Friday, 20 June 2014

German Shepherds - have they seen the light?

My heart skipped a small beat this morning when David Payne (Videx GSD) sent me an article promising:
"An excellent article by a leading German SV Judge and Kormeister on German Shepherd Dog (GSD) Hind angulation and unsoundness."
Hurrah! They've realised the error of their ways!

I clicked on the link. There,  Leonhard Schweikert has written that the breed sufferes from "over typification, that is, over-angulation in the region of the hindquarter."

Yes, yes!

He went on: "Anyone who still do not wish to face this truth, is sinning, transgressing, against the working dog characteristics of our breed!"

Finally!

He urged: "It is high time, that we faced this criticism and do not ignore it any further, or even dismiss it as the idle talk of some who criticise the German Shepherd with ill intent.

Bravo!

He even nicks a graphic of a horse that's done the rounds on the internet showing what happens if you give a horse a modern GSD show-line shape.

Absolutely!

He then pulls out some recent GSD rear ends and illustrates the problem.


Oh, isn't this great?

And finally, Leonhard Schweikert gives us a picture of the dog that he thinks has the perfect angulation.

Tah-daaah!



You can read the whole depressing thing here.

And then slightly cheer yourself up with this photograph - from a kennel in North Carolina breeding protection dogs.

45 comments:

  1. It is kind of cruel how I had probably the same hopes as you as I kept reading the post, even though a tiny voice in the back of my head warned it was not going to end well.

    Depressing, indeed.

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  2. I got really excited when I started reading this entry...Then I banged my head on my monitor and broke it.

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  3. In the article he shows two pictures, one of a stacked dog showing exaggerated angulation, and one of a stacked dog showing correct angulation (which you've pictured). I cannot tell the difference between the two. Both dogs have a sloped back.

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    1. Both have just as sloped as back,the incorrect one does have hocks flat against the ground at least against it. Although I also think the correct one is a bit heavy.

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  4. UrbanCollieChick20 June 2014 at 16:07

    That's happened to me a million times. Some "Working GSD" kennel brags about having the "real" GSD, true to type from tradition, functional, blah blah, and then I see a pic like the one you have under the oh-so-perfect "Ta daaaaa!"

    Make you wanna give up on finding a GSD with a healthy body. I never fall for those sites anymore. No words. Just put up or shut up.

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  5. UrbanCollieChick20 June 2014 at 16:11

    The Von Rom kennel dogs look better than many, but they have a way to go. The hips on one or two of them still seem a bit off, and most are way heavier than the old dogs in the B&W photos.

    Not sure there are even enough GSDs left in the world with promsing conformation to use them in a restructuring program. I truly hope there are. Someone sent me a pic once of an amazing GSD., A bit tall in leg compared to what people are used to now, but rather level and no exxagerations. I was told the dog had a dream temperament too.

    I'd cross in one like that with the protectors if it meant getting better structure. Otherwise they'll have to put in more mal or Dutch Shepherd or just SOMETHING.

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    1. I would say that overall the working line GSDs have a better body than the show lines. But one can still see some influence from that "ideal breed type" among the working lines. If they were completely bred under a functional view, they would have a body type pretty much in line with that of the Belgian (Malinois) and Dutch (short haired) Shepherds (which are bred to fulfil the same purposes), as the breed did in their early decades.

      And indeed, it's not often discussed but they have gotten bigger. Maybe a consequence of lowering the agility requirements of IPO (Schutzhund). Personally I do not see an advantage to it, a medium size dog is more practical. Unfortunately finding a medium sized dog is not so easy. I try to look for matings between dogs that do not exceed the 75 lb for males and 60 lb for females (fully grown dogs of course).

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  6. There are SHITTONS of correct, functional, level-backed, normally-angulated working GSDs. No problem finding one for your working purpose AT ALL. Plenty of population to continue a functioning breed.

