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I think this would be the area in which to post this...


So, since joining this forum, I've learned quite a bit about the different Working Lines/Showlines and what not, but I'd like to further expand my knowledge with information that is correct. I began "Googling" answers to questions I have, but I am getting different answers, so I'd like to ask you guys instead. I have a few questions, some of which I think I know the answers to (Though I'd rather not assume, hence why I am asking), so here they are in no particular order:


1. What is the difference between a "Roached back" and a "Sloped back"? I believe I have an idea, but I'd like to clear up any misconceptions I may have and get the true definition.

2. Do you more often see "Roached backs" or "Sloped backs" in American Lines? I ask this question because I went looking for the answer recently and everything I got was conflicting. Some people said they never see "Sloped backs" in the AKC Showring. Others said all the time, some said "Roached". I'd like to know what you guys have seen.

3. Do you more often see "Roached backs" or "Sloped backs" in German Lines? This question applies to both Showlines and Working Lines. What do you see more often of in both? I got conflicting answers on this, too, so I have no idea what to think.

4. Do American Showlines really have more incidences of Hip Dysplasia than German Lines, or is this a fallacy? This may sound like a silly question, but I've heard some people say that's BS, some say it's absolutely true.

5. What Lines tend to weigh more, German or American? Again, maybe a seemingly silly question. I always thought American had a tendency to weigh more, but I've encountered some some people who tell me the contrary, which makes no sense to me and confuses the heck out of me.


That's all I can think of for right now. If you guys would be so kind as to enlighten me, it would be much appreciated. If any other questions come up, I'll add them to this thread. :)
 

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1. A roach back is a back that roaches over the loin (curves up and back down past the wither). A "sloped" back...I'm not really sure if that is a technical term but I guess it would be a back that has any sort of downward slope/angle from the wither onward.

2/3. I would say if my definitions are correct, then you see sloped backs in both American and German show lines. The Americans will tend to be straight, and the typier Germans will have more curve as they slope down. I don't see a lot of roach in either, or at all, other than puppies in a gangly stage or dogs being stacked badly.

4. No, the angulation has nothing to do with the shape and laxity of the hip joints. I think many Am lines appear very awkward because of the extreme angles and being "loose" overall, but that is not hip dysplasia.

5. As far as what I have seen in the ring, the Am lines. They generally have finer bone and heads but I've seen some big ones. I've also seen much harsher criticism of oversize/overweight in the German shows I've been in as opposed to AKC/UKC. I think German dogs often appear larger and more substantial but don't necessarily weigh more. I had my German male weighed this summer when most people were guessing he weighed around 80-85lbs and he weighed 66lbs. Some of the biggest dogs I've seen (not overweight but large/tall) have been working lines.
 

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I think of a roach back as one that curves just at the end of the rib cage. But I will say I am far from an expert. I have seen some of the sites of breeders through this forum and, where they are proud of their well-angulated dogs, they look like freaks to me. Many of them have wonderful fronts but beyond the rib cage they look like they have polio. Once again I am no expert, but I like balance in front and back. A dog with a fairly straight back can be a beautifully moving dog, the slope only becomes evident at a trot.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
4. No, the angulation has nothing to do with the shape and laxity of the hip joints. I think many Am lines appear very awkward because of the extreme angles and being "loose" overall, but that is not hip dysplasia.
So you will see many German Line dogs with HD, they're just not allowed to be bred due to the strict rules over in Germany then? America has no set standards for breeding as far as OFA Certification, Titling, etc. before being allowed to breed, correct? Is that why it sounds to many as though American Showlines have a more common occurrence of HD, the allowance of their breeding with no set standards?

*Edit - Also, any dog can appear to have a "Sloped" back (You said that's probably not a technical term) when stacked, correct? What if not stacked, it still appears to slope. Say, when walking? The video "Dog or Frog" (Called something of that nature) was posted all over at one point. It showed Shepherds in the Showring walking, not stacked, and they looked awful. Would that present hip problems, do you know?
 

