Are ‘Germanic’ style GSDs really ‘Germanic’

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I must make it clear from the outset that I am not on anyone’s ‘side’ in this debate.  My concern is solely with the health, welfare and quality of the dogs.

Some pictures came my way a few weeks ago which I would like to share with you. It caught my eye because of a column I wrote a couple of months ago about German Shepherd Dogs which led to some discussion with GSD enthusiasts. The correspondence I received at the time demonstrated, in spades, the points I was making recently in another context about closed minds. I was sent an outline of the skeleton of a GSD, the one reproduced here, and told that it was accepted by breeders in Germany and throughout the world as the ‘ideal’. My view is that although exaggerated it was well within the parameters which I have outlined in these articles about conformation and soundness in the past so it was fine by me. If you examine the drawing, you can see that it represents a relatively normal conformation. The second thigh is somewhat over long and the angles in the hind quarter are significantly at variance with those in the forehand (the expectation in a ‘normal’ construction is that they would be very similar) but nevertheless the structure is acceptable.


I was then directed to the picture of a dog and told that it had won a sheaf of awards – and that it typified the conformation demonstrated in the drawing of the skeleton.  This is the one.


Here my correspondent and I part company. Imagine the photograph overlaid on the skeleton. Does it fit? No it does not – not by any stretch of the imagination.

We are often told in no uncertain terms that we should look to Germany for our inspiration and I am therefore delighted to bring you a third illustration which was taken in Germany prior to 1957 (it must have been before 1957 as this picture was when the book was published in a German book on dogs breeds). The book is fascinating and has many lovely monochrome pictures showing quite clearly that many indigenous German breeds in the ring today including Rottweilers and Dobermanns, look very similar to those being shown fifty years ago.

As you can see, an exception is the German Shepherd Dog.


This picture shows a judges training session at a German show. You can see that the skeleton on the blackboard that the ‘live model, black German Shepherd would fit neatly over it.

My question is a simple one – why is there so much attention being paid to the modern German Shepherd Dogs from Germany when they are so very different to the type and conformation of those which were considered ideal in the 1950s? Pictures from the books in my own library from the 1950s show UK dogs very similar to the black dog here. They were taken in the late 1940s I think, before the British fashion for long backed, low to ground GSDs became prevalent, a style which provoked firstly a reaction to and then the establishment of, the ‘real’ GSDs from Germany which gave us our current ‘Germanic’ type. The problem appears to me not to have been with UK breeders but German breeders who were getting away from what was the ideal shape and conformation demonstrated by the dog in the seminar photograph.

Fortunately, there are still many breeders of ‘balanced’ and not ‘extreme’ German Shepherds and so ‘on the street’ and occasionally in the ring, you do see sound GDSs that have not been designed to pull against the lead when gaiting.

What is such a shame is that we have already seen a significant reduction in the numbers of the breed shown in recent years as breeders of the two ‘styles’ have become locked into a battle which has ego at its heart rather than the dog (though to be fair this is not very different to many breeds and breed clubs). I wonder how long it will be before sales of GSD puppies are seriously affected. This may provide more of a stimulus than pressure from the Kennel Club to put breeders back on track.

Finally, here is another picture from the same book. My German is negligible but I understand the caption indicates that this dog is considered ‘a superb example of the breed’.


I submit that the breeders in Germany are those ones who have ‘got it wrong’ and that many of those in the UK have slavishly followed their lead without thinking the consequences through.

Explore posts in the same categories: pedigree dogs

64 Comments on “Are ‘Germanic’ style GSDs really ‘Germanic’”

  1. Philippa Says:

    First of all David a very Happy New Year. Let’s hope it is a good one for the health of our dogs.
    You raise some very interesting points here but fail to acknowledge whose campaigning has really brought these serious matters to the fore. One Jemima Harrison.
    Who raised it powerfully in PDE. Jemima Harrison. Who has posted this loud and clear on You Tube. Jemima Harrison. See here

    Who continues, despite your publication’s shabby personal attacks on her (shame on you I thought better of you) to campaign on these all important breeding matters to do with inherited health problems and exaggerated traits. Yes. Jemima Harrison.

    I am glad to see you adopt some of her campaigning traits yourself with the telling juxtaposition of photos of fit for function GSDs compared with those now bred soley for the heartsinkingly awful past time of showing dogs. Well done you on picking up her trail.

  2. davidcavill Says:

    Phillippa Dear, a Happy New Year to you too.

    However, I seldom get angry but your comments are not worthy and very misleading. You know full well that I am not following in Jemima’s wake.

    I have been ‘campaigning’ about soundness in pedigree dogs for YEARS. My book about breeding dogs was published in the 80s and and my views are already clearly set out there and have been continued in books, tutorials and publications ever since. Jemima raised the issue powerfully it is true (and I have given her credit for that) but she greatly distorted the matter and I think it likely has made a mint in the process.

    Did you see that the fee that Roy Hattersely got for his article in the D Mail today about his dog Buster was donated to Blue Cross? No chance of that from our Jemima I suspect. This does not concern me – we all have to make a living – but please give credit (as I do) where it is due.

  3. Pam Phillips Says:

    Hi David
    The hind angulation of the International Type is the least of the problems in the GSD breed, it does not affect hips, neither does it affect any other joint problems at the rear. Likewise those that have looseness in the hocks, if correctly managed with exercise this becomes firm as the dog grows. Maybe it is partly down to lazy owners or those that insist on only giving a pup 5mins exercise for each month of age instead of letting them be pups and run free.
    Re JH she would have been better targeting the obedience folk who think it is ok to regular breed off high hip scores which is a health issue, or what about the breeders knowingly breeding from lines affected/carriers and producers of epilepsy and dwarfism again which is a health issue. Or the breeder of the work line litter knowingly breeding from a sire with an elbow score of 2 and no Haemophilia testing and the dam with an elbow score of 2 (who also has a sibling with grade 2) Again this is a health issue. Only approx 20% of GSDs bred come from those people who breed for showing, who does she thinks breeds the other 9,000+ Why target such a small proportion of GSD breeders/owners ?

    • davidcavill Says:

      I do not agree, Pam and I think you understanding of canine construction is serious mistaken if your first sentences are anything to go by. I could have much to say about breed practices and techniques but I have already covered (in general terms) many of the abuses you refer to in previous articles and the comments are not relevant to the important points I am making in this one,

      However, I do think that Jemima’s focus has always been too narrow and have, again, made it clear that there are many good breeders of GSDs in this country – some of which you see in the ring.

  4. Philippa Says:

    Glad we agree on the power of PDE. There is no denying that. But, because of the impact and the authority that that piece of work has in the pedigree dog breeding sphere, it is hardly Jemima’s fault that she has become the “go get” person for other comments and articles on the subject.

    At least David in your piece on the Beckham’s bulldog you have had the grace to admit that your motives for writing that are driven by your resentment towards her for now being that “go get” person. As for your heinous comment about how Jemima spends her money – I will not rise to that bait. Save to say that she does run an independent retriever rescue as many already know. The dogs are central to her life and are central to her work. The dogs.

    Why would you David, as you say a campaigner yourself, condone the celebrity predeliction for acquiring and then rejecting puppies as if they were nothing more than Prada handbags? How could you defend that? How could you attack anyone for attacking that? Especially as their breeds of choice are inevitably ones that are on the KC’s “at risk” list.

    You and I both have blogs. We both make very salient points about canine health and welfare. But we both know and would acknowledge that our audience is miniscule. The audience for PDE is worlwide and massive. So as you say credit where credit is due. Whilst we paddle in our tiny blogosphere puddles Jemima has articulated these issues to brilliant affect to oceans. The issues you rightly raise about GSDs above are being tackled at the highest level because they were literally cast more broadly by PDE.

    • davidcavill Says:

      Just a couple of things. I understood J’s motivation in making PDE was the problems she had had with her own dogs. This is greatly to be regretted but it arose from a personal issue. I had never heard of her before. I am afraid I have no knowledge of the charity which J runs. I would appreciate details and I will be happy to give her credit for so doing

      The BBC has had to accept what we have all know from the start – that the programme was distorted by the eugenics and other issues and many involved did not have the opportunity to defend themselves.

