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Discussion Starter #1
I for one love reading critiques. It is so insightful reading what reputable breed aficionados have to say about a widely ranging variety of dogs. But for us less informed, where does a flat wither weigh in? What constitutes “good” versus “excellent “ or even “poor” angulation? What is a rabbit foot and what is ideal? Basically, how do we gauge what information we are given in critiques?
 

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Bump...it would be good to hear some authoritative clarification of these terms. I get that it's difficult....but come on, someone who states these terms frequently should be able to help the rest of us understand a little better >:)
 

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The withers should be higher than and sloping into the level back. The upper thigh, viewed from the side should slant to the slightly longer stifle bone on an angle of about 120 degrees. A rabbit foot is not a strong foot and is too long and thin and not strong and compact or rounded. Toes should be well arched. For me, I don't care about any of the details of the standard as long as the dog has strong temperament and is a reasonably good representative of the breed conformation wise. That is why the show line dogs are GSDs in name only. If you focus primarily on perfection in conformation, which, IMO, is generally structurally incorrect for a working dog, (read frog legged, banana back, hock walker, etc.) you loose way too much of the character of what the breed should be.
 

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In the thread on the forum options critique my dog I find helpful in learning.

The standard is there so there is an outline to follow. Show lines are german shepherd dogs. The drama between lines are similar to religious wars. It’s easy to see why their is much animosity in the world. The look of the breed is part of who they are and is important. Focus one one thing only for one specific purpose and yes the breed will suffer. Balance should always be the goal for all. Frog legs, banana backs , sway backs, hock walkers, dogs with no angulation, straight legs- are all things that can aid in break down physically at a fairly young age,dogs that don’t look like gsds , dogs that will not be able to settle, dogs that are fearful spooky, not clear headed, dogs that are not capable of excelling in a particular skill, unable to go out in the public, gsd that make poor family dogs are all extremes and poor representatives of the breed.
 

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It is not drama, it is fact. The show lines put so much emphasis on physical features that the essence of the character of the breed is lost. Show line are essentially a separate breed. They lack the drives and courage to do what the GSD is intended for. There are a few exceptions. Working line GSDs actually look more like GSDs are meant to look than show line GSDs. If they participate in sport or real work, they have to be agile and healthy. Working lines does not always equate with extreme. It equates with handlers lacking the skills and knowledge to handle a working dog with strong drives. To me, family dogs equates with pets. Real GSDs are not meant to be bred as pets, but they can be great companions in the right hands while still pursuing sport or work. Originally, they were herding dogs, not pets. Sheep herders were poor and couldn't afford to buy one dog after another to find a good dog to protect the flock. Now the herding lines are all but gone. I'm not saying all working line GSDs are great or even the same. But the show line dogs have lost the genetics that made the dog a working dog. You see it in practically all breeds bred for show. When you watch the Westminster Dog Show and the announcer gives a short description of what the dog was bred for, the vast majority of those dogs can't do what they were bred for like the original working lines. It is kind of like fake news.
 

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Chip it is drama - The biggest mistake I would of ever made and made quite a few would be to be swayed from getting a show line dog and to say they are not german shepherds is laughable. I had a working line police trained only dropped because he did not out. Very serious dog. I had experience with animals but still clueless and I required no further training. The dog was one of the among one of the easiest dogs owned despite in different ways- I did not need a PhD in gsds to own him. It just reminds me of the extreme wide range of temperaments balance of drives and thresholds within the breed.
 

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A dog that will not out can be a training issue as much as a temperament issue. The show lines are a diluted version of the breed. Driving a Ferrari requires more skill than driving a Volkswagen. I'd rather have a Ferrari.
 

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A dog that will not out can be a training issue as much as a temperament issue. The show lines are a diluted version of the breed. Driving a Ferrari requires more skill than driving a Volkswagen. I'd rather have a Ferrari.
He certainly had a solid temperament so solid as being an inexperienced or “unskilled” owner I enjoyed him dearly. I happen to like all the lines I do have a preferable color though. Those are your likes and references to cars not mine.
 

