/police jobs that this activity was designed to simulate. Why? Many causes. Population growth and career evolution has increased city residence and decreased locations to rear and train your dogs, even though Germany still has a club in easy driving distance in most regions. People elect politicians who are city-dwelling, non-dog-owners — in fact, many of them turn out to be actively anti-dog or easily swayed by the dog-haters such as in the Green Party and other pressure groups. Of course, long ago, the need for sheep-herding all-purpose guard dogs like the GSD started to wither and die, with less demand for wool than for synthetic fibers, and not much demand for lamb versus “factory animals” such as pigs, that demand less land. Besides, the wolves had disappeared and with no need to double as protection dogs, Border Collies are cheaper to maintain, and work at least as hard.

Even in the historic, almost sacrosanct use that gave the other nickname to the breed, “German Police Dog”, that job is being filled more and more by the Belgian Malinois and cross-breeds of that lithe, agile, and speedy dog. They have much lower incidence of hip dysplasia, which is extremely important when one realizes the great expense of training and the shortened useful lifespan that HD brings. Police schools used to depend mostly on donated dogs and purchases at reasonable prices, but GSD breeders generally were not willing to give away their best dogs nor sell them for less than a show-dog or sport-dog buyer would pay. Those schools that do not breed their own, can get good prospects from Malinois breeders at much lower prices than GSDs demand. Therefore, because of the SV’s famous slow (or no) recent progress in hip quality (in spite of more than two decades of PennHIP data), the inherently better hips and longer useful life of the average Malinois, maintenance costs, effete politicians who are more afraid of voters’ bites than that of the breeds they hate, the image of the brave GSD as a police and personal protection dog has been suffering mortal wounds.

That leaves only one small reclusive refuge for the aficionado of the “working dog”: the shrinking world of Schutzhund. As a rule, most of these people are primarily trainers, not breeders; they spend their time and energies in the tracking field, working obedience routines, and building confidence and technique in the bitework. A much smaller percentage or total number of this group breeds litters than we find in the world of the show dog and pet market. The size of the BSP and WUSV performance trials, when compared to the Sieger Show, attest to this. As inflation, living in cities, dog-hating politicians, television (yes, this brain-numbing scourge even exists in Europe) and other factors continue to attack the breed and the sport, the true working dog will suffer.

Shows and breeding of show dogs are also down. Attendance at Sieger shows, of both dogs and people, seems to be less in most recent years, so that even the small stadiums (the only ones available in these days of football schedules booking most dates) look relatively empty. BSP attendance is also down. A few years ago, top VA dogs were getting the maximum allowed number of matings, and now they are not reaching that limit. The situation in the sport dog is at least as bad, and since Schutzhund is the “little brother” in the GSD family, this sub-family in the breed will be hurt even more.

The only way out, the only hope of saving the breed, is to re-unite it. Bring back the two wings as they were in the days of Alfred Hahn and Rummel and yes, even von Stephanitz. How? Well, one step would be to require the conformation judges of the so-called “working dog” classes (Gebrauchshund) to watch the courage tests, perhaps scheduled earlier in the week, and have Leistungsrichters advise them when deciding on the choices of the VA dogs, as these are the ones that get the most breedings. Dogs with high IP scores should be spotlighted and these accomplishments taken into account. Maybe have the BSP before the Sieger Show instead of two weeks later as now occurs, with the judges of the Sieger Show required to watch every dog’s performance. Other innovative ideas should be employed that would encourage the sport dog to enter the conformation shows. Dogs should be moved up quite a few placings if they do good work at the courage test that is currently held on Friday of the Sieger Show weekend. It is a real shame that perhaps the best-working female at the 2006 Sieger Show, the Swedish bitch “Space Geanie”, was only given an SG; perhaps if the judge had seen her courage test, she would have been awarded the V she deserved. In males, the tremendous work of dogs like Nando Haus Vortkamp, a very dark sable sired by Buster Adelmannsfelder, should have been rewarded, not hidden from the conformation judge.

Each year, in the tour that I conduct prior to and following the Sieger Show, we visit a variety of kennels and training clubs: some showdog-oriented, some strictly competition performance. Most of my tour participants hold “the total dog” as their ideal, but all of them appreciate seeing both styles or specialties in the breed. As an SV conformation judge (Zuchtrichter) as well as having put schutzhund titles on numerous dogs, I want to see probable functionality reflected in the anatomy of a beautiful dog, but I also demand that character be the number-one trait for dogs allowed to breed.

In 2006, we were fortunate to meet with the breeders and trainers at Tiekerhook, Karthago, Pfalzerheide, Willems’ Reptrade, and a KNPV (Dutch Police Dog) club close to Amsterdam. Some of my group bought pups from a couple of these, as often happens. You can read about the whole tour on sites such as those listed above, but in this article, I’d like to give, as an example, a kennel that specializes in the working dog. That is, the work that would be suitable for police as well as personal protection and enjoyment. Koos Haasing of Tiekerhook, in the southeast corner of the Netherlands near Eindhoven and the German border, discussed his philosophies and methods over lunch and at his home, where we saw his latest litter and his super dog, Max. Later, he joined us at the training demonstration and practice at the Limburg club about an hour away, where his top dog was one of those demonstrating their abilities.

Koos is a semi-retired police officer, and the principal leader of a club where very difficult challenges are given to dogs in training, so that they would be prepared for anything they might encounter on the competition field and in real life. I have selected several photos of his Max v. Tiekerhook to accompany this article, as well as a couple of examples of poor performance by “show dogs” in the so-called “working” classes at the Sieger show we saw a few days after the visit with Koos.

A companion article, entitled “The Gap Widens” has been offered to websites and magazines, with more emphasis on the historical perspective.


[editor’s note]: Fred is an SV judge as well as a respected all-breed judge for several international registries, and has judged numerous countries’ Sieger Shows and Landesgruppen events. He presents seminars and consults worldwide on such topics as Gait-&-Structure, HD and Other Orthopedic Disorders, Anatomy, Training Techniques, and The GSD. He conducts annual non-profit sightseeing tours of Europe, centered on the Sieger Show (biggest breed show in the world). For tours or his books on Orthopedic Disorders or the GSD, contact him at “All Things Canine” consulting division, Willow Wood Services; 256-498-3319; or E-mail mr.gsd@netscape.com

BOOKS:

Canine HD and Other Orthopedic Disorders (new) by Fred Lanting
It covers all joints plus many bone disorders and includes genetics, diagnostic methods, treatment options, and the role that environment plays. This new “Hip Dysplasia and Other Canine Orthopedic Disorders” book is a comprehensive (nearly 600 pages!), amply illustrated, annotated, monumental work that is suitable as a coffee-table book, reference work for breeders and vets, and a study adjunct for veterinary students, for the dog trainer and the general dog owner of any breed. Order from the author or ask your book distributor.

The Total German Shepherd Dog by Fred Lanting
This is the expanded and enlarged second edition, a “must” for every true GSD lover. It is an excellent alternative to the “genetic history” by Willis, but less technical and therefore suitable for the novice, yet very detailed to be indispensable for the reputable GSD breeder. Chapters include: History and Origins, Modern Bloodlines, The Standard, Anatomy, The German Shepherd in Motion, Shows, Showing, and Training, The Winners, Nutrition and Feeding, General Care and Information, Health and First Aid, Parasites and Immunity, Diseases and Disorders, The Geriatric German Shepherd, Breeding, Basics of Genetics, Reproduction, Whelping, The First Three Weeks, Four to Twelve Weeks, Trouble-shooting Guide. Available from Hoflin.com or autographed from the author.

LEGG-CALVÉ-PERTHES DISEASE

by Fred Lanting

A disorder sometimes mistaken for hip dysplasia is Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, perhaps more frequently referred to by the dog fancier as “Legg-Perthes”. This is an aseptic (not infected), developmental necrosis (dying of tissue) of the femoral head and neck, found almost entirely in toy or other small breeds. On radiographs, it often looks as if the bone is “rotting away”, and lameness is the major or only symptom. It has a history in human medicine, too. In fact, that’s where it was first discovered in 1910 by three researchers working independently. Legg, Calvé, and Perthes each saw a flattening of the femoral head (coxa plana) in affected youngsters and thought that trauma was at the heart of its etiology.

Schnelle in the 1930s first saw the disorder in the canine in Wirehaired Fox Terriers, and Moltzen-Nielsen in Germany about the same time saw it mostly in the Wires but also in a few other breeds Since then, puppies of many other small, toy, and miniature breeds between 3 and 10 months of age have been affected.

Radiographic (“X-ray”) signs of Legg-Perthes are usually gross and the course and outcome discouraging, since many cases are not referred to the vet or the specialist for diagnosis until the dog has been limping for a long time or the disease has progressed to the point that it becomes a more real problem to the owner. These small dogs put so little weight on their tiny hip joints that they almost can compensate for discomfort by “walking on their forelimbs instead of their four limbs”. Many are “couch potatoes” or spend much time being carried, but even then, picking up an affected dog in a certain manner can put more pressure on the joint than does normal locomotion, so pain at that time is often the stimulus to do something about it. Owners have reported “incredible pain” and constant, progressive discomfort, inability to stay long in any one position, and bone lysis (loss through a process akin to dissolving or consuming) at other areas in the limb distal to the hip (further away, the opposite of proximal).

