Leonhard Schweikert Article

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Leonhard Schweikert Article
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This article was interpreted into English with written permission from Leonhard Schweikert (author)
Translation by Thyjs van Dorsenn - Be Translated

Leonhard Schweikert

Reforms with a sense of proportion

Contemporary Structures for Breeding



Leonhard Schweikert

The author has been a

  Member of SV for 50 years

  Show judge since 1982

  Breed surveyor since 1985

  Breed warden for the Regional Group of Baden and a member of the breeding committee

  National breed warden from 2000-2003



In the following article, the author hopes to point out a path for reforming our SV. It was part of his electoral statement for the Federal Breed Ward election at the National Assembly in May 2013.

Our association structures are outdated and no longer up to date in many areas. The board and the officers have lost credibility in the eyes of many members.  Credibility can only be reinstated if a carefully planned and reasonable restructuring of the judging is undertaken.

Naturally, proposals for reforms must be discussed in detail through our registered bodies with all committees before taking decisions in order to find the best solution. And interested members should also be invited to participate and offer their opinions!


Modern microelectronics is invading the world of cynology: we are all more than familiar with the micro-chip, which we have been using on our puppies for a decade.  This procedure for tracking identity has become mandatory throughout the EU due to political pressure from interest groups and has replaced the tattooing procedure that was common in our SV. Today, unless it is chipped, a dog may not participate in events. The identities of our German Shepherds are checked within just a few seconds using a scanner at all competitions without any problems. This procedure, which encountered initial resistance, has become established in international cynology with relatively few problems.

As an attentive observer of our breed shows, however, one needs to ask whether time has stood still in the show area?

For years, our dogs have been routinely "screened" in the standing examination always following the same ritual:

After the identity check with the pedigree documents (breed authenticity certificate), there is the temperament check, the dental check, and then, the obligatory testicles check for males. It finishes by measuring the dog with a device that has hardly changed in 100 years of association history: the routine measuring. Whoever believes that the actual competition can now begin, will be disappointed because all dogs are still waiting for the gunshot test before the actual ranking contest can begin.

Most of the dogs are now placed in the ring by us judges according to the view from the side. Anatomical details, unfortunately, are frequently ignored.  For example, criteria such as overly angulated hindquarters and loose hocks have become established in the breed because, from the side view, these dogs look completely positive. Unfortunately, hardly anyone inquires whether these animals can perform and are persevering and, for example, if they can clear a one metre hurdle.

To avoid misunderstanding, no one would seriously want to question these tests because they are elementary components of every anatomical and psychological evaluation. However, in the 21st century, the question of whether, in this age of advanced electronic measurement and storage technologies with huge databases, these methods and procedures are still up to date for determining the individual classes!

Proposal for reform:

Upon receiving a request, the SV head office will issue every German Shepherd 15 months or older its own ID card, similar in form to a credit card. The information for the ID card will be collected by the regional group breed warden in the presence of a breed surveyor and an additional judge, for example, as part of, or at the end of, a breed survey or at a local group event specifically organised for this purpose by the responsible regional group.

In addition to the chip and SZ number, the size and chest depth are measured with fixed tolerances, if possible digitally, and recorded. The condition of the teeth as well as the testicles can be confirmed. The exact colouring of the dog (head), bearing, gunshot test and indications of HD and ED are registered.

Then, at the shows, only the dogs that don't have the ID cards need to be checked. Not only does this reduce the amount of time spent, it takes public sentiment into account, because what neutral observer finds it attractive to see a male dog's testicles handled, or to look at a dog's teeth? Not to mention that there is actually no logical reason to perform this check at every show once the features have already been determined. Even re-measuring size could be stopped because at 15 months old, a German Shepherd has reached its final height at the withers, and digital measurement done in the presence of two additional breed judges should be beyond all doubt.

The advantages of such an ID card are obvious: All relevant basic breed information about the dog is securely captured and stored in an SV database.


An ID card for a German Shepherd could look like this:



A core problem in breeding is still the size of our dogs. Already in 2000, the author wrote about size in the December issue of the SV magazine. We have been discussing this topic for 13 years now. Everything undertaken up until now has been proven fairly ineffective.

Here too, the basic genetic formula applies: What has taken generations to build up needs generations to build back down. We need a breed value similar to the one in the HD controversy!

Families need to be linked together, siblings, parents, grandparents must absolutely be taken into account in the breeding values for size. The association needs to develop standards and a procedure for clearly measuring our dogs!

We register times in dog sports using light barriers to a hundredth of a second–!–but we still have not developed an alternative to the purely mechanical dog measurement with its subjective measuring method.