    They are just swamped by the truly enormous populations of unfortunate skeletal and mental freaks that bear the same name, but are not the same dog.

    You have to know where to look.

    I can think of three fine breeders of dogs I'd buy (which is a very high bar) within an easy day's drive and back of me. And I'm not active in the breed community or looking. But if we decide we want another GSD when our current working partner is gone or retired (she's our third in 22 years), we can have one that meets all our criteria, probably within six months of deciding on it.

    You just have to know where *not* to look, too.

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    1. But do they have mainstream kennel clubs pedigrees? If they are not "pure", then they will be no use to people who want to breed within kennel clubs systems. Of course, there's the question of why they would want to do that.

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    2. There is a difference between Pure and "Pure." When I purchased my dog, I was given two perigees, his official one and his correct one. It's not uncommon for kennel club dogs to have unofficial outcrosses to improve the working ability of their dogs. It will be a good day for everyone when these outcrosses no longer have to be hidden behind an offical lie. "Type" and/or "Purity" are NOT more important than working ability and health.

      Stacey

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    3. Stacey, sounds like a good combo. Is this in the USA? Would love to find a breeder that mixes GSDs, belgians, and dutchies. Or others. Just so long as TEMPERAMENT and health and a sound structure are all there.

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  7. Oh, important point on that last comment -- in the United States.

    Elsewhere, I cannot say.

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  8. It really shocks me how so many people who love German shepherds (i.e. Alsatian wolf dogs) continue to want them to look like hyenas (which are not canids). Other than these GSD lines, there are no canids with sloping hind quarters. None. Not huskies, sheepdogs, gun dogs, sight hounds, or scent hounds, neither wolves, coyotes, jackals, or foxes. Only hyenas. Why?

    Because sloping hindquarters are an adaptation to help hyenas carry large bones back to their dens for consumption by their clan and cubs. Canids regurgitate food for their families and pups, therefore they do not carry bones for long distances. Hyenas are more specialized for bone-eating. Canids are more generalized, so although they can eat bones, they don't do it as much. Hyenas with their sloping backs are confined to flat lands, but canids with their level backs can use both flat lands and hills (and therefore avoid competing with hyenas).

    The only reason to breed GSDs with sloping backs is so they'll have a dramatic pose in the show ring. That's it. Other than that, it is worse than useless. It reduces that agility of the dog to that of the hyena ... without compensating it with more bone-eating ability. In other words, it's playing God, and doing so very badly.

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    1. I would still say that hyenas are more structurally sound and agile than the GSDs you refer to. They must roam great distances to hunt and scavenge - their bone structure *must* be able to support them in those tasks. Spotted hyenas are much larger and heavier than GSDs too (the largest weigh in excess of 150 lbs.), so their reduced agility may be in part due to their size and not their structure. Hyenas may have sloped backs but they have very long legs compared to show GSDs and their hocks are high off the ground. What humans have done to the GSD is far beyond reducing it to have a hyena's agility; it's much worse.

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    2. Indeed. Hyenas have a similar shape but I'm sure you'll find that their hips are aligned correctly to support them properly in that shape - due to thousands/ millions of years of evolution and natural selection killing off those that cannot hunt. GSDs have not been culled when they couldn't walk properly, so they are unfit for any environment where hyenas are fittest for their environment.
      Please can we stop breeding freaks now? People: go and get a working GSD instead of a show GSD - and someone for God's sake ban dog shows.


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  9. It really shocks me how so many people who love German shepherds (i.e. Alsatian wolf dogs) continue to want them to look like hyenas (which are not canids). Other than these GSD lines, there are no canids with sloping hind quarters. None. Not huskies, sheepdogs, gun dogs, sight hounds, or scent hounds, neither wolves, coyotes, jackals, or foxes. Only hyenas. Why?