The earliest radiographic signs, should you look for them before they change, include an increased radiodensity (opacity as seen on the radiograph) in the lateral part of the epiphysis of the femoral header Lateral means the part away from the mid-line or medial; the “outside”. Resorption of necrotic (dying, rotting or decomposing) trabecular bone cells is next accompanied by a lysis (dissolving or being consumed) of bone. These are replacement attempts by the body, similar to the attempt to replace bone that takes place during HD remodeling; eventually there is fracture or collapse, like a frame house riddled by termites. As HD may or may not be concurrent, the congruity of the ball-and-socket coxofemoral joint might still be maintained until collapse. See pictures at the end of this article.


Cause


The most probable cause is a genetic weakness that allows abnormal or inadequate blood supply to the ossifying epiphyses. Those are the ends or caps of long bones that are changing from cartilage in the embryo to bone in the adult. Depending upon breed and particular bone portion, ossification is usually complete by 12 months of age. Compression/pinching of the blood vessels in that area leads to the necrosis (death) of cartilage and bone tissue. One unproven idea was that some of these little dogs have excess and premature levels of androgen and estrogen hormones that influence this process.


Treatment


Various treatments have been suggested but the usual one is excision (surgical removal) of the femoral head and neck, again with a similarity to one of the HD operations performed on dogs.

Conservative treatment (as opposed to “heroic measures” such as surgery) has been suggested for those unilaterally limping dogs (lame on only one side and supported well by the other limb) with good congruity and no collapse or deterioration. The dog’s worse limb is put into an Ehmer sling for a time, perhaps as much as a couple of months, then the dog is kept in a crate to minimize activity for another few weeks perhaps, during which time the dog is periodically radiographed. If this approach is successful, the resorbed bone is replaced in a normal manner and radiopacity returns, indicating normal bone cells and regained strength. In such cases, aseptic necrosis is halted and then reversed by keeping the dog’s weight off the limb. Lameness has been reported to cease in perhaps a quarter of dogs treated conservatively, but much of this estimate depends on owners’ reports rather than always being followed up by veterinary examination.

A syndicated column called “To Your Good Health” in the Clarksburg (WV) Telegram of June 30, 1994 included a brief discussion by Paul Donohue, M.D., responding to a reader’s request for advice. Her 8-year old child had recently been diagnosed with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease and she had seen no improvement after 3 months in a brace. By the way, human infants with HD are put into slings or casts which keep the legs spread apart until the joint begins to strengthen; did you know that people get HD, too? Anyway, Dr. Donohue told her that the Legg-Calvé-Perthes disorder involved a cutting off of the blood supply to the epiphysis (top part of the femur) and that it might take more than a year for the brace to rest the hip enough so that restoration of blood supply can help restore bone there. If unsuccessful after that long a wait, surgery may be needed, he advised. So you see, your dogs are not the only ones at risk for this problem.

Some of us may not have heard of any of our specific breeds diagnosed with Legg-Perthes yet, but that may be because, to many veterinarians, the radiograph looks like hip dysplasia, and it is not sent in to experts for diagnosis and recording of data. On the other hand, I have seen many HD cases mistakenly diagnosed as LCP. If you come across a case of Legg-Perthes in your breed, please report it (accurately, with name and address of person diagnosing it) to the health committee and/or magazine editor of your club.


Copyright, Fred Lanting, 1994. Permission to reprint available if the notice about the new orthopedics book is attached. If you don’t see these below, e-mail: Mr.GSD@NetScape.com for copies. The following or similar notice should also accompany the article:
The new “Canine HD and Other Orthopedics Disorders” book is here! The long-awaited expanded revision now in its second printing is a comprehensive (nearly 600 pages!), amply illustrated, annotated, monumental work that is suitable as a coffee-table book, a reference work for breeders and veterinarians, and a study adjunct for veterinary students. Be sure to look for the blue cover. Do not confuse it with the much smaller out-of-print 1980 work. $73 ppd in the USA. Combine orders with “The Total German Shepherd Dog” by the same author ($50 plus postage). 17 of the 20 chapters are suitable for owners of any breed.
(c) Fred Lanting, mr.gsd@netscape.com . The author is an international dog show judge and lecturer on such topics as canine orthopedic problems, gait-&-structure, the evolution of the modern GSD, and other topics. Seminars can be arranged.

The Sieger Show Courage Test – Origin and Purpose

by Fred Lanting


Taken for granted in almost all WUSV-member GSD clubs worldwide, and with similar tests in other breeds, the courage test that makes up about a third of the activities at the annual BSZS (Bundessieger Zuchtschau, or German Sieger Show) is treated differently according to country. Some countries’ national breed club require the test at every specialty show, some at just the major shows during the year, some just at the “annual national” show. And in some countries, clubs somehow manage to hang onto WUSV membership despite the facts that they ignore the mandated test or are forbidden to use it, by their nation’s government-run or government-pressured all-breed club.

Before we get into the description of how the courage test is performed and why it is needed, you should know something about “where I’m coming from”. My first GSD in 1947, in New Jersey, was an “immigrant” or the son of an import – unfortunately, all records were lost. I had many GSDs since then, both “German” and “AKC” lines, mostly the former. I have owned offspring of Gin Lierberg, Uran Wildsteigerland, Lance of Fran-Jo, Timo Berrekasten, grandsons of Cello Romerau, Bernd Kallengarten, and many more. I have trained innumerable dogs for myself and others in AKC-type obedience as well as Schutzhund (all of them so-called “show-dogs”), and am a member of the somewhat elite USA SchH-3 Club. As a professional handler I have put championships and high V-ratings on many dogs. I have had hundreds of puppies, and many years experience as a canine behaviorist and consultant. I have judged and lectured in some 30 countries and have seen the gamut of training and club requirements for shows and breeding. I am the author of “The Total German Shepherd Dog” as well as several other books. Not bragging, just saying how blessed I’ve been in this sport. Sometimes one has to re-establish one’s credentials, because the nature of the dog sport is that there are perpetually novices added to its ranks who don’t know us old-timers, and there are also “perpetual novices” who’ve been around a long time but still “don’t get it”.

With this background, and a long history of conducting annual tours of Europe centered on the Sieger Show, and including visits to trainers and training clubs, I don’t think there are many still active who have as much exposure to the breed in all its facets. I believe firmly that von Stephanitz’ dream of the total dog should continue to be respected. My ideal (and I’ve owned several examples) is the “golden middle” that can make me happy in both anatomy and character, both gait and performance. And so I emphasize to my tour groups the importance of seeing for yourself the character demonstrated by the conformation competitors, the preliminary and prerequisite courage test being held on the first day, Friday. Those that pass can then go to the next part of the grounds for the standing exam and gaiting, with the preliminary ranking assigned at that time. Those that do not meet the minimum performance standards go back to their dog trailers and sit out the rest of the show weekend, then home for better training or for sale to a country like India, Australia, or another where the test is not required, or where it is thought it might be easier to pass it. There aren’t many of those anymore.

There are two exercises that make up the courage test, being excerpts and modifications from the Schutzhund Phase C (protection) routine. There is a little bit more leniency, with the judges a little more forgiving in regard to correct heeling, number of times the “Out!” command is allowed, and how close the handler gets to the dog before yelling it, but basically, the worst passing performances resemble the work of the lowest-scoring dogs in a regular schutzhund trial. It should be said somewhere that there are different terms for this SchH title, ranging from VPG to IP or IPO, but it will be a long time before trainers lose the traditional name of the sport. The first half of the test is the “attack (on handler) from the blind”, and the second part is the “long attack”.

Come with us, now, as we (a team of handler and dog) do the exercises at such a show. First, a few teams are lined up outside the large field, which is usually about the size of half or ¾ of a soccer field, waiting their turns. As the preceding team exits via a different gate, and the judge announces their status as “pass” or “fail” and (if they pass) whether the dog was “pronounced” (ausgeprägt) or just barely “present” (vorhanden), the next team walks to the starting point. The judge gives an indication that he is ready for them to begin, and the handler heels his dog to the next marker, at least five paces from the first blind that is a bit to one side, stops with dog sitting, and removes the leash. There is a helper (“bad guy”) hiding in the blind, which of course the dog fully knows, but is supposed to act surprised when the helper pops out in a very threatening attack on the handler.

The team, upon a nod or gesture from the judge, starts heeling off-lead in the general direction of the blind. Most dogs that properly continue heeling show considerable desire to leave when the opportunity (threat) appears; in fact, most will eagerly crouch with lowered head as they heel, because by thus lowering the center of gravity, they can spring forward with more power and initial speed when that happens. In an accompanying photo, you can see my friend Andrew Masia with his Leri Unesco doing just that, on the way to the off-leash marker. Andrew is an experienced trainer, and does not need the leash even when it is allowed. I trained and titled a bitch for him, once, when he was too busy working.

As they get near, the attacker runs out, waving his stick (and usually being noisy). The dog immediately, without any command being needed from the handler, charges at the bad guy to intercept him and thereby protect his master. The bite on the sleeve should be immediate and convincing, and when the struggle ends, the dog is to release, with no more than 3 commands allowed (including the dog’s name). The count on the “commands” is frequently a little bit flexible. After the dog outs, the handler is permitted to walk up to them and retrieve (heel off with) his dog. He heels to the far end of the field while helper #1 disappears.

