Reforms with a sense of proportion
Contemporary Structures for Breeding
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
structures are outdated and no longer up to date in many areas.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
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!
1. THE IDENTITY CARD
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
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
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
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
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
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:
2. THE SIZE OF OUR DOGS
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
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.
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
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
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
The following areas, for example, urgently need international
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
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
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.