|I have “read“ (i.e. got the general
meaning of) the two very interesting interviews by Heiko Chr. Grube,
which Reinhardt Meyer, the Bundeszucht-wart/National Breed Warden, gave
in the S.V. Zeitung in April 2007 and 2008. Concerning his extensive
review of what, in his opinion, is required to improve the breed.
I considered the subjects
upon which he intends to concentrate and it is generally agreed that, if
he is successful, what he plans is nothing less than the regeneration
of the German Shepherd Dog in Germany, the motherland of the breed.
had written in previous articles in “Das Schaferhund Magazin“ on some of
the dubjects covered, I telephoned Herr Mayer and asken him if it would
be possible to have an interview to discuss his ideas in greater detail.
agreed, a date was fixed in June in his house in Borken, south west of
Kassel, and it was agreed to restrict the subjects to four, namely:
The oversize of both male and female dogs
The role of the T.S.B. at the Sieger Show
The importance of the Korung/Breed Survey
The problem of the “two populations“ in the breed
And any other relevant matters
However, there was also the problem of carrying out the interview and
subsequent discussions in German; R.M. kindly agreed to send a summary
of the four subjects discussed, which Brian Wootton (an S.V. qualified
judge) kindly traqnslated for me, after the meeting.
Accordingly, the format of this article is that of each of the four
subjects are divided into two parts, firstly R.M.‘s summary and secondly
our discussions and my subsequent thoughts (after receipt of the R.M.
summary) on which R.M. kindly commented.
Oversize in dogs
A problem which has
pre-occupied the SV for years if not for decades. Incidentally, this is
also a problem apparent in other breeds, where there is certainly often
more latitude in the breed-standard.
The size problem has
already been tackled in the breed-committee under the leadership of my
predecessor. However, I have demanded the strict implementation by all
breed-judge colleagues of the directive from our breed-committee:
namely, to unequivocally demote those dogs which very obviously exceed
the tolerated parameters, and thus to send a signal to breeders and
The SV has always
followed the way of proceeding in small steps and this been justified,
leading to success in the medium term.
I will adopt this
method with the size-issue. It is important that, with this matter,
decisive selection occurs at our chief breed show, i.e. the Bundessieger
Zuchtschau. Here we have the greatest possibility of demonstrating
responsibility towards the breed and of taking care that the future
representatives of breed, i.e. the representatives that are used
extensively, must be right to a considerable degree in the criteria
demanded – in every important aspect.
by David Haydon:
I. It was agreed
that this problem would not be solved easily or within a short period of
time, but that perhaps within 8/10 years or 4/5 generations and a start
would be made to stop any further increase and a slow reduction
II. This problem of
oversize is further complicated by two very important factors:
a) The majority of
the leading V.A. and spitzen V males and females all have similar
bloodlines and these are generally genetically dominant for oversize.
b) The reluctance or
even refusal of either the show or the working/sports dog breeders to
consider using these alternative breeding lines.
III. I gave the
example of what happened, I believe it was, in Australia when height was
to be strictly controlled; the result, I understand, was that the
“correct height was achieved but the dogs had shorter forelegs and
IV. R.M. also
emphasized that, whilst a reduction in overall size was very necessary,
the other breed characteristics must not be overlooked, namely that of a
Gebrauchshund or working dog breed.
V. this problem
will be resolved over a period of time by strict measuring
at all breed shows particularly at the Sieger Show (BSZS) and most importantly, the judges at all shows, principally at
the Landesgruppen and Siegershows, all oversize dogs will be relegated
to a lower show position. In a democratic society, this is probably the
only acceptable method available to demonstrate that the size must and
will be reduced.
But as I pointed out, there will still have to be “unofficially agreed”
by the Breed wardens and show judges just what are the “acceptable
heights” in order to arrive an “agreed maximum”.
The Role of the
The GSD is bred as a
working dog, never merely as a show dog. One may formulate this
by saying: it is a working dog, which can also be shown.
As in the past, the
GSD still enjoys wide popularity as the best and most versatile working
dog in the world. His character and qualities of temperament have made
him what he still is today: a working dog, which, in comparison with
many other breeds, is universally useful.
The assessment of the
T.S.B. features is the central element in assessing some significant
areas of mental strength. Consequently, it is a basic component in the
breeding of a working dog and fundamental in the selection of a working
such as, for example, the expression of a drive and its consistency,
resilience self-confidence and directability are significant elements.