When the team gets to the marker at the end, they turn and face the originating part of the exercises. From another far part of the field, helper #2 trots along, while the handler shouts at him to get off his property, turns toward the dog-handler team and starts running fast and furiously, again with threatening shouts and stick-waving. The handler releases his seated, eager dog, the dog tears down the field and flies through the air at the end, to hit the helper and latch onto the sleeve. The good helper knows how to catch the dog by “giving”, the way a baseball player catches a fast pitch so he does not have a hard impact. The most applause comes when a hard-hitting dog is caught high and swung around in the air to be set down relatively gently on the ground behind the helper. That shows really pronounced drive and enjoyment of the work.

Again, the struggle stops, the dog releases with (usually) or without command. I like to train my dogs to “out” on their own when the fight stops, without a command from me. Some handlers have to scream at the top of their lungs, hoping the dog remembers how to count up to three and then obey. Then the judge allows the handler to approach the helper and retrieve his dog. In the courage test, there are many irregularities or straying from perfection that would cost the schutzhund trial competitor several points, but here it is just pass or fail. If the work is not convincing, if the dog is weak or reluctant, he may get a “vorhanden”, meaning he can only get an SG (very good) in the conformation show, not a V (excellent).

There are two photos I sent with this article that show something you might not notice at first glance. Andrew’s “Little Man” (Unesco) is doing the “first-half” of the protection exercise with one helper, and the back-half with a different helper. The first one is left-handed, so he wears a sleeve on his right arm, something very few dogs get a chance to see. It was a surprise to many dogs who are used to coming at an attacker from a certain direction and the threat coming out of their left side of the blind. Most adjusted very quickly to the “strange” arm being presented.

After the German Sieger Show tour that I led (an annual event for me) a professional photographer gave me permission to use some of his excellent shots. Very incidentally, part of my tour group was in the background in the stadium in many of them. In one picture, I’ve outlined in white where we were sitting; the dog is just on the verge of letting go as the struggle has just stopped. Credit for these stadium shots: Franck Haymann, www.aniwa.com . The picture with the helper wearing a number 3 and doing what looks like a dance routine features Solo v Team-Fiemereck. Helper # 5 and handler 1045 shows the 2004 V-1 Karat’s Ulk doing the after-struggle guard from the down position, which is useful to teach dogs that don’t really want to out and then remain so close to the tempting sleeve. Ulk was pulled before conformation judging in order to give another Karat’s dog a chance at the VA rating, a very unwise ploy, since the second dog did not get higher than V-1 anyway, and Ulk would almost certainly have been VA if only they had bothered to get a German breed survey on his dam. Some folks must have been kicking themselves in the rear-end all the way home after that show! Number 1068, Torro Barenwald, is shown in a very nice, correct, attentive guarding mode while the handler comes to pick him up.

There are always a few working-lines dogs that compete in the Sieger Show. One is pictured resting in the vendor area just outside the stadium. Usually these dogs bred strictly for working competitions place far back in the pack, around 110th place or further back. That’s because they are not as highly selected for the proportions, front angulation, long croups, etc. which show-line breeders are always trying to perfect. Most are there to show off (their routines are usually head-and-shoulders above those of the show dogs that get far less practice sharpening their protection skills) or to place highly enough to earn points toward the Universal Sieger title. This is an honor given to high scoring dogs at the annual German and international schutzhund prüfung trials who also do well in the breed ring. In 2005, the judge of the males decided that every dog competing was worthy of a V (excellent) rating, and gave no SG or lower ratings. Of course, that included only those that qualified in the preliminary courage test.

One more picture might be included, at your editor’s pleasure: a working police department dog in Nanjing, China, where I judged a couple of shows in 2004, is properly and safely caught by a military helper and is being set down. You can see that there is very definitely a practical aspect and history to the courage test as it is carried out in a similar though more formalized manner than in real-life police or military situations.

In the very few places where courage is not tested or thought to be a requirement for a breedable GSD, this very practical aspect of breed selection (suitability for service in police, military, or personal protection) is kept at arm’s length by the people in charge of the show-line dogs. In Australia and its smaller copycat New Zealand, the officials of the GSDCA (GSD Club of Australia) are afraid of government repression and the threat of mandatory neutering (as had been the law not that many years ago when there was a breed ban on the GSD). They are ruled by the ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council), a quasi-governmental body heavily controlled by national politicians. The State politicians also get into the act, adding their own repressive anti-dog, anti-sport laws on a more local level. Many feel it is a case of the tail wagging the dog, and instead of the government being the servant of a free people, it is the master instead, able to dictate more severe limits on individual liberties than in some other countries. But as long as the citizens vote for such “governors”, they deserve what they get. Europe has long been sliding in the direction of less freedom for dog owners, and America is also slipping in that direction, though still far behind.

What is the purpose of the courage test in today’s societies? If you acknowledge that character is historically the primary feature of the German Shepherd Dog, the answer is obvious: it is to provide a proofing tool (that’s what the word prüfung means) to weed out the weakest temperaments and least useful individuals, and by such population genetic pressure, maintain the true German Shepherd Dog. We don’t expect every GSD to be used in police or military work, but neither should it degenerate into a foo-foo breed and lose its identity. Even before Europe’s growth of cities, decline in wolf and other predators, and less need for sheep herding, von Stephanitz established the breed as the preeminent guard and protection dog for families as well as for all manner of civil and official work, from customs and border patrol to searching for lost children or escaped criminals. History has shown that degeneration in such working character follows the lack of genetic selection pressure for the necessary traits. The courage test is primarily an exercise in obedience with willingness and ability to defend the owner. In fact, the whole schutzhund routine is more an obedience test and demonstration than a show of biting or fighting.

What is the future of “protection as selection”? Mostly downhill, thanks to non-dog-owners being elected to political office. But, in the USA there is a movement called “My Dog Votes” (no spaces between words, if you are doing a Google search) with citizens of all political stripes uniting to campaign against politicians who pass laws that are detrimental to the full enjoyment of dog ownership, including the highly rewarding and satisfying sports represented by schutzhund. The anti-dog forces of PETA and HSUS are well financed by air-headed celebrities with more dollars than sense, and it will be a long, bitter battle. In Europe, Australasia (Oz and NZ), and individual communities in the U.S., there are breed-specific laws written by idiots who don’t understand the first thing about dogs, human nature, or logic.

National and State laws (and lawmakers) must be traded in for better ones. As one friend from the land of Oz told me, “Our people cannot tell the ANKC to go away, or they would not be allowed to show any of these dogs in the regular conformation ring (as opposed to the Main Breeds ring).” I don’t quite understand the difference between those two, despite having judged numerous times Downunder. Continuing with the quote: “We believe it is very important that top-quality GSDs also appear in the regular conformation classes whenever we can tempt their owners to enter them. Otherwise the divide [between show and working/sport dogs] becomes even wider. Not many of them bother of course, but those that do are much valued and give us an idea of where the breed stands -interestingly enough, many of them do enjoy the ‘ordinary’ shows once they try them.” This was in response to my partly tongue-in-cheek suggestion that “Your GSD folks should just tell the ANKC to go away, and join the WUSV instead (whole-heartedly).” Right now, the GSDCA in Australia is resisting being a member in more than just the name; in effect, they are resisting the Standards of anatomy and performance, which in the majority of countries are inseparable.

In England, a very interesting development is unfolding at this moment. One of the three major GSD clubs in the U.K., the GSD League, is a WUSV member. But it has been in a similar position as Australasia until now, bowing to The Kennel Club in outlawing schutzhund activities anywhere near its name. Now, the management of GSDL have worked out some sort of merger or close-ties agreement with the BSA (British Schutzhund Association). Details on the evening news, I guess, but as of this writing, it is indeed a hopeful sign. Some problems persist, though. Many of the most active GSDL members and officers were caught off-guard and knew nothing of this until word bounced back from overseas bloggers and others. Another problem is that there is still the BAGSD (British Assoc. of GSDs) club that has been a rival organization and has close ties with The KC. And of course, there is the dying “breed” known as the Alsatian fanciers who still have something of a diminished following. It will be very interesting if the KC will allow this flexing of muscle, or clamp down the way the ANKC has so far.

Regardless of what happens in the Queen’s flower gardens up close or back yard down-under, the rest of the world is staying the course, using the schutzhund trials (even if renamed IP or VPG) and the shortened courage tests as selection tools to keep the breed on the right track as much as possible, given the wide variety of interests in the game.



Copyright 2005, Fred Lanting, mr.gsd@netscape.com
Articles on www.SiriusDog.com and many other sites. “Google me”, too.

Let’s Talk Breeding and Training

By Fred Lanting

The title of this article stems from a discussion list or website group in the U.K. with the name “Let’s Talk Breeding”. One of its subscribers said she couldn’t “sit by and listen to foolishness without speaking up.” While the forum is admirably open-ended, “designed to allow all sides of an issue to be voiced”, this gives much opportunity for promulgation of ignorance, spaced-out weirdness, incredible claims, unscientific conclusions, and the like. There is always this difficulty of finding our ways between the extremes of total libertarianism (anarchy?) and rigid governmental-type control. Think of a journey down a fairly broad valley with those extremes being the mountains on both sides. Either you allow all sorts of crazies to speak as loudly as reasoned voices (one mountain range) or you disallow any voicing of opinion other than the “party line” (the other mountain range). The latter is how communist and the equally murderous African/Islamic/Latin/third-world regimes have operated all these many years and only a few of these are crumbling, others rising anew from the lava core of human nature. In this valley, there are many changes of scenery and degrees of slope toward one or the other range.

