Sunday, 14 August 2011

M is for..?

I know I am going to get flak for posting this video, spotted on YouTube. These dogs' breeder, David Payne (Videx), has never been slow in telling anyone (including me) what he thinks.

So I shall mostly let the footage speak for itself. These are Milo, Merk and Minder - 6-month old showline GSD pups from the Videx "M" litter that the Kennel is running on. Keep watching until the end, for the shots of Minder coming out of the paddling pool (at about 3m 30secs).

I like Minder - not for the way he moves (which, sorry David, but I think is bloody awful) but for his obvious love of water, evident from a very early age. There's another video of him on YouTube showing him at just 10 weeks old, already lovin' that paddling pool.


Here for comparison are two working-line GSD pups of exactly the same age.


The debate about the conformation of show GSDs was raging for a long time before Pedigree Dogs Exposed highlighted the issue. But the film (and pressure from vets and others) undoubtedly pushed the Kennel Club into taking some action. The breed was not on the KC's health "watch-list" prior to PDE.

A series of meetings between the KC and the GSD breed clubs followed and, er... Well, what? If a plan of action was drawn up, it has never, to my knowledge, been published.

Meanwhile Ch Korzwin Randy (pictures here) won Best of Breed at the West Yorkshire GSD show at the end of June under judge Sue Belfield. This dog has a very high hip score of 50 (3/47). I understand his breeders have said that they will never breed from him (poor Randy... not the best of names given the circumstances). But I'm afraid I still don't get how such a dog becomes a Champion - particularly given the GSD breeders fine talk about how important health tests are.

154 comments:

  1. My Industrial Engineering professors will tell you that any test only has value if it has the ability to CHANGE your decision. Why would you pay for information that had no ability to inform the choice, right?

    But more and more I see breeders who pay for health tests with no intention on behaving any differently based upon the results. The tests therefore have no value as far as breeding choices go, they only have value as an advertising technique. If the results are good, you advertise them. If they are not, you don't.

    Some breeders are so defeatist in this regard that they have rewritten the language. I've seen "reputable" breeders advertising "Normal Eyed" rough collies that are in fact CEA affected. "Mild CRC" is now considered "normal" even though it is genetically AFFECTED for CEA and being a carrier is "normal eyed" too.

    I've seen other breeders who no longer test for MDR1 mutations (after their entire breeding stock was found to be affected) and claim that it's not a problem because any condition that would require Ivermectin is so rare that it'll never be a problem.

    When so many breeders point to one or two tests as proof that their dogs are wholly healthy, much beyond what those tests can even hope to test for, and yet they still need to minimize and redefine and avoid negative results of the few tests there are.... this is a sign of a culture that has gone bad.

    You might hope that they will not breed from Randy, but why are they investing so much money and time to prove that he's pretty if he's never going to pass along those genes?

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  2. Is it typical for certain lines of GSDs to not run about as pups? I went and looked at the 7 week old puppy video and there was no running in that one, either. I only have experience with large sighthound and IG puppies, but their typical play pattern is runrunrun eateachothersheads rest repeat. I'd think my pups were sick if they were that inactive.

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  3. BorderWars - actually, I have been told that Randy's owners have said publicly that they will not breed from him. There is a quite a strong culture of health-testing and acting responsibly in reponse to those tests in show GSDs here. (It is the things that you can't test for, however, that are the issue in showline sheps). Don't forget, too, that it doesn't cost anything like the same to campaign a dog in the UK than it does in the US.

    As I am often told, judges have to judge what's in front of them on the day. But I would like to see such things as hip scores taken into account. After all, shows are supposed to be an evaluation of breeding stock.

    Jemima

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  4. Randys Owners have publicly stated a few years back he will never be used, so to target him here on your blogs shows a bigotted manner in whichyou behave. As for movement and soundness the two do not always go together, take a dancer who will move with the greatest of poise (far better than the avereage human) but most by the mid or end of their career will have terrible hips!

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  5. They don't look capable of running. Do adult show-bred GSDs run and play about like normal dogs, or do their wobbly hocks prevent them from doing so?

    If they can't run, they're deformed - this applies to any breed of dog.

    How can any judge look at dogs like that and not see the glaringly obvious?

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  6. "How can any judge look at dogs like that and not see the glaringly obvious?" Very simply because the standard's statement of how the dog should be is ignored in leau of what is consider "normal" for the breed. The standard for the GSD is very clear about soundness, movement, and portions. None of it equal the angulated ass draggers that we see today tripping over their back feet in the show ring today.

    One cannot look at the history of the very well documented GSD breed and think that the current look is an improvement in the realm of soundness, working ability, or anything but vanity. It's a more striking look, therefore the modern GSD is what it is, a mere shell with a grand history and a schism so big you can ship through it.

    The GSD is not alone in this in it's utility. The doberman that likely will drop dead in the prime of life from cardiac events and has not the temperament to withstand any kind of pressure to the point that no one uses them for anything related to their designed purpose. But boy, don't they look snazzy and sharp as a tack? The giant schnauzer, the mastiff, the rott, the dogue, the standard schnauzer, the collie, down the line.... all dogs merely a shell of what they once were because they are no longer bred for a purpose before a look. A dog without a purpose first and foremost will find itself unfit for one.

    As I recall there was a very public, nasty fallout between the KC and the GSD partnership over the hind end issue. I'm sure the correspondences can be found easily enough on google.

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  7. Hope this is going to be in PDE2 - why cannot these breeders see the cripples that we see? What dreadful, weak back ends ...... appalling. Ass draggers describes it well.

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  8. Sly as ever Ms Harrison make the subject look like soundness and show a clip of puppies that NO ONE has even said will be shown, but you make the subject to be discussed about shows and judging!! Have you ever seen Korzwin Randy move? could you tell by his movement (if you have seen him move) just what his hip score is? bad hip do not always equate to poor movement and good hips do not make for good or sound movement, if a dog has a score of 15 does that make it a bad mover or unsound? and what if that dog produces better hips than his own. I have known a breeder mate a 0/0 and a 1/0 together and produce HD in a litter.

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  9. Randy has a hip score of 50, not 15, Anon.

    Sure, hip scores are not an exact science and there are flaws with the KC/BVA scheme. But it has been shown that strong selection pressure (ie breeding from below the breed mean) is an effective strategy for improving hip scores (if not the whole answer).

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2962628/

    As for the Videx pups, if you click on the link to Minder as a 10-wk pup, you'll hear David Payne say that they will be keeping him because they think he is an exceptional male. These pups are clearly intended for the show-ring.

    Jemima

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  10. Hey, the point that this very well known and apparently experienced breeder has produced pups with hindlimb ataxia as obvious as that should not be winning any awards in the ring.

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  11. But the Question IS HAVE YOU SEEN THE DOG MOVE....YES OR NO!!

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  12. Yes, I have seen him move. We filmed him at Crufts 2008. But, again, the point I am making is that dog shows should be judging more than just how a dog looks. After all, there are health criteria for SV shows, no?

    Jemima

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  13. What happened to the KC saying dogs should be 'fit for function'? Those dogs dont look like they could do a days work herding at all! In fact they look like my dog (who suffers from medication induced ataxia) on a bad day. They remind me of the winner of the pastoral group in Crufts earlier this year, from what I remember he was very bad looking on his back legs.

    ''I've seen other breeders who no longer test for MDR1 mutations (after their entire breeding stock was found to be affected) and claim that it's not a problem because any condition that would require Ivermectin is so rare that it'll never be a problem.''

    From what I know dogs with MDR1 mutations can be severly affected by worming medications (some of which contain Ivermectin) and very sensitive to certain anesthetics, how can either of those things be rare, I would say nearly every dog is exposed to them at some point.

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  14. dogs in the heat of summer.. in a small area.filmed close up. dogs in freezing snow and temperatures .. in a huge area filmed from afar.. comparison.. I think not.. but then who cares when you are trying to trash a breeder.. and a breed.. want better GSD's.. breed them.no one stops you from doing that do they?. or at least breed ONE litter before you tromp off to tell others how to do it..

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  15. Margaret Carter14 August 2011 17:14

    M says
    "One cannot look at the history of the very well documented GSD breed and think that the current look is an improvement in the realm of soundness, working ability, or anything but vanity. It's a more striking look, therefore the modern GSD is what it is, a mere shell with a grand history and a schism so big you can ship through it."

    Try as I may I could not look at any of those puppies and imagine how anyone could think that was a striking look.

    What do modern day GSD breeders see when they look at the roached back and deformed hindquarters shown here?

    In any other breed this conformation and movement would be considered grotesque.

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  16. Debating about whether Randy can or can't move or should or shouldn't be shown is just silly. I thought that dog shows were supposed to be about finding the fittest and best genetic sample to IMPROVE the breed. This dog has an incredibly poor hip score and yet still gets awarded best of breed. There's something very wrong with that.

    I have a very special beef with the German Shepherd breed. As a child, I had an imported German Shepherd from German working lines. Rex was the best dog *ever* (well, according to a 10 year old) AND the could walk!

    When I went to my first dog show with my Vizsla, I was absolutely appalled to see what German Shepherds had turned into! Dogs that can't walk with quite a few being timid or vicious. What happened to Von Stephanitz vision of dogs that could protect AND be good with the family?

    German Shepherds are a broken down, burned out breed. I am very sad for this.

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  17. Unfortunately human beings are a predictable species. Subconsciously this passionate hobby and past-time is all about winning awards for breeding animals best fitting a description, not about health and welfare. If it had been this wouldn't have happened in the first place, neither would the bulldog, or the peke, or the cavalier, or the golden retriever, or the boxer, or the pug, or the dachshund etc etc... It was asking for trouble. Thankfully some breeders are doing the right thing. Sadly they aren't breeding dogs which would be allowed to show...

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  18. Just because a dog moves in a certain way at 6 months old that doesn't mean it will move the same way all it's life. Different bones grow at different rates so in many breeds movement can change a lot as puppies grow and develop into mature adult dogs. This is when it is important to know the lines you are breeding from and taking things into consideration when assessing puppies.

    As said above, a judge can only judge what is in front of them but if the dogs are not good enough then the judge can with hold class wins as well as CC's. If a dogs movement was seen to be so bad it wouldn't be capable of doing it's job then the judge should with hold. Many judges will forgive a bit of clumsy movement in a puppy as they realise that the dogs are immature and still growing but if as an adult the dog is unsound it is more of a concern. Just remember these are very raw puppies in this video so for now perhaps it is unfair to assess their movement...?

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  19. People really need to open their eyes.
    It is so obvious that show line GSD are NOT healthy.
    They look like half frog - half dog.

    Where in the GSD standard says they must move like frogs and their hocks need to be dragged on the ground? Or what about the slide backs they have?

    It is NOT healthy if a dog can't WALK properly.
    Open your eyes.

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  20. A brief comment on the Collie first: CEA and the MDR1 mutation permeats the entire breed to the point where the normals are in a minority, right. Yet this is NOT what we must prioritize!
    CEA causes little problem to the dog and even the MDR1 mutation,while more potentially harmful, now it´s widely known to vets is a problem on a smaller scale. Yes, MDR1 -/- Collies (i e homozygous for the mutation) can suffer severely if exposed to certain deworming agents and certain anasthetics, but then again - there are other medications to choose from, and vets are aware of the situation.

    So if that isn´t the real problem, what is? The massive narrowing of genetic diversity, the effects of inbreeding and popular-sire syndrome, the persistent selection for conformation winning only, that made it at all possible for these two genetic flaws to build up to affect a majority of our breed.
    What else did it do to the Collie? These dogs were famous once for their intelligence and usefulness and courage. They were good herders and defenders of sheep and other animals belonging to their families. Some were used to find injured soldiers during WW1, some even say that the Germans at one time planned bombing the British army Collie kennels because the dogs were thought of as doing too good a job. The breed developed from them now has a bad name for weak nerves, for being hopelessly gunshy, indeed afraid of any loud noise,afraid of shiny floors, afraid to run up stairs... and yes, afraid of sheep, should they happen to meet any.

    I have owned a Collie or two where all this was evident and was a daily trouble for the dog. And I have owned one or two where so much of the old qualities persisted that I´ll never consider any other kind of dog than one of the Collie breeds. But please understand, the methods of breeding selection which caused so many to carry the genes for CEA and MDR1 in our breed did a lot worse damage than that!

    On the GSD youngsters - no, Anon, what you see in the show pups is nothing to do with clumsy puppyish movement. That is what you see in the working GSD puppies - a bit bouncy in the leap at times, a hint of clumsiness, just as it should be in six -months -old pups! The show GSD:s do appear unnaturally quiet - perhaps it was a very hot day, or they were just very tired after a longish walk or something like that? It doesn´t explain their gait, which simply is not normal. Perhaps Mr. Payne could explain to us all just what anatomical structures differ in his pups as compared to the working pups?
    Exactly what has been changed in the lumbar vertebrae, the pelvis, the set of the femur and the tibia relative to each other, to achieve this effect?

    I have been wondering about this for a long time and fell sure I´m not the only one. The nearest to an answer has been the reply from a vet of long experience with X-raying GSD backs - they too often have an extra lumbar vertebra, and a misshapen one to boot. But that obviously is not the whole answer. One single extra lumbar vertabra can´t account for the mess.
    So, GSD show breeders, what is it that you do? If you are experienced and successful at it, we must believe you know what you are about. Well, what is it? What have you done to your dogs?

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  21. Margaret Carter14 August 2011 20:24

    Anonymous 18:02 says

    "Just remember these are very raw puppies in this video so for now perhaps it is unfair to assess their movement...?"

    GSD breeders may fool themselves, but this type of remark fill other dog people with incredulity.
    It is hard to think we are both commenting on the same film clip.

    The enormous gulf between what GSD breeders see as normal and desirable , and the reality that other people see, is illustrated by the fact that these puppies are considered good enough to feature on a YouTube clip

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  22. Coudn't bear to watch the first video clip! :( Poor puppies!

    The GSD's I knew back in the 1960's were able to run, jump 1,5 meter fences and were simply just gorgeous to look at!

    What the hell happened to the breed?

    -labpack-

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  23. Margaret Carter, it will surprise you to know that I was the Anon person who wrote the comment about movement and I don't breed GSD's. My point was not to defend the breeder or the breed it was simply to point out that movement can be quite changeable as a dog grows. In fact I actually breed working terriers that are capable of a days work and work along side our ferrets. The dogs prove they are capable of working by actually doing work.

    Don't be so quick to judge people just because they add a new dimension to the debate! I didn't say the dog was correct, I just said in time "perhaps" things will improve - that also means perhaps they will not?

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  24. Those poor puppies. They look like they're trying to sneak under a very low fence.
    The breeder must be like a hoarder, who looks at their junk-filled, unlivable house and sees nothing wrong.
    Those dogs are deformed: knock-ANKLED, frog-backed, and just plain depressing to watch.

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  25. You are a cruel, awful woman.

    You know perfectly well that I cry when I see show GSDs trying to walk.

    No, I am not being facetious or even hyperbolic. It causes me physical pain to see an animal tortured by his own body that way. It moves me to great anger to reflect that this was done to those puppies *deliberately* by humans whose vanity and delusions have converged. They have been *engineered* to suffer.

    I wouldn't even let PC see it; it upsets him even more.

    My Sophia -- working GSD (not just working-bred, really working) -- came over and poked her head in my lap while I watched. This is uncharacteristic for her -- she rarely asks for any attention of this sort. Snuggling and sensitivity is the English shepherds' department. I'm not sure what to make of this.

    Sophia has great hips and elbows, is structurally gorgeous, a good working dog, no genetic health issues, great stamina. She also moves like a total dork. Meaning, slightly less dorky than the six-month-old working pups in the second video -- who are pretty dorky, but normal for their age, and most likely will grow into smooth and efficient movers. No one is really sure why she's a spazz. But it is one of the reasons she is spayed.

    But for those who ask "What the hell happened to this breed?" I say, "You mean to the *show version* of this breed." Because sound, athletic, and beautiful to sane eyes German shepherds are still out there, doing their jobs.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/HHoulahan/Sophia?authuser=0&feat=directlink

    These other dogs, I don't even know what to call them. They are not German shepherds. They are the perfect proof that selection trumps pedigree every time.