These things are naturally influenced by training techniques, so that
the assessor needs an educated eye to be capable of recognising the
qualities that are genetic.
It is a very
unsatisfactory fact that the assessment - outcome ‘pronounced – comes
out’ has little significant meaning for the interested observer and
this grading lies a relatively wide latitude in measurement which does
not allow a differentiation in the quality of the dogs assessed. It is
also not clear whether any particular dog is an absolutely top
representative of our breed in this respect or one which merely fulfils
the minimal requirements for the grade ‘pronounced’
At the BSZS 2007 for
the first time the dogs with the best TSB grades were singled out and
named; these results led to a higher position. With this measure the
dogs concerned were lifted out of a position of anonymity and made known
to interested breeders.
by David Haydon:
2. The role of the T.S.B. at the Sieger Show
I. I was
particularly pleased to hear directly from the national breed warden/Bundeszuchtwart
that he places so much importance on the original purpose for which the
breed was founded over a 100 years ago, namely that the breed is a
working breed, which can also be shown; many respected breeders
consider that this most important factor had been marginalised over the
last 20/30 years.
II. It was quite
clear from R.M.’s remarks that he believes firmly that considerable
control and influence on the future direction of the breed can be
obtained by the correct use of the information available from a revised
format for both the T.S.B. and the Körung. (See next paragraph)
III. We discussed at
length the problems facing a T.S.B. Judge in that the present awards of
“A and l. ab” do not allow any distinction between an “excellent
performance” and a “marginal pass”.
IV. Most importantly
R.M. stressed that the meaning of the T.S.B. as “consistency, resilience
and self-confidence”, can also be influence by training techniques.
V. I proposed the
following amendment to both awards:
Dogs proceed to show classes on the award of:
“ausgeprägt/distinct” – only given to dogs which deserve such a high
“annehmbar/acceptable” – an acceptable standard but not up to “a”
standard, this amendment would give the judges more choice.
would probably result in fewer but deserved “a” grades and more
“annehmbar” dogs, but of an acceptable standard.
All other dogs would be failed.
VI. R.M. pointed out
that, at the 2007 Sieger Show, he picked out 14 males, including 2 V.A.s,
which had shown the best working standard in the T.S.B. and rewarded
these dogs with higher show positions, which is consistent with his
ideal of promoting the G.S.D. as a working breed. R. M. also expressed
interest in the other uses of the breed such as: search and rescue (RH1
and 2), avalanche rescue, guide dogs for the blind, drug and explosive
detection, and the sports of schutzhund, tracking, obedience and
All the above activities in R.M.’s opinion serve a very useful purpose
in preserving the working ability of the breed and not forgetting the
faithful family dog.
VII. I asked R.M. how
did he select these “pronounced dogs” and he replied on the advice of
the class T.S.B judge; he also showed me a video recording of the V6
male “Bazi v.d. Urbecke”, which showed a very good standard of work, one
of the nominated 14 dogs.
VIII. I then
showed R.M., the T.S.B scores for the 2007 Sieger Show, prepared by
Werner Dalm, the ex-breed warden for 30 years of the DDR, which were
divided into two columns: “Überfall/attack” (from the hide) and “Abwehr
gegen Angriff”/defence against attack” (as in the long flight), the
marks were awarded as follows:
5 - vorzüglich/excellent
4 – Sehr gut/very good
3 – gut/good
2 – befriedigend/satisfactory
1 - nicht genügend/insufficient
I had discussed with Werner Dalm his system, he explained that he had
written a book an this subject and also explained that for the purposes
of assessing a male as a potential stud dog, the DDR only considered
those dogs with marks of 4 and above.
IX. Subsequent to my
interview with R.M., I asked W. Dalm’s permission if I could use some of
his scores and they proved very instructive. The following dogs in the
first 70 V/excellent dogs scored 4, 4 and all dogs which gained the
excellent grade of 5:
VA3, Dux de
Cuatro Flores, 4-4
VA7, Ingodds Agassi, 4, 4-
V19, Tiras v. Roten Feld 4-5
V69, Campino v. großen Schönberg 4+5
V70, Blade v.d.Wannaer Höhen 4+5
V105, Whisky v. Haus Abate, 4+5
V137, Lasso v. Petersbrunnen; 4+5
V147, Javier v. Talka Marda 5,5 (Universalsieger 2007)
V148, Amigo v.d. Holzinger Au 4+5 (Vize-Universal sieger
V152, Ix v. Patscherkofel 4+5
VA3 Dux de Cuatro Flores
Campino v. großen Schönberg
v.d. Wannaer Höhen
I was particularly impressed to see the considerable number of males,
which had scored 4,4 and this I have only listed below those dogs in the
first 70 “V” group, using their final show award numbers:
I also counted
a further 26 V males, which had also scored 4,4, so it is clear that
with the guidance of R.M: the breeders, who have an interest in the
working ability of their progeny, have a great opportunity of improving
this ability without losing type.