    Because sloping hindquarters are an adaptation to help hyenas carry large bones back to their dens for consumption by their clan and cubs. Canids regurgitate food for their families and pups, therefore they do not carry bones for long distances. Hyenas are more specialized for bone-eating. Canids are more generalized, so although they can eat bones, they don't do it as much. Hyenas with their sloping backs are confined to flat lands, but canids with their level backs can use both flat lands and hills (and therefore avoid competing with hyenas).

    The only reason to breed GSDs with sloping backs is so they'll have a dramatic pose in the show ring. That's it. Other than that, it is worse than useless. It reduces that agility of the dog to that of the hyena ... without compensating it with more bone-eating ability. In other words, it's playing God, and doing so very badly.

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  10. Hope it was OK that i used the above blog trying to show a point on the Dog Show Forum earlier today and did attempt to defend your "miserable AR agenda" with what i think you are doing and the fact you didn't need to spend all the "mega bucks" you make funding all the dog health arena's in the world because you educated lots of people who would in turn donate money to those causes. There have been a couple of posts i did raise an eye-brow about...but so what. thank you for all you are doing!!!!
    julie pear

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  11. Ha ha ha! You got me there. I was thinking she's finally cracked! Jemima has been duped.

    I almost did bang my head. What a bloody relief.

    Funnily enough the horse example is pertinent to horses as well as dogs.

    Horses have seen a vast transformation in a very short time, from the heavier riding horse to the modern sport horse. Part of that transformation has indeed been a much much more sloping croup.

    If you compare horses from before and up until as not so long ago as the eighties they had very "flat backs" they also had longer backs a more rectangular shape. Now they have a shorter back and a sloping croup. The whole effect has been a reduction of the carriage horse gate, high knee action to rounded knee action with far more reach (ground cover) plus a lighter more athletic hot blooded type animal.

    The horses haven't suffered as much as German Shepherds have because they are performance selected rather than to a fix standard or showing model. That is if the horse can't function as a riding horse its pretty much useless so the dysfunctional extremes are not often reached.

    But its certainly worth a thought, in dressage horse breeding for example this may become a danger, taking things too far to get that expensive movement and "uphill" front end.

    Interestingly enough many good horses are less than "perfect" but carry themselves extremely well, training, attitude and so forth. And many with an extreme uphill build and sloping croup plus well laid back shoulder have in fact a great difficulty moving well under a rider as they can lack the strength and balance of their ancestors......

    However the older heavier flat back horses cannot compete anymore at Grand Prix level they just don't have the same balanced athleticism and reach of the modern warm blood sport horse.

    Moderation is the key.

    A very good example of that would of course be a horse like Valegro (Viagra (: ) who took gold for Britain at the Olympics.

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    1. take a look at walking horses if you think horses are saved by being needed to function

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    2. Oh yes I have yes. This is something entirely different. It's sanctioned cruelty and Im absolutely anti. And these horse can barely function they can hardly canter and they can't trot at all.

      Im against any form of equipment used on horses to produce an artificial movement carriage in training or competition.

      American walking horse competitions are a complete traversty in this day and age and should be banned in any form where the horse is not presented completely naturaly. While they are at it they can get rid of those tail extentions. And learn to sit in the proper place on a horses back one that at least allows it maximum comfort.

      This is more a case of using equipment to force the body of the horse into an unnatural shape, ultimately turning it into a cripple that can barely walk.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkw8LAbpLnc

      If you can stomack it take a look. Notice how the joints are being twisted and the backs....all too disgusting and note they have all passed inspection...that is they aren't broken on the day, apparently but you be the judge.

      This like judges in the dog show world saying no infection no problem even if the dogs eye balls have atrophied and its haws are a curtain of exposed flesh.