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  26. Interesting that this blog topic should appear so close to Malcolm Willis' obituary. People have been complaining about the show version of the GSD for decades...few so effectively as Willis.

    see
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/books-obituaries/8696298/Malcolm-Willis.html

    Not surprising that Willis was thrown out of the Kennel Club. An honor, perhaps.

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  27. Norman Epstein15 August 2011 14:30

    These are some links to a working line pup that I was training for basic obedience. I think you can see some differences between how those dogs? move and how this one does.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY-NvNJ7qJo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilciVSKCO_M

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  28. I found it sad to see how Minder was almost dragging his back paws after coming out of the paddling pool. He looked very lame at that point. All the pups are unattractive to me personally, they just look almost disabled, not to mention that it looks unnatural on the dogs. I know of some very passionate GSD people on another forum, some from America and ALL are adamant they'd never touch a show line GSD as they've been ruined. All of these GSD folk own working line dogs and all have fantastic and impressive structure with no weak hocks, dragging paws or roached/crippled looking backs/hips.

    Also, while i'm glad to read Randy's breeders have no intentions of breeding him, it does make you wonder why they continue to show him. Also on the link to his pictures there was no mention of his hip score, or the fact he won't be bred from, unless that is elsewhere on the website?

    Louise

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  29. Heather, you know perfectly well what happened to this breed. We all do: the show folks took over part of it. They maintain that what they have done is an improvement in the dog´s structure, enabling it to trot in a more foreceful or powerful manner.
    They actually look at dogs such as those shown in the YouTube video and see an improvement. We, the rest of the world, on the other hand look at the show breeders and see delusion. Only explanation I can find is that their circle is large enough for their market to create its own demand: they produce for their own kind and try to persuade the rest of us to ask for their product.

    But still no answer to the question. We can all see that those show pups and working pups are quite different in their build, regardless of how we view that difference as improvement or abuse of anatomy.
    Why can´t just for once a show breeder stand up and let everybody know exactly what makes up the difference?
    Just which structures have you changed?
    Why so silent???

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  30. Note the text under the photo of Randy on the Korzwin website. "Randy is a very correctly constructed dog". And there you have it, these GSD breeders really believe that is "correct" construction, contrary to all evidence that the construction would be a disaster in a working GSD. Have can you have any rational discussion with somebody who is so brainwashed that they can no longer see the obvious.
    GSD are not the only breed where show breeders have some bizarre but very fixed beliefs about what is "correct" construction. We get the same in setters, breeders and judges who make comments like "this dog is working type" or this dog "could work all day" when it looks nothing like the working version of the breed, is patently not well constructed to be functional, and is so overweight, it would be lying down panting for water after running for 15 minutes

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  31. This video made me physically gasp at what appears to be symptomatic of a neurological deficit in those pups. Dragging feet is never a good sign. Any pup - whatever line should be able to stand and move about properly on all 4 feet AND USE THEM. Especially at 6 months. The problem is perpetuated by certain breeders in the UK who believe that Germany produce the 'right' GSD. No matter that even they have said that there is a problem with hindquarters backs and hocks, and we see them doing nothing about it either. It is big money, and for some breeders (I just looked up this breeder and couldn't believe the numbers of dogs he has), so you see here it is big money too.

    If these are 'outstanding' pups, I dread to think what else is being produced. Sickening and sad

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  32. Anonymous 18.28, I wrote a piece on the changes in the GSD on my blog last year and was told off in no uncertain terms by a member of the Swedish National GSD Breed Club Board for being a "slanderous, manipulative and ignorant" idiot who could not see that the show specimens were in fact "the most functional representatives of their breed". They are functional, I suppose, because they cannot walk any faster than the average middle-aged moderately overweight human who shows them?
    I stood watching an elk last autumn crossing the village road right in front of my dogs and me, moving uphill in brushwood like the wind - surely the greatest trotters ever. Well, its back was straight, with a slight slope over the pelvis, and the hocks rather straight in angle. A friend of mine used to have horses bred for harness racing, natural-born trotters, and guess what? Their backs are straight and their hocks are rather straight-angled. I met a wild wolf just once, another marvellous trotter, who turned and just glided away into the dark, moving so lightly and effortlessly it seemed he ran on air - and of course his back was straight, with just a gentle slope at the pelvis, and his hocks straight-angled. Natural selection doesn´t produce freaks.
    The show GSD breeders´talk of improved anantomy is hogwash. It´s not about dogs, nor anatomy; but it may very well be that you are right in saying it´s a great deal about money.
    Why doesn´t anybody talk about it? I´m convinced that in most breeds the competition is over prestige, a matter of boosting status by winning at shows. But I do think that with the GSD, the competition is also over boosting puppy sale prices, as it was with the Collie a hundred years ago. So why is there no discussion of it?

    Not only do I want to know exactly what changes the show breeders have brought about - I want to know the real reason why they do it.
    So, where´s your answer?

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  33. it wouldnt let me view the video - but this is typical of Jemmima not sure why she has a problem with just one type of GSD, she never criticises those that breed for coat/colour that will breed from known epileptic producers or from a stud dog with elbow score of 3 whos sire had a realy high uneven hip score that is being passed on to the progeny of this one, or the workline breeder who bred from a handler aggressive male to mate father to daughter just run on one to keep and killed the rest or the one who mated a dog with ED score 2 to a dam with ED 2 who also had a sibbling ED 2.
    I thought you (Jemmima) and David were paly whats wrong has he upset you?
    Why is it just the German showline you target do you like the GSDs who look like overgrown collies? or the windy English who have to be strung up in the ring so they wont back away from the judge, or some of the workline that are mentally unstable?
    There are good and bad breeders of all types and problems in all lines so why constantly pick on the WG Showlines?
    I have one of those you despise, unfortunately he does have crap elbows hence castrated but his hips were 0:0 at 13mth, again when xrayed at just over 5yrs due to accident I had his hips, spine, pelvis and stifles xrayed his hips are still clear no sign of HD or DJD, no problems with his spine or pelvis unfortunately one of his stifles was damaged due to trauma; this required a stay at an Orthopeadic centre for bone graft and plate. Whilst there the vet said 'it was nice to see a GSD that looked like a GSD, handsome and not neurotic like they normaly have in'.
    For the others yes he runs around and keeps up with the many other breeds he plays with like he has since he was 8 weeks, he also visits psych wards, a blood donor and he is 100% mentally stable, i have had previous WG show line who have also worked has gundogs all have been sound around my children/grchildren.

    Pam Phillips

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  34. How can anyone compare those two video's?

    The first one of the Videx pups is in an enclosed garden on a very hot day. The dogs are just idling around, panting with the heat and look like normal gangly pups, they never get above a slow trot, they look like any GSD on a boiling hot summer day! Of course they drag their legs, most dogs do when they are hot and cannot be bothered to run about - if you look carefully they drag their front legs just as much.

    In the second video it is freezing cold and the dogs are running at full pelt in a wide open field - half the time you cannot see the 'movement' because they are too far away!!! You can hardly see what colour the two dogs are in the second video, let alone anything else.

    Put the two dogs side by side in the same video - then you will have a fair comparison!!!

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  35. Judges are not required to pick a winner if the entry is all bad. However they might prefer to keep getting judging assignments.

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  36. ‘The most striking feature of the correctly bred German shepherd is firmness of nerves, attentiveness, unshockability, tractability, watchfulness, reliability and incorruptibility together with courage, fighting tenacity, and hardness’.

    ‘Utility is the true criterion of beauty’.

    These are the words of Captain Max von Stephanitz, who would surely be weeping and howling in utter despair if he could see the depths his beloved breed has been brought to. Show-line German shepherds epitomize everything that is wrong with Show Dog World. It takes awe-inspiring working dogs of jaw-dropping beauty (by the above definition) and in the name of a physical aesthetic destroys their conformation, health and temperament, leaving them absolutely useless for their intended purpose. It rips out from them what makes these dogs what they are in all their glory.

    Too few people know what a functional GSD should look like because Show World dominates. How many people who know about Crufts have also heard of the WUSV and watch clips of it, easily available through You Tube? People actually think lumbering, wobbling, roach-backed hock-walkers with a ghastly, exaggerated gait are what GSDs are supposed to be. They’ve never seen a real working dog in action. To make matters even worse, these show-line travesties are marketed to the gullible and naïve as the better line for pets; they are supposed to have easier temperaments because they are ‘toned down’. Talk about temperament in working vs show-line GSDs to a few trainers who deal with behavioural problems before you swallow that one hook, line and sinker.

    As for poor Randy, who cares how he moves. No dog with a known hip score of 50 is the best of its kind in the mind of anyone who is sane. People have objected to my calling the show system rotten to the core but the videos you have posted and the fact that any dog, let alone one from a working breed, can be selected as the best of its kind with a known hip score such as this just make the point for me. It’s beyond disgraceful; it is sick.

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  37. That gait is so odd - like the front legs are doing the deciding and the rear legs are following along at their own rhythm. It isnt gaiting and it isnt pacing.

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  38. They are shaped like, and move exactly like, hyenas. What on earth is the point of this!!

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  39. Emperors new clothes. If it wasn't for the fact that these poor puppies are being saddled with such an unnecessarily disfunctional body, it would be laughable. But who could laugh at that?

    SOMEONE SAID: dogs in the heat of summer.. in a small area.filmed close up. dogs in freezing snow and temperatures .. in a huge area filmed from afar.. comparison.. YOU ARE KIDDING RIGHT? IT IS FORM THAT IS DICTATING WHAT THOSE PUPS CAN OR CANNOT DO! Forget the excuses of slippery floors, rain, cold, sun - denial plain and simple.

    I commend Randy's owners for choosing not to breed him, plenty do with similar scores. Why would someone continue to show him? Because they can, becuase the KC does not require passing health grades for any dog to be shown. Having said that, it seems to me that as a breeder you should recognise that these awards are based on the fact that the best dogs will be able to contribute to the future of breed. So, another dog that MAY be able to contribue, is missing out on placings taken by a dog who cannot.

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  40. "or the one who mated a dog with ED score 2 to a dam with ED 2 who also had a sibbling ED 2"

    You do realise I suppose that the supposedly 'progressive' 'better than the KC' show breeders actively campaigned for an elbow score of 2 to be acceptable for Breeding and fought hard against it being set at less? And so it will be that a score of 2 is acceptable by the GSDL/WUSV allegedly "health conscious" show supporters for breeding purposes.

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  41. Hyenas pace - and some dogs will pace under the right conditions - but their front and hind legs more or less are coordinated. They are also sound and functional

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  42. It's so terribly sad and tragic to see the state of the present day showline GSD, and must agree with Pam to a cetain extent, in that the Alsatian type also suffers exaggeration of angulation to achieve the holy grail of 'tremendous reach and drive.'
    I did my judge's training with the GSD League back in the mid 80s and it was instilled in us then, the importance of sound movement and unexaggerated construction. Even then the GSD was constructionally extreme in comparison to other breeds, but nothing like the pathetic caricatures that we see in the showring today.
    It's just a sad reflection of human nature in the pursuit of extremes to achieve that 'outstanding' show dog, that reveals to what extent we will blind ourselves to vaguely disguised cruelty.

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  43. Hyenas have a good looking gallop as well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZUBC1SSWN8&feature=related

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  44. Anonymous 15 August 2011 20:26 said...

    "How can anyone compare those two video's?

    The first one of the Videx pups is in an enclosed garden on a very hot day. The dogs are just idling around, panting with the heat and look like normal gangly pups, they never get above a slow trot, they look like any GSD on a boiling hot summer day! Of course they drag their legs, most dogs do when they are hot and cannot be bothered to run about - if you look carefully they drag their front legs just as much."

    I guess my puppies and dogs must be completely abnormal then. It's been about 100F off and on for a couple of months and NONE of my dogs DRAG their feet on the ground, even in the shade.

    My puppies must be especially freaky, since they regularly run about when it's hot outside, because they're, you know, puppies, and haven't the common sense yet to lie down in the shade all day:

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Zz39lIHAfQA/SinWYajAbBI/AAAAAAAABdY/l31iUC72J_w/s1600-h/SMTeshiechasingFaust060409.jpg

    http://desertwindhounds.blogspot.com/2009/06/random-doggage-puppies-maul-each.html

    http://desertwindhounds.blogspot.com/2009/04/random-doggage-wild-wild-wees.html

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  45. yes anonymous who posted at 21.59
    certain factions did many opposed, as far as I am concerned the grade for breeding should be 0 ED and I certainly would not recommend any breeder that used a grade above zero

    Pam phillips
    not anonymous, but using that option allows me to post although signed

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  46. Grateful the white GSD never accepted by the breed club

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxnJF9TEv-0

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  47. Well Miss Harrisonn, if I moved five dogs in front of your on with a total hip score of 0, another with a score of 6, one with a score of 12, another with a score of 24 and one with a score of 48, could you tell me which had the best and the worst hips based only on thier movement? In fact there a challenge for you get 5 such dogs, film them (provided you can get owners of 5 dogs to trust you)and post them on here and then lets see all who have made comments which dogs had which score onmovement alone?

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  48. My dog moves similar to the dogs in the first video (however, he still walks on his paws, not half his leg)... And he is also just as "active" as those puppies!

    But as he´s almost 16 and partially paralyzed, I think that´s alright.

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  49. "Well Miss Harrisonn, if I moved five dogs in front of your on with a total hip score of 0, another with a score of 6, one with a score of 12, another with a score of 24 and one with a score of 48, could you tell me which had the best and the worst hips based only on thier movement?"

    Well, Mr Anonymousssss, I would hope to be able to tell the difference between a dog with a hip score of 0 and one of 48, but the point I'm making is that, because it's not always possible, that it would be a good idea for hip and elbow scores to be considered when making up a champion.

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  50. Anonymous said...

    How can anyone compare those two video's?

    Video's what?

    The first one of the Videx pups is in an enclosed garden on a very hot day. The dogs are just idling around, panting with the heat and look like normal gangly pups, they never get above a slow trot, they look like any GSD on a boiling hot summer day!

    They look like no GSD I have ever owned, no working GSD I have seen in my entire life, on any day.

    When my Mel was dying with progressive spinal paralysis at 13, (traumatic, not DM) she had better tone, and moved better until the day when she could not move at all.

    Of course they drag their legs, most dogs do when they are hot and cannot be bothered to run about

    What dogs are you looking at? Absent traumatic injury, I have *never seen this* in any dog that was not a show-bred GSD.

    - if you look carefully they drag their front legs just as much.

    That's called dropped pasterns. Or "walking on their goddamned wrists" in layman's talk. Once again, barring traumatic injury, only ever seen it in showline GSDs.

    In the second video it is freezing cold and the dogs are running at full pelt in a wide open field - half the time you cannot see the 'movement' because they are too far away!!!

    I can see the movement.

    However, that is rather the point, isn't it?

    It shouldn't be difficult for those who own them to post video of their show GSDs running "full pelt in a wide open field." Have at it.

    You can hardly see what colour the two dogs are in the second video, let alone anything else.

    Why is the color of the dog important?

    Put the two dogs side by side in the same video - then you will have a fair comparison!!!

    Oh dear. I don't think that is a good idea *at all.*

    Either the show dog will die of embarrassment or the real GSD will die of pity.

    Best to deny each knowledge of the other. It's the humane thing to do.

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  51. "The first one of the Videx pups is in an enclosed garden on a very hot day. The dogs are just idling around, panting with the heat and look like normal gangly pups, they never get above a slow trot, they look like any GSD on a boiling hot summer day!"

    If the video was taken on the day it was edited, 3 August 2011, then the maximum temperature on that day in Malvern, where the puppies live, was 26 degrees Centigrade, 79 Fahrenheit. Big deal. If I had a puppy that dragged its feet in that sort of temperature, I'd be very concerned. But I don't live in the sort of world where people think a bulldog with a blue tongue is acceptable after a hard day being petted in an exhibition hall with all those ceiling lights on.

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  52. --There are good and bad breeders of all types and problems in all lines so why constantly pick on the WG Showlines?--
    Because of the ludicrous conformation??? Because they 'acknowledged' there was a problem with unsoundness but keep on breeding pups like this and are 'delighted' by them when this is how they turn out? Because they have no strategy for undoing some of the exaggeration but just keep adding to it? Because these pups do not and connot move like a normal dog of similar age? And that is without the health problems that continue to plague the breed. Because they are driving the breed to implosion with genetic saturation? Just some ideas

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  53. The unco-ordination and slight crossing over of the back legs on the turn...........my pug Olive does that........she has compression in her T-spine.