However R.M. also remarked that one of the major problems facing him is
that too many breeders will only consider V.A. male/females and
disregard other dogs which perhaps were more suitable and should
therefore take a more long term view in planning the improvement of
their progeny and not just the next Sieger Show!
read R.M.’s summary, I was interested to know how the Sieger Show judges
with over 250 dogs per G.H.Kl. would have the time to assess this
genetic ability and by what method of assessment.
this might be better assessed at the time of the Körung? (See later)
V105 Whisky v. Haus Abate
V147 Javier v. Talka Marda
V137 Lasso v. Petersbrunnen
V148 Amigo v.d. Holzinger Au
V152 Ix v.
of the Survey
The point and purpose
of the Breed Survey is to select the cream of our breeding animals,
which, in temperament, work and anatomical construction, appear suitable
to a significant degree for the preservation and development of the
We must ask the
question: does our survey, together with the survey reports on an
individual dog, fulfil these requirements?
Shepherd Dog breeding
is working dog breeding, and when it is no longer working dog
breeding, it is also not Shepherd Dog breeding.
The breeding of a
working dog according to the guidelines of the breed standard.
monitoring and development of the breeding and training of the GSD as a
When we look at both
the inner pages of a survey report, it is obvious that we devote
considerable space to the anatomical aspects, the exterior appearance
and to Data and measurements.
Furthermore, the same
anatomical features are sometimes dealt with several times: e.g. the
croup, the front, the length of stride are found in both the text and
The mental areas,
features of prime importance in a working dog are rather
Practically all the
dogs are described ‘pronounced – came out’ (I have revealed my opinion
to you about this in comments above) and practically all the dogs are
Condition of Nerves:
A properly worked-out
temperament test of the necessary thoroughness does not occur.
Consequently, it is not possible on the day of the survey to select the
essential degree of excellence. These minimal statements, therefore, do
not offer the engaged breeder a satisfactory level of information so
that he can select the cream from among the breeding animals himself.
At this point, I
should report that all the committees are already working with the
future in mind to modify and optimize the survey in various areas,
especially with regard to the mental qualities of the dogs presented.
The idea of a survey
panel comprising 3 surveyors is also being considered. In this way the
validity of the survey reports would be freed from an aspect of
subjectivity and be based on a broader consensus.
Subsequent discussion by David Haydon:
3. The importance of the Körung/breed
I. R.M.’s plans for
the revision and re-emphasis to the format of the Körung is very
interesting and is urgently required.
It is also indicative of his determination that the G.S.D. must be
regarded as a working dog in accordance with the guidelines of the
international breed standard and thus all future breeding plans should
take this basic aim into account.
II. R.M. points out
that the present layout of the Körung document places for too much
emphasis on construction/anatomy and very little space to describe the
dogs character and working ability, thus most dogs are described as
“ausgeprägt”/lässt ab”, “firm nerves” etc. This type of Körung serve
very little purpose in providing information to the informed breeder,
who wishes to improve both the physical and the mental characteristics
of the progeny by the choice of stud dogs.
III. DDR Körungs
to R.M.’s intension for Judges to pay attention to the genetic value of
a dog’s ability to work and thus to pass on these characteristics, I
mentioned to R.M. the DDR system which had been explained to me by
Werner Dalm, the Ex-DDR breed warden and author of the book describing
the system for breeding dogs – the Wertmessziffer-system; 3 numbers
describe the conformation (1 basic type, 2 constitution, 3 anatomy) and
the numbers 4,5 and 6 describe the working qualities (4; basic
instinctive behaviour, 5 the fighting spirit/the dogs speed and 6 the
level of hardness and quality of the bite.
system could prove useful.
IV. We then had a
general discussion on the very important problem of the honestly and the
impartiality of some of the Breed wardens/Körmeister’s and R. M.
repeated his opinion, stated in his first interview, that there had been
“tolerated dishonesty” in the past.
