2008 Sieger Show Impressions
Following the format of my annual Sieger Show report for the past dozen years or more, this is a two-part article. Part One is the tour that makes my guided event different from do-it-yourself trips to Germany; it involves visits to training clubs and breeders. Part Two is an analysis of the show results as I saw them unfold. Photos will vary, depending on space available in the publication you are reading.
For newcomers, it must be said that the international German Shepherd Dog “Sieger Show” is the main event for the breed held annually in Germany. It is the largest single-breed event in the world, although this year attendance in both the stands and the rings was down, due to the general economy entering near-depression in many countries including, most recently, those in Europe. When you read my abbreviated travelogue, think about being part of my group next year in Bavaria: lederhosen, yodeling, Alps, castles (including the one that inspired Disneyland’s little copy), and great food. I’ll start taking deposits in January. I offer expertise as an SV judge, plus knowledge of the geography, customs, breeders, competing dogs, and some familiarity with the language.
In spite of higher costs these days, it is still the experience of a lifetime for many, and will be more difficult to do if you put it off until later. Joining my non-profit tour is especially beneficial for newer people in the sport, but all in my group can benefit by sharing costs instead of trying to “go it alone”. You pay no fee; only a pro-rated share of my expenses in addition to your own. I find delightful, economical hotels that most people don’t discover. We visit breeders and sights you would otherwise miss. E-mail me with any questions.
The 2008 show was held in Aachen, on the border with southeastern Netherlands. My group of seven stayed in a marvelous hotel, a converted 18th-Century monastery in Holland (portions still used by nuns and acolytes, though religion has almost disappeared from Europe). On the night that we all arrived, we went to a nearby training club, Alsdorf & Kellersberg, arranged by Hub Rutjens, watched members’ routines, and had our first local fare. European food is very heavy on the meat, very sparse on veggies, so I usually eat almost no meat for a week after returning home!
My group this year consisted of Philippe Rerat (France), Duncan Young (Canada), and Americans Wilma Aungst, Maren Friedhoff, Miguel Elguera, and Megan Streussnig. This was Miguel’s second time on my tour and Wilma’s first overseas trip. Philippe is a very successful Dobe breeder being “converted” to GSDs, and Maren is a German Texan who owns a couple of super dogs, one of which she got while on the tour.
After the three days of the show (Friday through Sunday), we resumed kennel and club visits. On Monday Sept. 15, we first did a little sightseeing in Köln (Cologne) and some of us climbed the many steps to the steeple top and looked over the Rhein River and surroundings. Then we went to the home of Bernd and Christine Klefisch, who with Herbert Zwettler co-own the wonderful 10-year-old Orbit v Tronje (ZW-75), as well as other super dogs. See http://www.orbitvontronje.homepage.t-online.de/ and http://vonjagenstadt.com/articles.html if my photos aren’t included with this copy.
Other dogs there included Quinci v Tronje (87) and the Madonna daughter by Opal Karanberg, this year’s V-16 Ornella v Satyr (85). At least one of my group put in an order for a pup from an upcoming litter out of Kevin Murrtal daughter Madonna Satyr (94) or Ornella. Madonna is just a tiny bit oversize and, under the new, more strictly-enforced size limits, would not have been placed well, anyway. The owners decided not to get the veterinary excuse that are being handed out like donuts at a Red Cross blood drive, so she was listed in the results as “U” (unsatisfactory), but let me assure you, she is a very nice bitch. The “U” means they cannot breed her for 6 months, but had not planned to, anyway.
Monday evening we enjoyed dinner (abend-essen) at SV judge Hans-Peter Fetten’s club, OG Rheydt, some distance to the north, where we saw some top-ranked dogs such as VA-11 Nando do their protection work. There were several working-lines dogs, too. While watching dogs practice their protection routines, one that especially caught my fancy was a substantial Ghandi Arlett son named Zito Steckenpferd (ZW-76), and V-57 in 2006, right behind Arex Herbramer-Wald in the ring. Magnificent in appearance, and terrific in bitework.
The Karthago working-lines kennel of Artur & Ursula Kemmer was our first stop on Tuesday. This is possibly the most famous in terms of turning out great Schutzdienst (working-trial) dogs since Busecker-Schloss (1920s through `80s), and both are featured in my GSD book (e-mail me for details on how to get a copy). Artur speaks no English, and his Deutsch is as fast as a machine-gun, so it’s always both fun and a challenge to converse and understand this great guy. He had only one bitch for sale, a dark sable that had just been bred a few days earlier. Get in touch with him or me immediately if you are interested, and are into top Schutzhund-competition lines.
