The following is an attempt to improve communication between the judges of our breed, and the people who show under them.  

1.) Are you an active breeder of German Shepherd Dogs? Do you have a kennel name ?  

Yes. Kennel name is 'vom Sonnenbachtal, founded in West Germany in 1964, it means 'from the Sunny Brook Valley,' which is near my wife Johanna's birthplace. The kennel was initially registered with the SV, and then brought to the USA. 
2.) How long have you been in the breed? When and how did you get started? Are you affiliated with any clubs?  
I've been in the bread almost 40 years. Had Hounds as a boy, then Shorthaired Pointers while hunting in Germany & USA. I converted to GSD when my favorite Shorthair dog was killed and my wife's GSD bitch, which had always adored me from afar, won my heart on the rebound. I'm a Charter Member and President of the GSDC of Northern Virginia, and a long term member of Greater Fredericksburg Kennel Club. 
3.) How long have you been judging the breed?  
I have judged GSD's for almost 15 years. I currently judge the Herding Group, Best in Show, and Junior Showmanship. 
4.) How many times a year do you judge German Shepherds?  
Ten to fifteen times. 
5.) Over the last 2 years has the number of shows?  
6.) Have you ever judged the National Specialty? If yes, when and what classes ?  
7.) Do you judge at both all-breeds and specialties, which do you prefer ?  
I prefer to judge specialties because of the larger entries and greater opportunity to concentrate on type, but I enjoy judging dogs of all broods. When possible, I get a large ring. I often recommend that GSD clubs select multibreed judges who started out in GSD to judge their specialties one day and an associated all breed show the next day - this cuts the cost of the judge for the specialty club, a fact which is usually helpful.  

One problem with being a Group judge, is that your name is removed from the breed listing in the judges book, so that people tend to forget that you are a breeder judge, and now people never know. This means that over the years, specialty show assignments dwindle. I meet lots of GSD people who are surprised that I come from GSD's, and we don't advertise much anymore. 

8.) Do you have a color preference?  
No - no preference in colors except I prefer strong, rich colors, and detest 'Color enhancement" Solid color dogs look more refined - pound for pound than multi-color; a fact which must be remembered when Comparing dogs of differing color schemes in the same class. 
9.) What importance do you place on condition of plush versus smooth coat? Please explain.  
The GSD in a double coated dog, and many of the 'peeled onion' smooth coated dogs are faulty because they are really single coated. I prefer dogs with a medium length, double coat, as specified in the Standard. Coat condition is one of the finer points in judging the overall dog, for seasonal shedding often makes shows and coats fail to coincide. 
10.) When judging the dog do you also judge the handler? Please elaborate if possible.  
Only to the extent of trying to compensate for the good dog being 'killed' by an inept handler. 
11.) What importance do you place on missing teeth?  
Missing teeth, other than one of the first premolars, are serious faults but, many other faults are serious, very serious etc. A judge should consider the entire dog, and must not overemphasize any particular feature. 
12.) How do you see bites today?  
Most bites being shown are good. 
13.) How do you see strength of ears?  
There are many rather poor ears- the best ears are of proper size, in relation to the head, are properly set (parallel) and when erect do not ‘jiggle’, or wave in the breeze. You see many bonnet ears; weak, thin ears, or overly large ears, all of which detract from appearance. 
14.) Do you feel the GSD's temperament has improved over the past 5 years?  
I don't see much change 
15.) Do you consider temperament today to be? Please explain.  
Temperament today is reasonably good. There really is little a judge can do to determine a dog's temperament in the ring. if the dog is not so bad as to be unapproachable, it usually passes. It is possible to condition a dog to pass any particular test - but, this doesn't allow a quick evaluation to be made.  

If a dog does not allow examination, I excuse it. If I feel that a dogs temperament is poor, even though it technically passes my test, I penalize it. I make a judgment based on the demeanor during the entire judging process; and feel that it is especially important to be reasonable when judging young, inexperienced dogs. 

16.) Do you prefer a dog to be shown on a loose lead?  
Yes and No. I want to see the dog move on a loose leoad, but I do not require it during the entire period of judging. 
17.) How do you rate the following in sequence of importance ? Structural temperament, shoulder and reach, side gait, pasterns, hocks, feet, coming & going, coat, teeth, pigment and attitude. attitude  
A very important thing which is missing from the above is the back - the back must be firm to allow optimum transmission of power. In the above elements, I would include the back in "Structure," for it is certainly one of the most important. 
18.) Could you briefly describe your ring procedure, and any changes you may incorporate between a small Vs large class  
I have the entire class gaited around the ring to check for lameness and get an overall impression of the class. Then I examine each dog, gait down and back, then around the ring individually on a loose lead. After examination, I gait the entire class together once or twice around the ring, than make tentative selections, followed by more gaiting to confirm my placements. I only repeat coming & going when I feel it will make a difference. I do not "massage” the dogs, only feeling to resolve doubts.  

I separate large classes into groups of 6 - 10 and select the best from each group in order of quality. I use individual gaiting around the ring on loose lead to make final determinations when there is any doubt. I also like to see different speeds to enable final determinations. It is important to remember that judging is not the DIRECT comparison of dogs, but the comparing of each dog with the standard, and the selection of the dog which most closely represents the standard. 

