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Changes to TKC German Shepherd Dog Breed Standard, double handling violates AKC rules, as well as safety and respect for ringside spectators.




Fred Lanting, International All-Breeds, Sieger/Schutzhund Judge


The Kennel Club (Britain’s primary dog organization) has announced changes to the German Shepherd Dog Breed Standard, new required education seminars for judges, and TKC Reps will be attending all championship shows to enforce the new protocol and to curtail double handling at ringside.


Also, the following has been added to the GSD Standard: “…free from exaggeration, capable of standing comfortably and calmly, freely and in structural balance, whilst both rear pasterns are vertical.


Judging contracts for 2018 and beyond are suspended until each judge has attended one of The Kennel Club German Shepherd Dog judging seminars.


As a German Shepherd Dog fan and owner since 1947, an international judge approved by the GSD parent club “Schäferhund Verein” (SV), and having judged the breed in over 30 countries including in the United Kingdom, I wrote to Natalie Watson at The Kennel Club (TKC) suggesting an exemption from the seminar prerequisite for foreign judges.


Also, since we can only reward what we see in the ring, I hoped that the United Kennel Club (UKC) publications would print my “expansion and commentary” on TKC’s Breed Standard addition. In that article I stressed that body structure should relate to working ability, which is what the SV Standard does: Endurance, Strength, Agility, and Character.


Since the job of a judge is that of a “guesser” (rewarding dogs that he supposes would be able to perform according to function), he should especially reward “working-ability soundness.” These call for strong pasterns, firm back (preferably straight and nearly level), and functional (not extreme) angulation from hip to hock, superior shoulder-forearm angulation, and adequate foreleg length (equal to or greater than height at withers). The breed currently suffers from some neglect in these areas.


If character is not evaluated in a demanding performance test, at least there should be no hint at all of any lack of courage and self-confidence in an adult dog.


The GSD has lost many supporters because the breed’s image has drifted from what von Stephanitz founded, especially over the past six decades. In the current head of the SV, Heinrich Messler, we have a man who is not afraid to point out “the emperor’s new clothes” and call for a return to the sanity of the first half of the previous Century’s GSD body structure.


Fanciers of other breeds generally mock what they see in many or most German Shepherd Dog examples: short on leg, overly-sloped or broken-back topline, and incorrect running gear.


The question that arises in the minds of some independence-minded American dog fanciers is “So what?” In the USA we have other venues where we can continue to show, such as the UKC, which is as venerable and almost as old as AKC, plus other show organizations. However, I recognize that the biggest club draws the most activity.


I wonder if The Kennel Club has so much magnetism and power that people who rebel against TKC edicts will not simply continue with their own competitions? After all, entries at TKC-affiliated specialty shows have been so abysmally low that I doubt holding their own independent shows would make any difference. If titles are desired, some coalition of club officers could set up procedures to accomplish that.


If not, dog show competitors could simply list the wins and number of times their German Shepherd Dog has received the “V” rating or placed first in class or show.  That’s the way it is done in the SV, anyway, with no championship titles or points involved.


Granted, other breeds have problems. See Deformed Dogs and Health Defects in Purebred Dogs for examples. The 2016 furor over the GSD in the UK is putting our breed in that sort of notoriety, too. EST 1998 © 1610

Fred Lanting is an all-breed judge with experience in over 30 countries. He is a well-known GSD authority, handled Akitas in the 1960s and `70s, and was named an official JKC judge, a rare honor. He has lectured around the world on breeding, judging, canine movement, and CHD (canine hip dysplasia).   Be sure to peruse these Dog Books by Fred Lanting

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