Have you ever wondered, why work, why show, why breed, why bother? All entities are important to the GSD survival.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 successfully completed

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:

  • Pedigree Examination
  • Working Qualification
  • Hip Status
  • Survey Report Grading
  • Progeny Prepotency
  • Endurance Test
  • Published Results

    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 all others.

    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.