There are many in this valley who attempt to play the role of peacemaker, and say that “the only way for anyone to make an educated decision is by understanding or at least being aware of the opposing views”. But they (we) often have rocks hurled at them from those further up both slopes. Sometimes the arguments get downright silly and based on woeful ignorance of canine psychology, which is both my subject and forte in this instance. For example, in the UK, there is currently raging a tempest in a teapot over whether dogs should be crated. Ever. Never, say some. They cry that “the idea of crates [is] evil, spaying/neutering unhealthy, and that anyone who uses any type of force other than a cootchie-coo is inhumane”. Of course, many of us have seen abusive conditions in which dogs spend almost all of their lives in crates, and I would side with the activists complaining about that, but the vast majority of dog people using crates (the airlines call them “kennels”) do so wisely and effectively. Crates help train puppies in housebreaking, chewing, and other mischievous activities they would otherwise get into when you are busy with something else. Crates give dogs a “safe place” just like the caves their ancestors used to keep from being trampled on or molested while they nap. Crates keep a dog from being bounced around in a car when you have to brake or turn suddenly. They enable you to take more than one dog with you to training, visiting, and other activities and are infinitely safer than tying the dog up to a tree or lamppost while you exercise or compete with the other dog. The problem is that too many who are soft in the heart are also a little soft in the head, and tend to anthropomorphize excessively, likening a crate to being in some medieval, dank, rat-infested sewer of a dungeon.

One apparent voice of reason reportedly has been banned from one UK site due to “calmly, logically and with research refuting statements that are either erroneous, misleading or have no basis.” I have experienced the same exile or being placed on “moderation” (probation) on one or two e-mail discussion groups that I had thought and hoped were going to be open to differences of opinion, even if slightly strongly worded. I used to be very impatient, but in my 50s I went through a mellow stage. Now, after continually hearing the same foolishness for far too long, I am growing impatient again. Sometimes I feel like saying “Don’t these dummies want to listen or learn?” I believe that is truly the case. In this post-literary age, when TV and Internet and fast-foods and DINKS (double-income-no-kids — or at least no parental supervision of same) have made instant gratification a way of life in even the flood of information we swim in, people have largely abandoned both logic and listening. When was the last time you heard of a school teaching classes in logic? When was the last time you got the impression in a supposed conversation that the other person was actually listening to you and your ideas, rather than just waiting for an opportunity to speak?

The other topics that, strangely, have been occupying the worry-time of Brits and other Europeans are not world famine or peace, but tail docking and the pros and cons of neutering/spaying. One of my UK correspondents (not correspondents!) said that when it was mentioned in some communiqués that puppies and kittens are spayed at eight weeks by some U.S. vets, “there was an outcry that would make you think the world was ending.” Such a reaction is very curious to those of us living in the land of convenience foods and instant gratification, especially coming from a U.K. citizenry that believes docking tails is cruel and anything more than an instant of pain. I don’t hunt with docked dogs, but I have seen many a litter docked, and handled dogs for people who’ve reported repeated injury to some breeds’ undocked tails. I’m not getting into the argument of how damaging it can be to leave the tail on, but I know what I have seen, and the pups that have their tails cut off whether by hatchet, scalpel, or thumbnail (I’ve seen all three!) are no worse off right away or throughout life than dogs that step on a thorn that is pulled out right away. Even if I did not live in rural Alabama, where hunting is a way of life for many and is a needed way to keep certain wildlife from populating themselves into starvation or environmental disaster, I could not go along with those who decry docking for reasons of suffering – it’s a red herring, it’s a non-issue. But the extremists want to ban all hunting with dogs everywhere, even to the point of fines “over there” if your dog catches a rabbit or squirrel. Dogs no longer can work as they were meant to do, if such draconian measures are adopted. And they are. Unfortunately, most politicians are not dog owners and I include the few who allow their wives and kids to have a little foo-foo “dog” on their laps, yet politicians love to make laws that infringe on the lives of others. That’s the definition of the word politics: power, over other people. It’s also the definition of tyranny.

In the U.S., another storm that is always roiling is between the “show lines” and the “working lines” in what is supposed to be the same breed. In the U.K., Australia, and one or two other countries, “Schutzhund” is a dirty word, but in Germany, the U.S., and the rest of the world, it is a major facet of both the dog sport and the proofing of character. Unfortunately, the dichotomy persists despite the efforts of many to bring the two camps together. In the U.S. we have a vociferous and active Schutzhund movement domineered by what I call the “scores-only” mentality. It doesn’t matter greatly to them if the dog looks like a Malinois, coyote, Dutch Shepherd, wolf, or GSD; only how well it performs on the Schutzhund fields is important. On the other extreme is the “show-only” crowd, most of whom are concentrated in the far-out, non-mainstream GSDCA. For the benefit of my overseas readers, I must interject an explanation of these two particular groups before continuing. In the U.S., there are two breed clubs purporting to speak for the breed. Both are members of the W.U.S.V. The voting member unfortunately (by dint of negligence on the part of the rival club) is the GSDClub of America, which is a member club of AKC. The AKC in turn has a “working relationship” with FCI, similar to that of the UK’s “The Kennel Club”. The other breed club is United Schutzhund Clubs of America, which as the name implies, started as a sports club; it held its first conformation Sieger Show in 1990, if I remember rightly. They prefer the acronym USA, although the SV refers to them as USCA. The GSDCA does not adhere to or even acknowledge the international (WUSV) breed standard, while USA follows in almost every footstep taken by the SV, in all matters. It does not have any relationship with FCI (the FCI works with only one national club per country, as if all countries were socialist in which government “ownership”, control, or sanctions is necessary for validity). As a result, GSDCA leadership, or should I say lack thereof, has caused a noticeable shift in average phenotype in “AKC-Shepherds” away from the international look, the dog that is seen almost everywhere else in the world. This slide started in the late-1960s, when we still had many great-looking but “standard” examples of the breed, but also were seeing many unrepresentative examples being given easy championships (and thus breeding status) at shows judged by an AKC coterie of unknowledgeable judges; these were selected from the ranks of Poodle and Bulldog breeders and others who knew how to read the Standard and pass a written test. Today, the stereotypical AKC Shepherd is anything from a last-place finisher to a laughing stock when it is seen competing in international-type shows under knowledgeable, apprenticeship-trained judges.

Anyway, a flap in USA/USCA circles not many years ago was over whether a person should be permitted to breed according to his knowledge and experience, or meet certain artificial prerequisites laid out by “the breed police” (most of whom have an abysmal lack of experience in anything other than training a dog or two toward a Schutzhund title). A controversy on at least one e-mail “list” has been over some members of their community breeding dogs that are untitled (by which is meant the Schutzhund affix). Some of the novice upstarts have gotten all bent out of shape because a few more experienced people have occasionally bred a bitch or dog without the SchH title. Yet some of them would have no objection to breeding a dog that could only place in the last third or tenth, etc., of its conformation class, as long as it had those magic letters after its name. Even if it could only manage a Koerklasse-2. As long as it had good scores in its trials, especially the bitework part. I know of older, well-versed breeders who are much more qualified and able to make good decisions regarding pairings, and who are castigated for using dogs that would certainly be able to earn those titles, but for good enough reasons have not. Some owners feel the rigors of training late at night in all kinds of weather are not worth the effort and would not tell them anything more about their dogs than they can see in daily life. Some of us live too far away from training clubs (I know of some who drive 4 hours one way to go to training, as I have!) and others do not have a decent protection-phase “helper” to work with. But just let a wealthier “scores-only” compatriot send his dog to Germany (whether for minimal training and a “midnight trial” or not), and that dog is accepted by this group!

My argument with the fringe element in the working-dog community is based on the fact that I do train the dogs I keep, but I am not averse to using an untitled dog if it contributes to the breed and my program. I also make sure they have great character, hips, breed surveys, and anatomy. The only person to whom I have to prove anything is myself. I know what I see, am a darned-good dog psychologist and trainer, and a consultant in canine behavior. Nobody was forced to buy my occasional puppies, but those who do have their own option as to titling. Titles are but tools and proofs, but preserving the breed is done by preserving the best genes and combining them wisely. The titles are merely clothing and badges worn by the genes. I use them, but I do not put them above the dog’s inherent qualities. The important thing is the essence of the dog: the genes, not the uniform, medals, ribbons, accessibility to helpers and training clubs, or other paraphernalia. I get pleasure out of producing good representatives of the breed. Any that I sell and claim to be good Schutzhund potentials will indeed be so. Whether my co-owners or customers actually put the titles on them is secondary. Nice, but not necessary. Titles do not change the dog. Repeat: titles do not change what is in the dog’s character or genes. I have competed & trained intensively since 1966, and have won in conformation with clients’ dogs that never should have won because of character or other flaws, and I likewise have seen innumerable working-titled dogs that should never be in the gene pool. I know how to preserve the breed, and it isn’t by using those fakes.



Copyright 2005 Fred Lanting, Canine Consulting. mr.gsd@netscape.com
All rights reserved. Please view his dogs on angelfire.com/de3/jagenstadt/vonsalixHome.html -(or)- siriusdog.com/

The author has had years of experience as a conformation judge for AKC, SV, UKC, and many other registries, and regularly trains his dogs in Schutzhund, trying to live up to the title of his book “The Total German Shepherd Dog” (Hoflin). He consults as a behavioral analyst and training coach, and gives seminars on canine anatomy & gait as well as orthopedic problems (he is the author of the new book on HD and Other Orthopedic Disorders). Books can be ordered and lectures can be scheduled: mr.gsd@netscape.com or 256-498-3319.