If we want our German Shepherds to receive broader popularity and for them to be considered family and sport dogs, then we need to be willing to breed with medium sized dogs in the medium term, and to be consistent about it.

Proposal for reform:

A digital measuring device replaces the mechanical measurement. By placing it on the dog's withers, it captures the size digitally and can be projected onto an electronic screen, transparently for everyone present to see.

The author knows of a prototype of this type of breed survey and would be willing to present it at any time, for instance as part of a judge conference.



World Championship for German Shepherds

Granted, the name of the Siegerschau is fixed in the minds of breeders and showers, but it is no longer up-to-date. The fact that breeders increasingly travel from all over the world to Germany to show their dogs in the cradle of the breed makes this a modern and appropriate name which reflects the international character of the show.  In the days of the "Champions League", "European Master" and "World Championship", the name WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FOR GERMAN SHEPHERDS is surely a good alternative!

More transparency in the show results:

Criticism of the judging at breed shows cannot be overlooked. Of course, no one judge can be right for everyone and there will always be scrutiny of what is, in the end, a subjective decision. But, wherever the human margin of discretion tips the scales, modern sport leaves the one-judge system behind. Everywhere where comportment grades are concerned, a team of judges is used, as in equestrianism. Team decisions relieve individual judges from being criticised, and are usually significantly more objective and thus less subject to dispute.

In a pilot project, already at the champion show in 2014, the two working dog classes were tested with a three-judge system and the experiences of the association committee should serve as the basis for a future-oriented decision.

A new valuation concept has been developed by the author of this article. It includes approx. 35 anatomical valuations and health factors (also the ancestors), character, drive behaviour, locomotion and genetic factors. This concept is derived from equestrian sports.


Digital measuring is the future:

The digital measuring device uses a light ray from the measuring point on the withers to the ground from the distance and indicates the size on a display. The detent on the withers mostly takes place using a perpendicular calibration fixed to the device, which is placed on the ulna.



What happened to standardised breed and show criteria?

The Weltunion der Vereine für Deutsche Schäferhunde (World Union of Associations for German Shepherds) was founded with the aim of close cooperation and standardisation of the worldwide German Shepherd breeding under a binding breed standards with guidelines for such.


The annual assembly of the representatives from the various WUSV member countries at the end of the championship appears to me to be more and more of an alibi event. Have any instructive decisions been made in the last year regarding standardisation of breed and show criteria?


The following areas, for example, urgently need international harmonisation:

     The HD and ED X-ray procedures

     The worldwide standard limit on the number of breedings

     Standard age specifications in breed

     Standard breed survey rules

Since the 'welcome' evening at the championship does no longer deserve this name in view of the lack of interest, it could be replaced by an international breeder symposium with presentations by well-regarded cynologists who can expertly and effectively propose acceptable ways to counter public prejudices on the breeding of German Shepherds.

Consider local clubs and show participants

The deadline for judges of the Siegerschau should be shortened to 14 days. Local club shows can benefit from this, and show participants would have more opportunity to present their animals to the championship judges because, according to experience, our dogs are at their best during this period.

Awarding the VA ranking should be transparent

My proposal: The VA ranking should be a ranking for studs and bitches that transparently combines the prominent features for health, character and anatomy and documents the same features in the progeny group. In other words, no VA without a qualitatively high ranking for the progeny group.


Only VA for bitches with high ranking progeny under the same points of view. Only then is the VA ranking a true designation of breed which is calculable and reasonable.


VA males could thus be allowed 80 studs. V males should be allowed up to 50 studs. That would enlarge the breeding base and reduce the negative genetic features.


There need to be incentives, however, for highly ranked studs to remain Germany in spite of lucrative offers from abroad.

Monitoring of the highly ranked dogs

at the Siegerschau before being used for breeding

Dogs, that are placed under the first 20 in the Siegerschau and under the first 30 in the working dog class are to undergo a posterior X-ray in a timely manner (max. 4 weeks).


The control should be performed at a German university clinic.

Advantage: No highly ranked dog could be used for breeding that is not confirmed for HD and ED status. All foreign dogs that received their ranking according to German criteria would be confirmed through our supervisory bodies.


Dogs that have already been checked the previous year would not need to be re-X-rayed, and males would not need to be X-rayed any more after the 30th breeding. That would maximally exclude possibilities for manipulation.

In the next issue of the SV magazine, the author's reform proposals for the areas of championships, x-ray procedures, sporting events, marketing and finances will be presented with the aim of putting our SV back on course for progress and growth.



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