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  54. I apologise for anonymous posting; I'm vicky payne. My computer won't let me post to your blog otherwise.

    Hip scores are not the be all and end all of soundness; a sound dog can have poor hips. That is why we xray to avoid breeding from sound but defective dogs. The effect of hip conformation also seems to vary with breed; breeds wih a degree of dwarfism seem sounder on higher scoring hips than more 'normal' dogs due to different forces acting upon the hip so whilst 20 may be a good sound score for one breed it would be appaling for another in terms of long term soundness.
    Should dogs with poor health test results be banned from the showring? I don't know that they should. If a person has one good looking but slightly defective pet which they gain pleasure from taking round the ring....why not? But perhaps health results should be clearly posted in the catalogue so anyone ringside looking to buy a puppy or stud services can see what they are getting? I can't see why a big breeder would continue to show a defective dog though if their aim is improving the breed not having a nice day out and getting the odd ribbon.

    Moderate angulation is the key to he GSD; there is an excellent working GSD article on the net somewhere (I'll post the link if I find it) that compares the types and how functional they really are; neither the long slopey show dog nor the straight upright 'english' dog are correct (too straight is strong but poor for jumping; see draught horse vs showjumper conformation, the extreme slopeys aren't good for much at all but covering vast amount of ground a a trot)
    I don't have GSD's but I like them....some of them :-)

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  55. ***Put the two dogs side by side in the same video - then you will have a fair comparison!!!*** Perhaps the videos posted of 41/2 mth old working pup by Norman will be considered a fairer comparison? The pup is a month younger and has 'amazingly, complete control of his limbs, all four of which are placed correctly on the ground. Lovely bounce, rhythm and co-ordination. COMPARE and CONTRAST. It did not matter which way the wind was blowing that day, or whether there was an 'r' in the month. Fact is that WL pup has a functional (and to my eye at least), beautiful conformation.

    BTW, I completely agree with the other posters who don't accept that any NORMAL dog drags it's legs because it is hot and tired. I have a 6yr old, 9 yr old and 13 year old GSD, and none of them drag their legs. They may slob around a bit and be less active when it's hot (but not when the paddling pool is out LOL) But they certainly don't drag their back (or front) legs. Dear oh dear.

    How about we ask Videx to film his puppies with a similar age litter of WL pups to see the differences more clearly and have him talk us through the virtues of his pups vs the WL?

    Heather said it best:
    Either the show dog will die of embarrassment or the real GSD will die of pity.
    Best to deny each knowledge of the other. It's the humane thing to do.

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  56. Norman Epstein16 August 2011 15:15

    Let me say upfront in the whole of my lifetime which is substantial the show ring is the worst thing that has ever happened to the healthy future of pure breed dogs. It has brought about one deformity after another and one excuse for each after another and one delusion after another. Lets me first define what I mean by show dog. A show dog in most all instances, is selected *first* for type via color or some other inconsequential quantity, which subordinates function, health and temperament. That is a scientific fact and not an opinion. These traits/trait are not like a keys on a hook in that when necessary they are always available to the breeder in the *degree necessary* to be of use under difficult situations on an ongoing time frame. They (these traits) not only have to be selected but AGGRESSIVELY SELECTED in that a breeder can't just dip into the well of working genes every once in a while and think he or she is by that effort breeding working dogs. There is a reason why high line GSD's are not considered for hard work and the reason is even if by some miracle they wanted to do hard work their conformation wouldn't allow for it. This has been proven over and over again. There is a reason why most all high line type du-jours are larger and sometimes significantly so than their working counterparts. Some of these reasons are but not limited to, the larger size is more pleasing to my eye and more importantly the eye of the judge. If big is good bigger must be better etc. etc.. There is a reason that highline dogs come from a completely different gene pool than their working counterparts. Moreover if the joy of the owner in showing such a dog was the only byproduct I'd say have at it, but these achievement(g)are used as a template for future breeding and the selling of other deformed pups to a public that is in a word stupid by believing what they hear around the showring about the equality of show dogs with working dogs. What you can see in a dog is only 3% of what is critical in that dog. This from Dr. John Burchard, without permission, but I don't think he will mind.

    " The point so many people seem to have trouble grasping is that you cannot create or maintain function by breeding for "proper" conformation. You can, however,create or maintain proper conformation by breeding for function. The form-function link is asymmetrical. "Form follows function" - but not the other way round. Proper form is of course necessary for proper function - but it is not sufficient. Most of the things essential for proper function cannot be seen by any kind of observation ... so the only way to select for them is to select for the function itself."

    The term "covering ground" to describe correct movement is, and I am being kind, a joke. One because you can't judge correct movement by a short trot around a show ring. Hell I have a bad hip but you wouldn't know it if all I had to do was trot around a show ring in front of I can only assume blind judges. What about turning sharply, jumping, stopping and quickly changing directions. Does anyone believe that these abilities are not necessary for hard work. Are you suggesting that a dog that has trouble with these things on an ongoing time frame but has good reach has correct movement. Please. Judging correct movement from a short trot around a ring is much the same from judging ones future wife by how well she dances on a pole.

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  57. >>Waves hand in air<< I have a question about the KC hip scoring.

    I could find info on the range of scores (0-106) and a list of breed means/medians, and the (often gormless) advice to breed only animals that score below the median* -- but I could find nothing that stated what was considered, overall, a "good" or "bad" score, regardless of breed.

    Now, in the US, PennHIP does the same thing -- advising owners to breed animals that are below the breed median. But they also state that dogs with a score below .3 (scale of 0-1) are at "low risk" of developing osteoarthritis -- essentially establishing that as a conservative "safe" threshold.

    Is there a corresponding number in the British 0-106 scoring?

    _________

    *Stupid advice, could only be made by someone who has NO grasp of population genetics.

    Why in Dog's name would you advise breeders to throw out half of the salukis in the gene pool based on their hips being ever-so-slightly less outstandingly perfect than the hips of a lower-scoring saluki? Where is the sense of that? Salukis don't have a hip dysplasia problem, so this kind of relative scoring and culling can only do harm.

    (I assume that saluki owners ignore this advice. I sure hope so.)

    Additionally, in numerically small breeds -- whether or not CHD is a concern in the breed -- the advice to cull half the population every generation based on one metric is the fast road to extinction.

    There are times when a conservation breeding program can intelligently, responsibly, and transparently use a dog with less-than-stellar hips in order to exploit that dog's other good qualities and retain those traits in the gene pool.

    But I digress ...

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  58. Norman Epstein16 August 2011 16:27

    Every breeder should take a course on population genetics as hips are but a small part of the totality of health they are even a small part of a dogs orthopedic system. What good are great hips and bad elbows or a weak cardiovascular system. There are a plethora of mental and physical systems that go into the makeup of health and functionality. In fact they shouldn't be referred to as health test at all but instead genetic disease tests as validating the totality of health is far more complex than a dog passing one or two test. I suggest you read "Bad Genes Baby and Bathwater" http://devinefarm.net/rp/bathw.htm

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  59. By the way Miss Harrison its Ms not Mr, but I digress, so could you tell if thet dog you filmed at Crufts had bad hips, if you have film why not post it here and let all judge (but that wouldnt serve your purpose now would it)?!? as for the telling if a dog is a 0 score or a 48 for some that may be easy (but not as easy as you think) but what about a one which is 12 and one which is 24? are you clever enough to work that one out by movement alone? and dont forget the 12 might have a wry mouth but the 24's line have perfect teeth! The old KCBVA scheme has pass/breeders letter and fail, but this was seen as too wooly to allow true judgements to be made, as a rule of thumb anything of 8 or under was considered as perefct as you could get for most breeds, as dont forget the comparative is made against a greyhounds hips, which is not the ideal shape for most other breeds so a 0 will never be an ideal/perfect score for those breeds infact it could be argued for any breed except a greyhound!

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  60. Norman Epstein16 August 2011 17:31

    OK let's all be the judge after the seeing entire video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIaM3hYFszc&feature=related

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  61. Well, I've seen it before and it sure doesn't get any better. You could swear every one of these dogs had a severe case of HD (and they may well have), but inherently the cause of the godawful movement is the overall anatomy. I have had more than one dog with HD and none have moved as badly as this. I did have a dog with a severe back problem and she could be a bit unstable, but still not this bad, and even then she never showed an ataxic gait. Anon at 16.54, you appear to have a fixation about being able to detect a dog with bad hips just by looking at it. I don't know what it is you are trying to say. A dog that has a H/S of 50 has a H/S of 50 no matter how it moves. It is what it is, but what it is not is a champion, who by definition should be the best of the best in ALL areas. Otherwise, everyone may as well abandon every health test and just see if the dog looks nice. In fact, thinking about it, might as well anyway as the construction of the 'modern' show GSD will be it's downfall first.

    Anon @ 16.54 - what do you think of the movement of the adult dogs in this video? Do you find it normal, acceptable, correct, good? I am curious to know.

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  62. to post at 21.36 Jemima is the one who keeps on saying that a dog to be awarded the title of champion must pass health test well the hip score exam is a form of health test but there is no fail or pass just varying degrees. So I think the question to her is a valid one (But I doubt she will answer let alone acknowldge) that judge cannot make an assessment of a hip score when giving an award, or will she stick out her neck and say what is a pass or a fail for hips?? I know one of my own dogs (not a gsd) had terrible movement as a 5 month old, I had him x-rayed and was old he had HD, his movement improved and had him x-rayed and scored at 14 months, his score 3/3 = 6. I used him 4 times over the next 6 years and his offspring all had scores under from 3 to 10. So yes its a valid question to Ms Harrison , who said above "But I would like to see such things as hip scores taken into account. After all, shows are supposed to be an evaluation of breeding stock" yet when asked could she judge which dogs have which scores she fails to answer ......... odd that isnt it!?

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  63. I agree that the movement in that clip is not good, both sound and untrue but you are missing my point about the puppies - they are young and still growing and developing. I don't know who the parents are to the puppies in the video but if they move like the ones in the later clip posted they are very unlikely to improve in movement, as I said in my earlier post this is when it pays to know your lines.

    Soundness and movement should be really important in the show ring as it one of the aspects of health that can be seen in the ring.

    As for Hip Scores and Movement, bad hips score doesn't always mean bad movement so to judge hips in the show ring at present just by watching a dog move is not possible. A dog can have perfect hips and still move terrible.

    I believe firmly that dog should be bred to for fill a specific purpose whether that be a toy dog bred to sit on ones knee or a terrier bred to go to ground and hunt...Dogs that can no longer for fill their original purpose are on the wrong track to my way of thinking even if they are really pretty. For me a terrier who is not built to run all day and has the hunting instinct and intelligence to work for me cannot for fill the purpose I want them for so I try not to breed dogs that don't work.

    So now many of you will see that we actually agree more than what you think and as I have said before I am in no way trying to defend GSD's or the breeders, I just know that sometimes when I have terrier youngsters between 4 months and 18 months sometimes they don't move at their best but as they get older and mature up often things improve greatly...But I know this happens because I know the dogs I am breeding from and I know a good deal of the breeding behind them all.

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  64. Here in America, we have something called the 'blind taste test.' When they sit you down to ask you which 'cola' tastes better, they don't tell you the formula, or proportion of ingredients they used to make each one - they just want to know which one YOU think is more aesthetically cola-like.
    The breeders who post on here seem to think they're making slam-dunk arguments with hip scores, and 'puppies develop better gaits', 'the videos aren't exactly the same', blah blah blah. We non-breeders keep saying that dog who look like they need body slings to walk just aren't right. It's a Mexican standoff - maybe you call them something else? ;)
    So I suggest (which someone else also did) a very simple solution. Get one of these lunatic, deluded monomaniacal blowhards - except don't call them that to their faces, maybe? :) - to put their best show dog up against any of working dog in a 'taste test.' Some kind of field trial - I don't know what German Shepherds do over there, here they catch barefoot dirtbags running from cops - where each dog is doing the exact same thing at the same time in the same weather on the same terrain, etc.
    If show judging is meant to produce the epitome of the breed, then a champion dog should not just be neck and neck with any working dog, it should beat the socks off him, no?
    And the champion dog they choose can have whatever hip score or breeding future they want - this is simply about, does the trophy mean what it's purported to mean.
    I think that would answer this question once and for all. And it would be fascinating.
    What do you think?

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  65. It's been suggested, Meredith, and if only it were so simple. The problem is that when the working dog wins, the show breeder will claim it is because it has greater drive - drive that has allowed it to overcome its inferior structure to win.

    That said, if there's a show breeder out there who feels confident enough about his or her dog to do this test - fair and square - then let me know. I can promise you a starring role in PDE2.

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  66. Meredith, the blind taste test you describe has a hundred-year history for German shepherds. It's called a schutzhund trial.

    The "high-line" show shepherd's invention in West Germany coincided with the novel institution of the "midnight trial," in which no one actually sees the dogs perform the exercises to earn their titles, all awarded by a small cadre of "friendly" judges.

    In the US and Britain, few even bother with that deception, and both countries were far ahead of the continent in the systematic genetic buggering of this gene pool by the breed-ring biddies.

    The experiment has been done -- go to the "Seiger show" in any nation, and compare the working dogs who are off somewhere competing for schutzhund championships to the hyenas at center stage who can barely bluff their way through a courage test conducted by a helper who affects all the menace of a guinea pig.

    Also, allow me to take issue with one of your statements:

    The breeders who post on here seem to think they're making slam-dunk arguments with hip scores, and 'puppies develop better gaits', 'the videos aren't exactly the same', blah blah blah. We non-breeders keep saying that dog who look like they need body slings to walk just aren't right.

    I am a dog breeder. Many others here who actually *sign their damned names* are dog breeders. This is not a breeder v. non-breeder dispute.

    Those of us who put in the hard work to breed functional working dogs feel the show shepherd's disability even more keenly than a non-breeder may, no matter what our breeds or their jobs.

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  67. " For me a terrier who is not built to run all day and has the hunting instinct and intelligence to work for me cannot for fill the purpose I want them for so I try not to breed dogs that don't work."

    ....Ahhh but how many of them will be expected to work ? ....and in reality how many being bred are simply expected to fit in with the average suburban family ( i.e do nothing more than sit on the sofa and be taken round the block a couple of times ) .....by retaining your terriers hunting instincts - are you in fact rendering them UNFIT for their new purpose ?


    Most dogs are sold as pets and that's their new function -breeders surely should be breeding with this in mind not deliberately producing dogs that live frustrated unfulfilled lives and cause huge problems for their owners because they quite honestly are now UNFIT for their new purpose - look around - rescue shelters are not full of ex show Border Collies or GSD - but they do have more than their fair share of working line ones - homes that can offer high drive dogs the kind of lives they really need are as rare as hens teeth - if we really beileve the mantra of breeding dogs 'fit for function' we should be aiming for low drive undemanding dogs with outstanding temperaments - no ?

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  68. No, Bijou, that we should not.
    If dog breeders are catering to the market you describe - left alone all day while owners work, pee-walk round the block on a short lead three times in that day and sit-on-the-sofa au reste - well, why bother breeding DOGS? Breed cats! Breed budgerigars! Breed whatever low-drive, low-intelligence, content-to-sit-and-eat creature you like that does not suffer from a caged life like that, but keep your paws off dogs!

    Or if for some reason you insist on breeding canines - what`s stopping you from concocting a new variety with no drive, no brains, no size to be bothersome in the telly room and just cute fluffy fur to remind your buyers it´s supposedly a dog? Go for that, it should please your market! If you style it a "breed", too, and fitted it out with pedigree papers and a high-falutin made-up history of great antiquity, along the lines of Lapdogs of Queen Cleopatra, you would just have repeated the classical brand-creating and marketing of many breeds in existence today - and you´d be able to parade the ring with them, too. Win-win, eh?

    On the other hand, breeders have another choice. If you breed terriers, sell them to people who want a terrier. If you breed GSD:s, sell them to people who want one. If you breed any dog that is a dog, sell them to people who understand what a dog is and who will adapt their way of life so that it can contain a large, intelligent, social mammal with great potential for usefulness and companionship.

    Look, the market is already over full with dogs - there are more than are needed or wanted. There are many more breeds than there are niches for. Food and fuel prices will probably cut down the demand for large breeds and for dogs in general in the decades ahead of us. I don´t think that attempts adapt to the market and to keep up demand by breeding the dog out of dogs will change that greatly - which is what you suggest.