      The GSD issue has been ongoing for many years – it was not suddenly brought to the fore by PDE. I do accept (and the KC would agree) that PDE gave them a powerful lever to do what they wanted to do already. It is just such a shame that J took an approach which was derogatory of the whole world of pedigree dogs rather than focusing on the real issues.

      I wish should would do a programme on the way in which puppy farmers work (some of whom are, unfortunately, within the world of pedigree dogs). This (as has been admitted by APGWA) is where the real problem lies. The KC is an easy target – I would love to see her tackle a difficult one and try to asses what could be done about it

      • You understand wrong, David. It was put about after PDE that I was bitter and twisted becase I had lost three flatcoats prematurely to cancer, but this is not true. My first flatcoat lived until he was 15. Our second did die of cancer – but not until he was 10. The current one is 7 yrs old and going strong.

        The rescue I run (non-profit but not a charity) is

        No, the puppy farmers is not “where the real problem lies”, David. They are a whole other problem. Puppy farmers are not responsible for the unfortunate exaggerations we see in the ring in some breeds. Please have a look at the mastini on this website (click Gallery then TNMC Show 2009) and tell me if you think those dogs are OK.


      • davidcavill Says:

        I have never said you were bitter and twisted, Jemima – please do not imply that I might use language with such emotional connotations. I have always agreed with much of what you say but have resented they way in which you have said it and the use of images and language (as above) in the way you have promoted your ideas.

        I am delighted to learn that your Flatcoats were sound – it supports my point that to condemn all pedigree dogs and dog breeders for producing genetically damaged stock is not a realistic position to take (and although you do not entirely take this view much of what you do and say gives that impression.

        And I pleased to see your website for black retrievers. You are right – I find it distressing that some breed rescue societies will not take cross breds though to be fair they are usually restrained by money or their charitable objectives if they are a registered charity.

        Incidentally, this is not to denigrate the work you and many others do – all rescue help is greatly appreciated by all of us who have the welfare of dogs at heart – but all the dogs looking for homes on your website would be quickly re-homed by Battersea or Dogs Trust. They are exactly what owners are looking for but, unfortunately, what most are faced with are a range of Stafford crosses and dogs which have severe behaviour problems. There is always another point of view, you see.

        As far as puppy farming is concerned – it is a different problem but they – like any commercial company only supply what the public want. Now this my be partially triggered by the dogs seen at Crufts but this was only once a year – very few of the general public go to the other championship shows or to open shows. The rest of the media could be considered just as responsible – the general public see much more of the Bulldog in the Churchill adverts than ever watch Crufts and it was the Harry Potter films which bought the Neapolitan Mastiff to the fore!

        I do agree with you about the NP, by the way, but I am hoping now that the KC have taken on its standard some progress can be made. But please remember that in the final analysis it is the public that creates the opportunity.

      • David, I did not “imply” that you thought I was bitter and twisted. What I said was this: “It was put about after PDE that I was bitter and twisted becase I had lost three flatcoats prematurely to cancer, but this is not true.” This was in response to you writing: “I understood J’s motivation in making PDE was the problems she had had with her own dogs. This is greatly to be regretted but it arose from a personal issue.”

        The point is that while my or your own experience might be interesting, it is anecdotal. My own experience, for example, might lead me to think that flatcoats are fairly hail and hearty. The experience of the person who called me last week who had lost three before the age of six might lead them to an entirely different opinion. So who’s right? In fact, over 50 per cent of flatcoats will be diagnosed with cancer by, on average, the age of 7 or 8 – a frequency that I find totally unacceptable. They did not feature in PDE, however, because we stuck mainly to the best-known/most popular breeds. This cancer rate, by the way, is from a good Cambridge study which followed a large cohort of flatcoats through from 1 or 2 yrs old through to death – a cohort sourced through the breed club, btw (although of course there aren’t many puppy-farmed flatties, thank goodness).

        Not sure what the point is re the rescue, but we offer something very specific. We use foster homes rather than kennels and all our dogs are very thoroughly assessed and nursed through any specific issues. Yes, you’re right Battersea would probably give their eye teeth for them (and indeeed many of the large rescues do take Irish dogs as I do) but some rescues prefer to send to small bespoke rescues that can give more individual attention). I am fostering two here myself at the moment and it is pretty much dog-heaven here – large garden, comfy sofas and two hours on Salisbury Plain every afternoon.

        Re the media – I agree with you. I would love Churchill to drop the bulldog mascot and the Harry Potter films have caused an enormous problem re the NMs (NM rescue simply cannot cope with the number of dogs). And sure, perhaps the breed now being under the KC’s auspices will hasten some improvement. But I would say this. Some of the dogs at the TNMC Show were an absolute disgrace – in such a state that I think there are grounds for charges of cruelty. If the KC wants its criticis to truly believe that it’s serious about tackling health, then dogs like this should not be appearing in the ring at KC shows. And unless the KC gets tough, then I’d rather the KC had never admitted the breed because it has given the breed a veneer of respectability that I do not think is justified.

        David, I think there’s a real chance for the KC to lead the world on this. But they need to take a real stand – and most of all, they need to want to make a real difference to dogs; rather than sitting there swearing under their breath at their critics, resentful of the outside interference (which is still the case). Most of all, they need to truly embrace the science – and, where it’s lacking, commission some more. Otherwise, I’m with David Payne – they should become just a registry and regulator of shows and delegate the health to an outside body. Which of course Bateson has half-done for them already.

  5. Pam Phillips Says:

    Hi Jemima do you really think I would take notice of a vet who recommends non submission of plates if they think they will be over 12, hence I go up North for my dogs hips/elbows to a vet with good ethics.
    If it affects hip why is it the only dog I have that is extreme ie steep croup is the only one with 0:0 hips, whereas my others who are what most people would term ‘middle of the road’ higher although not much (below 10) as I believe in free exercise from 8wks.
    I certainly wouldn’t take advice either from breeders with lack of ethics either.
    Perhaps Jemima you will also concentrate on those type aswell, take a look at epupz.
    David I am well aware of the construction of all types of GSD and as I have stated this is not a major health issue unlike the other points I have mentioned, my dogs are not shown they are first and foremost pets, but they also work in the field, are therapy dogs, blood donors, stooge dogs for those dogs/humans who are fearful etc.

  6. davidcavill Says:

    Pam, I am afraid it is co-incidence. I am delighted that you do so much excellent work with your dogs and you are to be congratulated but your comment makes the assumption that hip dysplasia is reduced by the dog having a steep croup and as most dogs without it have a normal conformation (and many dogs with a normal conformation do have the condition) this is not likely to be a factor. Please read the article – it is about why some GDS breeders in the UK may have been seduced by the ‘Germanic’ type simply because that is what is currently popular in Germany. What I am saying is that those German breeders may be wrong based on the illustration provided from the past. I am only asking the question: why do Rottweilers and Dobermanns have almost exactly the same conformation as 60 years ago while GSDs have changed significantly?

  7. David Payne Says:

    I tend to place significant value on the experience of the breed and within the breed, on opinions expressed about my breed, the GSD. I place little value on those with little knowledge and experience. Perhaps David’s wish to be invited onto the KC general committee may be more bear fruit with this blog, perhaps that is its purpose. I would simply say our GSD breed is a very young breed, and was very much in its developmental stage during the 1950’s and is still, to some degree in its developmental stage. I would never consider writing about other breeds as I simply do not know enough about any of them, I would respectfully suggest that those people involved with other breeds leave our GSD well alone, we already have enough with the Alsatianists, who are also stuck in a time warp.

    David Payne

    • davidcavill Says:

      Thanks for your input David – though you clearly have not read some of my material in relation to the KC!