Front and Rear Angulation in the Working Dog

by Fred Lanting

Dog
breeds are grouped – often arbitrarily or erroneously – into from five to ten categories based on function, superficial appearance, or geographical origin, depending on the registry organization. Just because it may make more sense to assign them to groups based primarily on ancestry and then on historical function, does not mean that such will be the case. In most dog circles, the “working” breeds have always been considered as those that originally did such work as herding or guarding livestock, pulling loads, and protecting property. Even though other breeds had specific occupations in the service of man, they are not known as working breeds: sighthounds running down prey or predators, gundogs flushing food for the table, terriers and toys terrorizing vermin – these were more or less doing what they would do without human ownership, anyway, so their jobs were considered less like “work”.

Many dog organizations split the huge Working Group into two, with the ones that had historical development for tending, driving, or bunching flocks and herds being called “Herding breeds”. Never mind the confusion about whether the reindeer-herding Samoyed is hardly much different from the sled-pulling Husky – that’s a puzzle for another time. Most of the Group that did not resemble the mastino-type wagon puller or the bear-fighting wooly flock guardian type were once employed to
trot around the animals raised by man for his food, and assigned to the herding subcategory. These latter were specialists in trotting, in covering much ground with the most efficiency (least effort). This
meant that success favored those with the most shoulder angulation over those with the stiffer, more vertical front ends.

When we speak of a shoulder in a dog, we usually include a lot more than just the scapula (shoulder blade) – although the flat, broad bone is often the center of attention. No part of a dog exists alone,
not even those “floating” bones such as the hyoid, sesamoid, clavicle, patella and penile bones, all of which are connected to muscles and other bones by ligaments and tendons. The shoulder is intimately related to most other portions of the foreassembly or “forequarters”, from the skull to the ribs, from vertebrae to arm and breastbone.

The scapula does not articulate with any bones at its top, but is attached by four muscles to the spinal column at a number of places from the first cervical to the ninth thoracic vertebra and to the first seven or eight ribs. This is the case whether the dog is steep-shouldered or well-laid back, so differences between the two types must be due to minor differences in scapula and humerus lengths and ratios; perhaps the lengths of the vertebrae; and the tightness and condition of the ligaments and muscles that hold the bones in their positions.

At the most forward and lowest portion of the scapula is a shallow socket in which articulates the head of the upper arm (humerus). This area, especially the humeral greater tubercle that protrudes in front of the articulation, is called the “point of the shoulder”. Running roughly up the center of the blade from that point nearly to the top is a ridge of bone known as the spine of the scapula. The lowest and thickest section of that spine close to the socket is the acromion. See Figure 2. There are several muscle groups attached to the scapula. Don’t be frightened by their names; use abbreviated nicknames if you stumble over pronunciation. What matters is that you know what action each gives to the blade and the entire limb, and where the muscles are attached.

The first of these is the triangular trapezius muscle originating on the bones and ligaments of the vertebral column from the third cervical (neck) vertebra to the ninth thoracic vertebrae. Its insertion is on the spine of the scapula. Since part of this thin broad muscle lies forward of the ridge it is attached to, and part extends to the rear, it can easily be seen that its function is primarily to
elevate the limb. It also brings the arm forward and helps in changing the angle of layback during movement. The omotransversarius starts from the first cervical vertebra (the atlas) next to the back of the skull, dips beneath the other muscles of the neck, which extend to the sternum and arm, then attaches to the scapular spine near the acromion. Its obvious action is to draw the limb forward and rotate the bottom of the scapula forward while other muscles are trying to hold the rest of it in place. Knowing that, you can easily understand why a dog trotting in the show ring isn’t going to extend its forelimbs in ideal or equal reach if it has its head turned toward its handler. Nor will it cover as much ground if it trots with its head held high instead of forward and slightly above back level. Yet terrier and cocker dog-show handlers are notorious for the silly spectacle in which their dogs often barely touch the floor with their front paws!

Beneath the trapezius lies the rhomboideus muscle, which originates on the vertebrae from near the head to about the sixth or seventh thoracic vertebra. Its insertion is along the edge of the scapula, farthest from the acromion. Because of its wide origin, it can lift the limb upward, pull the limb and shoulder forward or backward and draw the scapula against the rib cage, depending on which portions are ennervated (stimulated by nerve impulses.)

The muscle filling the space in front of the scapular spine is called the supraspinatus, and it is attached to the top of the humerus. Thus, you can envision it straightening out the shoulder-arm angle and bringing the limb forward. The (behind the spine) will either flex or extend the shoulder joint, depending on the position when the muscle contracts. It also is inserted on the humerus. Other muscles include the infraspinatus, serratus, teres, deltoideus, and sub-scapularis; all play some parts in moving the scapula in relation to the ribs, vertebrae or upper arm.

Now that you have a little more understanding of the muscles and their actions on the bones, let’s get back to the subject of angulation. Some of what follows is similar to an excerpt from my book, The Total German Shepherd Dog.


The Front


Variously called the front assembly, forequarters, or shoulder, the whole combination made by the shoulder blade (scapula), upper arm (humerus), breastbone (sternum), and their related soft tissues is at the heart of much poor movement in dogs the world over.

Shoulder assembly – The least understood and most controversial portions of the AKC and most other Breed Standards relate to the angles proscribed for the forequarters and hindquarters. I disagree with the angles commonly reported to be ideal in the shoulder area, though much of the discrepancy may be a matter of how that angle is usually measured. To specify angles is useless unless exact points of reference are not only agreed upon but also easily determined. Since the bones forming these angles are curved, such “landmarks” as (1) the highest point of the scapula, (2) the foremost point of the upper arm where it meets the shoulder, and (3) the topmost point of the elbow should be used as well as a detailed illustration decided upon. Without X-ray vision, we need to rely on our fingers.

None of the editions or versions of the AKC Standard for the German Shepherd Dog has been sufficiently explanatory, nor have they been so in other breeds. Many years ago I radiographed standing dogs and found that what I had been reading in books and seeing in artists’ drawings was not true, even though I had already discovered that by digital palpation of bones and joints.

Many people hear and even use terms without a good understanding of their meanings. See my article on “topline” for another example of this. What is “shoulder layback?” Many dog fanciers are not sure. See Figure 1. It is the front-to-back inclination of the shoulder blade, seen and felt when one touches both the point of the shoulder and the top of the scapula or the withers at the same time. The withers is the area atop the shoulder from where the neck ends to where the “true back” begins. In most dogs, the last cervical vertebrae and the first thoracic vertebrae are down between the shoulder blades, so you might not be able to feel them, especially in well-muscled dogs. The withers is thus a transition stage between the neck’s relatively upright carriage and the nearly level back called for in most working breeds. (I use the term “working” in the utilitarian sense, and especially refer to the herding breeds.) The beginning judge (or the one evaluating heavily-coated breeds) often checks and compares layback by running his thumbs down the spine of the scapula. That line is almost parallel to, and only an inch or so behind, the envisioned line from the highest point of scapula to point of shoulder. Even so, among novices there is usually great disparity between what the fingers feel and what the mouth spouts!

In examining the standing dog, the good layback of 35 or 30 degrees can be determined either by feeling that line of the slope of the scapular spine, or by palpating those points mentioned above, and imagining a line between these points. These two sloping lines will be essentially parallel, so take your choice; in either case, you will have approached the question more scientifically. By observing the facts for yourself you will be able to arrive at a conclusion or hypothesis. The sooner we understand what is as opposed to what we imagine, the sooner we’ll understand how to get the most out of our dogs. Feeling that scapular spine is more difficult in a heavily muscled breed such as the Rottweiler.

The often-heard call for a 45-degree shoulder layback plus another supposed 45-degree angle to the “line” of the upper arm, equaling a 90-degree shoulder angle, is inaccurate and misleading. If lines are drawn on a radiograph or a sketch, along the scapular spine and down the center of the humerus as they usually are, a 90-degree angle in the real, live dog standing there before you will never be realized. Since the time I started challenging this notion, there have been noted authorities who have corroborated my claims with independent research, but it will be a long time before the old books are all revised and longer still before writers do their own investigative work instead of copying sketches from each other. One of the better drawings of the “ideal” (according to American tastes) German Shepherd Dog ever made in this country is Lloyd Fanning’s which appeared in the Review and in an early, small booklet on the breed published by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America. Strange, that so many have used incorrect representations instead of this fairly accurate sketch. An even better sketch is available from the SV and appears in many posters and magazines owned by those who appreciate the international (German) type.

If you draw your line (on a radiograph or in your mind) from point of shoulder to the highest part of the ulna that we call the point of the elbow (leaving the humerus to do so), you get points of reference you can see and feel. Now draw your second imaginary line from point of shoulder to top of shoulder blade. The angle between is closer to 90 degrees than if you tried to imagine and use a line going through the shaft of the humerus, but you still don’t get a right angle, even with the best laid-back shoulder blades. That touted right angle cannot be attained by drawing your lines down the middle of the upper arm on a radiograph. Whether or not you have x-ray vision, you will not be able to agree where a “center” line of this slightly curved, well-padded bone is!). In my live-dog illustrated lecture, “Analytical Approach to Evaluating Dogs”, I show where the lines can connect palpable points by drawing chalk lines on dark, short-coated canine volunteers. Even without using a protractor, my audiences can see the fallacies of those printed standard specifications. See Figures 1 and 4.