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As someone who has an extensive background in horses, I view conformation critiques less so as comparisons to the standard and more so in the sense of functionality while maintaining the breeds essence. Does that make sense? I understand that for example a higher wither is preferred, but for what use? Why does that make a dog more structurally sound?
 

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I think it is for the same reason high withers are desirable in horses. High withers allow for freer forward reaching. The thinking is that the German Shepherd was originally a trotting sheep herding dog that needed the most functional anatomy to work the fields all day. The reality is that now it is just to be correct based on the standard because the show lines strive so much for conformation and movement and in the process have lost the mental traits and temperament that allow the dog to be a true working dog. So what if a GSD has ideal wither height and ideal forward reach and trotting, but has completely lost the trait of genetic obedience which was crucial for a dog to be capable of being a true herding dog. Same for other aspects of show lines and their emphasis on structure and movement. They are of no value, with the GSD now used primarily as a police and military dog if the nerves, drives, and fighting instincts have been swapped out in exchange for ideal movement and conformation.
 

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... The drama between lines are similar to religious wars. It’s easy to see why their is much animosity in the world...

"Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man-living in the sky-who watches everything you do, every minute of the day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time...But he loves you!"
George Carlin
 

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It is not drama, it is fact. The show lines put so much emphasis on physical features that the essence of the character of the breed is lost. Show line are essentially a separate breed. They lack the drives and courage to do what the GSD is intended for. There are a few exceptions. Working line GSDs actually look more like GSDs are meant to look than show line GSDs. If they participate in sport or real work, they have to be agile and healthy. Working lines does not always equate with extreme. It equates with handlers lacking the skills and knowledge to handle a working dog with strong drives. To me, family dogs equates with pets. Real GSDs are not meant to be bred as pets, but they can be great companions in the right hands while still pursuing sport or work. Originally, they were herding dogs, not pets. Sheep herders were poor and couldn't afford to buy one dog after another to find a good dog to protect the flock. Now the herding lines are all but gone. I'm not saying all working line GSDs are great or even the same. But the show line dogs have lost the genetics that made the dog a working dog. You see it in practically all breeds bred for show. When you watch the Westminster Dog Show and the announcer gives a short description of what the dog was bred for, the vast majority of those dogs can't do what they were bred for like the original working lines. It is kind of like fake news.

Chip, what about the fact that a lot showline/byb dogs happen to show a fair bit of herding instinct? I'd say herding instinct is still there, just kinda dormant. I'll admit my dog Shelby isn't the best example of a GSD temperament wise, but mainly in that she's not aloof, she does alert now. I do think she'd be a good herding dog. I used to think she wouldn't be as she's so sweet to people but she has some feistiness and attitude hidden in there. Shelby is WGSL/byb line types.

I had a GSD who was poorly bred ASL/byb lines but other than bad health he was a decent example of a GSD in temperament and looks.

There's a lady down in Colorado who actively shows her dogs in confirmation and works them in herding. They'd probably be ASL but they can work.

How about the fact that working lines are turning into sport lines? A dog that is extremely prey driven isn't what was worked towards. A dog that would bite its handler given half a chance, a dog willing to go up the leash to attack you, those doesn't sound like good traits to me. There are extremes at all ends. When you start ignoring standards you start losing the breeds. Confirmation and temperament and workability matters, and not chasing extremes for the I won the trophy bragging rights helps keep that balance. GSDs are supposedly supposed to be a jack of all trades and there are plenty of byb and ASL dogs that can work. You can't hammer an entire line based on the extremes of them but it doesn't mean every dog is like that. It happens in every breed not just GSDs.

Honestly if people weren't so puritan about the lines with the new genetic testing that hopefully continues to improve we'd probably help the breed by mixing lines on occasion. Too many people linebreeding trying to chase ancestors. As the history of animal breeding has revealed time and time again, excessive linebreeding eventually gets you in trouble.