We then drove another hour and more to Hemer, and had a light meal at the home club of Fritz Stenner’s Urbecke kennel. His translator-friend-associate Dietmar Papenberg showed us Lia, a lovely bitch he co-owns with Holtkaemper Hof. We watched training & met many dogs and people, as usual. This year we were fortunate to have many training clubs and a variety of techniques and dogs that my people could compare. Next year there will be more emphasis on sightseeing due to the location. But every year there is plenty of something for everybody in my tour groups.
Wednesday was a full day, thanks to Alfons Roerkohl, von Oasis kennel. Besides seeing his beautiful VA bitch Shalome again, we enjoyed watching members’ dogs practice at his club near Kamen, east of Dortmund. But before that, he took us on a tour of the famous Bochum Stadion, the most fantastic sports/entertainment stadium complex in the world. The whole football (soccer) field is in an immense, several-feet-deep “tub” that slides out of the stadium into the open for sun and rain most of the time, and back inside the gigantic covered-dome for sports events. The assembly is dragged on Teflon strips. Everything in this 7-year-old stadium looks like it was made just yesterday — I have never seen any public arena or facility kept in such immaculate condition! The roof slides open when weather allows, and when the football field is not indoors, there is additional room on “the floor” for seating and other uses.
Toward evening, with three of my people already on their ways home, the rest of us checked into the hotel at the DUS airport, turned in the van, settled the final bills (except for one who is giving me problems), and the next morning said goodbye. Two people bought dogs on this trip, everybody enjoyed the show and the visits, and several indicated they planned to join my Sieger Show tour again.
And now for the show itself. Entries and gate were down noticeably because of the world economy. In fact, inflation and the cost of the Euro cut my original group by two-thirds (from 21 to 7 by the time it all shook out on the day we got together). Still, those that remained enjoyed the experience, and for one, it was her first trip abroad.
Friday is the longest of the 3-day event, and important to those who want to see for themselves the true performance in the courage test that is required (for those over 2 years old) to pass in order to compete in the show ring. This year, it seemed there was not quite the percentage that failed this prerequisite. Twenty-one males and 28 females were either “vorhanden” (barely sufficient, but to place at the end of all the others) or “nicht genugend” (insufficient courage; not eligible to return for the beauty-&-gaiting competition). These are still uncomfortably high percentages for the purist GSD fancier, but better than most recent years. There were only 155 adult males and 143 females at the end, after weeding out those that failed the test, and deducting the many that got that too-easy “veterinary excuse” when the owners found out the initial placings in the line-up was not to their liking, the dogs that failed to heel all the way to the first blind in the preliminary courage test, and the few who were rated “SG/very-good” or “Insufficient” (re structure).
I paid more attention to the males, because they have more influence on the breed since they are bred so much more often, but saw the work of a few females, too. Forgive me if I missed your favorite bitch. I give in parentheses the latest Zuchtwert (ZW) hip ratings. Remember, the lower numbers are best, and anything over the low 80s should make potential buyers a little nervous.
The Sieger this year was Vegas du Haut Mansard (ZW-85), whom I described in past “Impressions”, and anybody who bet against that outcome would have felt his wallet shrink immediately upon seeing Vegas’ photo in the 2008 logo on the cover of the catalogs, the T-shirts and jackets being sold, and other goods being sold. The Niedergassels were riding high on “Cloud Nine” this year, with the next three dogs all from that family’s breeding program. VA2 was Odin Holtkämper Hof (89), who looked better to me than the Sieger. Following the tradition of his sire Yak and grandsire Hoss, he did very good bitework as well. VA4 was another Yak son, Ilbo Holtkämper See (83), who also performed well in the test. In 2007, I had taken my group to the Niedergassel kennels and got up-close-and-personal with many wonderful dogs and their human families. Combined, the Holtkämper operations are among the premier large kennels in all of Europe.