I then asked
R.M: how he intended to stop this inappropriate behaviour and R.M.
replied in the following manner:
- To obtain
agreement on an improved format for the Körung, giving equal importance
to construction and character assessment.
- To obtain
agreement on a revised definition of the awards “ausgeprägt and lässt
ab”, the latter possibly later.
- The utilisation
of three and not just one Körmeister; I was interested as I had
previously suggested that two Körmeister’s would be preferable.
- In future all
Körmeister’s would be specifically selected and trained solely for the
position of a Körmeister.
V. R.M. also stated
that at present there is almost an 100 % pass rate and he believes that
when the above revisions are in place, there would be about a 30 to 40%
reasoning is that breeders should be considering the “exceptional” dogs
(male as well as female) and not just pairing with little or no thought
given to the importance of both construction and working ability.
importantly, R.M. stressed that both the anxious/over submissive and the
over aggressive dogs will not, in the future, pass; he considers that
all dogs should be able to be “family dogs” and thus able to cope with
visitors, friends and children, etc.
relations of our breed and the associated sport of schutzhund require
continuous care by all owners of G.S.D. as the public in general is
becoming more intolerant of dogs. Only recently on the German T.V. there
was a programme, which dealt with attacks by dogs on humans,
particularly children; these attacks apparently occur all too
frequently. I noted that G.S.Ds were not mentioned in this report.
STATEMENT OF REINHARDT MEYER
I represent the
opinion that we do not have two populations in our breed. One might
perhaps formulate it thus: we have two differing lines of breeding
The term ‘population’
is a technical term in breeding for a type or breed, that is bred
according to agreed, specified principles.
If there were two
populations in the GSD, then we would also perhaps need two standards,
but we do not have that. The GSD as a working dog is bred to only one
standard. This standard has been practically unaltered since 1899.
Certainly in a club as big as the S.V. there are members with different
interests in their involvement with the GSD – that is clearly the case.
On the one hand, we
have members who incline more to the world of breed-showing and on the
other side there are members who feel more at home in the working sport.
But they all breed on the basis of one breed standard, with differing
breeding emphases, i.e. priorities.
I believe that the
size of our society makes it absolutely possible to justify these
varying breeding emphases. But all breeders must clearly operate within
the regulation and rules of the prescribed breeding parameters.
In that way the
versatility and usefulness of a working breed is guaranteed to a great
Nevertheless, it is
my wish that we do not widen the existing gap between work and breed
orientated breeders any further, but that we can narrow it somewhat in
the near future. A pre-requisite for doing that is the implementation of
the points made above under the heading ‘Surveys”.
Perhaps I also mad
the first small steps in this direction at last year’s Sieger Show by
highlighting the best dogs in the T.S.B. test. But it has become clear
to me in retrospect that, in placing the work-orientated bred dogs in
the top group, I took the third step before the first one, in particular
because they were not quite up to the demands of the gaiting rounds. But
in so doing I tried for the first time to demonstrate to the owners and
breeders of such dogs that dogs of suitable basic anatomical quality are
absolutely capable of competing at a BSZS.
In the aftermath of
the Sieger Show there was sometimes harsh criticism regarding the
placing of these dogs. None the less, I should still like to urge these
breeders to participate again in the BSZS.
by David Haydon:
4. The “two populations” in the breed
I. This problem of
“two populations”/”two groups” of differing interests and priorities has
developed regrettably over the last 30/40 years and concern has been
expressed by well respected persons such as the late Peter Messler,
Peter v. Oirschot (Dutch breed warden) and many other writers.
II. R.M. is fully
aware of the problems and dangers facing the breed with this
unsatisfactory development and is determined that this “gap” does not
get any wider.
His plans as set out in Para. 3 (IV) above will, in his opinion, go a
long way to improve the breed in the future.
III. In the “Das
Schäferhund Magazin” issue February 2005, I expressed concern at this
division and explained my ideas for trying to bridge this gap
between the two groups, and which developed with the assistance of my
friend Dr. Reinhard Haberzettl (T 12.06.2008) for a proposal to change
the rules of the existing Universal-Wettbewerb (U.W.)/ Universal
Sieger Competition, so as to encourage all Landesgruppen to hold
such a competition, which would be based on a system of scoring the
results of dogs in both the L.G. show and L.G.A. (trials); the best
male/female would then be crowned – L. G. Sieger/Siegerin.
successful dogs and perhaps between 3 to 6 dogs form each LG should then
be encouraged to enter that year’s Sieger Show and thus be eligible to
compete for the title of “National Universal
of this revision of the existing rules is to give an opportunity to
those owners, who have a “V” or “Spitzen SG” male/female and who are
interested in training, to compete in the U.W.; as the standard to
obtain a “V.A.” or Spiten “V” place at the Sieger show or a place in an
L.G. team for the Bundessieger competition is now extremely high and
also time consuming.