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  12. There are PLENTY of working GSD breeders out there, but they don't like to sell their dogs only for pets - which I understand. GSD is a working dog, not some easy family pet for anyone. Of course a good working dog can ALSO be a good family pet when in right hands. But the sad truth is that if people want GSD just because, they need to buy them from show breeders. People could vote with their feet, and I think this goes for any breed out there. If there are no buyers for certain dogs, the breeders won't breed them because there's a limit of how many dogs they can keep at home. Same applies also for the German Shepherd. If people want one, they should ask a working GSD breeder, but also realise at the same time that this is not an easy pet, but a working dog, which needs to be trained properly. No one said that owning a dog is or should be all easy, but when put enough effort into, it will become so.

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    1. I've wondered about this before, because GSDs are on my list of 'wanted' breeds some day, but NOT with that back end. Does your post mean that if I wanted one, I'd have to get a working line one? I have a working line dobe currently, so am experience with drivey working breeds, so it wouldn't be a big thing for me and Im sure I could cope with a working GSD. But it would be nice to know if I wanted a slightly more mellow dog next time around, I would have the choice, but is that not the case?

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    2. Sarianna, your post makes a important point. There are stacks of types of dogs that really don't make good pets. Working GSD being one. They can quickly be become problematic in the wrong hands and are definitely not for the average dog owner. It is very hard for a person to provide necessary, safe outlets for these types of dogs and they have to be massively socialised throughout their whole lives. Of the two I know, they are basically time bombs waiting to go off.....so far, their owners have been lucky, not to say that in the right hands they wouldn't be great dogs, but let us just say that some dogs are easier to handle than others and some people have more effective dog skills than others too. The wrong combination can result in a great deal of unhappiness.

      Huskies as pets. Madness! Akitas, PitBulls basically any dog that is built for aggression and for temperaments for social aloofness is no longer socially acceptable as a pet. Not in a society where anyone canown a dog regardless of experience and where we do not insist on regulating breeding and ensuring people are licensed to own animals like this. Any dog can become aggressive, pathological or otherwise. However, let's have some joined up thinking here!

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    3. Ziggy, I'm not an expert in the breed, but I know that not in any litter every puppy is "champion material", and if you tell your wish about a more easily handled and mellow dog for the breeder, I'm sure that they can tell which one of the puppies could potentially grow up like that. But they still would have a high drive and high motivation to work. In my opinion, "work" doesn't have to mean competition, but at least for a person like myself - with a little lack of imagination when it comes to dog training - training for working trials is "the easy way"; someone has already defined what you can/need to teach your dog! But maybe I'm getting a little side-tracked now. I'm sure that a person with long experience with working GSD:s would be able to tell you better (:

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    4. I disagree. GSDs are pretty popular breed in my country, my family had many GSD over the years, and they make wonderful pets. Of course, they need training and daily exercise, but what dog doesn't? And no, buying is not the only option, there's plenty of GSDs with normal backs (mixes and purebred) in shelters, from puppies to older ones. You just have to look for one with the temperament and look you want in dog.

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    5. I don't think there is a problem with working dogs being intentionaly bred for pets. As long as they are healthy what's the problem.

      Sarianna, I also think many working dogs dont excell in their field and make very good pets. Our police force breeds BSs and many find their way into pet homes because they are not up to the demanding job required. They don't use GS anymore.

      On the other hand showing GSs don't make good working dogs, thats not the problem either. Many working dogs don't have a job anymore so things like drive, gameness or what ever are not so important in a pet dog. But it's OK not to be breeding working lines it's just not OK to be breeding crippled messes.

      The options dont have to be working or chronically deformed with all sorts of health and temprement issues show bred lines? It's just a pity the show bred lines don't make good pets because of the chronic health issues.

      I don't include getting a shelter dog here because quite honestly if you want a dog from the shelter the breed should be less important, it's character size maybe all that stuff more so. There are waiting lists at the shelter I know for particular breeds but the message is always "we dont breed dogs or find them to order whats here is here and they all deserve a loving home please try not be too breed specific". Generaly unless the breed or particular dog is very tricky one to place these lists are more like wish lists and mostly ignored.