    I do think that perhaps it is high time for breeders of working dogs to see to it that the working abilities of our respective breeds - their usefulness - is kept intact, because I think that there will always be a need and a market for that.

    And quite apart from all this - does Bijou mean to say that if all those sit-and-watch-the-telly suburban families who want GSD:s that´s no more than large cats, it is all right to breed them into disabled caricatures?

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  69. Jemima wrote "That said, if there's a show breeder out there who feels confident enough about his or her dog to do this test - fair and square - then let me know. I can promise you a starring role in PDE2. "

    In some of the gundog breeds , there are one or two show dogs who can also still function as the breed was originally intended to do. The problem is that it is only one or two, but they are frequently held up as proof that the show dogs can still work. One of my dogs went from winning a 1st at Crufts to the Ministry of Defence where he is now a trained Explosives and Firearms search dog, the first setter ever to be licensed to do the work in the UK as far as I know. He was a high energy dog, constantly on the go, whom his show owner found difficult to live with, now a much happier dog with the MOD
    I certainly wouldnt claim that ANY show setter could do the same, probably this dog is an exception, and he does have some working/field trial setters in his pedigree. But it is possible

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  70. There are certainly some genuinely dual-purpose dogs in the ring - I know a fair few GWPs (and other HPRs) do a real day's work for instance.

    To clarify, the starring role in PDE2 is an offer to a show breeder of GSDs - for the tests to be fully agreed by all parties before a shot was filmed.

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  71. There is an old saying 'work is a dirty word'. I can tell you that it certainly is among the majority of show GSD breeders. Again, as with a reasonable elbow score being agreed for breeding being fought against (and won), the show community who are 'operating' under the supposedly better GSDL/WUSV system have ACTIVELY DISCOURAGED any move towards working tests.

    I would be interested just to see a video comparison of the motion of a (full)SL (not WLXSL) GSD and a WL GSD, simply to judge, based on movement alone, which is the more correctly constructed dog. I know the answer, as we all do - but for those who have SL who continually insist that their dogs are both correct and sound - prove it. There was so much criticism of the original video (though I don't see how anyone can realistically argue against it) and a myriad of excuses for the hideous movement displayed - slippery floor, angle and so on. Here is the opportunity to prove that these dogs can move properly, under agreed and equal conditions. Who will take up the challenge?....pretty sure I know the answer to that too.

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  72. Bodil your reply is simply more of the same 'head in the sand' stuff that working dog purists breeders spout - the fact is that society no longer needs dogs to work for them in anywhere near the same ways as it did before - I bet if you ask most puppy buyers why they chose the breed they did, appearance would come way before working ability - but coupled with good looks, most pet owners want a tractable undemanding and sociable temperament - gven that overwhelmingly most pups are pets first and foremost it seems to me to be the responsible thing to do to breed dogs whose high drives are not going to become a liability to themselves and their owners.

    I breed BSD - I deliberately aim to produce bombproof even tempered and sociable dogs - to the extent that I use some of my dogs as therapy dogs for the autistic kids I teach - I'm deliberately breeding out the breeds reactivity and wariness towards srangers - this might make them less able to do the job they were originally created for but most certainly fits them for their new - (and more relevant role)

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  73. Bijou, some of the setters I breed go to pet homes, but the owners have usually chosen to buy an setter from me because , even as a pet, they want a healthy, active dog that can keep up with their own lifestyle- outdoors, doing a lot of walking or some other outdoor activity. They do NOT want some bizarrely constructed show dog, that could be paralyzed in the back end by the time it is five or six years old , or that could injure itself if it attempted to jump a fence! They might like a dog with a little less drive than a working dog, but they still want a fit and healthy active dog. Just got an E mail a few minutes ago, from one of Scotland's super marathon runners (up to 80 miles) to say what a good companion (and pet) his young IRWS bitch is! Thats what I like to hear.

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  74. I think the gsd who won crufts competes at trials in Germany

    He is called elmo.

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  75. Bijou, excuse me, but I need a bit of help with abbreviations here. What is a BSD, and even more - what is meant by a WLXSL dog? I suppose SL means Show Lines and WL Working Lines, but GSDL/WUSV -?
    Sorry about this, but some of us try to follow from other countries and maybe I´m not the only one to feel a bit confused.

    Regarding your post, Bijou - will be back in an hour and a half, after my pet Rough Collies have had their second little pee stroll around the block... :-)
    Somebody, I think, has a head stuck in the sand here, but I´m not sure it´s just me.

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  76. Norman Epstein17 August 2011 17:06

    Anonymous wrote in part:

    “As for Hip Scores and Movement, bad hips score doesn't always mean bad movement so to judge hips in the show ring at present just by watching a dog move is not possible. A dog can have perfect hips and still move terrible”.

    I agree that just watching a dog move in a small show ring can’t tell you or that judge much of anything about the health of that dog’s orthopedic system, but in the show culture the totality of health is for the most part subordinate to type and the results of that way of thinking is becoming painfully obvious. That said using a dog can barely walk and or maintain its balance as a template for any breed is, and I am being kind, a disservice to that breed, which is exactly what the show world does over and over again i.e., if it wins breed it, if it wins often breed it more often, which the main reason those videoed GSD’s at Crufts and other shows are physical wrecks. It seems the old breeding maxim that gave us our pure breeds of breeding/selecting a dog that can do it better to a like example is sadly for some communities no longer applicable.

    Anonymous wrote in part:

    “A dog can have perfect hips and still move terrible”.

    I think we can both agree that breeding is playing the percentages therefore breeding dogs with better hips to dogs with better hips will in time produce a higher percentage of a population with better hips and breeding dogs with crappy hips to dogs with crappy hips will in time produce a higher percentage of dogs with crappy hips, and so it goes. Incorrect movement while working will stress a dogs orthopedic system causing it in time to break down. That said IMO hip x-rays aren’t the panacea they are purported to be but should only be used as one tool to identify health. To me a working dog that should be used as a template is one that can do hard work on an ongoing time frame and get up the next day physically and mentally sound and wanting more, no matter the ear set (g).

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  77. Norman Epstein17 August 2011 17:13

    Anonymous said...

    "I think the gsd who won crufts competes at trials in Germany"

    Any dog can compete however if true an occasional anecdote doesn't prove the point.

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  78. Norman Epstein17 August 2011 17:24

    Bijou wrote in part:

    - if we really beileve the mantra of breeding dogs 'fit for function' we should be aiming for low drive undemanding dogs with outstanding temperaments - no ?

    Hell no for a plethora of reasons the main one is there are many jobs now being done by working breeds not because it is fun for their handlers but because they can do it better than what is now available and most of these jobs didn’t exist 100 years ago. Herding breeds are common for many of these roles, to wit:

    * Tracking/trailing Search & Rescue dog
    * Airscent Search & Rescue dog
    * Urban Search & Rescue dog
    * Water search dog (drowning victims)
    * Water rescue dog (retrieve swimmers in distress)
    * Avalanche dog
    * Guide dog for the blind
    * Signal dog for the deaf
    * Mobility assistance dog
    * Service dog for the disabled
    * Police service dog
    * Police tracking/trailing dog
    * Dual purpose police dog
    * Evidence dog
    * Narcotics detection dog
    * Explosives detection dog
    * Guard dog
    * Watch dog
    * Accelerant (Arson) detection dog
    * Military working dog (various roles)
    * Cadaver dog / Human remains detection dog
    * Termite detection dog
    * Vine mealybug detection dog (grape vineyards)
    * Mine detection dog
    * Natural gas detection dog
    * Lost pet search dog
    * Sled dog
    * Sighthound
    * Wildlife detection dog
    * Cancer detection dog
    * Seizure alert dog
    * Livestock herding dog
    * Livestock guardian dog
    * Multipurpose farm dog
    * Agricultural produce detection dog
    * Terrier
    * Upland hunting dog - pointer
    * Upland hunting dog - spaniel
    * Hunting retriever

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  79. Norman Epstein17 August 2011 19:13

    I neglected to inform all that the above list was compiled by Laura Sanborn who has forgotten more regarding the GSD than I will ever learn.

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  80. Bijou said:

    ‘I bet if you ask most puppy buyers why they chose the breed they did, appearance would come way before working ability’.

    And here in an unwitting nutshell is the essence of the problem: an ignorant public who think that just because a dog is pretty they should be able to have one and breeders who cater to them instead of educating them.

    ‘[Gi]ven that overwhelmingly most pups are pets first and foremost it seems to me to be the responsible thing to do to breed dogs whose high drives are not going to become a liability to themselves and their owners.’

    No, Bijou. The responsible thing to do is to breed dogs that are true to their purpose, not pretty but empty shells. The responsible thing to do is to tell pet people to get a breed that is suited to their needs, not a working dog. Any working dog breeder who can’t do both of these things should switch breeds themselves or quit.

    One of my friends was complimented on the beauty of her malinois. The compliment was followed by the remark that you don’t see many of them around (true in Canada). My friend’s response: ‘That’s a good thing’. My response: Let's keep it that way.

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  81. Bijou, Norman Epstein says it much better than I could have done.

    I agree with you fully on one score: to have dogs help autistic children is a valid function for them and a very good thing to do.
    What I don´t understand is the part where you say that you BREED TO CHANGE your dogs to a purpose which perhaps is very different to the purpose they were originally selected for.

    I confess I don´t understand what breed is yours - what is a BSD? But for the sake of argument, suppose it is one of the smaller terrier breeds, used on farms to catch vermin and chase foxes and so still "reactive", as you put it, and not over-fond of strangers.

    But there are other breeds already in existence that would do the job, where you would not have to breed their basic temperament out of them. Just as there are individual dogs in even more breeds, and crossbred dogs too, suitable for it. There is no need to breed new modified dog versions for a purpose that could be done by breeds and dogs that we have already, is there?

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  82. BSD = Belgian SHepherd Dog. A breed that I admit takes my fancy - it's looks appeal to me. Having talked to some (very knowledgeble) owners, no - I don't think they are the dog for me. That is as someone said, one problem, most pet owners do often go by looks alone and don't research whether it is the right breed for them. For those who do not want an active working breed there are plenty of options.
    No one is suggesting that a breed than can do the job it was bred for (the GSD should (and can)fit a whole range of tasks) needs by definition to be a land shark, but they should certainly physically be able to whatever is required of them! Personally i don't think the GSD has gone down this path to suit 'pet owners'. Quite the contrary, I think it has been led down this path by the pursuit of ribbons and glory, with a nice price tag on puppies from the 'rarefied' parentage. Adult dogs too that do well in Germany are sold for vast sums of money, and many breeders of 'the type' are trying to get a slice of the pie. The current vogue for breeding copies of the German dogs is operating from a basic (incorrect) premise, and that is that West German showline dogs are anatomically correct and functional. If you follow a flawed template, everything produced will be equally flawed, with the potential for further deterioration.

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  83. Why do you people insist on the notion of these so called ribbons, go to a champ show and you will see that these ribbons are a pile of crap and only a lucky few get this normally bob the rest of us get a crappy card, as for money I show my dogs at a loss (not GSD's) as it's my hobby, there is very little financial gain to even the big winners I.e bis winners.
    I am not saying the afore mentioned dogs are appealing to me they are not I find it very worrying how they look, but stop pigeon holing us with this them against us crap.

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  84. Bodil Carlsson said...

    "What I don´t understand is the part where you say that you BREED TO CHANGE your dogs to a purpose which perhaps is very different to the purpose they were originally selected for."

    I have absolutely no problem with this as long as it is made VERY clear that that is the breeder's goal. There are certainly breeders that feel that running, chasing, intelligence and independence in large sighthounds (also guardiness and distrust of strangers in Azawakh) are not necessary qualities and they do not breed for them (or do not emphasize them as selection criteria.) As long as they are honest about what they are doing in regards to their puppy buyers, I don't condemn them. If you want a dog that looks like an Afghan but doesn't act like one, and you have a market for that, by all means, produce such dogs. But be clear to the your puppy buyers what qualities you are breeding for and that your dogs are NOT typical and that you are not breeding for a typical temperament.

    I heard an Afghan breeder say once, "My dogs don't have to run, they don't have to catch their food. All they have to do is lie on the couch looking beautiful while I bring them their food in bowls." In the face of people with dogs dripping in coat, and their hind feet in the next county, that insist they are 'preserving' the breed, I admire this breeder's honesty. But, if a buyer whose only experience with Afghans was with a dog from this breeder, they would have to be re-educated before they would be considered for one of my puppies.

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  85. Norman Epstein17 August 2011 23:55

    Those that think breeders should by aggressive selection change or better yet homogenize the drives of working breeds should consider the following. Granted that all things being equal breeding out drive can make for a more suitable pet for a greater number of potential buyers, but it seems that all things cannot be made equal. Removing drive is not like taking a slice of pie leaving only the pie smaller but the remaining slices the same as there is a price to pay for removing anything.. It seems that aggression appears to be on the rise as breeds become further removed from their working heritage. “For example, when Cocker spaniels in America were still bred for work, they were considered by many to be ideal family companions. Now that they are far removed from work in the form of the *American* Cocker Spaniel, they have become widely known to professional dog trainers and dog groomers alike to be the breed MOST likely to bite inappropriately Other breeds with previously solid temperaments are showing degeneration as they've become removed from working breeding, with aggressive Golden Retrievers becoming increasingly common”. It seems it’s not nice to try to fool Mother Nature.

    That said there are some breeds whose jobs have for the most part been eliminated but because of their working heritage i.e.,traits in the degree necessary to do that work, they can be retooled for another function thereby saving that breed. That’s why it is not only necessary but essential that we keep the working traits in our working breeds intact.

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  86. I wonder where Bijou gets her idea that rescues are full of working bred dogs (shes posted it several times on this blog)? I know in my 20 years experience in Border Collie rescue that the vast majority of dogs in rescue come from backyard and farm breeders as opposed to either show or working breeders.

    Dumbing down breeds with purpose into dogs suitable to sit on a sofa is possibly the most ignorant idea I have ever read here. There are dozens of breeds whose sole purpose is to be companions. Theres no need to destroy other breeds by making them into breathing stuffed toys. If you feel you must make a new line of a busy dog then call it something else and stop pretending its the best example of the original breed.

    "Personally i don't think the GSD has gone down this path to suit 'pet owners'. Quite the contrary, I think it has been led down this path by the pursuit of ribbons and glory, with a nice price tag on puppies from the 'rarefied' parentage."

    To that I would say BINGO.

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  87. Marie--those are not hyenas in the video you posted--they are African wild dogs.

    This is a hyena:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR3nDdRUbF4&feature=related

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  88. Bodil,

    You never got an answer to your question about abbreviations, except for BSD (Belgian shepherd dog).

    GSDL – German Shepherd Dog League
    WUSV - Welt-Union der Vereine für Deutsche Schäferhunde/World Union of German Shepherd Dog Associations.

    Anon 12:40 said:
    ‘I would be interested just to see a video comparison of the motion of a (full)SL (not WLXSL) GSD and a WL GSD, simply to judge, based on movement alone, which is the more correctly constructed dog.’

    SL – show line
    WL – working line
    WLXSL – working line crossed with show line.

    Ask and you shall receive:

    Show dogs in motion (Heather, don’t watch this):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_z3fgk9bQw

    Working dogs in motion:
    One of my favourite heelwork videos – you’ll see why. Skip the first 3 minutes (unless you are REALLY interested in tracking!):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPOKVnRlB0c

    And one of the really big boys: 3rd place in the 2010 WUSV Championship. He is a military dog that has served in Afghanistan:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5aqMr_3d7M

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  89. Bijou wrote - "gven that overwhelmingly most pups are pets first and foremost it seems to me to be the responsible thing to do to breed dogs whose high drives are not going to become a liability to themselves and their owners."

    Each time you select away from the original type, you are cutting out a huge proportion of the breed gene pool. This applies to temperament just as much as physical type. The Groenendael and Tervueren have already undergone drastic changes in body proportions from the generic herding type of their ancestors, for the showring. Attempting to whittle this down further, when there are many other breeds and crosses that would suit your purpose, is not what a breed needs for health and longevity.