Sketches in my book on the breed represent the typical German Shepherd with a good shoulder. Dogs with better reach and a floating gait have close to the same angles and layback. I suspect much more credit for such gait lies in the muscles and ligaments than has been imagined, measured, or hinted at in the past. And of course, desire and drive make a big difference, too. In actuality, the ideal shoulder with an angle approaching that much-vaunted “90-degree” number (from point of elbow to point of shoulder to highest point on scapula) has about a 30 to 35-degree shoulder blade layback, not 45 degrees. Factors such as the relative lengths of scapula and humerus, the angle at which the humerus inclines, plus the dog’s attitude, play parts in both the standing appearance and in the reach in motion. While they didn’t have all the answers, Humphrey and Warner had most of them, and they determined that a scapula-humerus angle of 102° was ideal for the working German Shepherd Dog.

Another problem in reports of that fictitious 45° or greater layback is that it just doesn’t occur in the standing dog. Possibly you might exclude achondroplastic dwarf breeds such as the Corgi, although a noted Dachshund breeder once told me that my statement about “no such shoulder angle as 45 degrees” was true for his breed as well. It does happen when the dog is trotting, running, deeply crouching, or lying on its chest and belly in the manner of the Great Sphinx. The reason
for this is that the scapula is not fixed or stationary; its lower end is pulled back by the trapezius and forward by the omotransversarius and serratus, with many other muscles being involved to a lesser extent. These angles can be visualized by watching slow-motion movies or the frames taken from those, and superimposing (technically, infra-imposing) the skeleton or lines representing the bones. Examining many dogs of varying qualities, hopefully with the guidance of a knowledgeable veteran,
will enable you to see these proper angles in motion and in standing.

A very unfortunate situation has arisen out of ignorance and laziness: many AKC breed standards were written by people who copied the wording from other erroneous standards without checking accuracy first. The same problem is seen in the multitude of breed books in which artists’ drawings of canine skeletons could almost have been traced from other books, judging from the mistakes they have repeated.

I had been preaching scientific honesty and artistic accuracy for years, thinking I was, like Elijah, “the only prophet in the land of Baal” – until Rachel Page Elliot’s book Dogsteps came out. As I had done on a smaller scale, she x-rayed many standing and running dogs to prove the nonsense about 90 degree angles between humerus (upper arm) and scapula, and the impossibility of a 45-degree layback of the shoulder. That so-called right angle cannot even be approached if you draw your lines down the middle of the upper arm (if you have x-ray vision, maybe you can tell me where the “center” line of this slightly curved, well-padded bone is!).

The Bouvier’s AKC standard has quite good wording on this subject, as does the Collie’s. The “about a right angle” in the AKC German Shepherd Standard is misleading. Is slightly less as good as slightly more? Is it even possible? Their Doberman Pinscher standard is a travesty, what with the 45° layback and 90° shoulder/arm angles being specified. Might as well specify cubical tires for cars! And Dobes have a terrier-schnauzer-sighthound type of structure, with more “open” front angulation than in the herding breeds.

Why, within a particular breed, are some shoulder angles better than others? In a few cases this is the same as asking why some scapulas are laid back at a greater angle than others, though most deficiencies in front angulation lie in the upper arm rather than the scapula layback. If the angle of the spine of the scapula does indeed differ between dogs, it is possibly because some dogs have proportionately shorter vertebrae in the neck or sacrum, and some may have longer bones in the true back and loin (the true back being between the scapula and the croup). If the dog has shorter vertebrae and disks, the shoulder may more upright.


Use Your Fingers


If you draw your line from point of shoulder to the highest part of the ulna that we call the point of the elbow (leaving the humerus to do so), you get points of reference you can see and feel. Now draw your second imaginary line from point of shoulder to top of shoulder blade. The angle between is closer to 90 degrees than if you tried to use the line going through the shaft of the humerus, but you still don’t get a right angle, even with the best laid-back shoulder blades. In my live-dog illustrated lecture, “Analytical Approach to Evaluating Dogs”, I show where these lines are by drawing chalk lines on dark, short-coated canine volunteers. Even when I don’t use a protractor, my audiences can see the fallacies of those printed standard specifications. Again, see Figures 1 and 4.

Action and Motion

Remember that those trapezius and rhomboideus muscles extend to the ninth and sixth thoracic vertebrae with only a small portion of their fibers, and if the vertebrae are relatively short or the scapula is slightly more upright in that dog for another reason, the muscle attachment will be relatively forward and less broad. The same may be true to a lesser degree with the serratus ventralis, which runs from the scapula to the last five cervical vertebrae and the first seven ribs. The more forward
all these attachments are, the less the blade will be inclined when a pup begins to move and muscle forces help shape its semi-cartilaginous bones and joints. In such a dog, there would be less muscle mass present to rotate the top of the scapula back and forth, thus a restriction of motion here contributes to a lack of reach in front and even follow-through beneath.

There is a far greater cause for poor reach, or less smoothness of front action. Some dogs have an upper arm (humerus) that is not laid back at a good angle from point of shoulder to elbow joint. This is sometimes accompanied by a proportionately shorter arm compared to the scapular length. Such dogs are in the minority, but it’s wise to keep an eye on the problem. Because of cyclic neglect, German Shepherd Dogs, have periodically become alternately better and worse in this respect. At the time of this revision, the AKC-GSDCA type has lacked good upper arm layback for many years while the international type has improved since the 1970s. See Figure 3 for one artist’s conception of ideal structure.

Whether herding livestock, doing police work, performing obedience exercises, or pulling loads, the working dog needs a well-angled shoulder/upper arm assembly. Let’s consider this synonymous with good layback of both bones, for convenience’s sake. A “straight” (more vertical) foreassembly is somewhat like a car without springs. Imagine a dog with poor front angulation hitting the ground with its forelimbs after climbing over a wall in pursuit of an errant lamb or thief. The hard shock will have a detrimental effect before long.

A dog with better angles (yet strong ligaments in pasterns, elbows, and shoulders) can spread that shock over an imperceptibly longer period of time, during which the muscles slow the impact while the bones go through their “folding up” action relative to each other, then release that stored energy by straightening out again (bouncing back). Trotting creates very nearly the same sort of shock that jumping does, only far less violent.

A successful parachutist survives because he takes only a tiny fraction of a second longer to hit the ground than someone whose chute didn’t open. A good boxer “rolls with the punches”, while the guy who holds his head still when the other guy’s fist approaches finds himself waking up some time later. The baseball player relies on padding and moving his hand back to slow the speed of the ball as it makes contact with his glove. The differences in time intervals in each illustration are truly minute, but they can mean the difference between ease and pain, or life and death. Likewise the differences in layback from dog to dog may be small, but a tiny difference can mean smoother action, greater ability to hit the ground effortlessly whether jumping or trotting, and a longer useful working life. The galloping breeds minimize that shock by increasing the horizontal-to-vertical motion ratio. My show champion, lure-coursing Whippet was undefeated after he learned to run “flat” instead of “up and down”. The trotter breeds have a little more need for more acute angles in the foreassembly.

Not many dogs are used for pulling loads anymore, but the dog with a smaller angle between scapula and upper arm is better suited for this type of work, too. Even if only for historical interest, the ability to pull carts or sleds should be preserved in those breeds that are developed for such purposes, for breed type is inextricably bound to that utility. Form follows function, and if we get too far in the evolution of breeds from their original purposes, we will have created (though gradually) a distinctly different breed. What time traveler from centuries past would recognize today’s utterly non-functional English Bulldog from those he had seen chase and tame wild bulls in the days when the breed had a useful purpose? Do not let our working, utilitarian breeds slip away into uselessness as some other breeds have. There is a good reason why I put so much emphasis on shoulder and upper arm angles, and reward good examples in the show ring. It’s the same reason why it is so difficult to improve in breeding.

Why is good front angulation harder to achieve and possibly more important?

In the case of angulation at the knee (“bend of stifle”), ignorance and fad-following have resulted in GSDs with lower-thighs that are too long, with hocks too far behind the torso to be adequately controlled by ligaments and muscles. This rear angulation at the stifle can go either direction from the middle (moderate) ideal for most breeds, with the American-fashion GSD at one extreme and Chows at the other. However, in the case of the shoulder, the ideal is not in the middle of a normal range, but on one end; namely, closer to the fictional 45-degree layback and 90-degree shoulder/arm angles. Actually, depending upon breed and whether you draw the bottom line to the point of the elbow, a layback of 35 degrees in either scapula or upper arm is very good, and an angle of 95 degrees from withers to point of shoulder to point of elbow is excellent for a herding breed. Drawing that line through the upper arm, you would get about 115 degrees in most of the efficient trotters. If it were possible to create a 45-degree layback in both bones, some say that such a dog might fall
on its face.

But back to those palpable points of reference, those being the indentation at the point of shoulder, the highest point of the scapula, and the top of the ulna. If a number of genes affect the angle between these bones, some would be “ideal genes” (let’s say they’d call for a 35° angle from vertical, for each bone, for purpose of illustration), and others would be “less than ideal genes” calling for some lesser angle. Of all the possible genes that could be transmitted, the vast majority would be calling for an angle of somewhere in the 20 degree to 30 degree range, with a miniscule number calling for the coveted approximately 120 degrees remaining between the scapula and humerus. Genes are inherited randomly, and statistically would show a bell curve with the smallest amplitude in the two extremes (say, 15 degrees and 35 degrees, for example) and the greatest in the middle of the curve.