      That said I genuinely believe that one of the proiblems we have in many breeds (and GSDs are no exception) is that some of those deeply involved and committed (as I know you are) are hemmed in by the trees and cannot see the wider picture. I am not the specialist you are but I do have a fair amount of experiences in a wide range of breeds from Schipperks to Rottweilers taking in a number of sheperding breed along the way. This does not make my opinions right but I hope that my study and research into dogs for my courses (, books, lectures and articles provides a balanced and realistic view of pedigree dog breeds as a whole. This means that I take no one’s side – neither that of the breeder, that of the Kennel Club or that of Jemima Harrison and Mark Evans. What I try to do is to put the complexies of all aspects of the world of dogs (I am fortunate in having experience of pedigree and crossbred dogs, canine psychology, rescue, breeding and large animal charities as well as judging and show administration – from exemption/companion shows to champuonship shows) which I hope enables me to understand and appraciate the wider perspectives of dog ownership. I observe and report within the confines of that expereince – as everyone else does (including those interested enough to share their thoughts here)

  8. David Payne Says:

    Jemima don’t forget the definition of a “sloping topline”

    A sloping topline is a term that needs defining to prevent any misunderstanding and in this context it is a sloping back line from the shoulders or withers down to the pin bones of the pelvis. This is evident with the dog at the walk or in the natural stance.

  9. Pam Phillips Says:

    Hi David
    I have all the hip data for the GSD in the UK and can assure you that the worst hips come from those that breed for obedience.
    The SV incorporate HD/ED into their estimated breeding values and although in the UK the mean breed average for hips as remained static for the GSD in many European countries including Germany it as reduced.
    Not all GSDs in Germany have steep croups or extreme angulations, including the show dogs.
    There are many problems within the WG line show dogs the same as all lines in the UK. I am not stating that the Germans are correct as they made the same mistake over there and the levels of inbreeding from the 60’s onwards increased and now the breed is paying the price, the differences are that they started making changes many years before this programme was produced. Yet the English have only stopped close matings since the KC banned it.
    An example a work line breeder in the UK mated a 14month old bitch to its sire, it is these type of practices that need stopping.

    I think the KC should be a register only, as the CMKU is with my other breed. It is the Breed club along with a geneticist and a cynologist who decide if a particular mating can go ahead, if they do not agree then the CMKU will not register the litter.

    I cant comment on the Rottweiler but can on the Dobermann, even in the 10years of the 90’s that I was involved with a friend that bred them they changed in looks, in particular their chests and head and some types their topline.

    • davidcavill Says:

      I have now had a chance to look at these pictures Pam and you are right that many are different to those we see in the UK now (and some are unbelievably awful – I hope I don’t get any like that when I give tickets for the first time next year. But the best are good and none exhibit the extremes of the GSD in their hind quarter

  10. David Payne Says:

    The Bateson Report
    The Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding
    David Payne

    Bateson has recommended the Kennel Club to upgrade its Accredited Breeder Scheme PROMPTLY. If it is unable (or unwilling) to do so another body should step forward to supply an appropriately robust accredited breeder scheme.

    The current Kennel Club Accredited Breeders Scheme is fundamentally flawed. It is impossible to police in a satisfactory manner or even in an effective manner. The checks and monitoring give the appearance of KC “window dressing”.

    Window dressing is something which runs through the Accredited Breeders Scheme like the name’s of seaside resorts runs through sticks of rock. One only has to consider the Accredited Breeders Scheme – ‘Health Screening’ aspects, it may surprise most people to learn that many of the health screening aspects are only recommendations, in other words entirely VOLUNTARY. This linked with the wholly inadequate policing and checks on the scheme render it fundamentally flawed, and it being a clear case of Kennel Club “window dressing”.

    You may now be having very serious doubts about the Kennel Club Accredited Breeders Scheme, but there is even more; Even with the scheme requiring Hip Dysplasia screening, whatever the hip score, high or low, they can still be bred from. INCREDIBLY there is simply a requirement to ‘screen for hip dysplasia’ and other diseases.

    Also, can there be any meaning to this scheme when the clear and unquestionable IDENTITY of each pedigree dog that is owned and used for breeding by every accredited breeder, is NOT a “requirement” of the scheme?

    Micro-chipping and DNA parentage tests, to guarantee a puppies accurate parentage, should be fundamental “requirements” to ensuring that any health screening, and consequently any breeding is in strict accordance with the required criteria.

    Can you imagine pedigrees indicating one thing and DNA parentage tests illustrating something different, where would incest breeding be in such a scenario. Without BOTH micro-chipping and DNA parentage tests MOST conditions of the Kennel Club Accredited Breeders Scheme are based on trust. Trust is something that pedigree dog breeding can ill afford.

    I would hope the Kennel Club will fully grasp the recommendations of the Bateson report and avoid resorting to “window dressing”. For instance will they grasp the following recommendations, PROMPTLY.

    a. All pre-mating tests for inherited disease appropriate to the breed or breeds are undertaken on both parents.

    b. No mating takes place if the tests indicate that it would be inadvisable in the sense that it is likely to produce welfare problems in the offspring and/or is inadvisable in the context of a relevant breeding strategy (see also 8.2).

    c. Every puppy identified by microchip prior to sale.

    All other Bateson recommendations can be seen in the attached pdf file.

    My frustration with the Kennel Club stems from the flagrantly disgraceful manner they have responded to the GSD community, represented by the GSD partnership, over the last year or so.

    The GSD community put forward carefully considered proposals to significantly improve the Health and Welfare of our GSD breed here within the United Kingdom, through the use of the Kennel Club (KC) registration system and through entry requirements into KC licensed shows, they also included suggestions to improve the KC Accredited Breeders Scheme with an “accredited GSD scheme” soundly based on our breeds existing and well established GSD Breed Survey. Incidentally our GSD Breed Survey includes compulsory health screening (with hip score limits) and identification.

    The Kennel not only shilly shallied with our GSD representatives, by cancelling meetings, and by refusing or failing to respond to most major points, at one point attempting to draw them into the fundamentally flawed KC Accredited Breeders Scheme, and being displeased with the somewhat ‘pointed’ response they received; The Kennel Club went on to completely ignore ALL the GSD partnership proposals and have gone directly to GSD breed clubs with an “undertaking” which is simply aimed at bringing the GSD community into line with their “dictatorial” ways and their “window dressing” style.

    In my firm opinion the Kennel Clubs policy on Health and Welfare of pedigree dogs is substantially influenced by an attitude of “out of site – out of mind”

    If you have any doubts remaining, then please read the following question to the Kennel Club, and their answer.

    We are currently Exhibiting a GSD with a hip score of 3-47=50. We would be very grateful if you could please clarify for us that if a Judge is aware of our dogs hip score should they penalise him in the show ring although he is very sound and displays excellent movement. This dog is not at stud and never will be.
    In answer to your query, judges are only required to consider whether a dog is suffering from a visible condition which adversely affects its health or welfare.
    Therefore any knowledge which a Judge may have with regard to the health status of the dog, such as its hip score, should not be taken into account when judging, and it would not be appropriate to base any judging decisions on such information.

    David Payne

    Contrary to current rumours, I have not been proposed and seconded for membership of the Kennel Club, and this email should NOT be construed in any way as an attempt by me to seek such a nomination.

  11. davidcavill Says:


    This all very interesting but is only marginally related to the subject. I have discussed the ABS on many occasions and you make some ecellent points – but people do not seem to recognised that the KC does not have a stutory role and therefore cannot ‘make’ people behave in a particular way and much of the money they are using to try and understand and eventually solve the health problems in pedigree dogs comes from registrations fees. Rock and hard places come to mind.
    I have on many occasions said the ‘The KCC should not have started from here’, but we are where we are and legislation will not help – there is plenty of legislation (some good some bad) but most of it is not applied or applied without thought and understanding. I could go on but the important point is that we have focus on what is a) important and b) possible

  12. David Payne Says:

    David, The Kennel Club does not need a statutory role to bring in ‘controls’. They simply make clear “requirements” and those ‘matings’ that meet such requirements are registers with a “premium” registration – other matings stay with the current registration. Very soon puppies with “premium” registrations will be sought after far more than the ‘others’. Now there is a meaningful incentive, and a simple system which would transform the health & welfare of pedigree dogs very quickly. A no brainer!