19.) Do you think there should be an age limit in placing points on a dog (i.e.dogs and bitches under 12 months of age)?  
No. I don't think GSDs are as prone to ‘going to pot’ as many other breeds. 
20.) If a dog is not exactly to the standard in size, would you prefer slightly larger or smaller?  
No preference, I try to evaluate the overall dog . 
21.) Do you think on average German Shepherd Dogs are too extreme?  
No. I think the average GSD is unbalanced - front and rear not balanced - this creates problems even with only moderate rear angulation and in especially pronounced when a dog has an extreme rear and shallow front. 
22.) In your opinion should double handling be allowed?  
Yes - in moderation. I like to see a dog look its beat, and that is best achieved with & moderate bit of 'inspirational assistance'. Pebble cans, horns, large bells, are gauche. Keep in mind, though, that AKC POLICY prohibits double handling and the judge is responsible for controlling it. Many judges do this by butchering a novice handler in the first class judged and smearing his blood around the ring for all to see, then ignoring it from then on (G). 
23.) Should all select dogs, in your opinion, be OFA (H&E)?  
Yes, of course, this is what should be, because then we do much to eliminate the dysplasia problems. But - should it be a requirement for the award - NO ! In our present, imperfect world, there are many things more important to the breed than hips. 
24.) When making the final selection, does the dog with the most front reach usually win the class?  
Yes, if other factors are equal. 
25.) Do you feel more emphasis should be put on the total package, and less on movement?  
I think the standard achieves the desired balance. Type defines a breed - and type IS the total package. The dog which beat represents GSD type AND which covers the most ground with the least effort is desired. I've seen Afghan Hounds and Irish Setters outmove GSD'S, but they aren't GSDs. 
26.) Do you think the German Shepherd Dog standard should be changed?  
27.) Do you think there should be any changes in any of the existing rules concerning dog shows? If so, please elaborate  
Yes, but those thoughts are not particularly pertinent to this venue. 
28.) Is there a dog, whether alive now or not, who to you typifies most closely the "ideal" German Shepherd Dog ? If yes, please explain and give details  
JALK VOM FOHLENBRUNNEN, SCH H III, AD, was the dog which most closely represented the GSD standard. I watched this great dog being exhibited in Germany for three years, and we owned a daughter of his - ANKA VOM HAUS TEIPELKE, SCH H I AD - campaigning her in Germany and the USA. 'Jalk’ was a medium sized, black & cream, lush coated dog with powerful, clean movement and ebullient personality. A great producer, he is still remembered by shepherdists throughout Western Europe. 
29.) Do you feel that in general the quality of the breed in this country is getting better or worse ? Please elaborate  
Better. Much progress is being made in improving type, movement, color and temperament 
30.) Do you have a pet peeve about anything owners or handlers do concerning the showing of dogs ?  
I HATE faking. Also, showing poorly trained, unsocialized & frequently ungroomed dogs which by actions and odor give the GSD and GSD people a bad name. It's very obvious that many exhibitors fail to realize what an improvement training and grooming would made in their exhibit. 
31.) Do you have any suggestions for owners or handlers regarding anything they should ALWAYS do when showing under you ?  
They should conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike manner, keeping control of their dogs and treating other exhibitors, spectators and officials with respect. 
32.) Do you have any suggestions for owners or handlers regarding anything they should NEVER do when showing under you ?  
NEVER violate # 32. Also, don't follow a judge from show to show with a dog that has been favored with points, BOB, GP-l or BIS. 
33.) Do you have any advice for people who are relatively new to showing and/or breeding?  
Make friends with one or more SUCCESSFUL breeders/exhibitors and listen carefully to their advice - talk to as many SUCCESSFUL people as possible - ask questions and LISTEN to the answers. Too many people ask but then ignore anything they don't like. 
34.) Is there anything else you would like to say about judging or about the German Shepherd breed today ? If so, please feel free to say it here  
Try to remember that most people who judge are doing what they think to be an honest, competent job. Avoid falling into the habit of mking excuses for Your losses - rather study each show and try to determine what the judge liked and where your exhibit was lacking. Keep records of your observations for future reference. so that you can correct your problems and show a proper dog to the judge, next time.  

Never criticize a judge for looking at the standard before or while judging - it's much better than trying to bull your way through even though in doubt about some point. Judges know that the novice exhibitor/spectator will think they don’t know their business if they are caught looking at the standard, but an HONEST judge, who is in doubt will go to the standard. 

35.) Have you ever judged one the of the greats? If so, can you give a rundown of this dog for the people who have not had the privilege to even see it.  
I judged SEL CH. ALTANA'S MYSTIQUE several times, over a four year period, giving her BOB at Specialty Shows, GP-1 & Best in Show at all-breed shows. She is a beautiful example of the GSD type, excellent movement and impeccable character. Always beautifully groomed and presented, she did much to enhance the status of German Shepherd Dogs in the United States. 
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Copyright © 1997, SpiderWoman 11/17/97