Despite all the talk about angles, it boils down to this advice: forget the numbers, examine as many dogs as you can get your hands and eyes on, compare one dog to the next, and reward or admire those with the smallest apparent angle between shoulder and upper arm, while proving what appears
in stance by watching the dog perform in the trot. See Figures 4 and 5.

Since he cannot do “better” than the ideal shoulder angle, which is at one end of a range of possibilities, the breeder must be more diligent in such an instance to cull from breeding programs all dogs which drift an undesirable distance from that good end of that spectrum. More so than is necessary in any trait in which the ideal is at some intermediate point between the worst on one end and the worst in the opposite direction. In the case of good forequarter function in a herding breed, and in most other working breeds, there is only one direction from the ideal, when we speak of breeds developed for trotting. To paraphrase Sir Edmund Burke, eternal diligence is the price of freedom from poor forequarters.



The Hindquarters


The thigh – What is meant by “the whole assembly of the thigh” in the wording of the AKC Standard for the GSD? Viewed from the side, it includes the croup, upper thigh (femur and associated soft tissues), and lower thigh (tibia and fibula). If these three skeletal sections are too “vertical” or steep, the hindquarters will not present the broad picture called for by the Standard. Obviously, if the croup and lower thigh are slanted downward toward the rear, the femur will not also be so. Nor is it angled forward when the GSD stands in a normal pose, in spite of the AKC Standard’s inaccurate statement about it paralleling the scapula. Many books on many other breeds have made the same error; even some written by well-known judges who should have known better than to report on something they did not experience in real life.

From experience both in radiographing live, standing dogs and in feeling for the bones in the hindquarters, and getting my seminar attendees to do the same, I have repeatedly shown that the femur is vertical when the metatarsus (hock) is vertical. The natural stance for German Shepherd
Dogs is with one rear leg placed a little (and only a little) under the torso for added support of a long, substantial body. In this leg, the femur is not vertical, but neither is the hock. Stand your dog with
metatarsi vertical and parallel. Lift the dog’s rear leg while you feel with your fingers for the acetabular (hip) joint capsule, and make a chalk mark there. Then feel the depression between the upper and lower leg bones. This is some distance below the patella, which is too hidden in cartilage to be accurately palpated. Make another chalk mark there. You can now see that the femur is quite vertical between these two easily-located points.

The slant of the lower thigh in the GSD can roughly approximate that of both the croup and the humerus, although there is considerable variation, and it probably comes closest when the metatarsus is vertical, but even then not in all dogs – too much has been made of this similarity and the concept should be dropped. The angle that the lower thighbones make with the femur in a natural stance is not a right angle. Here again I am forced to contradict a poorly worded line in the AKC Standard which
is more fancy than fact, and probably harks back to the days before radiography was used much.

Even von Stephanitz may have understated conditions a little when he said this angle should be “90 to 100 degrees, sometimes even a bit more.” He was talking about the angle made between the pelvis (croup) and femur, which right angle we have shown is not possible. But one of the axioms of geometry indicates that if the croup is parallel with the tibia, the angle between the femur and tibia equals that between the femur and croup. Remember that this premise of parallel lines is approximate at best. The angle between pelvis and femur is not a 90° angle, as you now know. With a slope of (typically) 35° to the croup, and a nearly vertical femur, that angle between lower thigh and femur in most excellent moderately- or even very-angulated dogs will be around 125° (90 + 35) from the horizontal, however one measures it. To have a right angle would necessitate a horizontal croup or a forward-slanting femur, neither of which are found. The angle between a vertical line from hip socket through the stifle indicating the femur, and the line from stifle joint to point of hock varies from 95° in an “extreme” dog to about 130° or 140° in a less-angulated, straighter-stifled dog. This means the angle of the lower thigh from the horizontal varies from 5 to 50 degrees in various breeds. The relative length of the lower thigh is the biggest anatomical factor in determining this angle. See Figure 6.

For a good understanding of the anatomy of the dog, additional pictures and discussion would be helpful. Toward that end, I urge you to get your own copy of “The Total German Shepherd Dog”, regardless of what breed you have, and study the illustrations and information.

Copyright 2005 – This article is a revision of the earlier article
“Angulation Front and Rear” by the same author. See separate article on hindquarter angulation elsewhere.

(About the author – Fred Lanting is an SV breed judge, is approved by UKC and many international registries as an all-breed judge, and has judged numerous countries’ GSD Sieger Shows and Landesgruppen events, and other shows in about 30 countries. He presents seminars and consults worldwide on such topics as Gait & Structure, HD and Other Orthopedic Disorders, Anatomy, Training Techniques, and The GSD. Fred lives part of the year in Alabama, actively trains in schutzhund, and breeds for occasional litters. He invites all to join his annual non-profit Sieger Show and sightseeing tour. He can be reached at mr.gsd@netscape.com and his dogs (including some at his kennel in the Netherlands) can also be seen on Jagenstadt and www.SiriusDog.com<, the latter being where you can also find most of his articles. Some of the illustrations in this article are from the book, The Total German Shepherd Dog. That book and the new Orthopedic Disorders book are available directly from the author or some distributors. Reprint permission of these copyrighted pieces can be requested and must carry this or a similar notice at the end.)


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Fig.1 Shoulder Angles – It is almost impossible to duplicate, by eye or hand, the typical illustration
in most books that shows a 90-degree angle between limbs, with lines going through the middle of the humerus and from either the most-forward point of the shoulder or the imagined location of the center of articulation to the highest point of the scapula or along the scapular spine. Only in the “best” fore-assemblies will an angle of 90 degrees even be approached, and then only if lines are drawn on radiographs from top of ulna to front of upper arm to a point behind the highest point of the scapula.

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Figure 3 Various Bone-Joint Angles in a Well-built Herding/Working Breed(Actually, few GSDs have this
good a shoulder, and very few from American lines since the 1970s)

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Figure 4:
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Figure 5:
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Figure 6 Rear Angulation. This is defined as the angular relationships between croup (pelvis), femur, lower thigh, and metatarsus. The term is erroneously used by rank novices to describe slope of topline.

figure 7:
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See copyright notice and book information earlier in this article.
Write or e-mail me for permission to use the article in websites or magazines.
Caution: set it for 6.5 inches width, and compare illustrations etc. with this original before printing.
Fred Lanting, “Mr.GSD”

2004 National Police Dog Championships

by Fred Lanting


Huntsville Alabama’s police department was the host for the annual police dog championship competition in November of 2004, with contestants coming from all across the U.S. and Canada. It is an event where families renew acquaintances and friendships are strengthened, where skills in the use of dogs for police work are sharpened and encouraged, and where cops’ public relations as well as sports and the dog’s service to man benefit.

There are some similarities to the popular civilian sport of schutzhund (lately renamed by the Germans as VPG for Vielseitigkeitsprüfung which literally translated is “many-faceted test”). This is natural, since the VPG exercises were developed as a stylized and orchestrated expression of most of the work that a police or military dog would have to do for a living. In the police competitions, dogs have to prove their usefulness in such areas of expertise as general obedience, agility with obstacles and jumping, suspect search, evidence search, call-off from attack phase, correction of false starts, criminal apprehension, and more.

In performing the scent work, the challenges would be daunting for the average sports trial trainer-dog team. In one event, there is a 30 X 30-foot section, often in tall grass, in which are tossed two small human-scented articles such as a gun, key on a ring, screwdriver, credit card, book of matches, or other items. The handler is allowed to take his dog around the perimeter, and then sends him in to find the pieces of “evidence”.

Damp drizzly weather made for some slippery surfaces, but even when footing is dry, there are frequently some injuries and accidents in this simulation of real-life work. There were only a couple dog and handler injuries this year. The really bad weather held off until after the final competition events, but rain washed out the public demonstration that was scheduled on Huntsville’s baseball field on the last evening of the week. It would have required several vehicles and activities on the field, and would have damaged it too much.

But the competition already had been completed, and once again, the top scorer was Jeff Ellis from Mauer County, Minnesota. He and his Malinois also won the national title in 2002 and 2003. Also from Minnesota was a team of five officers from the St. Paul Police Department, each with a dog and some also accompanied by a wife. They have 21 service dogs in the city’s department, and there were some 3 or 4 additional teams from outstate Minnesota. There were also many competitors from southern states, where police-dog use has a long and sometimes mottled history.

For a die-hard GSD lover such as I am, there is always a tinge of regret that the police in the U.S. and several other countries have increased the use of Malinois at the expense of the “police dog” that started it all, the German Shepherd Dog. When, after the 2001 BSP, I last took my tour group to the biggest police dog school in Europe (Stuckenbrock, Germany in the NordRhineland-Westfalen region), I was likewise dismayed to find that they were in the end stages of a process of converting from the historical GSD to the Malinois. A very small percentage of the dogs in training now are GSDs, and those only because some of the handlers insist on them. The reasons given were several: the Mals were faster and lighter (more agile), easier to keep and feed and transport, had higher drives (no wonder… they are really Border Collies in Shepherd clothing!), and have a much lower incidence of hip dysplasia.

