2010 Sieger Show Report

Sept. 3-5, 2010, Nürnberg (aka Nuremberg):

As most of my readers know, I have been sharing my impressions of the Sieger Show (known in Germany as the Hauptzuchtschau) for a couple of decades. In these years, I have been leading tour groups to this main breed show, with several subsequent days spent visiting notable breeders and local training clubs. I try to offer a mix of: 1. Intensive dog study (including teaching novices about the breed, the show, and the particular dogs; 2. Introductions to breeders (usually some of my group will buy a dog from one or more of them); and 3. Sightseeing. This compromise gives something to everyone.

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The New Knowledge of DM (“GSD Myelopathy”)

German Shepherd Dog Myelopathy, also known as DM for Degenerative (chronic and progressive) Myelopathy (spinal cord disease), or CDRM in the UK, is the first disorder that comes to mind when German Shepherd Dogs and spinal lesions are spoken of together. Almost peculiar to Shepherds, the first symptoms are usually seen at more than 5 years of age and typically last 5 to 30 or so months, perhaps a bit longer if aggressive measures are taken to forestall euthanasia. All accounts to date concede that there is great variation in age of onset: the youngest case reported to Glasgow researcher Pamela Johnston in the course of her studies for her doctorate at the University of Glasgow, Scotland was five years old, and the eldest 14 years, while the majority were about nine years old at first presentation. Most early signs are seen at or shortly after about 6 years of age, if the observer is experienced and keenly looking for it. In my experience, many cases drag on for 2 years, a few go three or more years, and several I have seen last little over 6 months. Continue reading

Q&A with Fred – GSD Toplines

Hi Fred,

I have been going back and forth on a topic close to my heart and part of what my decisions will be in regards to breeding… and that is toplines. I CANNOT stand the “arched” (or roached) toplines I see in the German showlines. I tried to get used to it, tried to train my eye to it, and I just can’t do it. It seems all of the showline males available have arched toplines from very slight in the “older style” dogs like Little Man (Leri Unesco) who I used for my first breeding to almost hinge-backed dogs. I see in just about every German showline litter that most of the puppies are hump-backed. I just can’t justify breeding that. And how do I justify that to buyers? Even the pet people know a deformity when they see it! Regardless of whether or not they are what wins in the German ring, and how the German judges try to explain it, it is NOT correct to the standard, and just based on anatomy and basic physics, it is NOT more efficient. In fact, in the case of hinged-backs, it is a perfect site for osteoarthritis to set in, complete with bone spurs, and that is not a good thing to happen around a spinal cord. Continue reading

Q&A with Fred: GSD with back problems

Is anyone familiar with Laser [“therapy”] for dogs. A 10 yr old German Shepherd that has some lower back problems. … it is supposed to be totally safe, but after the second treatment, she has been showing signs of problems with anal glands — information on ‘side effects’ ?’ —

Thanks! Ziggy

With limited info on the specific nature of “back problems”, we can only guess; but fortunately, my experience in the breed makes them rather educated guesses. A GSD this old is likely to have one OR MORE of a few relatively common disorders: Could have hip dysplasia that is just now getting to the point that the wear-and-tear is hurting or restricting range of motion. Could have Cauda Equina or similar stenosis, although this
usually manifests much earlier in life. Could have spondylosis (see my Internet article on TVS, CAUDA EQUINA SYNDROME, AND SPONDYLOSIS, found onSiriusDog.

If it isn’t primarily spondylosis, it might be what is called chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy (CDRM) in the UK or degenerative myelopathy in the USA. See if you can find my articles on this subject on that SiriusDog site… look for “The New Knowledge of DM (GSD Myelopathy)” or similar title. I’ll attach these for you, though VetMed cannot get attachments. Or, even better, get my book on orthopedic disorders, which treats of this even though it’s not a bone/joint problem.