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  90. Sarah, Thanks for that. I have seen both videos before, the heelwork one with Dale is wonderful. The SL shepherd is horrendous, I don't know how he doesn't scrape his feet raw, poor bugger. Weak temperament too. Is this an american SL?
    I wasn't very clear what I meant - I would love to see a video where both SL & WL are performing the same exercises in the same film. So for example trotted away from the camera, side by side, trotting round the ring so that both can be seen in the same frame, and especially in slow motion.
    Anonymous 23.23 - ribbons is just an ‘accepted’ term LOL. Agreed it does sound more glamorous than it is. You mention ‘them and us crap’. You breed, I don’t – we have different perspectives, that’s just how it is. Breeders are leading the breed down this path, and here I am talking GSDs, as illustrated by the videos. I cannot comment about other breeds I am not involved in. No personal offence intended, but someone has to take responsibility for the state of SL GSDs (and any other breed for that matter) who else can be blamed but the 'show' breeder? Regardless of whether someone has large numbers of breeding stock, or are a ‘hobby’ breeders, they are still responsible for what they bring to (or take away from) the breed.

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  91. I bred my last litter of "German type" GSD's twenty five years ago and watching that video horrified me. If any of my pups had developed back ends like that I would have had them put down before they suffered any more. It's sheer bloody cruelty. What have they done to our beautiful breed?

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  92. ANON @ 13.21
    THAT WAS ROUGHLY THE LAST TIME THAT THE GERMAN TYPE GSD ACTUALLY LOOKED LIKE A GSD
    THEY WERE BEAUTIFUL DOGS AND COULD DO MOST ANYTHING. SINCE THEN IT HS BEEN A SLIDE INTO THE ABYSS

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  93. I have the answer: M is for malformed

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  94. Well done, Bijou, for saying what an eminent behaviourist (Peter Neville) said years ago - something along the lines of as most puppies in most litters go as pets, why is no-one breeding with that in mind?

    Of course we still want the original versions, high drive an' all (and in BSDs it seems to be mainly Malinois who are used for working, I believe, although I know Groens. and Tervs. are both used for agility, working trials, etc.,) but some breeders breeding for more laid-back versions (which isn't the same as an "empty shell"!) sounds a great idea. I've always owned BSD (as pets) and love them to bits, but of the other people I know who've had them, their dogs nearly all ended up being rehomed as they found them too much. Bijou, I would love to know your kennel name as I may well come to you in the future!

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  95. Norman Epstein18 August 2011 17:23

    Mandy wrote in part:
    "most puppies in most litters go as pets, why is no-one breeding with that in mind?"

    Mandy et al. the problem is most breeders are breeding with that (pet examples) in mind, simply because that is the largest market. IMO I see nothing wrong with breeding healthy sound pets because most dogs as you you suggested will be going to pet homes. But it is indeed disingenuous for those same breeders to continue to advertise that these pet examples can and will do and to the same degree all that a dog can that has been aggressively selected for those same traits and or work. They can't. That a Border Collie selected for the pet market will still herd with the same keenness and ability as one that is bred/selected for that work. Or that a show GSD will be able to accomplish what a working GSD can, or that a Boerboel will defend its owner to the death even though that trait was not part of its selection process, yet no matter the same boilerplate verbiage continues to appear in pet/show breeders web sites. It seems they forgot or unfortunately never knew that all traits diminish if they are not aggressively selected, not all that the same time or degree but NONE are immune to that fact no matter how the show or pet community wants that not to be so. Even though they are of the same family the reason that the preponderance of Groens and Tervs are not capable of the same work as the Malinois is they have not for some time been in the degree necessary been vetted and or selected for hard work and the Mal has so it does.

    It is the breeders responsibility to place their pups in appropriate homes and if they can't find them or their dogs are "too much" for the average owner then the breeder should step away from that breed or as you suggested breed pet quality examples of that breed, but for God sakes please be honest about their potential.

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  96. Bijou,

    The argument that most dogs go to pet homes so why not breed good pets is a valid one, but is this what show breeders are doing? Please explain to me for example how the mountains of coat on a show collie help it to fulfill its role as a cherished pet and companion? For that matter, how do the full round muzzle, large prominent underjaw, long, arched neck, and tiny eyes help the show collie be a good pet?

    Show breeders are breeding to keep up with appearance-related trends (fads, really), and if they happen to be diminishing their dogs' intelligence and working instincts in the process (which they are), let's not pretend it is in any kind of deliberate attempt to breed better pets!

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  97. Jess said:

    ‘I have absolutely no problem with this as long as it is made VERY clear that that is the breeder's goal.’

    Sorry, Jess, I agree with you on a lot of things but not this. The only exception I would make to not breeding a dog’s temperament away from its original purpose is if the original purpose really is gone and there is no new function for which a now problematic trait can be redirected. Dog fighting comes to mind and I certainly agree with selecting away from the associated dog-dog aggression in fighting breeds.

    Anonymous 13:17 said:

    ‘I wasn't very clear what I meant - I would love to see a video where both SL & WL are performing the same exercises in the same film.’

    Yes, Anon, it would be interesting. I did look but couldn’t find anything like this (I didn’t expect to) and WL dogs doing heel work was the closest thing I could think of to compare with SL dogs in the ring. Maybe Jemima could set something up for PDE2? Of course, that would mean finding an SL breeder willing to put their money where their mouth is and put a cringing cripple from Crufts up against the real thing. (Can anyone say ‘gauntlet’?)

    Mandy said:

    ‘[S]ome breeders breeding for more laid-back versions (which isn't the same as an "empty shell"!) sounds a great idea.’

    Mandy, you make me weep because Belgians are my breed too. I also love them to bits, for being what they are: loyal, intelligent, pushy, persistent, feisty, challenging and protective. If people can’t handle them or don’t like their temperament, they shouldn’t have them. The solution is an appropriate breed, not a deliberately dumbed-down dog. Splitting dogs from their work and turning them into pretty shadows of themselves is the road to ruination for so many reasons.

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  98. http://www.workingdogs.com/lshaw1.htm

    All the GSD people should read this....

    Vicky Payne

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  99. @Norman Epstein: you said ''Any dog can compete however if true an occasional anecdote doesn't prove the point.''

    Let me get this right, this is a debate about how ''show'' gsd's are incapable of functioning as performance animals, and the top winning gsd in the uk (who won the group at crufts amongst other major show wins) has been successful in performance events as well......and you are dismissing this?

    Is there ANY way to reason with you lot?

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  100. Shepherdess, those who acquire GSD puppies for work greatly increase their odds of success by obtaining one from working lines. The unusual throwback from showlines with good working abilities usually do not produce working abilities in their progeny as well as dogs from working lines. This is analogous to the dog with great hips from a family with poor hip genetics. Such a dog is not likely to be a good hip producer.

    As far as the specific GSD... are you referring to Elmo vom Hühnegrab? What performance events has this GSD been successful at?

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  101. Sarah said...

    "Sorry, Jess, I agree with you on a lot of things but not this. The only exception I would make to not breeding a dog’s temperament away from its original purpose is if the original purpose really is gone and there is no new function for which a now problematic trait can be redirected. Dog fighting comes to mind and I certainly agree with selecting away from the associated dog-dog aggression in fighting breeds."

    The vast majority of dogs in the Western world do not work. They are pets. People who truly want a working dog know where to go to get one. People who truly want a working dog and make the mistake of falling for breeder hyperbole usually do not make that mistake twice.

    In any given litter of working dogs, you will have exceptional dogs, dogs that can do the job, mediocre dogs, and washouts. Same with show dogs, actually (specials quality, finishable, finishable with time/persistence, pet quality.) Just like you can have a variety of personalities in the pups. These are biological organisms, there is variation and that's natural.

    In traditional COO breeding of, say, Salukis or Afghans, only the dogs that fit the first two categories (exceptional dogs, dogs that can do the job) get to live, and thus reproduce. Because the selection process is so very rigorous, and the conditions under which the pups are raised so harsh, you end up with healthy dogs that can work. (This are genetic reasons for this, beyond breeder selection, that I won't go into.) Culling working litters has traditionally been a very harsh process. In fact I have talked to a couple of people who keep lurchers that will kill dogs that wash out, rather than place them in pet homes. And what do you think the really big show kennels of the past did with 'pet' quality pups when they were having 100 or more dogs and 10 or more litters in a year, while the breed was under development? Find pet homes for all of them? Or bucket them? (I'm not going to debate the morality of that, btw.)

    Dogs are not bred under such rigorous and harsh selection processes now. There is a place for the washouts, and that is pet homes. This creates a market, and people will breed to fill that market, because there are not enough working dog washouts to fill it, because most dogs are pets now, and there is a smaller market for dogs that actually need to work, which limits the number of working litters even further. (See how that's all tied together?)

    Additionally, because the selection process is not so rigorous and because of modern veterinary intervention, puppies which are not so robust are not automatically culled, by disease, for example, or simply being born weak, or being a poor doer. Couple that with the fact that fewer and fewer working (or show) dogs are being bred, because the market for them is smaller and changes in dog culture preclude the heavy culling of the past, and you have almost unavoidable close breeding and it's attendant problems.

    Limiting the breeding, even in a numerically large breed, to dogs with 'working ability' or 'traditional' temperament is stupid from a genetic standpoint, especially with all the new information that is coming to light as genetic research becomes more sophisticated. Same with show dogs, which is pretty much what Jemima keeps going on about.

    The entire situation is far more complicated than just 'breeding a dog’s temperament away from its original purpose.'

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  102. Shepherdess
    I think you have a fair point with Elmo. He does have ScH3 qualification. I think in the interests of fair play it shoud not be dismissed.

    Perhaps then you can elaborate upon what performance events he has been successful in? This is not said to be confrontational, I just wouldn't know where to look for his results in performance events.

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  103. Just a thought for those insisting working ability/drive is adhered to. It's a nice aim (and one I agree with to an extent) but problematic in that there is a limited market for this type of dog. It can be sold to someone who is going to use it for its original function, or possibly a performance pet home. However, if for some reason this limited market is saturated, what is going to happen to the remainder that are bred, if they are unsuitable for normal family life?
    It's all very well suggesting that only people who are prepared to commit to the high demands of a 'working dog' should have one but this means that only a small number of puppies can be bred annually to meet the needs of this specialist group. If there is only minimal demand for a breed then problems can arise due to limited gene pools. It isn't a cut and dried situation at all. While being universally popular has significant drawbacks, so to is being too much of a specialist.

    By the way, these are generalised comments, not related to the breed under discussion as it's temprement rather than construction to which I am referring.

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  104. Sally Ann, ALL GSDs that are bred in Germany must have a working title -- Schutzhund or HGH, which in practice is almost always Schutzhund.

    The top German show GSDs almost all have SchH3 titles. Do not confuse show GSD schutzhund titles with doing well in performance. There is a whole parallel universe in Germany for show GSDs to get their schutzhund titles under questionable means.

    I have seen SchH3 titled GSDs in a national Sieger show that could not even heel, something any decent SchH1 titled dog can easily do. Most of these SchH3 show GSDs had such poor courage in the watered down Sieger show protection test that they could not have withstood the pressure of a schutzhund championship trial decoy. Many of them could not even withstand the watered-down pressure of a Sieger show decoy.

    Doing well in schutzhund generally means doing well in regional or national schutzhund championship competitions. Occasionally one will see a German showline GSD competing in those venues (never an American showline GSD). I saw a German showline GSD bitch compete at the 2003 USA schutzhund national championship that did very well in schutzhund protection. Sadly, show GSD fanciers generally do not value dogs with good working abilities when breeding. If they did, working abilities in the show GSD population would not have deteriorated as much as they have.

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  105. Laura very informative thank you. I kind of thought something similar and have heard of 'Midnight' trials. I looked up Elmo, and all I could find were UK show titles, inc UK Vice Sieger. Do the UK Sieger entrants have to demonstrate working/protection phases at the event on the day, or is it sufficient just to hold a title? I guess that's what I was trying to get at, has Elmo actually been successful in 'performance' ?

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  106. Sally Ann, I do not know about UK GSD Sieger shows. In Germany and North America the GSD Sieger shows do include an abbreviated protection routine, and these do not demonstrate success in performance. If Sieger show judges would stop instructing the decoys to go easy on the dogs these events could at least filter out the dogs with poor courage.

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  107. "Each time you select away from the original type, you are cutting out a huge proportion of the breed gene pool. This applies to temperament just as much as physical type."

    .....but does'nt this apply to selection for high drives too ? ...or selection for health ? ..... whenever we breed for specific criteria we automatically exclude many dogs that do not fit our aim ..it seems to me that breeding for good temperament is just as valid an aim as breeding to retain high working drives .

    " The Groenendael and Tervueren have already undergone drastic changes in body proportions from the generic herding type of their ancestors, for the showring."

    ...no they have'nt ...head type has changed a little but body proportions have remained the same ...


    Julia's excellent post highlights the real problems that working breeders often refuse to face .....if you insist that working breeds should ONLY go to working homes then this will decimate gene pools ...and make rehoming such dogs if the need arises very much more difficult...

    Thank you Mandy - my affix is Gron-De-Mon .

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  108. Bijou wrote - "but does'nt this apply to selection for high drives too ? ...or selection for health ? ..... whenever we breed for specific criteria we automatically exclude many dogs that do not fit our aim ..it seems to me that breeding for good temperament is just as valid an aim as breeding to retain high working drives ."

    Yes of course, breeding for any specific criterion does reduce your selection. It's when you are selecting for those which are different from the usual type in the gene pool that your choices become severely restricted and so do most harm. And it could be that the temperament you desire is now more common than the original type. That would be due to the gradual weakening over countless generations of selection for the showring. If you look back over your extended pedigrees, I'm sure you will see bottlenecks and popular sires/dams. These are the dogs that were desirable in type and temperament for the showring and that reduced the gene pool dramatically.

    "....no they have'nt ...head type has changed a little but body proportions have remained the same ..."

    When you live with a breed it's hard to see it in comparison to the normal type. What Jemima would call 'desensitisation' I believe. The Terv and Groen have undergone body changes that now give them a very upright, leggy and spindly appearance.

    You have noticed that the head has changed, and that's in the same direction as body proportions. You may not know that proportions of head and body are genetically linked. No matter how hard you try to retain a broader head, it will lengthen and narrow along with the body proportions that have been selected for.

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  109. I've just spotted this article on the Videx website about sloping topline and the increased risk of osteoarthritis in GSDs. It's written by a vet:

    http://www.videxgsd.com/sloping_topline.htm

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  110. Norman Epstein19 August 2011 15:36

    Please the below offerd on another forum by Laura Sanborn. It seems PennHip agrees with the orthopedic damage done by a sloping i.e.,deformed, topline.

    "PennHIP studies suggest that GSDs have a higher rate of HD than they should relative to their hip joint laxity. http://www.pennhip.org/djdprobability.html

    Quoting from PennHIP:

    German Shepherd dogs were at significantly higher risk than other breeds having similar joint laxity. Rottweilers, Labrador and Golden retrievers appeared to be more "laxity resistant" relative to German Shepherd dogs. It was hypothesized that this may be due to the conformational differences between these breeds. The "folded up" stance of the GSD may act to increase joint forces acting on the hip. Also the smaller muscle mass in the GSD may enable conversion of passive to functional laxity (during weight bearing), in turn increasing stresses on joint cartilage and subsequent degenerative change."

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  111. Norman Epstein19 August 2011 16:59

    .
    Bijou wrote in part:

    “.....but does'nt this (slection) apply to selection for high drives too ? ...or selection for health ? ..... whenever we breed for specific criteria we automatically exclude many dogs that do not fit our aim ..it seems to me that breeding for good temperament is just as valid an aim as breeding to retain high working drives”

    But Bijou the working GSD is not universally bred for and single aim but bred/selected for many aims (please refer to previous list of jobs for working breeds that are dominated by herders). The original GSD was and still is bred to be an all-round dog therefore there is not a selection for one drive or type but the selection for a balance of all drives necessary for a function. Moreover the degree of those drives necessary for one type work i.e., scent detection, would not be the same as for a small town police K-9 or that same K-9 in a large urban city or would not be the same balance for SAR work or cancer detection. In order for a working dog to be of use all of their drives, health, nerve and temperament must not only be significantly in evidence for *that work* but in addition must work in concert with each other. What good is any one drive no matter its degree if it is unable to be controlled by the others via its handler? Function always puts a cap on overloading anyone drive except when that one drive is necessary for a particular function and function also indicates when a drive is lacking. Therefore what’s perfect for one working handler might not be for another. If a breeder needs to increase any one drive he has a plethora of tested GSD’s to choose from. Because of that it is much more difficult to breed successful working dogs than it is to breed winning show dogs that only must mirror a standard to be successful.

