The Working Emphasis
How many people are thinking what difference does it make: (i) Will it better the breed and/or (ii) Will I get any satisfaction? Categorically the answer to the first is "YES"; But to be more explicit the following may assist.
When a working dog, literally speaking, has to acquit itself in schutzhund, working, or K.C. competition, by the various methods called for in each individual sphere, soundness of mind and body is a prerequisite. The exercises required from these animals demands skill, endurance and great turn of speed. To break these specific elements down for scrutiny we will firstly look at the Working Dog: ( who works for a living ).
This animal mostly is associated with Police work, necessitating specialised
skills. The essential requirement here is soundness of body ( I know the Police
will entertain sharp dogs be it from fear or aggression ). The main thing to
remember is that the Police dog is not just utilised for criminal work.
Tracking, search work and drug sniffing are some of the highly specialised
skills to which the German Shepherd Dog acquits itself with merit. The Second
type of working dog is the blind leader, where temperament is the prime concern.
These dogs must possess a loveable, sensible temperament, but with the ability
to take responsibility. As complex training is involved in both capacities it is
essential that the dogs physique must at least promise a decent span of working
years ahead of it. So with the year around working dog we find that soundness of
mind and body is paramount. Working Trails: This is an area in which the GSD is
loosing fast to the Border Collie. But surely Shepherd owners who insist that
their breed is the most intelligent canine species cannot accept this. To train
a dog to the top in this field takes years which means that before starting to
undertake the training of a young animal one must ensure the physical and mental
soundness of the youngster in question. How disheartening it would be to put all
your energy and time into a specimen whose physique cannot endure. So here again
the prime concern is soundness of mind and body.
Schutzhund: Surely this is the most misconstrued aspect of training. To mention
schutzhund seems to imply a horrible, vicious dog who only knows man-work, and
ready to attack anything that moves. Yet this facet of schutzhund is only one
third of what is required.
Tracking is one requirement and indeed a very important one. These dogs have to
negotiate very complicated tracks and it is very gratifying when the tracks are
Obedience plays a major role and as one moves up through the levels the degree
of controlled discipline increases.
When it comes to man-work; which is unjustifiably maligned by its critics, from
my own personal observations I would without hesitation have no worries
regarding a correctly
trained dog. To subject animals to this intricate training
it must be robust for the scaling and manwork exercises, as well as intelligent,
responsive and full of initiative to entertain the tracking and obedience end.
Conclusion-soundness of mind and body are the foremost considerations.
Soundness can be defined as the ability of the dog to do his job properly, with
the entire physical support of his body as well as of his mind, as such it is
really the most important aspect of the dog. Unsoundness can be inherited or
acquired. Anatomical unsoundness can be seen in skeletal faults such as upright
shoulders invariably an inherited defect. Cow-hocks can be inherited too, but
they can come about if a dog is badly reared in puppy-hood or kept in some
unfavourable environment. Of course, a dog imbued with certain genetic faults
may well pass these on to his progeny, and they will do the same to their
offspring in turn. On the other hand, an animal with induced or acquired
features of soundness will not pass them on. Every part of a dogs body should
be able to work soundly and in unison to an effective end, which means
perfection in movement and posture. However, both in work and when he is judged
for show, a dog is assessed on the way he is affected on the day in question.
By this rule alone he must be judged.
Soundness of temperament is even more important. A vicious or untenable dog or
one that lacks breed character can be considered unsound. So to answer the first
question if working a dog improves or ensures soundness of mind and body, then
it is furthering the breed.
Question 2 is - Will I get any satisfaction ? To win a first and go on possibly
to Best Sex with a Green Star or CC and the coveted Best Of Breed, give immense
satisfaction - but much more is derived when man and dog competing together as
one unit, achieve success at the working aspect. To win or lose in this field is
not the criteria, but rather the performance of the team. Unlike the beauty ring
there can be several winners on a day as points are scored in each exercise and
a certain percentage is a pass. Satisfaction Yes; there must be satisfaction in
knowing that this working dog is a production of your time and energy and in
turn the dog has given you devotion, dedication and loyalty.
The Breed Emphasis
The GSD, has evolved for approximately 100 years, which has given us today the dog in its present form. It has been through selective breeding that we have arrived at this juncture and are blessed with a dog whose qualities incorporate the very best at every level.
Just as the working element holds the reins with regard to all round soundness; the breed ring was initiated to preserve the aesthetic virtues and the type which makes the GSD a GSD. If just a functional working dog was required any breed could suffice; indeed a mongrel might even acquiesce. Therefore the breed element is essential in order to remind us that the prime aspect of the GSD,
its type, is not forgotten. There can be some confusion however, in respect of the 'show ring' within the UK. This is not a breed contest but merely an arena for animals to be judged against each other. On the continent and Germany in particular, the breed ring calls for:
Survey Report Grading
and this is from where the GSD breeders receive guidance. With
this documented detail the breeder has a ‘bible’ from which he
can draw valuable information to aid him in his breeding programme.
The breed ring is the place where the measure of one’s breeding
capabilities is assessed. It is important to the GSD in order
to maintain the intrinsic qualities of breed type and to ensure
that no one particular trait is encouraged to the detriment of
The benefits of the show scene to the working dog are manifold
but the main contribution is that it provides the gene pool. Without
this we would not have a breed. All the elements of enterprise
for the GSD should be able to work in tandem to further progress
the attributes of this fabulous dog.
A pilgrimage is made each year to Germany by hoards of GSD enthusiasts
to the greatest show on earth the ‘Sieger’, where the qualification
of VA (Excellent Select) is awarded in both sexes to the cream
of GSD breeding. This is every GSD and his owner’s dream; to gain
this elite award and be proclaimed VA 1. To attain this award
the animal must acquire: Sch H 3 - FH - KKL1., before he qualifies
for the show In fact possess all the essential ingredients for
a really first class dog.
This breed is unequalled and in order to keep it that way we must
preserve its quality of beauty and brains therefore the working
side and the breed side are inseparable.