Administrator & Alpha Bitch of the Wild Bunch
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Michigan, USA
Well, I guess if people don't care about any sort of standard for a breed than it doesn't matter. Though without them, we wouldn't have any breeds at all. I do have to ask the question though, if the standard doesn't matter, I assume that means people don't care if their GSD looks or acts even remotely like one? Or is it a case of we can pick and choose to ignore some parts of it because we find them silly or inconvenient? If the later, what parts are ok to ignore? The popular ones are always coat and color and size. But what about ears? How would people feel about floppy ears being accepted because some otherwise nice dogs have them? Maybe we should bring back curly, woolly coats too, since some dogs early on had that coat type.
No one knows exactly why certain colors were undesireable, since no where in the historical writings of the breed is it specified. Though no doubt part was simple personal preference on the part of those writing it. Neat thing when you create a breed is you get to take ownership of the rules that govern it whether you have a scientific reason for it or not and that means if you don't like a color you have every right to make unacceptable.
However it is highly suspected that a lot of the thinking behind disqualifying certain colors was a misunderstanding of genetics 100+ years ago. White may have been viewed as a indicator of albinism, and it's known health problems. There are many breeds where white, even non albino white, are genetically linked to health problems. And while we now know there are no health issues associated with the white masking gene in the GSD, back then they didn't. They knew sometimes white was linked to health problems and had no understanding of genes to know if the white GSD gene was any different, so for safety's sake let's not have whites. White was also frowned upon for a variety of reasons related to work. Not that the dogs couldn't work, but that the color itself was considered by many to be impractical and inconvenient compared to darker colors. So another reason to dislike white dogs.
Liver and blue themselves as colors are not disqualified. It is the fact that these dogs do not have black leather (nose, eye rims, etc...) The standard calls for black leather, and with blues and livers the same genes that dilute the black hair pigment to blue/liver also dilute the black skin pigment. So their leather is not black. As far as why the standard calls for black leather, and thus precludes blues and livers, part is probably because this exposed leather (particularly on the nose) is more prone to sunburn. Many whites also exhibit pigment problems on their nose, with the nose being pink or splotchy rather than black. While sunburned noses may seem like a silly reason today, it may not have to people back in the day whose dogs were outside working 24/7. Also again, much is probably a misunderstanding of genetics. Blue and liver in the GSD are not linked to health problems, but they are in many other breeds. The Doberman being one of those where dilute colors often bring about a host of skin problems. And of course, this is a breed and situation that the Germans writing the GSD standard would have been very familiar with. Not realizing that what is genetically linked to health issues in one breed may not be the case in another, and wanting to err on the side of caution, they may have disallowed dilutes for that reason.
As far as Fawn or Red or whatever people want to call them, there really is no such thing. They aren't actual colors. They are either black/tan or sable dogs who are severely lacking black pigment expression. They aren't disqualified at all, though they certainly would be faulted because that pesky standard calls for rich colors and markings and they don't have them. They wouldn't do well in a show, just like a black/cream or black/silver (both showing pigment paling of the tan which is also disfavored) wouldn't do well because of the desire for strong colors. But nothing would prohibit them from showing.
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