  13. davidcavill Says:

    The American Kennel Club tried it and almost went bankrupt as a result. They were forced to drop the idea if they were to retain their registrations. That is why the KC are so cautious

    • No, David, this is absolutely not true about the AKC – although is often spouted by, particularly, the Kennel Club. There is and never has been a single health hurdle required by the AKC. Not one.

      It is true that the AKC has lost resigrations and income. It’s for a great many reasons – but the introduction of health testing is is not one of them.

      They did introduce a frequently-used sire programme which requires a kennel check that the breeder has to pay for (and some extra paperwork). That did lose them some high-volume breeders. But, again, health testing plays no part of this. And there are no limits on the amount of times these frequest sires can be used.

      In fact, I’d argue that one of the reasons the AKC has lost registrations is because people woke up and realised that an AKC pedigree certificate meant nothing (unless you were one of the few people who show). This allowed other registries to set up and offer the same for less.

      Terrierman spells it out here:


      • davidcavill Says:

        I have had a look at the web site, Jemima and I am afraid that this person’s approach is not one that gives me much confidence. I have just returned from the States where I judged the AKC show. I went over the best Shipperkes I have ever seen in the world and the other breeds were pretty good as well. My information comes from the Chairman and committee members of the AKC. I know they ‘would say that wouldn’t they’, of course, but I was not going into detail – just pointing out that taking precipitant action has unintended consequences. As you know, I have had real concerns about the ABS but you have to start somewhere and this is what the AKC was doing.

        Your statements about Royal Canin also miss the point. Apart from the fact that it appears to me that the AKC work most closely with Iams – which has other (and long past) issues with research which are regularly trumpted on extreme web sites as if the information is current – the fact Royal Canin respond to the public’s fashion demands is hardly their fault. This aspect of their work has a long history. Many years ago they spend hundreds of thousands of pounds develoing a kibble which could be easily eaten by persian cats. I wrote about this and the company complained that I had said they were encouaging short faced breeds. I had not of course – I was writing (ten years ago) that cat breeders had, like dog breeders, gone too far in devloping extremes from the norm when the numbers bred meant that Royal Canin had a ‘new’ market.

  14. David Payne Says:

    I understand it was the DNA parentage test which caused the AKA problems, which still has a 10% failure rate after 10 years of operation, says a lot about “pedigrees” that can be trusted?????
    They should “pilot” it a “two tier” registration system, using one breed, the GSD breed. They could also pilot a DNA parentage system with the GSD breed. Then roll both out through agreement with the “breed clubs”. It would be very interesting to see which breed clubs “DECLINED”.

  15. davidcavill Says:

    Perfectly good suggestion – worth putting to one of the new committees on Health and Welfare – but which one?

  16. David Payne Says:

    It is becoming very clear the Kennel Club should just deal with “registrations” – they should commence a programme of agreeing with breed clubs (starting with the GSD) for them to go independent on all other matters. many breeds are much more capable of progressing their one breed, free of the “Kennel Clubs shackles” – The GSD breed is already far more advanced on Health & Welfare of our breed that the Kennel Club, indeed the Kennel Clubs efforts and clear limitations for effectively dealing with the Health & Welfare of pedigree dogs is all to obvious to anyone who looks past their “window dressing” smokescreens.

    • davidcavill Says:


      If what you say is true then I would not have neded to write the above article.

      I have just received this comment from a veterinary surgeon which is particularly knowedgable about pedigree dogs in that they very successfully exhibit. I am sure your comments would be appreciated.

      ‘I read your contribution in this week’s OD’s about the modern GSD and there is to me one glaring difference which I have never heard mentioned between the modern GSD in picture 2 and the rest of the ‘normal’ canine race.

      In most if not all dogs, save the exception of which we speak, the shoulder joint and the hip joint can be joined by a horizontal line. Even in picture 1 of your column the skeleton offered as demonstrating a good example of the modern GSD has this feature. Obviously having these two joints on the same level allows for better balance both at rest and on the move. Neither the forequarters nor the hind quarters are being forced to do a greater share of the work. Compare then the photo, Picture 2, and join up the shoulder joint and the hip joint in this animal. You will see the resulting line slopes downhill from front to back.

      Evolution has shaped the animals that we still see in the wild with no help from man. Look then at the carnivorous hunters – the different wolves and in the UK the fox- and though I hate to use the phrase see how they are ‘fit for function’. The fox trots for many miles every day following his usual route, granted not at the ridiculous extended trot [ such a wasteful gait ] but just a relaxed workman-like pace. Wolves too will cover many miles on occasion at a trot and lope, and eventually a gallop. The skeleton of these animals has shoulder and hip joints in a horizontal plane.

      Finally consider why in show stance the GSD always has one back foot brought forward and positioned almost under the hip on that side. The answer is indeed obvious. If both hind legs were drawn as far back as possible to try and not appear sickle hocked the poor dog would be unable to maintain this pose for more than a minute or two. This is the only breed shown which cannot be posed in the normal show stance [as far as I can see]. Further more when moving off from rest most dogs can use their hind legs to push backwards before having to bring them forward for the next step [although this is becoming a bit questionable in some sickle hocked whippets]. There is no way a GSD in the standard show stance, ie both legs extended back together could push from a hind leg without first lifting up and moving it forward in front of the hip joint and then pushing back on it.

      I always return to the same question in modern GSDs ,’What was wrong with them before they tried to achieve the ‘ideal’?

  17. David Payne Says:

    There is NO committee within the Kennel Club that can progress meaningful suggestions, unless they originate within their hierarchy or a ‘blessed’ one. To do otherwise would be seen as an unacceptable encroachment on their ‘ivory tower’ politics.

  18. David Payne Says:

    All my GSD can stand with their hocks directly beneath their hips (pelvis) – the do so normaally and routinely in their kennels and out side off the lead and on the lead.
    I do get seriously concerned when people, including verterinary surgeons (who incidentally are not breed specialists) fail tto grasp the history of the GERMAN shepherd dog, where and when it was created, the blueprint, the club (SV) which was created, the tests (Schutzhund) created to assess functionality, the continuation of the SV club to see through the development of our GSD breed within the parameters of the originators VISION. Now here in the UK we have people involved in border terriers and many other in other breeds, with the audacity to consider the GERMAN SV is WRONG. If this does not begger belief, I do not know what does.
    These X spurts, should visut Germany, and tour around the Sieger Shows, for conformation, working, sheep herding, junior handing, etc. They should watch and learn about the GSD “fit for purpose” in PRACTICE in its home country and THEN yes THEN come home and publicly beg forgiveness from the GSD fraternity and THEN keep forever silent about “what they know so little about.
    I Have over 30 years of concentrated and extensive experience within the GSD breed, and I have travelled throughout Germany to all GSD events, many clubs, shows, breeders kennels, including the late great Walter Martin. Can you imagine what uninformed diatribe does to someone like me, and many others within our GSD breed?

  19. davidcavill Says:

    David, all you say may be true about your dogs and I know your committment is outstanding.

    I do not pretend to be a GSD expert and I am not a vet but I do know quite a bit about dogs, what they do, how they behave and whether or not they are ‘fit’.

    I have huge respect for people like you, Malcolm, the views of Percy Elliot and many of those who are involved in the Council and who have made a significant contribution and I emphasise that I am NOT an apologist for the KC BUT, overall, the dogs I see in the ring at shows up and down this country neither fulfil the demands of the current breed standards nor can be descibed as strong and workmanlike.


  20. David Payne Says:

    David, I am seriously thinking of adding another breed in my Kennel, the Finnish Spitz, I will at least research it thoroughly and “I do know quite a bit about dogs”.
    I will mainly concentrate on the “problems” with the Finnish Spitz” breed, especially its Health and Welfare problems. My research will be thorough and my article on the Finnish Spitz breed will be powerfully written and very hard hitting. I may add a further breed for similar attention, the border terrier, I understand Ronnie Irving has an interest in that breed!
    We can all comment about other breeds, and detract attention from our own, the GSD breed clearly needs to learn a few simple realities.