Also I find it kind of funny. There are a lot of herding breed dogs that go on to be pets. Not every herding breed or dog is an insane out of control must always herd breed and will be fine in a pet home provide they get some exercise and mental stimulation. Look up English shepherds. They make good companions or herding dogs because they work but aren't obsessive about it. It's mentioned they often seem a bit protective of the herd. Sounds a bit like GSDs doesn't it? Sure most working line dogs aren't gonna be happy being lazy companions. But it doesn't exclude them from being family pets. Especially if they weren't a breed bred to be obsessive about herding.
 

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... The drama between lines are similar to religious wars. It’s easy to see why their is much animosity in the world...

"Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man-living in the sky-who watches everything you do, every minute of the day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time...But he loves you!"
George Carlin
Lol yes well there you go everyone has their own ideas, beliefs, extreme views, limited views, wants, needs, fears and experiences based on their own interpretations and perceptions - condemning each other for centuries. Nothing is black and white and nothing fits in a one sized box even gsd.
 

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Kazel,
Here is a link to an interview with a man far more qualified than me who made a living as a shepherd.
https://www.german-shepherdherding.com/the-genetic-origin-of-the-breed/
He also wasn't so pleased with the emphasis of selecting for high prey drive in schutzhund either. The herding you are referring to isn't actual herding the breed was developed for. Within the working lines, there are dogs that are more prey driven, dogs that are handler aggressive, dogs with nerve issues, etc. I am just saying the SV has sold the breed out due to money. That is a factor in the movement for American schutzhund. I the the show lines have swayed further away from the breed than the working lines. Helmut Raiser's research shows that the German show lines are actually a different strain of dog.
https://www.rsv2000.de/opencms/en/news/special-articels/breeding/
Based on the findings, I suppose you could argue that mixing the lines would add to genetic diversity, but my belief is the damage has already been done and valuable genetics have been lost due to the promotion and shift into the show lines.
Regarding pets, the market is driven by people wanting GSDs as pets. The average family cannot properly raise and deal with a working line dog usually, so the breed becomes diluted. They can be great pets in the right hands.
Jenny,
I'm not saying so much that I totally share Carlin's beliefs, but rather, the dogma he points out tends to mirror the nature of the dogma of the SV.
 

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As someone who has an extensive background in horses, I view conformation critiques less so as comparisons to the standard and more so in the sense of functionality while maintaining the breeds essence. Does that make sense? ...

There are plenty of stable, V rated working line dogs in the breed.
 

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Correct working structure, and I don't mean the extremes of the show ring, is necessary for two reasons. 1. I am breeding GSD and not another breed so I want them to maintain the balanced trotting structure that founded the breed and look like GSD. 2. Correct structure also helps the dog stay sound. Drive can over come a lot of things, but eventually things like bad feet, super straight shoulders, long backs, weak jaws, straight rear, etc will catch up with the dog.



Pick up Linda Shaw's book. It goes well into the purpose of things like high withers, lay back of the shoulder, short loins, etc.


Couple of my dogs. The first was probably the most correct dog I have ever owned. The second is her granddaughter who at 10 is still totally sound and still able to pop over jumps and into the back of my pickup without effort.
 

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The structure of these dogs are very consistent with some of the earlier Seigers on the BSZS around the 1960's. So what has changed? Who decided that black and red cookie cutter dogs with extreme angulation at the expense or working ability should be the future of the breed and why. For me, the Martin brothers and their influence on the SV are largely responsible and money was a key factor. They could get huge sums of money for red and black dogs from misinformed wealthy people. I think I remember Fanto von Hirschel being sold for over $100,000.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you all for the helpful, and informative, responses. I had a notion that dogs and horses had similar conformation pros/cons but wanted to verify. I’m sure others are appreciative as well!

Also, beautiful dogs!
 
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