      I agree go for whatevers there think of type rather than breed with a shelter dog and you will probaby have more luck this way anyway. You can call it a GS if you want noone will care certainly not the doggie.

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    6. I have to disagree about the working GSD temperament. Most GSD's I meet around here these days have pretty shocking temperaments - and the owners just think that is normal - dogs who charge up barking right in the face of every new dog, fear barking at everything. My friend has a working line GSD and he is fab - bombproof. Granted she isnt your average owner and he gets plenty mental and physical exercise - but if I had to choose I would take working line any day - looks and temperament

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    7. Take note of your last sentence! My point exactly. These sort of dogs are not for the average owner. Bombproof dogs require two things - excellent genetics I.e. low reactivity to external stimuli and excellent training. Working GSDs are highly reactive. Sounds like your friend got a dog that isn't typical.

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    8. Actually I've never seen a bomb proof working GSd. The ones the police used to use made a hell of a racket and bark at everything that moves while still in their cages in transport. When they come out they are still barking. Admittedly its a lovely bark one of the nicest in the dog kingdom but its not a dog I would like to tangle with not the working number.

      I would love a working GSd but you cant get them where I live it would have to be imported and I've done that and been burnt and had successes but its too much work not to mention travel.

      I think the BSd is far more bomb proof. I was watching some doing crowd control at the Olympics in Beijing, these and their handlers had been mobilised from Hong Kong. They were spectacularly bomb proof. Completely relaxed but in a flash with the right button switched they were incredibly alert and reactive.

      A crowd had pushed to the front of one of the railings and it looked like they wanted to burst through instead of waiting their turn, it took five seconds of the dog making itself known through the handler for things to be sorted. Afterwards it was happy back to its quite relaxed state. Quite remarkable they seem to think rather than be constantly exploding.

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    9. As others have said, even though a pup is born from working parents doesn't mean it will have the temperament to work. Some are born without the drive and make excellent pets.

      I know this as I have a working line border collie who lacks the neuroticism that is (apparently) a cornerstone of the breed.
      He has herding instinct but he isn't excitable or nervous or overly energetic so he fits in very well in my city apartment with on lead walks and only 30 mins off leash exercise a day.

      He probably wouldn't make a great herding dog as he tends to have a short attention span (gets bored of doing the same thing again and again) and is quite independently minded (prefers to do things his own way rather than obeying instructions- I.e. not a push button dog) but he is so calm inside the house that he's perfect for an apartment. His temperament is gold too: he's great with children, doesn't chase cars or cats or bicycles (or anything save for large 4 legged animals), and is friendly with strangers.

      He's better behaved than any other dog I know. I recommend working dogs as pets as long as you get one with the right temperament. Most litters are born with one or two dogs that are unsuitable for work but would make excellent pets.

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  13. You know......I over-layed the hind end of the 'ideal' dog over the hind ends of the 'crippled' examples, in photoshop, just out of curiosity. There is virtually NO difference, a few pixels out on the knee curve, but that could easily be how its stacked.

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    1. Er, that's hardly scientific now is it? You'd have to get a vet's opinion on examination of the two 'types'. An objective, impartial vet. And heaven forbid, not a show judge!

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    2. Not claiming it to be scientific; I did it for my own curiosity, not to make breakthroughs in our understanding of this issue. I just wanted to see if there actually was a difference there that my eye alone was missing.

      .

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    3. I really can't see any difference either. Seriously, I sat there and just studied it for ten minutes, and I'm not seeing it.

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    4. Jeez, give me one of those protection dogs any day. They will have been bred with function at the forefront. Those other dogs look half amphibious

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  14. I think that this judge suffers from selective blindness... he sees the problem, but only to the point where it doesn't force him to rethink if their precious perfect standard is really good.
    German Shepards are wonderful, motivated and intelligent dogs, it hurts me to see them crippled this way. In my country there's still a lot of completely functional, handsome, normal looking GSDs mixes in the shelters (i.e.: http://owczarki.eu/galeria/2318/2.jpg , http://owczarki.eu/galeria/2373/1.jpg ), shame that people are still choosing pedigree over health.

