Confirmation Showing



There are many reasons for why people show within the UK.


A lot of people show because it is a lot of fun.  Some show for the thrill of the competition, others show because of the notoriety of winning and others show to prove the merits of both their dogs and their breeding decisions.


Showing has a serious side to it.


Showing can assist with making correct breeding choices which can increase the chances of a correct:



In the case of SOME breed GSD shows it can also provide:



But this data is usually only provided at Seiger shows which are NOT KC recognised shows.


By attending dog shows you can see supposedly some of the best examples of the breed in at least the country (if not the world depending upon the show that you are attending).




You can watch these dog’s reactions to different stimuli to get an overview of its temperament. 


This is especially so in the GSD breed where in the regional shows & the British Seiger (which are NON KC recognised shows) there is a mandatory gun shot test for all dogs over 12 months of age, and where dogs who wish to obtain the highest grading (VA1) have to also have a working award (SCH) alongside performing a test of courage and off lead gaiting at the show.


Technically if a GSD shows fear or aggression in the ring it should be excused from the ring and / or not placed. 


But unfortunately many other breed and non breed personal alongside me have noticed that some judges will excuse abhorrent temperament characteristics for this noble breed in favour of their preference for TOP-LINE.  Such judges should be looking at the dog as a whole, but unfortunately they let their preference for a top-line over rule the simple fact that for our breed temperament should come before their top-line preferences.


Incorrect temperaments can exist within all types of this breed, and so it is very important that a breeder tries to see a dog whose lines they are interested in (alongside preferably its progeny) in their non home environment.


Confirmation / Movement / Aesthetics


Dogs can sometimes look better or worse in real life than they do in their pictures, as pictures can be subject to the person who took them, etc.

A picture also does not show you how a dog moves, as sometimes a dog does not move as well as the picture may imply, and other times a dog’s movement looks far better in real life than expected based on a picture.


When the dog is in the show ring you can watch the dogs move including its fore and hind (including hock movement) and side movement.


Often at dog shows a breeder or other breeders will be showing dogs with pedigree similarities, and often one can look at these dogs to see whether or not these similarities can consistently be seen or if they look to be more of a one off in a dog (a breeder should be looking for a dog that not only has certain attributes, but which also consistently produces them preferably when put to a wide range of lines).


This is especially true in the NON KC recognised Seiger shows where some dogs have a progeny parade.


At breed Championship shows (NOT including shows where the judges have a preference for the OLD ENGLISH type) the judges often also include a verbal critique, and not only can this assist with the information that one can accumulate about a dog, but it can point out ‘hidden’ faults such as missing teeth that only a judge or owner would have an opportunity to see. 


Verbal critiques are often given for the whole class (unless an owner removes their dog prior to them being given) at breed shows (NOT including shows where the judges have a preference for the OLD ENGLISH type), as opposed to written critiques which can sometimes be missing for some shows, and other times are only given to the best of breed or 1st – 3rdplaced dogs (not very helpful in a class containing 20 + dogs). 


Also although an owner may not agree with everything said the verbal critiques can also help ensure that a judge is capable of publicly justifying their decisions.  Especially as their decisions and reasoning behind these decisions (honourable or not if you are led to believe the rumours that are said about other breeds including occasionally our own breed) can be a lot easier to hide when the judge does not have to justify all of their decisions. 


These critiques can also be very helpful as well with assisting a newcomer who has the comments and dog ‘live in person’ to directly look at as a visual reminder of what a judge thought of it. 


These verbal critiques alongside a grading per dog are given in Europe, and thankfully breed shows. 


But technically they are not supposed to be given under KC ruling which is why they are usually absent at even General Championship shows where the KC enforce their rules most vigorously. 


Preventing kennel blindness


Showing can also help prevent ‘kennel blindness’.


Kennel blindness occurs when a breeder thinks that their dogs are some of the best in the world in terms of either their construction and / or working abilities when in fact they would never ever win if they were competed with.