    Regarding your concern about this selection process resulting in a breeding bottleneck for the working GSD, rest easy as Laura Sanborn in part found the following.

    “Yet when I did quantitative pedigree analysis for GSD pedigrees, the results indicated very low 10 generation COIs for working GSDs, nearly always less than 5%, including for the top stud dogs. 10 generation COIs for German show line GSDs were higher”.

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  112. You'd expect something as stark as the revelation that osteoarthritis and sloping topline have an association, would generate a little more than a head-in-the-sand approach, on a normally lively show forum...... or would you? This was nearly two years ago -

    http://www.pedigreedatabase.com/german_shepherd_dog/forum/23217.html

    http://www.pedigreedatabase.com/german_shepherd_dog/bulletins.read?mnr=350269&pagen=1

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  113. Jess and Julia,

    Thank you for the thoughtful responses. Actually I have thought this through, am familiar with everything you say and do ‘see how it all ties together’. I’m going to focus on the main points.

    Part One

    1. The Big Nasty – culling because there are not enough homes. Two points.

    i) It’s already happening, isn’t it, quietly and unofficially among breeders, as Jess states, and openly and officially through that nicer-sounding word: euthanasia. How many million dogs were openly culled in shelters and vets’ surgeries last year? So we’re not talking about something that will suddenly start happening that isn’t happening on a large scale now.

    I read somewhere that one quarter of the millions of dogs euthanized in US shelters are purebred. Well, you can blame backyard breeders all you want, but the more you turn a dog into a pet, the more backyard breeders there will be, so as far as I’m concerned, turning working dogs into pets will exacerbate, not solve, the problem. (And btw Bijou, I too am not sure why you think it’s WL dogs that predominate in rescue. I keep an eye on BSD and GSD rescue in Canada and the States; they flag the WL dogs and there aren’t many of them.)

    ii) The assumption that only breeding working dogs as working dogs would lead to more culling rests on the assumption that this would lead to more working dogs being produced. I am not completely convinced this would happen on a huge scale: the breeders who are currently producing pets are for the most part no more capable of handling the real thing than the pet buyers are. I don’t see them switching on masse to real working dogs; they would be far more likely to switch breeds themselves in order to cope. If I’m right, the number of working dogs going to suitable homes wouldn’t change much and neither would the number of pets going to suitable homes, especially in the long run because in my experience, and as Jess also point out, there’s one mistake that pet people do learn from fast, and that’s getting a working-line dog, no matter how pretty it is. What would change is the proportion of breeds going to pet homes. Even if I’m wrong, breeding working dogs as pets won’t/doesn’t save them from culling. See Point 1.ii above and Point 4 below.

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  114. Part Two

    2. Yes, every litter will produce individuals of different capability to do the work required of them, including ‘washouts’ that are suitable for some pet homes. Again, this happens already. If you are talking about now, you can’t have it both ways. Either there are more than enough pet-quality dogs from working lines, so why create more dogs through a pet line? If there aren’t enough pet-quality working dogs, why not breed more working dogs instead of creating a whole new line of pets? Which is it?

    3. Genetic health is the other Biggie, and you know I am concerned it about along with conformation and yes, the ‘breed more of them as pets to preserve diversity argument’ is seductive.

    i) This argument rests on the notion that more individuals in itself leads to better genetic health for the population. However, the data from Summers et al (2010) appear to throw a science-based spanner in the works for this argument in terms of genetic health. If you look at the number of genetic disorders associated with each of the top 50 most popular breeds registered with the KC, guess which of our friends comes out tops: the GSD, number 5 in terms of popularity/numbers registered and number one in terms of inherited disorders: 58 (it goes up to 77 when you include conformational and conformation exacerbated disorders – still tops). Dog number 1 in terms of popularity/numbers, the Labrador retriever, comes in as number 4 in terms of inherited disorders: 44 (going up to 55 with conformational and conformation-exacerbated disorders taking it to number 6 in terms of total number of disorders). Both of these breeds are working dogs turned into pets. The first five breeds in the list of the number of inherited defects are all in the top 10 list of breeds for popularity. They are all working dogs that have become popular as pets. There are exceptions in the overall findings and caveats such as the lack of prevalence data for many of these disorders and the fact that not all of them have a severe impact on health and welfare. I am also aware that it is logical that a larger general population (such as good old mongrels) would have more disorders (though possibly with lower prevalence). The relationship between popularity/numbers and genetic health is not simple and I am not trying to make a simplistic argument here, but it is food for thought and we all know there is a problem with genetic illnesses and purebred dogs even if we don’t agree on what it is and how to solve it. More individuals does not automatically mean better genetic health if you are breeding from a compromised gene pool.

    ii) Carboli et al (2007) found that the loss of genetic diversity among the breeds they studied was stunning: ‘>90% of unique genetic variants … over six generations’. However, this loss of diversity was not caused by a population crash but by the poor breeding practices demanded, encouraged and enforced by kennel clubs the world over (and Working Dog World is guilty of this too and needs to get its act together). Again, a large number of individuals does not in itself lead to genetic diversity.

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  115. Part Three

    iii) I would also point out that in breeds where there are already working and show lines, the two populations have been found to have become genetically distinct from each other. Instead of one population with more genes floating around, we now have two populations with fewer genes in each group. Not good for health. Correct me if I’m wrong, anyone out there, but I don’t think many breeders in either group, rightly or wrongly, would even consider accepting genes from The Other Side in their prized dogs. I know a few GSD breeders do cross working and show lines: I also know what the working people of my acquaintance think of them. I suspect show people are in the same mindset.

    iv) Of course a population needs a certain number of individuals to maintain genetic health but as it stands, I don’t accept that breeding more individuals as pets will automatically help the working breeds. I would argue that instead, we should stick to breeding working dogs as working dogs and breed smarter. And being a heretic, I’m not against throwing in the odd appropriate outcross to increase genetic diversity ☺.

    4. Final point: as a breed increases in popularity among pet people, there seems to be a corresponding increase in badly bred dogs as more and more poorly informed, less conscientious breeders become involved. How does this help? Even when the breeders see themselves as ‘responsible’, look at what has happened to the conformation and health of the show/pet lines of working dogs, including those produced by ‘responsible’ breeders. This is a direct result of separating form from function and I’ll let the results speak for themselves.

    Do we really want to encourage this and inflict it on more dogs? How many show/pet line dogs lead seriously compromised lives in terms of health and welfare related serious health issues? How many show/pet line dogs are euthanized because of poor health and temperament caused by separating them from their work?

    See how it all ties together? ☺

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  116. And finally, Part 4

    I am not actually a binary thinker. Frankly, I agree there may be some valid points in the ‘turn them into pets’ argument. My point is that this not a win-win proposition. If you put it into practice, you create serious health and welfare issues and indirect culling as physically and temperamentally weak animals are euthanized. If you take the stance that working dogs should not be bred as pets, the culling that results is more direct but you have healthier animals. There isn’t a perfect solution: welcome to the real world. Whatever stand you take, you must live with the problems it creates. I have made my choice and it may (or may not) be more immediately brutal, and others are free to make a different one, but don’t kid yourselves that it won’t create serious ethical problems and ultimately even more culling too. But of course, what you don’t see or think about doesn’t hurt.

    I don’t think I’m the one that has my head in the sand. What I do have in the sand is a line and it is formed by the following words: Form and temperament follow function. Utility is the mother of beauty. Leave working dogs as working dogs.

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  117. Just been to the vet two working Springers and working GSD in their waiting room , all three muzzled as they cant be "trusted" one of the springers and the GSD scared witless at everything and person show came in the door......would I want either of these working types...........NOPE!!

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  118. Sarah, thank you for helping out with unfamilar abbreviations - I was feeling a bit stupid for a while. Thanks even more for clear and beautifully put views!

    Bijou, I apologize for not having realized that your BSD:s are of course Belgians, how silly of me. Maybe I´m wrong, but here´s what I think. If your breed had actually been a sharp rat-catching terrier and you tried to breed its temperament and nature out of it - I´d say you were not right. There already are breeds like Papillons and Japanese miniature spitz in the world - lovely, harmless creatures that seem to do well without long walks and an agility course or a task. No need to turn the terrier into one.

    But Belgian shepherds? Aren´t they basically made to cooperate with their owner in many fields of work, among them interacting with/herding/defending sheep/cattle, and therefore sensitive to how you expect them to handle those animals, and also sensitive or with a sense of judgement concerning them?
    You expect your sheepdog to do as you say, but also to realize when a sheep is sick, in trouble, or in need of help. If somebody should develop that capacity to have their dogs assist children, isn´t that rather making use of a quality that was already there?
    Old potential put to new use is not the same as making pets out of every breed. I think that perhaps it will be what the breeds need to survive into the future.

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  119. I find it both interesting and ironic that this breeder has this veterinary opinion (among others) confirming that the shape of the modern show GSD is detrimental to health, and posts it on a forum and his own website, and then breeds exactly that shape of dog. What does that say about this breeder exactly? Well I would call it 'window dressing' and trying to kid people that he actually gives a damn about dog health.

    I have yet to see a single person/breeder who can stand up and defend what they are breeding, and tell us what the 'virtues' are. The silence is deafening.

    Shepherdess - any luck with Elmo's 'performance' successes yet please? It would be nice to give credit if some is due as you stated, in the interests of balance.

    Anon @ 20.18 - I don't think that is a fair judgement on such an isolated situation. I have never once in 35 years seen any dog muzzled at my vets and I am sure plenty were working dogs. Having said that, I personally would not want a very high drive dog as a companion dog. What I do want is a GSD that is confident, and able to do whatever I ask of him, an 'all round' dog - my input into that is training with him for whatever the desired activity is, and when we are just relaxing at home, or walking in the park, I want him to be comfortable with that too.

    Having seen some footage going round of the 'washouts' at the last German Sieger, I was deeply saddened at the dogs which ran away from the helper in the protection phase. To even be in the Sieger these dogs have to have titles, so it does make you wonder.

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  120. The "Stop the BBC Making Another PDE" Facebook site yesterday recruited breeder David Payne - which they're all very pleased about. AKC judge/Bull Terrier Breeder Jan Dykema has just asked him there: 'Did you join due to Jemimas "video? what a travesty'

    I fear the travesty in Jan's eyes is my posting of the video, not actually the video itself. Is that right, Jan? I know you look in from time to time, so please do let us know what you think.

    Jemima

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  121. Well, to me that says 'Guilty as Charged'.

    If breeders and breed clubs had taken on board the very real issues brought to light in PDE, and taken steps/devised a strategy I would have expected them to welcome the opportunity to show that in PDE2. This campaign to try and prevent it being made suggests to me that they are running scared. JMO

    Still if you look for any health guidelines from GSDL or the GSD breed council you will be hard pressed to find anything but the bare minimum. What you will find is a plethora of information about shows/events and results. It is easy to see where their priority lies. As for a strategy to address the 'issues' in GSD conformation that they 'accepted' was a problem - well there isn't one. That's why certain people don't want PDE2 to be made - it will show that they have done precisely nothing to improve the situation. I hope there are some breeds and breed clubs that have developed a proper strategy for dealing with their conformation/health issues, as I don't want to believe they are all as indifferent to the health of their breed as the GSD brigade.

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  122. Norman Epstein20 August 2011 15:22

    Anom 20:18
    Who would want them if they were as you described but not because they are working(?) but because they are obviously poorly bred. Yes there are poorly bed working dog but much fewer of them than their show counterparts. But I’m confused as the behavior you described “scared witless at everything and person that came through the door” is just the opposite of a useful working dog that still can be considered a working dog. That behavior is more like the behavior of a dog selected first for type which subordinates nerve and temperament a lack of which can and often does promote the behavior the described behavior. That said I believe it might be a bit premature to judge a population of millions on two dogs, but that’s just me.

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  123. A working type springer, shepherd or collie is no more likely to be untrustworthy and need muzzling than any other dog THAT HAS BEEN PROPERLY BROUGHT UP. I once had the pleasure of performing life saving surgery on Hastings most feared police dog. I had to keep him in overnight and as a bit worried how he might react to waking up amongst strangers who wanted to poke him and prod him and stick needles in him. To call him a gentleman doesn't go far enough; this dog knew when he was at work and when he wasn't. He could play soft mouthed with kids all day then bring down the nastiest criminal at night. WELL BRED, REARED AND TRAINED DOGS PLACED IN SUITABLE HOMES, be they pedigree, show type, working type, designer cross or heinz 57 mongrel, make good dogs. Badly bred, reared, untrained dogs in unsuitable homes make bad dogs. Simple. All breeders should strive for temperament and health then strive to find suitable homes. Some will manage this as well as breeding to a conformation standard!
    Getting back to the main point I fail to see how the shepherds featured in he first video fit either the old or new GSD standard. I'll give them that they are puppies but their shape and gait still gives cause for concern.
    Did anyone view the conformation article I linked to? What did anyone think?
    Vicky Payne

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  124. I think this idea about breeding 'pets' is fascinating! Personally I'm not sure what a 'pet' is. Most dogs I meet have a 'job' even if that is simply keeping an old person company and getting them up in the morning :-) There is no need to breed 'pet' GSD's! If you want an intelligent, trainable dog for long country walks and active games consider a GSD. Even a high drive working line male, if properly reared, handled and trained would make a good dog for this situation. Properly trained he'll learn what is acceptable and what isn't and with a proper outlet for his drive to track, fetch, run etc he's not going to ever be a danger. He'll only learn to bite if you teach him to! Of course if you want a dog for 20minutes round the block he might not suit.....but a pug would. We already have dogs for every situation. In mthe perfect world show, working and pet dogs are all the same dog. They are in my house anyway :-)
    Vicky Payne

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  125. Vicky
    Yes I read it, and it was very interesting indeed. 100% spot on. Wonderfully explained and illustrated. There is no doubt that she is a good source to understand the correct (and I emphasise correct) GSD standard. Every breeder should read it and probably has, but then ignores it to suit.

    BTW I take it you are not a relation of this breeder David Payne LOL ?

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  126. "Anonymous said...
    Just been to the vet two working Springers and working GSD in their waiting room , all three muzzled as they cant be "trusted" one of the springers and the GSD scared witless at everything and person show came in the door......would I want either of these working types...........NOPE!!"

    So you went to the vet and found the very odd situation of 3 dogs that required muzzling in the waiting room (which I find somewhat suspiciously abnormal, I almost never see any dog of any breed of any breeding muzzled in the waiting room much less 3 in one place) and you know about their breeding? I am always amused at show breeders who think working line dogs have bad temperaments and are out of control, when the skills needed to succeed at working include a stable temperament and the strong desire to work with their humans.

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  127. Hi Sarah

    Firstly, as always thanks for the interesting posts. As we have both said, the subject of striving to retain working drive in all dogs of a breed is not one with simple answers and I do agree with some of what you have said.

    Persoanlly, as far as the UK is concerned, I would really like to see the KC promoting more performance aspects for show dogs. I know many in the US and presumably Canada too (?) are campaigned to their confirmation titles fairly young and then go on to compete in performance sports such as obedience or rally. I like dogs to demonstrate physical ability in addition to being visually correct examples of their breed and feel it makes for a more interesting life too!

    Another point I would like to make is that in order to keep the focus of a breed principally on working ability, it would be necessary to ensure that 'washouts' are neither bred from or sold to unsuitable owners. Simply because a dog is unable to fulfil its function as a working dog, doesn't automatically mean it will transfer to being a fantastic pet. Very often, the reason some dogs are 'washouts' from a working perspective is because they are not tempramentally sound enough to do the job. This could mean they are too gentle to chase down criminals, it could also mean they have shown agressive tendancies, nervousness etc. Sheepdogs, bred from generations of top herding ancestors may display too much 'predator' instinct to safely work sheep, but this may also mean they are prone to 'hunting' cats, joggers etc. It would be necessary to ensure such 'failures' were not bred from, which will require much tighter restrictions.

    Equally, many famillies enjoy the company of a pet retriever, spaniel, labrador etc which are nearly always from pet/show lines. If the family is unable to meet the increased physical and mental requirements of a working bred dog, should they be forced into accepting they would be better off with a bichon?