    Could you imagine the KC General Committees demeanour if DNA parentage tests were made compulsory for ALL existing breeding stock within pedigree dogs, irrespective of whether the breeder intended further litters from them? I would glean over every detail of the results. Perhaps its easier to protect ones self and ones breed within an ivory tower, especially if you have power within it! Perhaps the general committee could “show us all the way, with their leadership example” and and all volunteer.

  21. David Payne Says:

    I forgot to add David, I, and many others within our GSD breed, are disappointed with the GSD cover in the “OUR DOGS” canine newspaper, during our “period of need”. “Dog World” on the other hand has had a much more balanced approach.

    This ‘change’ with OUR DOGS appears to have started, when the Kennel Club criticised Dog World over its publihed article making comments about Ronnie Irving threatening to kick our GSD breed out of the Kennel Club, perhaps OUR DOGS considered this an opportunity for “endearment” with the Kennel Club. If so I would strongly urge you and every owner of a pedigree dog to read the following web page:

  22. David Payne Says:

    I have done some very brief research for my article on Finnish Spitz.
    Here is some information I have gleaned, I have much more serious “digging” to do.
    A major challenge is collecting documented, medical data on Finnish Spitz with the health issues that the breed is facing. In light of the fact that the vast majority of breeders–which in and of itself is a small number–only breed a couple of litters a year, either increasing the gene pool through imports and/or obtaining medical data on affected puppies and dogs requires funds far above the income from pups. In the absence of those funds, the necessary medical data simply does not exist. As we grow the FSHN we hope to help with funding of this type of testing. The most important aspects of this testing include identifying the specific issues affecting the breed as well as identifying the dogs that are carriers for each specific disease. This information allows breeders to make an effort to breed around the diseases with the eventual goal of eliminating them from the Finnish Spitz breeding population.
    From its origins in Finland, the Finnish Spitz breed has been plagued with idiopathic epilepsy. Anecdotal stories regarding liver issues in the breed have existed for years. On an ongoing basis, the goal is to identify Finnish Spitz that are carriers for certain genetic disorders. Because of the small gene pool the liklihood of genetic diseases has risen. With increased inbreeding and linebreeding due to a small gene pool more and more genes can expect to become homozygous rather than maintaining their genetically heterozygous characteristic.
    Finland has struggled for many years in dealing with the problem of epilepsy in the Finnish Spitz. In the absence of a genetic marker for this disorder, the Finnish Spitz Club in Finland developed an epilepsy pedigree with a probability indicator of which lines were most likely to carry the defective gene and attempted to eliminate the breeding of these dogs. As a result, the gene pool in Finland was dramatically reduced four years ago. Dogs imported in recent years are far less likely to carry the defective gene(s) for epilepsy than those imported before that time. Because our original gene pool was imported this is a disease that has affected a number of our Finnish Spitz. On the good news front, an extensive research project between the University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of MO-Columbia vet school is making progress in seeking to identify a genetic marker for epilepsy. A number of blood samples from Finnish Spitz were submitted over the years and there is cautious optimism that a genetic marker for this disease will be found in the near future. We are supporting the work of Dr. Hannes Lohi at the University of Helsinki who specifically is attempting to find a genetic marker in the Finnish Spitz. Dr. Lohi has access to the samples submitted to the U of MO project but if you have a Finnish Spitz that is affected by seizures please go to our Current Projects page to see how you can help. Finding a genetic marker in our breed would allows us to quickly eliminate this disease from our breeding population.

    Luxating Patellas
    The second major health issue found in Finland is structural and involves the kneecap. Referred to as luxating patellas, the knee cap slips off or dislocates in dogs with this issue thereby causing damage to the surrounding tendons and ligaments. While this condition can be corrected, surgery is expensive and involves a lengthy recovery. This condition was severe enough in Finland that the Finnish Spitz parent club in Finland requested the Finnish Kennel Club to require obligatory health screening of breeding Finnish Spitz through its health program (“PEVISA”) in 1994. Of course, our dogs rarely see the type of exercise that the hunting dogs in Finland experience so unless the condition is quite severe symptoms may not show up in our dogs for many years. Testing for this condition simply requires examination and palpitation of the kneecap by a veterinarian.

    Cardiac Issues
    Breeeders in North America have encountered a number of heart problems. Pulminary stenosis in two different valves in the heart have been documented as well as a hole in the wall separating the chambers of the heart. Where the stenosis is severe it can be corrected through the insertion of balloon in the affected valve but again this is an expensive procedure. A good veterinarian should be able to ascertain that a cardiac issue exists before the pups leave the breeder through a routine examination of the pups. These conditions will produce a heart murmur that can be detected at a very early age. In dogs that are only mildly affected limiting their exercise may be sufficient.

    Achalasia is a disorder of the esophagus where the esophagus does not relax to allow emptying of the food in to the stomach. In most instances, a dog with this condition will vomit his food to empty the esophagus although in mild cases the symptoms may not be as noticeable. The best prevention is a careful watch of pups at the time of weaning for any difficulties in digesting solid food. While there is no documentation of this condition in the breed in Finland it is thought to cross nearly all lines here in North America.
    The following conditions found in Finnish Spitz do not appear to distinguish between any lines.

    Cleft Palate
    Cleft palate (a hole in the roof of the mouth) is another genetic disorder that seems to cross most lines in North America. This disease is somewhat self-controlling in that puppies with this disorder will not survive more than a few days because they cannot nurse properly. At the same time, it is believed to be a combination of recessive genes that create this condition (i.e., the parents are not symptomatic but produce pups with the condition) so it is important to attempt to identify carriers and seek to limit the spread of the defective gene.

    Hip Dysplasia
    Hip dysplasia is one of the most difficult issues because of the number of causes. While there is a clear genetic component, and ongoing research to find a DNA marker across the breeds, it can also be caused by environmental factors. In order to address the genetic component, many breeders have x-rays performed on the hips of their breeding dogs before breeding them. At the same time, the hip structure is composed of a number of genes that makes it difficult to determine how the genes may line up from each parent. As a result, two parents with good hips may produce a pup with hip dysplasia. Documented evidence exists in other breeds, however, that the structure of hips in a breed can be improved through careful breeding.

    Other Issues
    Over the years anecdotal stories of problems with the liver, diabetes and cancer have circulated. It appears that most of the Nordic breeds have a predisposition to diabetes if they become overweight. For this reason, it is important to keep your Finnish Spitz on the lean side throughout his or her life. Similarly, a number of reports of various types of cancer have surfaced over the years. No one type seems to be dominant and this may well be due to environmental factors.
    The stories of liver issues are more troublesome as they have been ongoing. Liver issues, however, are very difficult to diagnose in a live dog so without necropsies on dogs that have died of liver issues it is difficult to determine whether this is significant genetic issue in the breed. Finally, with a small gene pool autoimmune issues are bound to surface. Fortunately, to date there have been few reports of any significant autoimmune diseases.
    The breed is hampered by the lack of documented medical evidence. Further, we are unable to simply eradicate possible carriers from the gene pool which would have the effect of a greater reduction in the gene pool.

  23. davidcavill Says:

    David, Most of this is nonsense – some is valid but most of it is odd bits and pieces collected from the Internet. You use the word ‘anecdotal’ and the phrase the ‘necessary medical data simply does not exist’. This pretty well sums it up as far as Britain is concerned. Eplipsy occurs occasionally (a very complex subject incidentally and still not properly understood in this and many other breeds – and in mongrels where it is common) and liver damage but they are ‘concerns’ – not conditions. Research is ongoing in Finland where there does seem to be a problem (to which we have contributed).

    I cannot speak for North America, or Finland for that matter, but having bred something like 50 litters and over 200 puppies over thirty years in the UK (and we keep in touch with all our puppy owners) we have had three case of epilepsy, two of liver damage (both dogs died at over nine years old) two of luxating patella, two of achalasia (both dogs lived to 11 years old), one bitch has died of an aggresive mammary cancer at a relatively early age (8) and there have been other instances but usually in the elderly. As I rememeber we have had two puppies with cleft palets and one elderly dog died aged 14 having diabetes (all dogs – and humans too – will have a tendency to diabetes if they are overwieght). There has been no incidence, as far as we are aware, of hip displysia or cardiac problems. The fact that a condition’ occurs’ does not mean it is endemic. In discussion with Malocm Willis some years ago he concluded that the incidence ot these ‘problems’ was not statistically significant.