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A dog with a sloping or banana back (a better description of what is seen in the European dogs) will look that way whether they are stacked, moving of standing naturally. A dog with a straight back will be that way whether they are stacked, standing naturally or in movement. One thing you have to watch for in dogs with straight backs is a soft or weak back where the back gets a slight downward curve or looks weak in movement (having a hard time describing this).
 

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Are you referencing only the Euro show lines in the above, Lisa?
 

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So you will see many German Line dogs with HD, they're just not allowed to be bred due to the strict rules over in Germany then? America has no set standards for breeding as far as OFA Certification, Titling, etc. before being allowed to breed, correct? Is that why it sounds to many as though American Showlines have a more common occurrence of HD, the allowance of their breeding with no set standards?

*Edit - Also, any dog can appear to have a "Sloped" back (You said that's probably not a technical term) when stacked, correct? What if not stacked, it still appears to slope. Say, when walking? The video "Dog or Frog" (Called something of that nature) was posted all over at one point. It showed Shepherds in the Showring walking, not stacked, and they looked awful. Would that present hip problems, do you know?
In Germany you can breed dogs that are noch zugelassen which can be borderline dysplastic. Since HD is polygenic, it's not a simple as breeding dogs that don't have it and not breeding dogs that do. I'm not really familiar with American show lines so I'm not sure if it's any more or less common. In general I'm not a fan of their structure or movement but that's regardless of hip dysplasia.

Like Lisa said, a dog with a straight slope and a dog with a curved slope will always look that way. Generally you can very poorly stack a dog to make it look worse but can't really stack a dog to make it look much better.

I think I know the video you're talking about. Those are more extreme German show line dogs. They also look bad because the video shows some terrible handling. The dogs are not behaving all that well and are barely even getting into a gait b/c of the ring size and how they are handled. I think you are seeing some loose movement, bad cow hocks, and pretty extreme croups. None of these are indicators for or against HD. HD is diagnosed or ruled out by examining x-rays.
 

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HD appears in all lines and the degree usually correlates with the skill of the breeder. Notice I said skill. Skill is usually a trait that is acquired over years of performance and observation.
Today many people judge hips by a testing clinical procedure only. Usually this as a primary basis for breeding and producing dogs has improved hips a little and hurt the breed immensely, IMO.
You see hips used to be evaluated by working movement and longevity of being able to work strongly. This was before x-rays became the rage. Though it was possible to have a good working dog that had not perfect clinical hips used extensively for breeding; in the big picture of the "total" dog this didnot destroy the breed as some would have you beleive. (Or how would we have gotten to the X-ray period, if the period when they didn't x-ray would lead to destruction; or conversely why haven't we eliminated HD if breeding Xrayed dogs was the answer because many breeders will only breed excellent and Goods and they still are in the 70 to 80 percent range after 25 years).
I am not against xrays, but what I am saying is hip prediction is a skill by breeders that rely on the dogs clinical, functional, and familial aspects to to gauge hip production and still produce a "good" German Shepherd.
Sidenote: I just received an email from a lady today Thanking me for telling her that she should send her 7 month old import dog back. When she bought the dog to training and started working the dog I looked at the movement and told her that I think you have hip issues and I would send the dog back. She pulled out the pedigree and showed me where both parents were certified and she was assured of good hips. I said suit yourself, I'm only trying to help but I'm so used to people beleiving the kool-aid that I left it alone. Well, she took the dog to her vet and sure enough the dog is moderately dysplastic now. I didn't have an xray, I KNOW when I see certain things when the dog is asked to work that won't hold up over time. My point is the hips are a complex element of the breed that requires skill from study and experience of functioning dogs to get comfortable with assessing....and then it still is subject to laws of the unknowns of recessives. Hope this makes sense in understanding hips.
 
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