The SV has been dragging its feet in the realm of HD control, despite it having the best progeny testing system known, called Zuchtwert. But they have ignored the best diagnostic test (PennHIP, which has been enthusiastically adopted by vets in Denmark and Netherlands), and have continued to let noch zugelassen (dysplastic) hips be put back into the gene pool of their registry. This, and the greater difficulty that the police have had in getting donated or reasonably-priced GSDs with both good hips and suitable courage and drive, have been additional reasons why fewer Shepherds are on today’s police forces there.

The same situation, by and large, exists in the U.S. A few departments and the communities that support them, have the funds to purchase quality dogs, but the majority seem to rely on donations. The GSDCAmerica/AKC-lines dogs are almost all temperamentally unsuitable, and the imported GSD is often too expensive for many cities and sheriff’s departments. Still, there were many GSDs at the National Championship, and they did great jobs.

Mansfield Ohio’s Jim Sweat, president of USPCA, the organization that controls the annual event, told me that the 2005 competition will be held in Evansville Indiana, and the 2006 one will be hosted by St. Paul, MN. Cities are chosen by selecting from volunteer departments that offer facilities and local organization. Naturally, the weather plays a role in deciding on the dates, as it would not be feasible to trial in November in Minnesota or in July in Louisiana.

Thirty judges are used, including one chief judge and 9 novice (apprentice) judges. Five are assigned to each performance event and score the dogs in a manner not very dissimilar to the Olympic games. While the assistants tabulate the numbers and the competitors exercise and put their dogs away, other participants and caterers prepare the smorgasbord type supper given on the final evening, and await the results and a few short speeches. Cops have a probably well-deserved image of being overweight consumers of doughnuts, but these dog handlers are in quite good physical shape. I have found through personal training that much excess weight is a handicap to the hard work of conditioning dogs, especially if you do the helper work (play the part of the bad-guy). But I suspect that the more athletic individuals are more drawn to the physical activity of working dogs.

I asked some of the participants if there was anything unusual about this year’s trials, and was told that this was the first time it had been filmed by the Animal Planet channel. It will be broadcast in the Spring of 2005. Be sure to watch for it. And if you live near Evansville or Minneapolis-St.Paul, ask your local K9 officer for details on the public portion of the competition. Ask what you can do to promote the use of dogs in law enforcement, since it is proven that K9 teams reduice the number of officers required to do the same work, and are much more effective than dogless departments in many respects. To paraphrase a popular slogan of the 1960s through 1980s, “Support Your Local Policedog”.


Author Fred Lanting is an international show judge for many registries, presents seminars and consults worldwide on such topics as Structure, Orthopedic Disorders, Training Techniques, and the GSD. Fred lives part of the year in Alabama, actively trains in schutzhund, and breeds for occasional litters (his dogs and kennel in the Netherlands can be seen on http://home.zonnet.nl/Brejo37/index.htm ). He leads an annual Sieger Show and sightseeing tour. Most articles can now be found on www.SiriusDog.com and http://realgsd.info. Reprint permission of these copyright pieces can be requested and should carry this or a similar notice at the end.

Broward Schutzhund Club Sieger Style Show

by Fred Lanting

It was again a privilege and pleasure to associate with fun-loving fanciers of the German Shepherd Dog and to enjoy the beauty of the breed, when I went to southern Florida to handle dogs in a WDA show sponsored by the Broward SchH Club. The show ran well under the firm hand of Miriam Barcus, although not always “on time”. I did not take part in the trial portion, except to watch and offer encouragement, but I was kept very busy handling one nice dog after another.

Andrew Masia, one of South Florida’s most careful and successful GSD breeders, brought me to his area because he had several dogs he wanted shown, but also arranged for my services to be available to others. With a little help from my four decades’ experience of showing dogs, but mostly because of the quality of dogs I was blessed with here, we won every class except the 3-6-month baby puppy classes. My charges were just barely 3 months, and the bigger ones in these classes were more than a month older and much more developed. The adrenaline that I get from competing and the extra shot from winning kept me hopping. The sportsmanship on the part of all the exhibitors was at its customary high, compared to what you’d find at most AKC shows other than the WDA German-style ones.

It was good to see my old friend Rudiger Mai (the judge) again. He is two years away from facing the mandatory retirement age that SV is still holding to like a prehistoric relic. A stupid limit that has cut my own judging assignments tremendously. If I can run nine GSDs in as many classes in quick succession, I certainly am able to sit and stand with the little bit of movement that judging requires! Maybe I was born too soon, in two respects: age itself, and modern thought about health and strength in maturity. Rudiger remembered my fantastic Timo Berrekasten daughter, having judged and complimented her in New Orleans, then taking her to Europe for me where she lived and sent me pups. I put five SchH titles on her by age 22 months; she was the fastest-learning of all the many dogs I have trained. Rudiger remembered her well, with admiration.

In Baby Puppy Females, two attractive Quai Sebeldsbruck pups from different dams took the first two placings, followed by the Wox Lentulo/Gigi Jagenstadt pup I showed. Her litter brother, owned by Anne Wilson, took 2nd behind one of Martha Hunt’s handsome Quai sons.



I had a short break during Junior Puppies, classes of one each, featuring Danny Spreitler’s youngsters, and then entered the 9-12-month Female class with Martha Hunt’s Jaguar Arkanum/French-dam bitch, a nice-looking youngster who could not get more than a Promising rating in what turned out to be not only her last first place, but also her last show. Perhaps there is some cause for excusing the fact that in previous big shows, her missing lower left P2 premolar was not noticed, but if I had been running or judging those shows, I would not have allowed assistants to be so careless about dentition. It is customary in Sieger Shows to have visiting judges or, in these cases, club members, examine tattoos, teeth, and testicles to save the principal judge’s time. Anything questionable should be brought to his attention so he can make a determination. Obviously, at least two people slipped up. An adult with a missing P2 can get no more than a “G” rating.

In the Youth (12-18mo) female class, I got a blue ribbon for Sara and Ed Blood’s Winner Assaut daughter appropriately named Fayr (pronounced “fire”) but call-named Kiri. A lively but untrained-to-lead-out bitch who should do pretty well based on her anatomy, if not her slightly masculine expression. Owners and dog are lucky to have each other – great temperament in all.

The Youth male class was won by the outstandingly promising Negus Holtkaemper-See son, Champ v. Momax. This aptly-named handsome dog will do a lot for the Buehl family. It was a delight to show him, and once he gets the hang of the ring, he will be a cinch for any handler to win with often. Second was a fit Tor Casa Nobili son, Max Schonen Wippertal owner-handled by Rodrigo Barrientos. Behind him was the Danish import Leri Adriano, owned by the Mangiamele family who may have been giving him too many spaghetti dinners, considering his overweight condition. Fourth was Deborah Schwartz’ Augustus Traumhof, from Kirschental breeding.


The next class, a single-entry Rosi Haus Brezel (by Hassan Schwalmbergtal) gave me a chance to get a drink of water in the shade and look for my next dog, Leri Xerox. Another Danish dog, half-brother of Adriano and sired by VA Chijas Weiko, Xerox is proudly owned by Joe Wirtel. Hopefully, whatever magazine or website carries this report will include the photos I’m supplying (thanks to several photographers), as there were many great-looking dogs at this small show. I got an SG-1 with Xerox, the highest rating possible in his 18-24mo. age group.

In Adult untitled classes, club member Brittany Banus’ single-entry coated bitch got a G-1 (Good) but the judge noted, “no structural faults”. She was indeed very well put together. In Untitled adult (over 24mo.) males, I took SG-1 with Andrew’s handsome high-drive dog who is for sale due to the fact that his importer-owner has another strong male (the sire) and it’s a big job keeping them far enough apart on his small city lot. If I didn’t have a male at home, I’d gobble him up in a New York minute! Leri Gallon is on the verge of getting his SchH-1 and already has a book full of clearances on hips, teeth, and health from A to Z. Behind us in this class were Modesto Echezarrreza’s Fancho Billberg, then Dennis Cardinale’s Lucas Haus Barcus, and Herb Pianin’s very strong Kirschental-lines dog, Quinn Alpenhof.


In the Working Female class, two Leistungs-line bitches owned by Chris Daugaard got G-1 and G-2: Kim Arbeiten Madchen and Enny Moravia Artex. I got the V-1 with Andrew Masia’s Gigi Jagenstadt, the dam of a bitch I trained and titled for him several years earlier, “Ally”, who had been bred to the tough and good-looking Leri Unesco to yield Gigi. Gigi has her mother’s outline and pleasing gait, and likewise her high energy and boldness. She is the mother of the 3-month pups I showed earlier.



In the Working (adult, over 24mo., titled) class, Miriam Barcus’ import son of the well-known Xato Bosen Nachbarschaft was SG-1, and in front of him was another of Miriam’s dogs, V-2 Aik Saalfelder-Hohe, a Vantu Batu son. I handled Leri Unesco to his V-1. He is a son of Volvoro Arminius, and is a very strong-willed, powerful dog with a wonderfully impressive head — massive but not coarse, and harmonious with his body.

Needless to say, I was perspiring in the hot Florida sun, but pumped up with receiving so many blue ribbons and handling such nice dogs. Several people expressed hopes that I would be future national and regional shows to handle. If enough exhibitors get together to comfortably split my expenses (I charge no fee), I’m game. There’s little more that I enjoy than “playing” with dogs. E-mail me.
Fred Lanting, Mr.GSD@netcape.com

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