    The average age of the breed is over 12 years old and most never see the inside of a veterinary surgery other than for their annual vaccination. My views of GSDs (many of which are sound and lovely I must emphasise) have to based on what I see at the shows and in the ring and the many hundreds which passed through my hands during 11 years as deputy manager at Battersea Dogs Home.

    Neither I nor Our Dogs is taking the KC’s ‘side’ and neither are we interested in keeping in their good books (we would sack Robert Killick, Liz Gay, Peter Broadbent – and me – if that were case). We try to reflect the views of our readers and your views are as valid as anyones. They have, quite rightly, been given plenty of space over the last few years.

    I really do not think I can agree that we are not being fair. However, we must be prepared to put both sides of any given case but that does not mean we are taking sides.

    My article was not ‘anti’ GSDs – it was simply asking some pertinent questions – it’s not personal.

  24. davidcavill Says:

    David, you might also like to consider this this email I received earlier today – they are my italics

    ‘Can I congratulate you on your column in this week’s Our Dogs.

    For once someone has had the guts to print the comparison’s for all to see and it is quite clear to easily identify the problems.

    In last week’s Our Dogs there was a letter relating to the same issues which called for a more moderate standard animal without the extremes in overangulation, whilst endeavouring to produce fit healthy quality GSD’s. There is now quite a lot of support both in the UK and Germany for the theory that the weakness in the rear end and poor movement is a result of poor spinal structure and nerve damage and this could be one of the reasons why dogs can have a good hip score but poor rear movement and lack of strength in the rear quarter.’

    Just a thought – in the interests of balance and fairness

  25. David Payne Says:

    David, thank you for your replies, perhaps this last reply of yours is the most revealing. I read the letter in OUR DOGS which was printed last week, to which the person refers to in the email you received.

    I thought “this is an attempt by someone to convince the readers that the Kennel Club has a serious problem with the German Shephers and that the Kennel Club is correct. While KNOWING the Kennel Club viewpoint favours the appalling dog named an ALSATIAN.

    The Alsatianists want the Kennel Club to alienate the Germanic GSD, the correct international GSD. They want to be BIG FISH in a very small pond.

    Here is the website of the writer of the letter published in OUR DOGS last week, it tells you and everyone ALL they need to know about John Leadbeater and his Alsatians, and his personal agenda:

    It says it ALL

    • davidcavill Says:

      I think it a shame that the discussion has so quickly polarised. I was hoping to avoid references to ‘Alsatian’ because looking at those dogs sometimes described as the ‘Uk type’ I have just as many questions about their construction as I do about the ‘Germanic type’. I was hoping that the illustrations in my article would help people understand the changes which have taken place over the last forty years and simply asking the question ‘Are breeders, exhibitors and judges making the right decisions?’ This is a question I have asked of many other breeds. Elkhounds became very big and bulky in the 80s/90s (the best in the UK are now stunning), Buhunds have had severe genetic problems which they have now overcome through importation – they virtually started over – but which are now less refined than they were, Schipperkes are not at their best in the UK at the moment (I saw the best I have ever seen in the US last month), some Rottweilers and Dobermanns are going through a phase of over angulation in the hind quarter which is upsetting the overall balance of the breed – I could go on. Please read some of my other articles – especially those concerned with Soundness in dogs. They may help to understand where I am coming from. I would emphasise that these are not ideas which have just popped into my mind – the first time I tried to understand them was in 1980 when I began to write seriously about Judging and Breeding and I have been observing dogs and their performance ever since! This does not make me right. I am always pleased to receive and study other views.

  26. john Leadbeater Says:

    Hi David, In reply to Mr Payne, perhaps he has difficulty in understanding that some of us have the ability to see that we have had to look deeply at our views of the breed and reconise that change is necassary. I have had in the past dogs that are over deep and have exhibited in a manner that exaggerates angulation but we do now health test hips elbows and bloods dna and chip. Why because I see the need to return the animal to where it was in the 60/70 both here and in germany. I need to assure the general public that my dogs are fit & healthy and my only agenda is a GSD which fits the KC breed standard. DP take a look at the Siegers pre 70 and then tell me does the overall aesthetics of these dogs look like his own? NO . Is there any advantage to the animal in the form you portray in exaggerated curved topline and
    are you sure that by altering the spinal form it does not have an adverse affect on the nerve system? Many believe it does.

  27. David Payne Says:

    John Leadbeater: I have NO problems recognising someone stuck in a time warp (60 – 70’s) – nd someone who fails to grasp the fact that our GSD was founded by the Germans only just over 100 years ago, making it one of the youngest breeds on earth. \You also fail to grasp the fact that the German SV club have the inherited responsibility for our breeds development, given to them by our GSD breeds founders. The FCI fully recognise this, look at their website, you may also look at exactly what the FCI is and who they represent. It is our arrogant Kennel Club that is out of step with the rest of the world, NOT the SV and NOT the FCI. You and your alsatianists really ought to enhance your knowledge and experience of the German Shepherd Dog. David, with the title and content of your BLOG I am amazed you even considered for a moment that it would not become , as you put it, polarised to the Alsation.
    I am also staggered as your presumption that you are an expert on so many breeds, either you have been a shareholder in OUR DOGS for too long, or/and you think that ‘all rounder’ judges have anything but a minor knowledge of the many breeds they judge, or you think that having a knowledge of one breed of dog, makes people have a basic knowledge of all breeds of dogs. Astounding!.

  28. David Payne Says:

    Jemima, whilst I cannot forgive or forget what sensationalist exaggerations you heaped on my breed with your PDE, I equally cannot forgive and forget how the Kennel Club have reacted to PDE, I have to say on several issues mentioned by you since, I find that I fundamentally agree with you. Especially on the premise that the Kennel Club is NOT “fit for need or purpose”.

    • David, you have one of the best breed websites I’ve ever seen – a great source of health info. And I feel as strongly as you do regarding health-testing. I also dont think you are an unreasonable man.

      Our sticking point is our strongly-held and utterly conflicting opinions regarding the current conformation of the showline GSD. Now, I believe you are a reasonable man (if deluded on this issue) and I hope I would be able to admit I was wrong if the evidence was there so it seems to me that there is only one way to resolve it – and that is for independent research to be commissioned looking at the gait/locomotion of the modern GSD.

      I believe that there would be an academic appetite for this – it’s a high profile issue after all. Indeed, I think the KC should be persuaded to help fund it – although of course the researchers’ independence needs to be assured.

      What do you reckon?


      • davidcavill Says:

        I think you have put your finger on a very important point here, Jemima. David is a reasonable man – but he takes a different view and this means you do not agree – this is not to say he is wrong (or you are). And we all have similar feelings about the Kennel Club!

        Much of the evidence regarding movement is already available, of course, through the X-rays of dogs moving made by Pagey Elliot. They are all on DVD but there is dispute about what they show even among experts. Still it is a good place to start. It is also worth reading How Mammals Run by PP Gambaryan (John Wiley and Sons New York 1974) which is by the far the best and most thorough study of gait and movement ever written.

        As an example, let us just take one point. Is it acceptable for a dog to over-reach at the trot? If it is not acceptable (and most commentators believe it is not because at that gait the dog has to compensate to ensure the the front foot does not get in the way of the rear foot coming forward) is it therefore acceptable at the flying trot?

        I emphasise that I am only asking the question – not coming to a conclusion. What is clear from many photographs is that at the flying trot some ‘germanic’ GSDs over-reach by as much as 30 cms. Once you get into the faster gaits (canter, gallop and double supsension gallop) the footfall (the ‘beat’) changes, the gait is more efficient and fouling between front and rear is eliminated because of the dog’s structure (evolved to enable them to bring down fast moving prey) so the question does not arise. But it is important that it does not damage the dog (compensation has ben shown to result in less efficient movement and, ulimately damage to joints) in the slower gait because so many dogs were bred to herd and the trot is a fast and efficient gait for this work.