VA3 this year was Negus Holtkämper See (85). Neither he nor his sire have been consistently convincing in the protection qualification in the past. If you keep copies of previous years’ reports, you will note that I had said in 2007, “V3 Negus should be stronger in character, which observation might be expected if one looks at the sire line (Sgr Zamp/ Quantum Arminius/ Dux della Valcuvia), as there is a slight weakness in character there.” Something I had warned about in 2006 as well. Negus is now owned by a fancier in Japan. He should do well there, and if he doesn’t stay in Germany for another try for the Sieger title in 2009, he’ll probably soon leave for the land of the rising sun. Last year’s female Jugendklasse winner Paula Gut Lethe (Negus daughter) was not in competition this year because of weakness in character, according to very reliable sources. Genes often speak loudly and clearly!
Ingodds Agassi (86), a Ghandi son, came in VA5, showing to me once again the producing ability of dogs whose offspring are noticeably better than themselves. I never cared much for Ghandi, but many of his sons are super! Agassi performed very well in the protection phase. VA6 this year was Budiman Salihin’s handsome Yerom Haus Salihin (86), son of the terrific Mark Schwalmbergtal, who was killed by enemies of the owner about a year ago — great loss, but Yerom and others may fill his footprints in the sands of time. Littermate Yoe was V-39. VA7 Yukon Bastillie (82) almost seems to have come from nowhere, without much fame in past years; he is a Hill Farbenspiel son, and it is considered important to keep this line active for now.
Quantum Fiemereck (76) was VA8. This Ando grandson and Rocky Haus Tepferd son (half-brother to a dog I own) again did his bitework admirably and presents a very attractive picture standing and trotting. The vociferous Italian contingent in the stands were justifiably excited about “their” Furbo degli Achei (78) being placed VA9. This Quenn Löwer Weg son has an outstanding sidegait and is very handsome in stance. He also did a very good courage/protection routine. The only drawback I could see, and it may have been a temporary quirk, is that he could look a little “cleaner” coming at you (though he is still considerably better in that view than is the Sieger). VA-11 (down from VA6 in 2007) was Nando Gollerweiher (92). His bitework was OK, as it was when we saw him at his home club on Monday, but for some reason his star is declining. My 2007 forecast or guess was not borne out, when I had said then, “Only 3.5 years old this year, he will probably be at his peak next year in Aachen.” He apparently wasn’t, in the judge’s eyes, and it was the same judge as then.
Now, for the question that was the buzz all weekend and more: Why did 2007’s VA2 Quenn not show up? Perhaps several reasons. “Word on the street” has it that there was an understanding that if he did show up, he would certainly not go ahead of Vegas. For one thing, Quenn does not have a Sieger for a sire. Less likely is the subtle but repeated rumor that there was reluctance to give the big award to a British Indian. I tend to reject that explanation, as I know both the owner and the judge. More credible is that if Uday expected his 2007 winner of the 18-24-mo. class, the Quenn son Godalis Tino (73), to get a VA this year, he’d better pull Quenn… not enough room for two VA’s from that one owner. Who knows for sure? Whatever the reasons, Tino indeed got VA-10. Running right behind his half-brother Furbo, spectators could see the latter has a little better ground-covering stride length and a bit stronger-looking head, but Tino is still a terrific dog who should and will be used often and well.
It was surprising that there were so many VA awards in both males and females, considering the lower total number of dogs in competition. If it is an official message with the meaning that quality has intensified, there are plenty of us who are not convinced. On the other hand, it makes one wonder if there is a truly good reason for even having a VA category, especially when so many VA dogs in recent years have had little to almost nothing to brag about in progeny displayed. You may say that since the bitches do not have a progeny class to “help” them get a VA rating, it is not necessary for males, either. But that could be argued, because stud dogs have a far greater and faster influence on the breed. Many of us feel that VA males should have substantial evidence of breed value in the progeny group and in the placings of those offspring in their classes, especially the adult, titled, Gebrauchshund (open) classes.
There were many exciting dogs in the line-up below the VA dogs, some of whom have much promise to advance considerably next year. These include a Zamp son V2 Kwantum Klostermoor (86); the Quantum Arminius son V4 Panjo Kirschental (91) who had won the 12-18-mo. Jugendklasse in 2007; Idol son V9 Clinten Holtkämper See (76) who did very nice bitework (I predict a great future for him); and more. V-1 was Uran Wilhelmswarte (79) who moved up from V5 last year and again showed the good bitework of so many of Dux Cuatro Flores sons.