Sometimes the ability to win can be marred by other factors such as the abilities of a dog’s handler (etc.), but at the end of most breed Championship and open shows (NOT including shows where the judges have a preference for the OLD ENGLISH type) the judge will give a verbal critique of ALL of the dogs (as opposed to general open shows where even if you take a best of breed you can be sometimes lucky to get a written critique in the paper). 


If this verbal critique matches your own in most if not all shows then you can justify your comments upon your dog. 


Proving the merits of your dog


If your dog consistently obtains a certain show grading (which are given at GSD breed and Championship shows NOT including shows where the judges have a preference for the OLD ENGLISH type) then you can justify your overall opinion of your dog when it is taken in comparison to other dogs within its breed in either the country or the world depending upon the show that you attended.


In the GSD breed a grading can sometimes be more important than your place. 


For example you could be 1st in a class of 50 proving that you are the best out of 50 dogs usually of a particular sex and age. 


However if all of these dogs are graded U (unsatisfactory) as opposed to VP (Very promising which is the highest grade for a puppy) then all that you have proven is that you are the best of a bad bunch.


Some breeders will not show in breed shows where they know that their dogs will be graded because they are aware that their possible UK Champion will neither be likely to get a high placing or grading. 


This is not because of their claims that the judges are ‘prejudiced’ against their types as there are numerous judges who offer grading who will look beyond ‘type’. 


It is instead because unfortunately a large proportion of people who breed this ‘type’ have let their preferences for ‘type’ which includes the dog’s top-line commonly over rule what should be their selection against common temperament and confirmation faults that exist within their ‘type’ (as opposed to out crossing to another type to correct these faults whilst increasing genetic diversity within their own ‘type’). 


So although their dogs can commonly offer rarer and desired conformational features when compared as a whole to the other type as a whole they are not as good a representative of what the breed standard should represent, and thus they are not likely to get as high a grading and placement when competing against dogs of the other type.


In Europe people whom own and show differing ‘types’ of GSD still often show within the Seiger show so as to obtain a placement and grading (etc.).  Some of these types do better or worse depending on their confirmation, movement, etc.


Such people should be commended for sticking their necks above the parapet and getting a grading as well as a placing, as opposed to those who prefer to stick to ‘their own’ whilst proving to the world that they own the best of ‘their type’ but not necessarily the best example of the breed standard in the country let alone the world, etc.



Further reasons for why people show



Some people wish to further prove not only their opinions and breeding decisions, but they also wish to prove that:



They can do this by displaying a dog’s show results including its:



A dog can become a:



Its overall results for a year including whether or not it is for its breed the:



Some breeds are rumoured to be less honest than others when it comes to judging.


‘Type’ / top-line issues aside as a whole the GSD breed is a very honest breed when it comes to judging. 


Yes sometimes things are reported to not always be as honest as they should be within the GSD breed, but as a general rule of thumb this is a VERY good breed to be in when it comes to getting an honest appraisal of your dog by breed judges.




I would also like to add that yes sometimes concepts and interpretations of a breed standard can be taken more into their ‘extreme’ in terms of for example red pigmentation being as dark as possible which can assist with catching a judge’s eye. 


But at the end of the day it is up to you to decide what your opinion of the breed standard is, and if you do not think that these extremes are correct then you do not have to breed for them. 


Yes this can affect your show placements, but as explained above not everyone in the show ring is showing to win. 


Don’t get me wrong it is lovely to win, and it can be challenging to get your dog to present its attributes to its best advantage. 


But not everyone is showing to win, and instead some are showing as a way of:



Personally my ideal representation of the breed standard is a relatively LEVEL top-line.


When crossing the different types sometimes you gain one common attribute of one ‘type’ of GSD in one generation whilst loosing another common attribute from the other ‘type’ maybe for a generation or more.  The lost attribute may be something that appeals to judges, and so although with time this attribute may come back whilst maintaining a gained lesser common attribute from the other ‘type’ of GSD in the meantime not all of the subsequent generations will excel within the confirmation show rings.


Such breeding attempts are often a lot of hard work, time consuming and expensive with often little to show for the first few generations, and other times the lines may not gel and a breeder has to go back a step or so. 