        Over to you both! And any researcher if they would take up the challenge! I would be very interested in the results

        It gives you some idea of the complexity of these discussions when you ask what appears to be a perfectly simple question and find that there many be several different opinions as to the ‘right’ answer.

      • David Payne Says:

        Jemima, Thank you for your complimentary remarks about my website. In respect of your suggestion for an independent research to be commissioned looking at the gait/locomotion of the modern GSD. Your “terms of reference” do not reach the heart of the “core” issue here within the UK. It would simply be a waste of time and resources. Far better to have the following terms of reference “The ideal conformation for the GSD which WILL optimise the structural health of the GSD, whilst retaining its functionality. With due consideration given to conformation changes over the last 50 years.”

        You see Jemima, similar to other alsatianists, you conveniently forget two simple and powerful facts. The GSD was founded by the Germans and they are, through the SV, the custodians of the GSD bree. Something the FCI fully recognise (see the FCI website). And secondly the GSD type which the Germans promote (clear for all to see at the World Championship Show – Sieger-) totally dominates the GSD conformation type shown and bred around the world.

        The ‘deluded’ alsatianists her within the UK, can and will remain in their ‘time warp’ whatever opinions are expressed. I comfort myself that they are a mere ‘drop in the ocean’ in the GSD world. They may be a thorn in our backside here in the UK, but they amount to ZERO, internationally.

        I consider the alsatianists as irrelevant to the GSD breed, and will remain so.

      • Ooer-er. An alsationist. Love the way you write that – with the same venom you might accuse someone of being an axe murderer! David (P), I am not an alsationist. I’m a fan of how the original working dog looked as that is more functional (and indeed is the type often preferred by those who do work their dogs) and I don’t believe that the current showline GSD is in any way fulfiling von Stephanitz’s “vision” for the breed. As for “it must be right because the Germans say so” argument – well, apart from the fact that there are many Germans who would argue the opposite – this is based on flawed logic. After all, UK breeders have made a godalmighty mess of the cavalier.

        But I have no quibble with your “terms of reference”. It will involve gait/locomotion analysis of course. So you’d be happy to submit , or get others) to submit, dogs that you consider are great examples of the breed and analyse them against a typical working-bred GSD and then see which is the more efficient functionally?

        I’d be interested to hear what your criteria would be for measuring that functionality. What would you suggest?


      • davidcavill Says:

        I am delighted to be able to agree with Jemima – the original article was written not to condemn or promote one ‘type’ or the other but to ask why the modern GSD (or Alsatian for that matter) is so different to the ones the Germans felt were extremely good back in the Nineteen-fifties. It is good to get back to the point

      • David Payne Says:

        David: Perhaps you find it difficult to grasp just how young our GSD breed is compared with most breeds of pedigree dogs. The GSD of 50 years ago were in the developmental stage. The SV are simply continuing to progress the conformation of the GSD, and making adjustments when required. Size and soundness and working character are currently being targeted. Health and welfare are constantly monitored, especially with growing scientific knowledge through genetics.

        Those that fail or refuse to grasp the REALITY of our GSD breeds history and development, are similar to those who fail to grasp the nonsense of having the Kennel Club responsible for the Health & Welfare of pedigree dogs, when they place REGISTRATION income and higher show entries as their highest priorities, above Health & Welfare.

        I ask a simple question:
        What is the point in making HIP SCORING a requirement of the KC “accredited breeders scheme” if is doesn’t matter how high the dogs hip score is?
        Accredited breeders can breed from dogs with hip scores as high as 106 (severe HD) and still register the resultant litter with the Kennel Club. UTTER STUPIDITY, maybe INSANITY – and anyone and everyone who does not publicly condemn such stupidity should remove themselves from the world of pedigree dogs.

      • davidcavill Says:

        My reference books indicate that the GSD was first brought into the UK at the turn of the last Century when it was already well established in Germany. Robert Leighton writing in 1927 in The Complete Book of the Dog devotes several pages to the breed and Clifford Hubbard in Dogs in Britain says that registrations in 1928 in the UK were over 6,000. I therefore conclude that the breed must have been established at about the same time as the Dobermann and the Rottweiler so time enough for it to have been developed in Germany by the 50s I would have thought.

        Of course, you are right that there is no point in scoring (or any sort of testing) unless it has an impact to whether or not puppies are registered but I am sure you will have followed my discussions about the KC being between a rock and a very hard place in terms of income – which is the only source of expenditure on research into health. Neither the government nor the RSPCA are not going to pay for it so where is the money to come from? Neither you, me not Jemima could afford it however much we would like to see things progress.

        Might also suggest with the greatest respect that using emotional references degrades the quality of your argument. You have good ideas and a passion that it to be admired but those you want to listen to you will not treat your comments and suggestionsseriously unless you play their game – and they, rightly or wrongly, are the ones you have to convince. You will not get a ‘U’ turn but persistent and sensible pressure can gradually bring about change.

      • David Payne Says:

        I get very emotional when those involved in other breeds inflict their critical comments at the GSD. I never read about GSD folk making critical comments about other breeds. Other breeds have some physically horrendous faults, like eyes popping out, knees popping out, over sized brains, riddled with epilepsy etc etc. EACH TO THEIR OWN, comes to mind.

  29. john Leadbeater Says:

    Interesting GSD result at Manchester. Wonder what the KC response will be. Congratulations Mr Cullen just had a look at the dog on the Veneze web site. I now see what Mr Cullen means when he states his dogs don’t have roach backs!!!!! Why look to improve the breed when all you have to do is buy a copy of adobe photoshop and hey presto straight back. If my suspicions are right then what value has the breed council with this chairman.

  30. David Payne Says:

    Some alsatianists are apparently promoting “health screening” – then again maybe their “preaching has not become their practice” – alsatianists are all too frequently “illusionists”.

  31. David Payne Says:

    Jemima: I would leave the “independent researchers” to determine FUNTIONALITY – If they couldn’t do that, they shouldn’t be doing the research. The working GSD are selected from litters with little or no thought to conformation. That is why they are not representative of the best conformation for our breed. Of course alsatianists and so called middle of the road, would not agree with that because it is thinking outside of their ‘box’. Competing against the best, under SV judges would completely overwhelm them, and give the clearest confirmation of their dogs poor conformation.

    I shudder to think how many people judge/assess GSD conformation through photographs. I suspect that you do that Jemima. perhaps one day you may visit my Kennel and see my dogs in the flesh, and then understand what true GSD look like.

    David Cavill judging GSD at championship Show leve??????????
    An excellent reason for VIDEX GSD to cease exhibiting at Kennel Club licensed shows.

    • The GSD is, first and foremost, supposed to be a working dog, right? So it needs the structure best able to do the work. Now you as a show-breeder I presume (?) believe that the working dogs work despite their structure, and that poor conformation is overcome by high drive, yes?

      So there’s no point in pitching your showdogs against working dogs in a working test because if the working dog performed better you’d put it down to drive. What, it seems to me, is needed is to establish what qualities a GSD needs to fulfill its purpose and to measure those, no? The nitty gritty of whether, for instance, less or more angulation allows a dog to jump more efficiently or what impact height/weight/length ratios have on stamina etc. Does that sound right?


      • David Payne Says:

        The GSD is a working dog! There is NO single structure for optimum “working” ability.Over the many years I have viewed the BSP (top annual trial for GSD in Germany) I have seen some excellent (conformation) GSD in the top positions, I have also seen some average (conformation) GSD in the top positions. Illustrating the wide variety of “types” that can be very successful working GSD. Some may point out that the majority of working GSD are of a more ‘average’ or ‘moderate’ type. For me it simply indicates that conformation is low down the list of priorities when choosing a puppy for working potential.

        GSD “Show people” (unsurprisingly) put conformation at the TOP of their priorities.

