Standard & A Little Bit Of Breed History
What is a breed
that describes a dog that is best suited to fulfilling the original purpose for its
that people identify with the breed (which should assist its original purpose)
when someone thinks of a GSD they do not think of the following
- Height no
bigger than 10 cm
- Floppy ears
- Pink spiky
they will probably think of at least the following:
- A medium to
large sized dog
- Erect ears
- Tan with a
black saddle, Sable, bi, pure black
also think of whites which are no longer a recognisable colour)
A Little Bit Of Breed History
was obtaining the majority of its lamb and wool from abroad. The German government recognised that it was
not economically healthy for them to keep importing lamb rather than farming
sheep themselves. However the problem
with introducing sheep farming to the German countryside was that a lot of it
was taken up with crops. A lot of the land
available for the sheep to graze on was waste land, or the small strip of green
bordering the narrow tracks between the beet fields / vineyards / hop gardens /
tobacco plantations. A shepherd with
sheep in such areas had to be careful, because before the war a bite into a
beetroot was fined one mark.
proprietor of the GSD breed observed that there was no
breed standardization within the dogs that fulfilled these shepherding purposes. He greatly admired those dogs with a wolf like appearance
that were also intelligent and had willingness to work. He believed that he could create a better
working dog that could then be used throughout Germany, and so he purchased his
first dog Hektor Linkrshein in 1899 before changing his name to Horand von
Grafrath. Horand became the foundation of the GSD breed.
shepherds helped with the patrolling job by running up and down the last furrow
in front of the crop, running at or/ and gripping any sheep that got to
The German Shepherd Dog was also used when traffic met
flocks upon the road. In such cases the
German Shepherd Dog had to elongate the flock by pressing it to one side and
allowing only a few to pass at one time.
Although these were the main jobs of the German Shepherd Dog they also
had to be able to carry out several more tasks that would help their
shepherd. Such tasks included learning
only to bark on command when the Shepherd wanted their sheep to leave a field,
or to pass over a bridge, seeking out and bringing sheep that went astray, and
protecting it from thieves. One very
important fact about the German Shepherd Dog is that he was expected to work on
his own, on the side opposite to the shepherd; patrolling, warding and guarding.
Overall the German Shepherd had to demonstrate an amazing array of different
skills, and it is no doubt because of this that the German Shepherd Dog today is one of
the most adaptable and highly skilled breeds in existence.
Later on the proprietor of the breed realised that a need
for such shepherding purposes was dying out, and he was concerned that the GSD must stay a
working animal, and thus he strongly encouraged the use of the breed with the
German police and military, put in place a system of strict controls that
guided breeding, including developing a test that tested the temperament and
working ability of the dog; Schutzhund (please look at BSP results to see GSDS
that currently excel within this sport).
a GSD is still not allowed to have its progeny registered with the SV unless it
has passed its breed survey (KKL) which includes it having the following
- Hip & elbow (elbows only apply if born after a certain
How does the GSD’s
history link to its breed standard?
The GSD had to be capable of working all day before coming
home and being at one with its family.
To be able to do this a GSD had to have a correct:
As the GSD had to be capable of working all day its
confirmation which affects its movement should:
Maximise endurance via minimising energy loss
Thus the GSD’s breed standard is a blueprint for describing
a dog that had the most suitable characteristics for its original purpose which
- Confirmation & movement that Maximise endurance via minimising energy loss
It stands to reason that a GSD with the following
characteristics would not have the biggest chance of being the BEST at fulfilling
its original purpose:
- Poor health
- Poor temperament
- Poor confirmation
- Poor movement
Thus it also stands to reason that a breeder breeding with
the GSD breed standard in mind is taking the following aspects into
- Confirmation (breed characteristics, etc.)
Whereas a poor breeder would not:
- Know why the breed standard exists
- Why the breed standard describes the perfect GSD
- Care about the breed standard
However as commonly found with the written word the language within the breed standard is open to interpretation.
Sometimes people’s interpretation of differing breed
standards can lead to extremes developing, and other times extremes can develop
as judges look to promote dogs that excel in one feature or another.
This is why it is very important that the GSD breed never
forgets the message that Max v. Stephanitz who developed the breed left with
this trouble for me: Make sure my shepherd dog remains a working dog, for I
have struggled all my life long for that aim”
Looking for a GSD?