    The primary reason for the success of the domestic dog is its tremendous ability to adapt to changing requirements of the society that it lives in. Their main role has changed from a resource to a luxuary. The expectations placed on dogs to 'restrain' their behaviour increase with each passing decade. A child bitten by a roaming dog in the 1900's would be par for the course. These days it makes headline news. People accept that a horse might kick if startled, or a cat scratch if angry but expect dogs to behave impeccably (far better, in fact than their own children!).
    In an ideal world, every dog owner would be able to provide appropriate excersize, training, social interaction, grooming etc but realistically, people will be working, or have a sick relative, young children etc and the dog has to fit in around these requirements. Circumatances change - working longer hours, illness, children etc.
    Isn't it preferable to breed for a 'pet' mentality that can deal with these possibilities than to have fustrated dogs with behavioural issues simply in order to maintain working drive which has little relevance in today's society?

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  128. I comment only here regarding GSDs in response to Julia's post. The ideal GSD should have the 'ability' (confidence, courage, trainability) to work, or be a pet companion. All dogs, whatever their original design should have mental and physical stimulation and adequate exercise. I've seen enough problem dogs from pet lines who display seemingly behavioural issues, only to find that at bottom they just don't get enough exercise or mental stimulation. As a behavioursit friend once said to me 'they would be better off with a china dog on the mantelpiece'. Whatever the breed this is going to be an issue with certain owners. When the GSD breed was conceived this very ideal was stated, that he should work as required, be a protector when required and/or be a companion just as required. The 'universal' dog.

    One part of your post resonated with me:
    A child bitten by a roaming dog in the 1900's would be par for the course
    Now, whilst I am not quite that old, I was bitten on several occasions by 'roaming' dogs as a child, and I never got sympathy, and was always told it was my own fault for approaching a strange dog (which I had of course been admonished not to do, frequently). No it never made front page news, even though they were not serious attacks, I did end up being protected for life from tetanus! It took me right back to being an overly enthusiastic child when I read that LOL.

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  129. Hi Julia,

    As for your question about whether a family that wanted a retriever etc but couldn’t cope with a WL should accept that they need another breed, call me hard-hearted but my answer is ‘yes’ (though at this point it’s a hypothetical ‘yes’ because I am also aware that the reality is such a family does not have to make a choice). And if they have a lifestyle that does not meet the needs of any dog, they shouldn’t have one at all. All dogs require some level of exercise, mental stimulation and companionship, however ‘toned-down’ they are, and if you can’t meet those needs, even the best-bred dog will be damaged.

    Some may think I’m a raving, head-in-the-sand extremist. I don’t want to get personal but perhaps it would help to understand my position if I explain the following:

    • I believe it is the responsibility of people to meet their dogs’ (and any pet’s) needs, not vice versa. I spent 7 years volunteering most of my free time to animal rescue, dealing with the mess that often well-intentioned, nice people create through thoughtlessness and selfishness. And yes, the people who cause the mess are by and large, nice, not evil. I now volunteer as a trainer, trying to provide more very nice people with often unsuitable dogs (usually purebred from ‘responsible’ breeders who are breeding pets, not working dogs) with the skills they need to keep the dogs in their homes and out of the shelter.

    I’ve seen too much of what happens when it goes wrong, and I don’t blame the animals. If you want a pet, make sure you can meet its needs and get one that’s suitable

    • I believe what makes a dog what it is and gives it its true beauty is the mental and physical soundness to do its work, and that includes being a pet, an honourable and valuable role though one not all dogs are suited to, at least in the average pet home. There are plenty of breeds, and beautiful mongrels on death row, who will do the job of being a pet superbly. Why destroy the beauty of working dogs? Just my opinion and others may disagree, but I will fight to retain that beauty.

    • The show ring/pet market has consistently damaged the health and temperament of the breeds taken down this road. What has happened to the show GSD sends me into the stratosphere with rage at the physical and mental destruction of one of the most versatile working breeds. I have a similarly versatile working breed, still a very healthy one, and I truly fear for it if it gains in popularity as a pet, which is why I will challenge every step of the way what Bijou and Mandy, who I am sure are very nice people, are doing to it.

    I’m holding my line in the sand.

    It’s always a pleasure talking with you ☺.

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  130. Sarah, I think you nailed it.

    You also said:
    What has happened to the show GSD sends me into the stratosphere with rage at the physical and mental destruction of one of the most versatile working breeds. Me too.

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  131. "Just been to the vet two working Springers and working GSD in their waiting room , all three muzzled as they cant be "trusted" one of the springers and the GSD scared witless at everything and person show came in the door......would I want either of these working types...........NOPE!!"

    Beth F has a point to the above comment. If I see three dogs of any breed in the vets with a muzzle - well hello, there is such thing as owner responsibility. What about the other dogs of mixed parentage that have the same control and social issues. There's breed and deed and there's owner and incompetant.

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  132. Thanks for posting Jemima. It's only when you see the movement of these dogs that one realises how the working lines and confirmation lines are now worlds apart and not in a good way.

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  133. Someone just told me about this, and I have read through the comments (phew!)
    While I appreciate the comments about working ability and agree with it, as a starting point I would settle for a dog that can walk and move properly.

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  134. Norman Epstein22 August 2011 23:48

    Consider the following, because of pet/show breeders deselecting for those drives that define their breed they have fewer and in many cases none of the working abilities to the degree necessary to maintain or God forbid improve those same abilities/traits. Because of that they have become a sub-set of that breed, sub-set being defined as “a set of which all the elements are contained in another set”. However it would be incorrect to maintain all or even a majority of the pups from a working breeding are suitable for work. In an arbitrary litter of 10 approximately 30% have the mental and physical attributes for work, another 30% should be removed from a line/gene pool and or never be bred and this is from heath and work tested parents. The remaining 40% would not make a suitable working partner but not because of a lack of nerve or temperament but because of a lack of a drive or drives, work ethic or intensity but would because of their selection process make for an excellent pet or at least have the best probability for that. The difference between the breeders of the two populations is a working breeder aggressively selects FIRST for temperament and nerve thereby increasing the probabilities of those traits in their progeny, and the pet or show breeder aggressively does not. As we all know or should know you get what you select for first. Unfortunately in breeding nothing is a certainty but all we can do as breeders is increase the probabilities of a positive outcome and the only way to increase those probabilities is by aggressive selection for those required critical traits and behaviors. My point is there are good pets that come from a working breeding therefore it is a misconception to assume because of that selection process they are all wired, hyper or work driven, they unfortunately are not.

    No one can just by using a breed’s standard recreate that breed on a blank sheet of paper. That tells us the work of that breed created its correct type its standard subjectively then followed. Therefore if you want to know what a working breeds correct type should be then use as a template dogs that are able to do that, which is expected of them but to think that we can though perceived angles and measurements design a dog than can because we say it can if it conforms to that subjective standard is in a word foolish.

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  135. I'm no relation to the GSD David Payne though my father-in-law is a david Payne!

    Anyway....back to working dogs. My hard hunting eight year old springer who is used to long walks, free running and is used for gundog work in the winters recently broke his foot. 6weeks of 10minutes round the block on a lead. Did his working breeding and high drive mean he turned into a nutter? Nope. His foundation training and our ability to fall back on low physical impact brain exercises meant his recovery was stress free for both of us.
    I can't agree at all that it is ok to breed 'working' dogs with no brain and no stamina just so lazy people can have the dog they like the look of as a 'pet'. If all you can be bothered to do is 20minutes round the block get a retired greyhound and buy paintings of the breed you like the look of! Or buy one of those large, realistic stuffed toys and stick some wheels on it. Even 'pets' deserve to be able to move comfortably and freely and I can't see that some of the show-type GSD's do so they can fulfill no role other than 'beauty contests'; not as workers or pets. Even show bred spaniels, collies, shepherds and retreivers have some deep down need to 'work', failure to meet these needs results in the behavioural problems I see at work all too often.
    Vicky Payne

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  136. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIJxD5Q_yiI&feature=related

    Better for comparing to the second vid, and who says show shepherd can't run?

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  137. With regard to Sarah's comment above, I feel I should qualify, that what I mean by pet quality Belgian Shepherds, for example, are ones bred primarily for excellent temperament and health, with looks coming second. (Thank you Bijou for your prefix - I had a look at your website and your dogs look just like that - I see many are doing agility and obedience, etc., so by no means "empty shells!!!"). I would still want them to be very bright and energetic, to need at least two hours off-lead exercise daily, company most of the time, training and games - but to have a basic good, calm temperament, to be able to settle quietly when need be, to be safe to handle by anyone (once trained), to not be so highly strung as to resort to fear-biting in any unusual situation. I was blessed with my first Terv who was just such a dog (he could still jump five bar gates from a standstill at age 10, run all day after rabbits, but when I showed a photo of him to a breeder, all she saw was the absence of a solid black mask and said, "oh that's not correct!") my current, rescue Groen although a lovely boy, can be very highly strung and fearful and has bitten on quite a few occasions. He also suffers from epilepsy, hypothyroidism, allergies, HD, and now at age 11 laryngeal paralysis and associated neuropathy. I've more or less given up my life for him, as he's tricky to handle by non-dog savvy people, i.e. most of my friends and family, is dog-aggressive and his health issues have cost me an absolute fortune over the years. I've since found out he's from a half-brother, half-sister mating. He looks beautiful of course. So to get back to the issue of pet quality, of course different breeds for different people's needs (as there already are) and some high drive working litters bred specifically for people who are going to work them. There surely isn't the need for every litter to be bred with working in mind, surely there aren't enough working homes out there for them, who can give them what they need (for example, Boerboels bred to defend you to the death - in the wrong hands are just going to end up being euthanised)? Maybe with certain breeds just less of them should be bred if they are all going to need working homes and specialised handling. Isn't that why the police and Guide Dogs breed a lot of their own, so they get exactly what they need for the jobs they're going to have to do? I think its a mistake to talk about breeders mostly breeding for show/pet - I would say they are NOT the same aims - I would say that most litters are bred with the aim of producing a fantastic show dog i.e. looks! (and yes, the ones who don't make the grade are talked about as "pet quality", which is breeder speak for not good enough to be "show quality", that's all!) And to come back to Jemima's original post, seeing those show bred GSD pups with their malfunctioning hind legs absolutely breaks my heart - they look like so many of the GSDs I've seen at our hydrotherapy pool, who have CDRM or some such neurological problem. So I would definitely prefer working type for their health but with a temperament suitable for being a pet - maybe they can be the same thing in some breeds.

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  138. Hi Mandy,

    Thanks for your response to my comments and clarification of what you meant. I am really sorry about your Groenendael boy. He’s so lucky to have found someone so willing to work with him and love him. If you’ve read my comments in some of the other threads, you know I am also very anti-inbreeding and so-called line-breeding. I think you and I feel pretty much the same about breeders who put appearance first.

    You say you feel that pet-quality Belgians should (as any dog should) be bred ‘primarily for excellent temperament and health, with looks coming second’ and again, I agree entirely. I also have no problem with your description of the ‘pet’ BSD, but what you are describing is a dog that would come out at the pet quality end of a working dog breeding programme.

    The problem is the word ‘should’, because as has been said, as soon as you turn a breed into a show dog/pet and take away the function that determines its conformation and temperament, you are on that well-paved road that goes to the place none of us wants to go. See my comments and Mr Epstein’s comments above. Sure, if only a few breeders are breeding carefully for pets, the breed will stay healthy overall. But that’s not what will happen if the breed increases in popularity as a pet, encouraged by breeders who, however carefully at the beginning, cater to the show ring and pet buyers. The argument is based on short-term thinking. Where will the breed be in 40 years if the BSD gains in popularity as a pet because of careful breeders with good intentions like Bijou and more and more breeders with fewer scruples then get in on the act? The GSD looms large in my mind, along with all the other working dogs turned into show/pet dogs and that are now beginning to display more and more health and temperament problems, winding up in rescue, or worse, making that often-final journey to the shelter or the vet’s surgery.

    Frankly, it worries me that unlike the malinois, the Groenendael is no longer used much for real work and the drives are being watered down overall. I think we are already in the situation of being a frog in a pot of water over a fire. The water is still quite cool so we’re not jumping. My faint hope is that because all four varieties are judged together (except in the US), the malinois will keep the breed sound. Unfortunately, as the malinois is diverging into SL and WL, I fear this will not be the case as the same scenario as that of the GSD is developing: generally the only rings you see a WL malinois in are the French or Mondio ones.

    So I agree with you when you say that you’d ‘definitely prefer working type for their health but with a temperament suitable for being a pet - maybe they can be the same thing in some breeds’, except for me, there’s no ‘maybe’ – they can be and should be in all working breeds if you if you take into account the full range of dogs produced, but the only way to create this is a sound working-dog breeding programme, not breeding a special pet-line.

    Best wishes to you and your boy.

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  139. Amanda - nice video. Do you know the pedigrees of the dogs to label them as 'showline? They don't seem to have the excessive hind angulation and have quite nice toplines too, so I would be interested to know the peds.

    Sarah, you are right.
    'maybe they can be the same thing in some breeds’ They can and should be.

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  140. "Frankly, it worries me that unlike the malinois, the Groenendael is no longer used much for real work and the drives are being watered down overall. I think we are already in the situation of being a frog in a pot of water over a fire. The water is still quite cool so we’re not jumping. My faint hope is that because all four varieties are judged together (except in the US), the malinois will keep the breed sound. Unfortunately, as the malinois is diverging into SL and WL, I fear this will not be the case as the same scenario as that of the GSD is developing: generally the only rings you see a WL malinois in are the French or Mondio ones."

    ...an frankly it worries the hell out of me as the rescue liason officer for the BSDA that it is the WL Malinois whose temperament has become so extreme that we cannot find suitable homes when they do come onto rescue !! - Tervueren, Groenendael and Laekenois all make wonderful active pets able to do 'real work' and if they are not the variety of choice the mondio ring or the man work elements of Shutzhund that is because the BSD was NEVER originally bred primarily as an attack dog ...and it is those WL Malinois whose tempraments have been changed to suit this sport - hence the rise of the 'Maligator' - sheer stupidity - and frightening for those of us who love the breed in case they attract the kind of owners who measure the size of their gonads by the 'ardness' of the dog at the end of their lead !

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  141. Norman Epstein25 August 2011 16:14

    Bijou a point of clarification in any dog sport that requires the dog do battle with a human they are not bred or selected only because of their eagerness to bite i.e., man work. The reason being that it takes many traits all working in concert to be successful in that sport while at the same time the dog must have the necessary biddablity (trait) to be controlled while they are in an extreme level of excitement. This balance becomes most evident during the obedience phase of their protection work. AKC obedience is fine as far as it goes but for any score to be an accurate representation of that discipline it must be evaluated while it is under stress.

    IMO the reason you see such Malinois in your rescue work is not because of being driven, which is quite normal for a Mal but because they were because of poor breeding goals overloaded in a particular trait. A correct Mal has enough drive for any trainer and if that trainer/handler is not experienced, well its always the dogs fault.

    Otherwise you make some good points.

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  142. Bijou:

    You seem to have difficulty understanding what I am saying in the paragraph you quote and seem to be reacting to. I’ll try again.

    I do not want Belgian shepherds to wind up like German shepherds.

    1. I do not think the divergence between show dogs and working dogs is a good thing. If we are stuck with the show ring, I want to see working dogs in it and winning because they should be the ones setting the standard.

    2. The malinois is the variety that is now most commonly used for work, which is why I think it is the variety that could keep the breed safe from exaggeration if all varieties are measured by the same physical standard.

    3. Schutzhund and ring sports are perfectly respectable and both the Canadian and American (AKC and UKC) breed clubs list them as sports the BSD is suited to. They are not about aggression; they are about control. Protection sport clubs usually deselect aggressive, unbalanced dogs (and handlers) pretty quickly.

    4. I want to see more Groenendaels doing real work. I believe this is necessary to keep the breed healthy. I did not say police and military work particularly or exclusively. Mr Epstein supplied a list of 40 jobs done today by dogs. The Groenendael is suited to many of them. Most of them do not involve bite work.