        The degree of hind angulation in very important for our GSD breed, however there is a “range” of acceptability with the hind angulation. SOUDESS of the hindquarters is also important, but let is NOT be to critical or intolerant of some looseness in puppies.

        I despair when people inflict IDEALS on a breed of pedigree dog, because it encourages the less intelligent (of which there is an excess) to consider any degree of variation is always a ‘fault’. Look at human athletes in particular sports, they are NOT ‘clones’ of each other, thank God.

        I would also point out that if we reduce the hind angulation on the GSD to that of the labrador or the Rottweiler for example, the GSD will start suffering from “cruciate ligament” problems far more frequently. (see the article on my website re “sloping topline”). I want the GSD breed to pay attention to breeding less extreme angulation and to improve the soundness of the hindquarters. I also want them to improve the health, character and forehand of the GSD. There also needs to be much more use of breed surveys in the GSD breed and many other breeds. I place great importance on the “Accredited GSD Scheme” which is also on my website. Each breed should adapt it for their breed. It is far superior that the Kennel Clubs ABS. If the KC ever get their ABS sorted out, the accredited GSD scheme will fit with it very well, like salt & vinigar on chips, a wonderful combination.

        I also consider the alsatianists have every right to breed their type, with health and good character etc. I simply want them classified as a ‘different breed’ – British Alsatians. My breed is the German Shepherd Dog.

  32. David Payne Says:

    David: Perhaps you find it difficult to grasp just how young our GSD breed is compared with most breeds of pedigree dogs. The GSD of 50 years ago were in the developmental stage. The SV are simply continuing to progress the conformation of the GSD, and making adjustments when required. Size and soundness and working character are currently being targeted. Health and welfare are constantly monitored, especially with growing scientific knowledge through genetics.

    Those that fail or refuse to grasp the REALITY of our GSD breeds history and development, are similar to those who fail to grasp the nonsense of havingn the Kennel Club responsible for the Health & Welfare of pedigree dogs, when they place REGISTRATION income and higher show entries as their highest priorities, above Health & Welfare.

    I ask a simple question:
    What is the point in making HIP SCORING a requirement of the KC “accredited breeders scheme” if is doesn’t matter how high the dogs hip score is?
    Accredited breeders can breed from dogs with hip scores as high as 106 (severe HD) and still register the resultant litter with the Kennel Club. UTTER STUPIDITY, maybe INSANITY – and anyone and everyone who does not publicly condemn such stupidity should remove themselves from the world of pedigree dogs.

  33. David Payne Says:

    Putting it as simply and diplomatically as I can> Following the Kennel Clubs appalling treatment of our GSD Partnership, by refusing to have their 20 point Planned Progressive Programme (PIP) for health & welfare of the GSD on their “Joint agenda” – and then the Kennel Club putting “spin” on their “GSD breed club UNDERTAKING” by making a blatant and provocative attempt to imply the GSD Partnership “avoided” dealing with ‘health & welfare’ matters. When the TRUTH was the GSD Partnership tried very hard to work with the KC on this very important matter, and wanted to go MUCH FURTHER that the KC wanted to. The GSD Partnership tried “evolution” with the KC, now is the time for “revolution”. Organising GSD Events under the Rules & Regulations of the WUSV – and developing a system for BRITISH CHAMPIONS for these events, is “THE WAY FORWARD for GSD in the UK.

  34. David Payne Says:

    It’s time to get serious about health & welfare through the “accredited breeders scheme” – Kennel Club ‘window dressing’ should be seen for just what it is. The health screening requirements are rendered meaningless when you can simply ignore the results. I do not see any National Breed Clubs banging the drum on this. I do not see any canine newspaper or magazine banging the drum on this, I do not see Jemima Harrison banging the drum on this. WHY?

  35. “ome may point out that the majority of working GSD are of a more ‘average’ or ‘moderate’ type. For me it simply indicates that conformation is low down the list of priorities when choosing a puppy for working potential.”

    Or that what you think of as the correct conformtion is nothing of the sort.

    Is there anything that could convince you? Really?

    “I would also point out that if we reduce the hind angulation on the GSD to that of the labrador or the Rottweiler for example, the GSD will start suffering from “cruciate ligament” problems far more frequently. (see the article on my website re “sloping topline”).”

    Actually, Mike Guilliard wrote this: “On a more positive note German Shepherds have a low incidence of cranial cruciate rupture and disease when compared with other common breeds of similar size. It is postulated that this is due to the increased flexion of the stifle that alters the functional tibial plateau angle (this is all technical jargon and is outside the scope of this article). Therefore if the sloping topline is bred out maybe cruciate problems with resultant stifle osteoarthritis will be substituted for hip osteoarthritis!

    But Mike has no real evidence of this – and he is careful to say “postulated” and “maybe”. There are lots of less-angulated breeds that do not suffer and lots of other reasons why GSD don’t suffer from cruciate injuries. As he himself writes earlier in the article: “Evidence-based science is, where possible, on what judgements should be made.”

    What functional benefit do you believe the greater angulation gives the GSD?


    • Apologies… Should have written “…and, POTENTIALLY, lots of other reasons why GSDs don’t suffer from many cruciate injuries.”


    • David Payne Says:

      Jemima: you will never convince me of anything with regards to the GSD. REALLY!
      The GSD first of all must look like a GSD, idf I wanted a labrador I would own labradors. If I wanted to know where to look for my ideal GSD I would go to Germany, the German Sieger Show, spend 3 days looking at 2000 “SHOW” dogs, (those that are the best conformation specimens).

      I would NOT go to you, or a Vet or the Kennel Club, and ask “what should a GSD look like? I would not go to a “nitpicking” sensationalist with an agenda. REALLY!

      If I wanted a horse that may be a potential Derby winner. I would not seek or want your opinion. If you owned a pony when you were 12 years old, it would NOT give you any expertise in finding or JUDGING a potential Derby winner.

      From this you may begin to get a glimmer of your own knowledge and experience of GSD, then you may begin to get a glimmer, just before you shut it out, of your obvious limitations. Do I feel YOU can teach me anything about GSD? NO!

      • The issue, David, it not what I think or – actually – what anyone thinks. It’s what – objectively – is the case. And I think this should be established as much for your sake as for your critics.

        It’s a genuine question: what would you need to convince you? Some functional measurement of a dog’s ability? Solid proof that the shape does or does not result in measurable problems?

        I’m not trying to catch you out here. Proof/evidence surely would be really useful for you in your battles with the KC?

        What do you think your dogs are better at than those ‘poorly-conformed’ working dogs?


      • David Payne Says:

        Jemima: The issue is what do the German Shepherd Dog Club (SV) of GERMANY think. THAT REALLY IS THE ISSUE.

        The Kennel Club is totally irrelevant to the WORLD of the German Shepherd Dog. I am confident there very limited influence of the GSD here within the UK will continually diminish from now on. The Kennel Club have PROVED beyond any doubt they are NOT FIT to look after the health and welfare of the GSD or any other pedigree dog for that matter.


        Now you, OUR DOGS, Dog World, and everyone else can choose NOT to shout that from the rooftops -I am simply staggered that you and they don’t.

        So in summary, with regard to the GSD “the Kennel Club are irrelevant”, and Jemima, SO ARE YOU!
        You Jemima should EXPOSE the KC “ABS” for exactly what it is, DIABOLICAL!

        Not arrogance on my part – simply the TRUTH.

      • David Payne Says:

        I forgot to write: I do not want any “postulations” about the GSD breed.

  36. john Leadbeater Says:

    David Payne While we may not share or agree on type after taking an indepth look at your web site many articles re health and the past history of the GSD I find very interesting and educational. Would you have any objection to my downloading articles and passing them on to fellow club members? Of course in doing so I would state the source as Videx Gsd. Think the topic as started by David C has brought about some interesting disscusion.

    • David Payne Says:

      John: I would be delighted for you to do just that. I would also personally invite you to visit my GSD kennel in Malvern if it is possible and see some simply magnificent GSD in natural and normal surroundings. Believe me when I say that I am genuinely interested in our GSD breed. I also strongly support a separate breed for the Alsatian and ALL that that entails.

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