IV. R.M. repeated
that too many breeders also were only considering either “VA” or
“spitzen V” dogs for their show females or top scoring dogs for their
sports females; it is a well accepted fact that neither side/group will
“ever” consider using the other bloodlines; this is going to be a major
problem to resolve!
V. R.M. also stated
that in his opinion the development/improvement of the breed over the
last 30 years has gone far enough and if continued will result in only
exaggerations, he mentioned the American Show
that he needs about 8/10 years to achieve a change in attitude and to
make an impression on the future course of the breed.
VI. I then asked
R.M. a very important question – “What support has he got for these
improvements and bearing in mind also that his position is up for
re-election in two years time?”
R.M. replied that he has been informed that about 80/90% of the
members of the three main S.V. committees (namely breeding, training and
L.G. chairmen) have promised to support his proposals and that he
intends to ask the membership for a further four years. But one must not
forget his fate in 1994 when he was removed from his position as his
ideas were considered too controversial at that time!
VII. R.M. in the
excellent interview in the S.V. Zeitung January 2007 (also translated
into English on some websites) listed twelve important areas/subjects
upon which he intended to concentrate; this “action-list” may be
summarised as follows:
responsibility of the breed warden
between breed and training committees
o new reduced size
of breed committee, smaller work groups
Judges, steering the breed
o Controlling the
size of the dogs
o Amending the
breed survey regulations
o Breed assessment
o New control
regulations, scientific matters, organization of show dates, HD, ED, DNA
o Promoting the
dog’s working characteristics, more information on the breed survey,
T.S.B., breed and training committees to work together.
o Further training
o Improvements in
the breed’s publicity
o The club breed
warden for the motherland of the breed/support for the W.U.S.V.
Der Vereinszuchtwart Reinhardt Meyer with his
Sieger Iso vom Bergmannshof
VIII. As a result of the very interesting meeting
with R.M., the receipt of his summary of this meeting’s subjects
discussed and consideration of the importance of the twelve subjects on
his “action-list”, I am forced to ask myself whether firstly the
responsibility of basically a complete regeneration of the breed
should be left to one person.
bearing in mind the “action-list”, whether these duties fall strictly in
the remit of a national breed warden.
Thirdly that R.M. is due for re-election in only two years time
and if unsuccessful, there is the risk of his successor not being
willing to carry on with the same ideals.
IX. Also it is generally accepted by the majority of owners/breeders,
who have a genuine interest in the future well-being of the breed that,
the breed can no longer be allowed to continue in its present state i.e.
two separate groups, et cetera plus falling show entries and dramatic
decline in membership numbers since 1990 of about 58 %!
As R.M. is
confident that he has the support of the members of the three management
committees, I would have thought that it would be considered appropriate
for his plans and any others to be formally accepted as official
policy of the S.V. after due consideration.
In this manner, R.M.’s
plans would have the formal approval of the S.V. and thus have the
necessary authority and thus of enforcement.
The future of the German Shepherd Dog breed
should not be left solely the responsibility of one person – namely
Reinhard Meyer, the national breed warden.
Conclusion by David Haydon
I. As this interview and subsequent discussions were not in the
normal format of question and answer, R.M. asked to have a copy of this
article (in German) prior to publication for his comments.
II. As I received
his summary after the interview, I have had an opportunity to make
additional comments, which I have asked R.M. to cheek, so that I am able
to confirm that R.M. has read, commented upon and accepted the contents
of this article.
III. Also I was
gratified to hear that R.M. has read my articles in the D.S.M. and he
also paid me the compliment that our ideas for the future of the breed
were so similar.
IV. I would like to
take this opportunity to thank both Reinhard Meyer and Frau Meyer for
their hospitality shown to me whilst in their attractive house and to
R.M. for his patience in explaining in “simple German” his ideas.
V. Finally, as R.M.
is aware “behind every successful man is a good woman”, so I have asked
for a photograph of them both and of his 1989 World Champion “Iso v.
"Pubished here on the
VIDEX GSD web site
with kind permission of
the "Schäferhund Magazin, Vereinszuchtwart Reindhardt Meyer and David