    5. Many Belgians go to active pet homes where they do sports. Active pet homes are great, and needed, but not enough by themselves to keep a breed fit; the stakes are too low. A pet that does not do well in a sport, or develops health or temperament problems (apart from unmanageable aggression) will still be loved and wanted. Pet owners simply change their expectations. Only real work keeps a breed mentally and physically sound because the training is a real investment and the demands placed on the dog do not change. When the dog is retired, it must be replaced, requiring new investment. If the dog washes out or has to be retired early because it is not mentally or physically sound, this is not a good investment of resources that can be used elsewhere. This creates pressure to produce physically and temperamentally sound animals.

    6. I agree there are some men who use strange and pathetic means to measure a certain part of their anatomy. They rotate through different breeds: dobies, rotties, GSDs, pitties… You’re probably right – tragically they will discover Belgians sooner or later. I’m not sure this can be stopped and the dogs will pay the price until such people move on to the next breed. Are you arguing that we should stop producing police and military service dogs to protect the breed from this?

    7. Regarding your tirade about WL malinois, here’s an anecdote:

    I have a friend who is a phenomenal trainer. She is a very experienced ring sport person. She acquired a WL puppy that she sent back to the breeder because he was too much for her to handle at that time and place in her life. If that puppy had wound up in your rescue, he would have been impossible to place in a home and you’d probably be calling him one of the badly bred OTT ‘maligators’. He is now a very happy, much loved patrol dog in a large American city with a high crime rate. He is doing what he was bred to do and saves lives doing it.

    Yes, there are some badly bred WL dogs and they can wind up in rescue. The same can be said about SL dogs. I imagine a flighty fear-biting SL GSD or spaniel is also hard to place, however great it looks in the ring.

    Belgian shepherds are going down the road of the GSD but people don’t see this because the breed is still healthy. Breeders think prizes in the show ring are the measure of the dog. They think active homes are the same as real work. Frogs in pots.

    .

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  143. "I want to see more Groenendaels doing real work"


    ..what's your definition of real work ? - all varieties of BSD can and do work - in my last litter of 9 pups, 4 went to show homes, 3 went to agility homes, 1 went to an obedience home and 1 is in training to be a therapy dog -


    here's a link to just some of the breeders world wide who work their Groens ! - and no there are NOT separate show/working lines in Groenendael

    http://www.working-groenendaels.ch/index.htm

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  144. Hi Bijou,

    I’m glad you’re still talking to me ☺.

    1. ‘what's your definition of real work ?’

    My broad definition of a working dog is one that is not kept purely for the pleasure of having it around and doing activities that provide enjoyment to the human end of the leash, as opposed to assistance.

    Again, I do not consider most sport homes as providing real work; see also Point 5 above. There are exceptions, for example serious Schutzhund or ring sport homes that are part of an organized breeding programme, because these are the sports used to select breeding stock for police and military dogs, which are not bred themselves. Therefore, such homes are a necessary part of the system to produce working dogs, unlike homes that train for straight obedience or agility, which are done for pleasure, both human and canine.

    Others may disagree with my distinction between working and sport homes. That is their right. But you asked for my definition.

    2. ‘…and no there are NOT separate show/working lines in Groenendael’


    Thank you for the link. I have seen it before and find it interesting, mostly because it lists so few breeders (57), 40% of whom are in two countries: France and the Netherlands. Only two Canadian and two US breeders are listed, and none from the UK. Even given that this is an incomplete list that breeders choose to join (or not), the site has been around since 2007 (according to the copyright) and more breeders should be on it if Groenendaels really are being bred to work. The legend provided for exams/titles includes a wide range of activities.

    I agree there is no official distinction yet between show/working lines in Groenendaels. I am arguing that it is developing unnoticed by too many and we are on the road to the problems seen in other breeds where this has happened officially, hence my analogy of the frog. Here’s a question (actually two) for you to think about related to the link you sent:

    If there really is no distinction between show/working lines in the Groenendael, why do some breeders around the world feel it necessary to form a group that is dedicated to working Groenendaels? What are they distinguishing themselves from?

    I know that you produce nice dogs. I know you place them carefully and they go to active homes and one of your dogs is used for SAR. I know you do rescue work and I understand your frustrations about animals that are difficult or impossible to place – been there, done that. In all of these things I applaud you. My quarrel with you is changing the temperament of the breed when there is nothing wrong with it in the first place. I won’t repeat myself about why.

    I would also like to say that however much I disagree with you, I am really glad that you participate in the argument. Too many do not.

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  145. Bijou although admirable the result of selecting breed stock to compete in rally, agility therapy work and obedience etc.,is not for a dog the same thing as hard work, in fact it’s far from it. That said there is certainly nothing wrong with breeding for active biddable pets that do well in those activities but those activities won’t preserve the plethora and balance of traits and behaviors required for hard work. If they could preserve them then there would be no need for active working dogs to be aggressively selected mainly from working stock lines.

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  146. Well, the German Showline GSD community did not rise up in arms, no, what they did was stick their fingers in their ears and go LA LA LA ....too often the case with breeders who are complicit in breeding exaggerations these days. As usual, they are keeping their heads down until it all blows over.

    They all know about this blog, they are all talking about it behind their hands, David Payne has joined the anti PDE facebook brigade. None of them CAN defend it though, and so they won't even try.

    Shame on you. If you believe that your are doing right by the breed you should be able and willing to state your case. That you cannot is proof of your guilt.

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  147. I doubt the German Showline GSD community in the UK think they’re guilty of anything. These are the dogs they’re producing in Germany and awarding the top positions. If the SV produced a GSD on 5 legs ‘literally’, and called it Sieger, they will do the same in the UK. Therein lies the problem - the WUSV has created a big enough market world wide to keep this trend going and if certain ‘bloodlines’ are big winners in Germany, how can they not be anywhere else? That won’t go down well with the SV. If people ever go on to the German forums, they will see comments from the lay public German people criticizing the state of the showlines in Germany in a similar way as some have on here. So, what's the solution? Nothing's going to change until the SV ups their game and judging by the Sieger line up for this year, that’s not going to happen any time soon. This is the Sieger for this year - Remo von Fichtenschlag http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfN89Ww7eSY&feature=related
    Same old, same old……sigh….

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  148. I did quite a bit of anatomical study and gait analysis with GSDs when I was in graduate school at U Penn in the 1980's to early 1990's. At first I was convinced the weird gait (they do a running walk not a trot) and the extreme conformation and accompanying hip laxity and hip dysplasia was completely responsible for the GSD - floppy shepherd syndrome. Now that our knowledge of the presence of genetically determined Degenerative Myelopathy has become available I am convinced that the modern show type GSD is produced by a combination of connective laxity defects as yet uncharacterized but similar to Marfan's disease (in humans) and neurological sources of poor muscle tone and lack of coordination.

    The tragedy is that modern dog owners do so little real work with animals that the neurological deficits in the gait of these dogs is not recognized as abnormal.

    As to spotting hip dysplasia by viewing the dog at a show ring gait. This is not simple and in my experience not easily done from the side view of the moving dog. However as the dog moves away from you I have seen on my slow motion films a very quick back and forth movement of the hock just as the dog's weight displaces the head of the femur from the hip socket. This occurs when the hind leg first accepts the animals weight at the initial part of the weight-bearing phase of each hind leg's step. It is a quick twitch back and forth, different from the profound medial movement of the hock later in the step.

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  149. Bit of a latecomer to this discussion, sorry about that:-) I'm not a breeder and I don't like shows (not in their present form anyway), I am just an ordinary member of the public who owns a German Shepherd Dog and is concerned by what he sees in the show dog world.

    @bdalzell
    Any chance of posting those slow-mo videos to youtube and putting a link on here? I think it would be interesting to see what it is you're describing. The vast majority of us (by that I mean ordinary pet owners) are not very savvy when it comes to health issues. We tend to do what the kennel club says to do - talk to the breeders. But as we have seen, many (not all) breeders seem to want to sweep health issues under the carpet, pretend they don't exist. The KC seems to pay little more than lip service to the issues, happy to count the cash and live in La-La land. So where do we get the facts from if not from public forums like this one? The science journals you can get online aren't usually written with the general public in mind, and many people (me included) start to read them but they go way over our heads. We need it to be explained in laymans terms, and see examples with good narratives, so that we can recognise a problem before it becomes an issue.

    @Sarah:
    You make some very valid points in your posts but I wonder: If GSDs (or any working breed)were bred for work and ONLY for work, wouldn't that kind of further limit the gene pool? Surely this would be bad for the breed? I know the whole genetic diversity issue is a complex one, but that much seems obvious to a layman like me. Also, consider how many real jobs there are for these dogs each year. Not many GB farmers use GSDs for herding, most use Collie varieties. True working GSDs seem to go mainly to the police/ military or security companies. How many dogs are required each year for working roles? It can't be many. I worry that by limiting the working dog to these roles things will get worse not better. But as I said I'm just a layman and need it explaining in laymans terms. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting what it is you're saying? It seems as though you want working line dogs to be kept as such, meaning they could not be kept as pets? The logical conclusion is that we the general dog loving public would only have access to show line dogs. Perhaps if showline dogs looked and behaved more like a GSD should do, then this wouldn't be a problem. But those of us who have looked and seen what they have become have realised that the showline dogs are riddled with problems - and who wants a pet that is born to suffer? Therefore many of us choose a dog from working lines. And yes, I know that that in itself doesn't give any guarantee that the dog won't be affected by some ailment or other, but it does kind of reduce the risks, don't you think?

    @Jemima Harrison
    Many on here (and elsewhere) seem to be attacking you for pointing out the errors of their ways with regard to show dogs becoming problem ridden parodies. It's understandable that would try to defend themselves, but all I'm seeing from them is attacks on you and them pointing their fingers at others, rather than saying "ok, we have these issues, will you work with us to try and put them right?", which you would expect anyone who claims to love their dogs to do. Childish is how I would describe them. The whole world can see there are problems, except the show world. If they really did love their dogs more than their bank balance/ trophy cabinets/ rosette walls etc.. then there would be a hell of a lot less finger pointing and a hell of a lot more action. Keep up the good work Jemima, the haters are digging themselves into a hole. The saddest thing is that they're taking the dogs with them.

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  150. @ Roger Wilde:

    You ask some good questions and I hope my delayed response does not get lost in the shuffle.

    Would breeding working dogs for work only lead to further reduction in the gene pool? To be honest, I think this is a moot point because the split has already happened; as it stands, with very few exceptions a breeder of working line dogs wouldn’t even consider bringing a show line dog into their breeding programme and vice versa. It has gone so far that some people think the American SL shepherd is no longer a GSD and should be called the American shepherd.

    I agree that that is a concern because, as I said above, the split means fewer genes are floating around in both gene pools. But for me, the interesting question now is which pool has the fewer genes overall and how many fewer? I would love to see a proper study done on WL and SL GSDs to determine this because a smaller population does not in itself mean a smaller gene pool. The original gene pool was made up of working dogs and working dog people are selecting for a large number of traits. Show people are selecting for one thing and one thing only: what is rewarded in the ring, which is appearance only, no matter what they say (and midnight trials put to rest any claims to the contrary by GSD show people). If the show people took a relatively small number of dogs out of the gene pool and then further lost an enormous number of genes through their rigid selection process, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that working line GSDs actually still have a more diverse genetic make up even though there are fewer of them. This is pure supposition on my part and I may be putting two and two together and coming up with five, but as I say, I’d love to see a proper study that would prove me right or wrong. I’ve looked but can’t find one.

    The reality is that there is still a genuine need for working dogs, and we are discovering more and more new uses for them (for example, putting their noses to good use in conservation work). How many dogs are needed? Well, as it stands, enough to keep a large number of existing kennels that breed working dogs going. The maths for producing pets and working dogs are different. If you have a litter of puppies bred to be pets, chances are all of them will be suitable. Only 1 in 20 puppies bred to be working dogs has what it takes.

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  151. Do we really need far fewer working dogs than previously? I honestly don't know. The fact that the majority of dogs in the UK and North America are kept as pets does not in itself mean that there is no need for a large number of working dogs. The fact that you don’t see dogs working that often does not mean that there are not a lot of them. There may be fewer farmers using dogs than there were a hundred and fifty years ago, but take a look at the list of jobs supplied above by Mr Epstein; most of them did not exist in the halcyon days of the pastoral dog and many of them are ones that GSDs, always meant to be a versatile, multi-purpose dog, are indeed used for. Just a rough calculation for police dogs: multiply the number of cities by the number of police dogs needed. Here are the results of a quick Google search:

    RCMP 125 dog/handler teams
    Vancouver 18
    Toronto 21
    Montreal 9
    Los Angeles 22
    Greater Manchester over 110
    London Metropolitan Police around 250
    Total 555 dogs

    If you take into account that only about 5% of dogs on offer make it through the selection process, we’re talking about needing to produce 11,100 dogs just to supply the above tiny sample. Multiply this by all the cities that have police dogs. Even if this is a very small percentage of dogs in total, and represents a number of breeds, that’s still a lot of dogs and represents just police dogs. Add in the military, airports, border agencies, private security firms…

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  152. I don’t think that breeding working dogs for work only means that the dog loving public has no access to the breed for pets. The dogs that don’t make it through the selection process for work (95%) are generally offered to the public as pets and to say that WL dogs can’t be kept as pets is misleading. As Mr Epstein pointed out, there will be a broad spectrum of dogs produced in any WL kennel, ranging from ones that have what it takes to do the work (as a rule, not suitable as pets), ones that don't quite have what it takes (suitable for active, club level sport homes) and ones that will make a nice family dog for an active but perfectly ordinary family. If you do a Google search on ‘working line vs show line German shepherd’ and read the comments on some of the discussion boards that come up, you will see that along with the sport dog people, there are plenty of people who keep WL GSDs simply as pets and are perfectly happy with them. Of course, it has to be the right home to meet the needs of a large, active breed, but that’s true anyway, isn’t it?

    Of course, as you say, there are problems with WL GSDs too. All dogs are subject to disease, any purebred dog comes from a limited gene pool and you can get some extreme temperaments in WL dogs. What you don’t get is weird exaggerations and downright deformities that are justified by kennel club mythology which is never disproven because the dogs that are the victims are never tested by doing real work. In this area, I would say you are definitely on safer ground with a WL dog. A lot of trainers would also argue that you have a better chance of getting a dog with a good temperament.

    I’m not against working breeds going to suitable pet homes. I am against taking working breeds and deliberately breeding out what makes them beautiful in order to turn them into pets. That’s not quite the same thing.

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  153. Thanks for your reply Sarah. Wow, I knew the forces only picked the very best dogs but a 95% drop rate is huge. Still, it wouldn't do for them to use anything but the best dogs for the job and I guess they aren't all going to make the grade. You're right, that does leave an awful lot of dogs who would make great sport dogs or just plain old family pets. It's probably not as bad as I thought it was.

    It would be interesting to see a gene study like the one you mentioned above re genes in both lines. Sadly, I don't see the show people going for it, they have their precious pedigrees and that seems to be enough for them.

    My own dog is born to working lines, but both parents were kept as pets and the litter was not registered with the KC. In many peoples eyes I guess that makes her a mutt, lol. I don't particularly care, it's obvious enough to me what she is. She certainly keeps me active but she does lack some focus at the moment. I'm hoping it's just part of being a puppy, others have told me to expect her to "try it on" a bit at this age. She does have a brilliant temperament though and she's great with kids and other dogs. Training continues.

    As for the future, well I guess seiger is out (no registration)and we didn't get her with breeding in mind. But, call me old fashioned (my wife does) but I believe that all bitches should have at least one litter before being spayed, providing they aren't going to pass anything nasty along to the pups which would make them suffer. I haven't had any in depth tests done yet(as she's only 5 months old, but so far we've seen nothing that concerns us and the vet says she's in great shape. I would consider mating her with a showline dog if both dogs scored well in the health tests. But I don't think that's likely, since :
    a)she's not registered with the KC
    b) the chances of finding a showline that can pass the health tests is going to be remote.
    c) The chances of any such dogs owner of going for it is probably even more remote.
    d) Although I'm open to the idea of a showdog mating with her, I'd much rather it was a working dog with a view to creating working puppies. But again lack of registration might be an issue.

    Such is life. It's still 50/50 whether we breed her or not, depending on the health tests. 'Til then she is well fed, well excercised and well loved. It's the least we can do for her.

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  154. To add to my last, if someone like me (who has no interest in showing my dog, a dog that cannot be KC registered anyway) is prepared to go to the trouble and expense of having her health tested then why don't the "pro" breeders? And for those who do, what impact (if any) does it have on your breeding program? Honest replies only please :)

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