At this moment in time there are not
examples of the breed which will consistently themselves (as well as producing)
dogs that will win at the world GSD confirmation and working shows.
There are dogs that will work and that will take home
But the degree to which this level of winning in either work
or confirmation is dependent upon:
- The dog itself
- Its parents
- Its pedigree
- (the way that it is raised and brought up by a breeder and the home itself)
Therefore as a home that may be looking for dogs of this breed it is
therefore important that you consider whether or not:
You would like your dog to excel in
1 area so that it may have a higher chance of excelling in your chosen ‘sport’
(i.e. working or confirmation).
You are really just looking for a pet that has been bred with the breed standard in mind.
In our experience most homes wish to:
- Dismiss extremes at either end
- Look for a breeder whom attempts to look at all aspects of
the breed standard (i.e. temperament and health and working and show potential
There are a lot of breeders whom will aim to:
Consistently only produce dogs that excel in either working
or confirmation aspects
There are even more breeders whom:
Do not really care at all about producing pups that could
one day embody a perfect example of the breed in favour of profit maximisation
It is also important to note that not every pup in a litter bred by a breeder who is attempting to excel in the confirmation or working ring will excel in the confirmation and / or the working competition ring.
The most successful of breeders
can repeat a litter which previously produced at least one Champion from two Champion
parents and have a litter with 12 pups in it, and yet although all 12 pups may look and act
like very good examples of the breed standard all 12 of these pups may also not be good enough
to take top honours in the show ring.
majority of any litter from the best of breeders and from the best of lines
will not be good enough to take top honours in for example the confirmation ring.
Because of this
and because of the time and expenses that such a breeder has usually put into
producing a litter they will aim to keep the best. The rest of the litter will usually be homed
as beloved pets. This is why we would recommend that a home looking for a GSD as a pet did not dismiss such a breeder as long as the breeder was breeding from lines and parents that looked to have the potential to produce something that is suitable for a home's lifestyle, experience, etc.
Questions that I
As a home a lot of responsibility in terms of the breeds
existence and development lays in your hands.
Puppy farms and repetitive poor breeders would die out if
homes did not fiancé their breeding decisions.
A breeder should always be aiming to better their dog, as
the perfect GSD does not exist.
A breeder should be aiming to improve:
- Drives (relates to working ability)
- Confirmation & drives
IF a breeder is not talking about how they hope that a drive
and / or an angulations or certain proportion are likely to be improved by
putting mum to dad then you need to ask yourself why are they breeding?
If a breeder is breeding for profit or even profit
maximisation then cuts will be made somewhere along the line.
This may relate to:
- Genetic diversity
- Temperament including working ability
- Confirmation including movement
- Mum’s health
- Pups health and the development of both them and their
- Quality of advice in the prevention and cure of ‘common’
Most profit breeders are not stupid enough to scrimp on
certain aspects which they know will appeal to their homes, and this is why it
is important that you as a home check out whether or not a breeder:
- Knows the breed standard
- Knows why it describes the perfect GSD
- How the parents match to the breed standard
- Whether or not they have had their opinions collaborated by
others via the breeder’s presence within at least a 2 year time period in
either the working or confirmation rings (unless a home is for example 80 plus
whom in the past has made up several Champions in both the confirmation and
working fields, etc.); otherwise they could be ‘kennel blind’, and talking a
load of rubbish about their dogs whether intentionally or unintentionally
- Why they think putting mum to dad will produce pups that
have the potential to be even better than their parents in terms of the breed
If they do not have answers to the above then you as a
potential forever home really need to question whether or not they should be
breeding at all, and whether or not by going to them you will compromise on the
health, temperament, working ability, confirmation, and degrees of advice that
you will receive before and hopefully after you get a puppy home.
Puppies are always a gamble especially as environment can
affect health and temperament aspects.
However one always has a bigger chance of getting a GSD
puppy that has a better chance of having correct health (etc.) if they not only
choose a puppy of the right lines, but also the right breeder.
For every 100 puppy farmed dogs there will no doubt be 1
with an excellent temperament and health, but the chances of a home being that
1 home are a lot less than in they had gone to a reputable breeder whom breeds
with the breed standard in mind.
Because of this we strongly recommend that ALL potential
forever homes of any breed looks for the above (amongst other factors) when choosing a breeder.