Interview With Nanci Nellis

  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, I am an active breeder breeding two or three times a 
year. Raising puppies is a delight, Kennel name is Cross Timbers,
2.) How long have you been in the breed? When and how did you get started? Are you affiliated with any clubs?  
Twenty three years, My first GSD was a 
big sable male and I got started by training and competing in obedience with 
him. I am currently president of Ft. Worth Kennel Club and Ft. Worth German 
Shepherd Dog Club. I still instruct my own private obedience classes.
3.) How long have you been judging the breed?  
one year
4.) How many times a year do you judge German Shepherds?  
So far, five times a year.
5.) Over the last 2 years has the number of shows?  
N/A
6.) Have you ever judged the National Specialty? If yes, when and what classes ?  
NO
7.) Do you judge at both all-breeds and specialties, which do you prefer ?  
The specialty dog is what I breed and what I prefer. However, I can and do appreciate a quality all-breed type dog. My preference would be that the SAME dog could be judged, appreciated and win in both venues. This is seldom the case. A strong back and an efficient, ground covering gait is a must and this effortless motion is not easy to see in a postage stamp type ring. 
8.) Do you have a color preference?  
No preference . I just like strong, rich color. I find that one really needs to get ones hands on blacks more than any other color as the black color can cause optical illusions in certain light.
9.) What importance do you place on condition of plush versus smooth coat? Please explain.  
Important. If I was down to the wire with two dogs that were in every other way equal except for coat, I would give the nod  to the plush coat in excellent condition. However, it seems the close coated dogs are often the best movers. Another illusion?
10.) When judging the dog do you also judge the handler? Please elaborate if possible.  
It is very difficult NOT to judge the handler as presentation is so much of what MAKES a "show dog." If you never see the dog take a step when he is not pacing, galloping or loping you simply cannot judge him. However, if the dog can make even a small pass where I can see his movement, I would not "dump" the best dog in the class due to poor handling. 
11.) What importance do you place on missing teeth?  
Important  Missing teeth are difficult to eradicate from a genetic line and I would consider  missing teeth in my final decision on each class. However, I would not "throw out the baby with the bath water."  Teeth are a PART of the picture.
12.) How do you see bites today?  
Good  I see a few that look like they need a visit to an orthodontist....crooked teeth, even bites, dropped teeth.......... Over all it is not the problem it was 10 years ago.
13.) How do you see strength of ears?  
Except for two genetic pools that I know of, ear strength  is improving. It has been years since I have had to tape ears.
14.) Do you feel the GSD's temperament has improved over the past 5 years?  
YES
15.) Do you consider temperament today to be? Please explain.  
Very good
16.) Do you prefer a dog to be shown on a loose lead?  
50/50
17.) How would you rate the following in sequence of importance? (On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest).  
Coming and going  5 
Side Gait  8 
Temperament  8 
Teeth  3 
Coat  4 
Pasterns, hocks, feet  6 (still in need of improvement) 
Pigment  4 
Structure  10 
Shoulder and reach  9 
Attitude  7
18.) Could you briefly describe your ring procedure, and any changes you may incorporate between a small vs large class  
I like for the dogs to circle the ring as they come in and set up at the gate, then as I check arm bands, I get a first impression.  I like to take the entire group around the ring twice. If it is a large class, it is at this time that I divide it. I ask one group to rest in a shady, far corner of the ring while the first group is examined. I then ask each handler to bring their  dog out to the center of the ring where I approach the dog for a loose lead temperament test. Then, still in the center, the dog is stacked and I start my exam with eye contact if possible. The eyes are a mirror to the soul and I can tell a lot about the look in the dogs eyes as to who he is. I certainly do not push eye contact. On completion of the hands on, I do coming and going and once around the ring on loose lead then once at the speed which the handler thinks the dog moves the best. (this "handlers choice" time around the ring tells you a lot.) I then move the dogs I like the best up to the front and let this group rest while I examine the second group. When that is completed, both groups are brought together. Then the entire group goes around and I excuse those who are not to be considered further.
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. If the best dog there on that day is a puppy, so be it.
20.) If a dog is not exactly to the standard in size, would you prefer slightly larger or smaller?  
Slightly smaller
21.) Do you think on average German Shepherd Dogs are too extreme?  
NO!
22.) In your opinion should double handling be allowed?  
Yes, GSD are not some  grinning, mindless cookie baiter like some of the retrieving breeds. As long as you have enough sense to know WHEN doubling is needed and do not screw up the dog instead of enhancing it, It is not a problem. We are striving for a
look of nobility.
23.) Should all select dogs, in your opinion, be OFA (H&E)?  
In a perfect world,
yes. Since we have not achieved perfection yet, my answer is  NO. Since humans do not have x-ray vision, the selects should be chosen by which dog is the best and in what order on that day. We breeders have enough sense to choose whether to incorporate that select dog in our breeding program or not. The select rating is an honor that should be given to the most handsome dog that is closest to the standard.
24.) When making the final selection, does the dog with the most front reach usually win the class?  
usually
25.) Do you feel more emphasis should be put on the total package, and less on movement?  
Movement should be considered as a PART of the total package..... but I admit, for me, it is a big part. Got to be a reaching, driving, striving mover.
26.) Do you think the German Shepherd Dog standard should be changed?  
NO
27.) Do you think there should be any changes in any of the existing rules concerning dog shows? If so, please elaborate  
NO
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  
For me, it would have to be RENO. Now there is a dog that could
bring tears to my eyes. Nobility personified. He went around that huge ring at the National on his last appearance like he owned the place. And at that moment in time, he did.
29.) Do you feel that in general the quality of the breed in this country is getting better or worse ? Please elaborate  
Generally.....better. We may swing too far in one direction for a while but we always return to center.
30.) Do you have a pet peeve about anything owners or handlers do concerning the showing of dogs ?  
Owners... be sure your dog goes in the ring with the best handler possible FOR THAT DOG! whether it be owner or professional, it should be the person that presents that animal the best. AND DO
NOT send fat, out of condition dogs in the ring and expect the handler to work miracles. Do your homework (or roadwork) .
31.) Do you have any suggestions for owners or handlers regarding anything they should ALWAYS do when showing under you ?  
I think I addressed that above. Be sure the dog is happy and having a good time. He is only doing this to please you.
32.) Do you have any suggestions for owners or handlers regarding anything they should NEVER do when showing under you ?  
Never Be rude or inconsiderate of others in the ring.
33.) Do you have any advice for people who are relatively new to showing and/or breeding?  
Develop an eye for what is appealing and what it takes to achieve it. Watch/listen and learn from experienced breeder/exhibitors.
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  
As a new judge, I find I enjoy the judging experience tremendously. What a privilege to be standing in the center of the ring when a class deep in quality enters. Exhilarating!! We breeders, as guardians of the breed, are making progress in the health, fitness and beauty of the GSD, as evidenced by the quality I see in the ring both as a breeder/exhibitor and as a judge.
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.  
Haven't been judging long enough to have had this privilege.
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