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What is GSD Dog?


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THE ILLUSTRATED STANDARD
OF THE GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG

(a comparison of three common types)

All Illustrations by Linda Shaw

(Click on Images for larger Pictures)

The standard for the German Shepherd Dog, while annoyingly vague in many respects, has not changed appreciably over the years. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the breed. From the 1940’s, when most dogs in most countries looked pretty much the same, we now have West German show, West German working, East German, Czechoslovakian, English Alsation, American show and probably others yet in the making. Partly this is due to a natural, genetic diversification of families, and is probably a good thing. Related dogs tend to look alike. Partly it’s due to legitimate differences in breeders’ preferences. Working line breeders, for instance, will tend to put less emphasis on movement than on drive. But in many cases it’s just ignorance of what correct conformation is all about. The short legs and long bodies of the Alsation were simply not efficient. Neither are the extreme rear angulation and sloping toplines of American show dogs, nor the roached backlines of West German show dogs. These faults have never been acceptable under the standard, but somehow they became fashionable in their respective countries and have been promoted by "big" breeders and judges alike.

Dog A Illustrations
(Click on Images for larger Pictures)

Dog A illustrates correctness, standing four square (with the hind feet placed under the hip joint), standing show posed and moving at a flying trot. This dog shows correct proportions of 10:8.75; slightly longer than tall. This is measured from the top of the scapula (including muscling) to the floor, and from the tip of the breast bone to the rear projection of the pelvis. This dog shows a strong head with parallel planes, a deep skull (measured from the top of the head to the underline of the jaw), and a muzzle no longer than the length of the skull (from the back of the skull to the corner of the eye). The neck is arched and is wide at the base, because of the well laid back scapula. The head is carried generally erect, at about a 45 degree angle.

The scapula is attached to a long upper arm at somewhat more than 90 degrees. It is not necessary for the shoulder to form a right angle, because when the dog is moving, its centre of gravity will drop, lowering the body slightly and causing the shoulder angle to close. Straight, upright bones are optimal for support, but angulation is necessary for movement. About 95 degrees is the best compromise for both. Besides, reach is not limited by the scapular angle, as it has no bony attachment. A very fit dog with this lay back of shoulder can reach further than 45 degrees when necessary.



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