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  15. There doesn't seem to be any difference between the exaggerated specimen from '95 and the 'correct' specimen. Heck, if it wasn't for the dramatic shadows on the right hind leg in the second photo I'd think they were the same dog.

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  16. There is another one on the subject
    http://www.louisdonald.com/new--june-2014--the-evolution-of-the-back-of-the-gsd.html

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  17. What is interesting and completely puzzling I find and this has positive sides to it is that there is definitely a lot of dialogue, discussion and controversy surrounding the GS extremes and top line within the showing world itself.

    Despite this though very few think a dog with a normal rectangular top line is correct, even knowing full well this was what the dog looked like when it was created. They even will happily quote the dogs founder who expressed a very strong opinion that the dog remain a working dog.

    Its truly strange but this article by Leonhard Schweikert as well as the one above (slightly less) shown by Anon are very good in fact but come to the same strange crashing conclusion.

    Much talk of how it happened and why it happened and technical illustration and gravitas but it all basically comes down to fashion set by one dog and the enthusiastic embrace of line breeding and then inbreeding.

    The winning dogs set the trend for ever more exaggerations.

    It's as if no one wants to miss out on those ribbons while the dog goes under before their very eyes.

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  18. Perfect example of kennel blindness - when you can see the problem clearly - so long as you are not looking at your own dogs!

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  19. Cheap, fast cure for show GSDs = cross with good Doberman Pinscher.

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  20. Couldn't agree more regarding the ruination of the GSD. We have a similar short article on our site on the protection dog page. http://www.patriotdog.com/personal-protection-dogs/

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  21. Pretty bloody obvious really. David Payne (Videx) thinks that only dogs with a semi-circular back are 'correct' and anybody who thinks otherwise is an ignorant scumbag. Louis Donald (couple of postings up) promulgates his own views which, while he says they are all about straight back dogs, are merely a platform for him to build his own business and reputation - after all he gets paid (highly) for the 'International Judging' he does. And, like so many other of the banana back following, he HAS to award prizes to the deformed ones or his judging career goes out of the window. Some of his pronouncements are laughable. But his fan club are too stupid to understand what he writes so they just applaud him. The facts of GSD show breeding are simple. It's all about money - no more, no less. The wobbly hock syndrome is linked to back problems (see the statement from Helmut Raiser, Warden of the SV before he was kicked out for saying it). But when German show dog winners can fetch 250,000 Euros that's what drives the shape. It's not true that the current shape was developed for 'iron back' or any other such rubbish. It was developed by a group of people who ran the SV in the 1970s, including the Martin Brothers, who happened to breed dogs of that shape. As they awarded each other the Sieger title they basically set the pattern, because people think that they need to look like winners to be winners. There's loads more to say - but the bottom line is that there are people in the UK that try and breed show dogs with straight backs. Those dogs win high honours at 'Open Shows' (frequently Group or Best in Show) where knowledgeable dog people from other breeds can judge them but very little at Championship Shows because the judges appointed are put up by the Breed Council - whose sole interest is in promoting the banana back dog.

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  22. Absolutely hate seeing the new breed standards being shown at larger shows like Crufts - GSD who are walking on their hocks with barely any support to their hips, it's disgraceful.
    There's a GSD Breeders near me who produce quality dogs with the hopes of creating a straighter back - they have managed this to a degree, but with all the breeding done to them over the last years and the resulting ruining of the breed, they still have some issues. I bought my five year old bitch off them, she is MASSIVE and has a fairly straightened back, has won several minor shows, but still has these problems with her back and hips. Thankfully not as bad as some of the poor dogs we've had but it's still disappointing that breeders are still struggling to rectify these issues.

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