Other than the noise from the Italian cheering section, the most crowd enthusiasm was again for Gerd Dexel’s sable Timo Berrekasten son, Arex Herbramer-Wald (unfortunately, only a 91ZW). This dog with the most sparkling personality you could imagine (happily barking in the ring as if to say “Let’s run!”, and happily meeting admirers outside the ring) got a bit more recognition this year, moving up by leaps and bounds to wind up in V-21 place (last year it was V-28). I reported last year about his “great front reach, ground-covering powerful gait off-leash while leaving others in the dust, a tremendously handsome masculine head, [and] nice overall anatomy”. If he had had a progeny class, that might have given him an additional boost, but there is still too much anti-grey prejudice in Germany’s hochtzuchtlinie breeding circles, so he has not been used as much as perhaps he should have. Since he is almost 7 years old, this was undoubtedly his last fling at the Sieger Show, even though he acted as spry as a 2- or 3-year-old. His bitework was also excellent, as always.
The Yanox son, V8 Tuareg Bad-Boll (74), who had done well in the summer season, showed great protection work and joyful show-ring attitude. Some dogs further down the line did excellent protection routines, such as fast-as-a-bulletV-132 Hutch kalten Hardt (73), Yak son V97 Tim Holtkämper Hof (85), the Esko Dänischen Hof son V-18 Nesch Grafwenburg-Ost (92), the Quenn sons V36 Drago Langenbungert (82) and V-90 Samson Urbecke (75), the sable V-115 Gerry Waldesruh (82), another sable, V-126 Charly v Matrix (74), SG-3 Enzo Grauen v Monstab (79), V-11 Digger Elmündungsraum (87), (whose former kennelmate the promising Ken Elmündungsraum recently died from torsion), V35 Merlin Osterbergerland (87), and some black dogs such as V-110 Woody Dreisbachtal (87),V-128 Hoss Dellwiger Grenze (80), and SG2 Magic Kraichgauer Wald (77). Some of these might be looked down on by the show-only crowd because they are from “working lines”, but they deserve recognition, too. The sport is about more than beauty.
Although I could not pay as much attention to the work of the females, which was going on in the adjoining ring, a few stood out for me. Pakros daughter VA6 Schiwa Osterberger-Land (79) and Zamp dau. VA5 Chanel degli Achei (87) did very good work, as did VA2 Zambia Milewo (85) and V-19 Ziegerkamp Arwen (91), two of many very nice offspring of Arko Butjenter Land. I believe the excellent work of so many of Arko’s offspring can be attributed greatly to his dam as much as to his sire Flipp Arlett. Two of Esko Dänischen Hof’s daughters, V-119 Dina Friesenblick and (one of the best TSB examples) the Irish-owned entry V-25 Dani Dänischen Hof () again proved he could produce excellent character, too. VA4 Anika Herdersfarm () did very good work, better than her sire Euro v Media usually did. Another Pakros dau, V61 Yuka Simonhof, the Yoker dau V92 Karat’s Mündi, and Agassi dau V46 Bonny Fuchsbachtal pleased the crowd with their work. Excellent performances were given by the Parko d’U./Benny d’U. dau VA8 Lea d’Ulmental (90), V-129 Cimbaly alten Laibach-Telch, and the Odin dau V-120 Neele Winnloh.
While most females will not be seen again (they will be busy with the whelping-box duties), their bloodlines should be recognized if they perform well in either conformation or performance (hopefully both). Also, an explanation as to why I have not reported all females’ Zuchtwert numbers: they will not be bred as often. If you are interested in getting a pup, then indeed you should look up its mother’s and ancestors’ ZW numbers.
As mentioned above, next year the tour will again be centered in the Ulm-and-Bavaria (southern) region of Germany, and if you want great scenery, food, and fun as well as looking at great dogs, think about joining my 2009 group. If you would like to be guided by an SV breed judge who has trained many dogs to Schutzhund titles and is familiar with most of Germany, and want to experience those cultural and natural attractions, let me know as soon as you can. You would see more and save money by going with me rather than doing a trip alone; and I do not charge a fee, only a prorated share of expenses.
Fred Lanting, Mr.GSD@netscape.com
editor’s note: Fred is a superannuated SV Zuchtrichter (breed judge) and author of several books, among them are The Total GSD, and the monumental work on Orthopedic Disorders. You can get autographed books directly from the author and schedule judging or lectures by e-mailing him.