Q&A with Fred – Thyroid concerns in Labs


I have a very serious problem occurring with one of my Labs. I came across your article “Thyroid Problems and Suggestions on Dealing with Them” this evening. It had some refreshingly different points of view and pieces of information. So, I am turning to you in the hope of receiving some useful help and advice. Continue reading

Thyroid Problems and Suggestions on Dealing with Them


While I am a German Shepherd Dog breeder, I have much all-breed experience in handling, judging, and consulting; as a scientist I also have been drawn to certain medical aspects of cynology (dog science). This said, we proceed to the subject; viz., the fairly common occurrence of impaired health that is traceable to, or at least suspected of coming from, a defective hormone production and regulatory system — specifically involving the thyroid gland. Incidentally, some readers may already know that Greyhounds, GSDs, Chow-Chows, and other breeds have greater incidence of low thyroid activity than the general or average dog population. Some breeds of dogs do better (have less “need” of as much of the hormones) than others, but enough breeds do not, especially in the low normal range. If your vet picks up a textbook that tells him your dog must be healthy because it is within that range of “low-normal”, sing to him or her from the Gershwin song, “It ain’t necessarily so!” Also, remember that the base ranges that are now considered the norm were established on Beagles, and that breeds do indeed differ in regard to their hormone needs. The list of “exceptions to the rule” has grown so much that any reliance on the old “normal” range must now be considered foolish for that growing number of breeds.

All endocrine glands are “connected”; i.e., they can influence each other’s action and efficiency. If any part of the endocrine system is out if kilter, so will be the rest. If the endocrine system is not running properly for any length of time, damage could become permanent (adrenal failure, pancreas failure, etc). Two of the most important glands in this discussion will be the pituitary and the thyroid. For a detailed discussion of the pituitary dwarfism in the GSD and related breeds, see www.siriusdog.com/articles/ or use a search engine [such as Google] to find my articles elsewhere on the Internet. Also, you probably should order my book on the GSD. I recommend you get the Orthopedics book at the same time. Continue reading

2009 Sieger Show Impressions and Tour Report

For a couple of decades, I have been taking small tour groups (one to three vehicles) on guided tours of Europe, with the Sieger Show as the centerpiece. For those reading about this for the first time, this show is the world’s largest single-breed dog show, and has competitors from various countries all around the globe. My background as an SV breed judge, combined with my lifetime of activity in the breed, species, and sport have enabled me to offer the best experience of this sort. I predict, explain, teach, guide, and introduce. If you would like to have fun and “save and see” along with a group of friendly fellow dog-lovers, contact me as soon as possible after the first of the year. Email Mr.GSD (@) netscape.com for details on my non-profit tours. Continue reading

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.

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Canine Digestive Tract Disorders in Several Breeds (Part 4)




Intussusception — In very young pups (and other animals including humans) the intestine can invaginate (one part slips inside another). The condition, also referred to as “telescoping intestines”, also occurs in adults, but not as frequently. Most common immediate causes include worms, obstruction by indigestible materials, garbage, or toxic substances. The German Shepherd Dog seems to experience a relatively high incidence of this disorder and I believe there is a genetic propensity, a familial trait, in certain bloodlines. Continue reading

Canine Digestive Tract Disorders in Several Breeds (Part 3)


Pancreatic Disorders


Very close to where the stomach empties its contents into the small intestine, ducts contribute secretions from the gall bladder and pancreas, mostly to aid in the metabolism of fats, which are fairly resistant to action by gastric acid. If either gland does not function properly, this can result in loose stools and inefficient absorption of nutrients, with highly variable severity.


The pancreas is a rather long, V-shaped gland located near the stomach, and aids the digestion of food. It has two major types of cells or tissues. One group is endocrine in nature, which means it secretes hormones into the circulatory system, which in turn transports them to other glands and body parts. The endocrine activity of this gland serves to control blood sugar level, and when defective, results in diabetes. The other, exocrine, part empties a group of biochemicals into the digestive tract. It produces enzymes and bicarbonate, and excretes these into the duodenum, which is the first short section of the small intestine. One major enzyme, amylase, breaks down the long starch macromolecules, while others break down fats and proteins. Most GSD people, in America, at least, are concerned more with the digestive function than with diabetes. I have corresponded with fanciers in England who are concerned about pancreatic insufficiency, and since many of their lines are from recent German imports, this is possibly a more widespread problem there than I had earlier suspected. I know I have seen the occurrence in pancreatic insufficiency increase among the German lines in the U.S., but that might be because more and more people are turning away from the American GSD for many other reasons. Continue reading