Often others judge a breeder on their showing success (be it in the confirmation or working rings), and so even if they do not naturally have a competitive nature it may be this alongside the financial and time expenses that results in less breeders committing to attempting to produce a GSD that is an ideal representation of the breed standard which would excel in both the confirmation and working rings.


It is still VERY hard for even the most successful of breeders to achieve top honours in either the breed confirmation ring or the working ring with lines that are specifically designed for this job only without trying to produce a dog that would excel in both. 


This is especially so when the lines that currently exist for the breed as so diverse and so differing in type that sometimes attempts to cross them can almost be like crossing two different breeds.



Not showing?


Unless a breeder is someone in for example their 80’s who has made up a lot of successful dogs into Champions that preferably also excelled in both confirmation and working tests and who still takes an active interest in the breed, but whom because of age or health related issues can no longer show there is:


NO excuse for why someone who breeds has not been active in one of the following within at least a 2 year period:


KC RECOGNISED (i.e. NOT fun shows) confirmation / obedience / working trials / agility open & Championship shows


AND / OR for the GSD breed


British or worldwide SEIGER shows




SCH competitions


Although showing can be relatively cheap for those who just wish to have a bit of fun and get a pretty rosette or two if it is done properly it can be VERY time consuming and VERY expensive.





Most of these clubs are unfortunately few and far between, and so although the clubs commonly only ask for an annual membership alongside a few pounds per dog per week it once again can be a large expense in terms of petrol, as most show goers will regularly go to at least one training club a week which is around a 80 - 100 – 160 mile trip depending on their location in the country.



Campaigning a dog or two in breed and general shows WITHOUT taking show training classes into consideration easily even in 6 months can easily COST WELL OVER A THOUSAND POUNDS, as well as taking up the majority of most of your weekends and a few days during the week (so that will also be time off work for anyone with a partner who works as most dogs of this breed need at least both of their owners at a breed show).


Now if this dog is a puppy, and an owner has retained it for both showing with the hope that if it maintains its potential that they can continue to develop their lines from it they may then spend a further £300 + hip and elbow and haemophilia testing it only to discover it does NOT have good enough hip and elbows, etc. 


Thus it should hopefully not take a genius to work out why many breeders do not show.


Breeders who do not show in KC recognised shows and / or GSD Seiger shows and / or UK SCH competitions will be:



If a breeder is NOT regularly competing in either KC recognised obedience and / or working trials competitions and / or SCH competitions, and they say:


“Look I don’t like what is being promoted right now”




The reasons for this appear to be justifiable when the breed standard is taken into consideration & you agree with their opinion in terms of their representation of the breed standard




They still attend either KC recognised breed confirmation shows and / or Seiger shows




They hip and elbow score and haemophilia test (etc.) their dogs prior to breeding, use dogs with appropriate hip and elbow results, etc.


Then at least as long as they do this you will know that you have increased your chances of discovering a breeder whom is looking at the dog as whole which includes its:



Then depending upon what you are looking for you may also look for a breeder who is interested in the working aspect of the dog. 


But in an attempt to keeps things on track in relation to discussing the topic of confirmation shows I will discuss that subject another day on another page.



I hope that this article was of some assistance?


I hope that the information listed above has been of some assistance on why showing is not all about trying to win as many ribbons as possible and why everyone who attends them is NOT attempting to produce extreme examples of the breed standard?


With all of the recent press I thought that it was important to explain why not everyone and every person who shows every breed only shows with the sole aim of wining and winning alone what ever the detriment is to the breed and the dogs themselves via developing extremes within them.


I would also like to finish off by pointing out that the GSD breed standard is a blue print that describes a dog that is designed to WORK all day.


For a dog to be capable of working all day it has to be:


VERY healthy


Have a:



Also although in the GSD breed aesthetics are of secondary importance they would also be perfected in the ideal dog.


Thus if a judge is looking for a dog in a class that most embodies the breed standard they should be looking for a dog that appears to be:



At a NON KC recognised confirmation show (excluding WALCS, companion, etc. shows where the following data is not looked at by a judge) health and temperament can especially be taken into consideration.


This is because unlike at KC recognised shows a GSD judge has access to data resulting from a dog’s following tests: