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 ?
2.) How long have you been in the
breed? When and how did you get started? Are you affiliated with any clubs?
Obtained my first Shepherd in 1969
3.) How long have you been judging the
I have been judging since 1991
4.) How many times a year do you judge
Began training one in obedience
and finished her CD in 1970 or 1971 and started the other in breed.
5.) Over the last 2 years has the number
GSDCA, Akita Club of America, Lone
Star Akita Club, Houston Kennel Club, Ft. Bend Kennel Club, Dog Judges
Association of America, American Dog Show Judges Association, Texas Dog
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
No Preference--I do mostly all breeds because
I do several other breeds.
8.) Do you have a color preference?
I never had the success in Shepherds that
I have in achieved in Akitas, so I'm not so well-known and I haven't bred
them in years anyway.
a) do you judge at both all-breeds and specialties
Yes, but mostly all-breeds
b) would you judged at both all breeds and
I judge where I'm asked and I'm asked more
to do all breeds. Often, since my other breeds are in the working
group, the shepherds are assigned to the judge hired to do mostly the herding
breeds or to a provisional.
never really cared one way or the other
9.) What importance do you place on condition
of plush versus smooth coat? Please explain.
a) Would the color
of a dog influence your judgment?
b) Do you find it
harder to judge solid blacks ?
Only in the dark <G>. Seriously,
I think the dogs at the greatest disadvantage are sables because the color
bands on their backs shift and so any movement is highlighted. Black
dogs may seem slightly smaller.
However, I raise and breed Akitas, a breed
that comes in almost every color and marking pattern, so I'm used to evaluating
dogs as if they were all the same color
I don't really understand
this question. I think the correct coat for the breed is not a plush
one at all but neither is it like velour with undercoat that is not covered
by the outer coat nor is it a slick coat with almost no undercoat.
Part of the breed's utilitarian design is the very weather-proof
10.) When judging the dog do you also
judge the handler? Please elaborate if possible.
coat that is found on correct dogs.
This is rather harsh and coarse but not brittle and covers an undercoat
that is wooly
and thicker in colder climates. One
reason this breed was selected for use with the US military long ago is
their all-purpose coats. They could be dropped in Vietnam and within
a week would be stripped to summer-wear and
ready to go. Likewise, at a DEW-line
installation they could grow in a thick protective coat that could brave
the Arctic winter.
I see a lot of dogs that have very pretty
coats that I suspect just do not fill the bill in terms of weather-proofing.
The best coats are ones that are extremely hard to bathe. You wet
them down and start soaping the neck only to find the tail is dry and the
breeches are drying too. In fact, if you just hose them off, a really
good coat will just shed water like a
duck's feathers. The water will actually
bead off the outer coat. And if the undercoat does get wet, it quickly
dries. I don't think a lot of dogs in the ring fit that description
and even if they did, it's be hard to tell with all the goop that gets
put into their coats.
The double, weather-proof coat isn't unique
to GSD's. A number of breeds have some variation of it.
I was talking to a friend in Malamutes the other day, because, believe
it or not, this is an ongoing debate in those circles too. He runs
sled dogs very successfully and has been experimenting
with long coats to see how they fare.
He told me that he has had to put blankets on a few of them in the hard
winters so that they don't get too cold. The snow on their coats
melts from the body heat when they are working and then seeps through the
guard coat to the skin where it freezes
when they are sleeping. The livestock
guard dogs which were used many years ago in the foundation of the GSD
for increased size had this kind of longer, softer, thicker coat.
Von Stephanitz himself says that they selected away
from it because of problems with it in inclement
weather. Remember that many shepherds took their flocks out and stayed
out all year except for shearing time. So the only shelter the dog
had was under a wagon, or maybe none at all.
I hate to see us loose the traits that helped
make this the premier working breed just to have something that looks pretty
in the ring. I think that by selecting the "plush" dogs, we are harboring
the long-coat gene in our dogs and worse, increasing its incidence, because
everyone wants a carrier to
show so it will have a short coat but one
that isn't too short to soften all the dog's edges.
11.) What importance do you place on
I'm hardly the world's greatest handler,
and I think we're in the ring to pass on people's efforts as breeders and
which dogs we think will be of the most
value to the breed--which ones have traits we'd like to see continued.
BUT, if a handler refuses to listen to instructions, interferes consistently
with another person's dog or otherwise
engages in unsportsmanlike conduct, I probably
would be inclined to penalize their behavior.
For instance, I ask for dogs on a loose lead.
Now some people have spent so long training their dogs to pull like crazy
that they just can't get the dog on a loose lead. What happens?
It humps it's back so it looks like it has a wheel back, definitely not
part of the GSD standard, hunkers down in the front and practically chokes
itself pulling the handler around the ring.
The only time I've ever seen dogs that look
like this in nature is when I've had dogs in weight pulls. While
few Shepherds actually compete in organized competitions, I can't help
but think the owners must intend for them to do so and are practicing in
the breed ring.
The dog's movement from all directions is
terribly distorted by this action, and frankly, I can only judge what I
see, not what I think I would see if the dog were handled differently.
So in this respect I guess what the handler does actually matters.
The same think happens when a dog is just
not trained. I had some very cute puppies under me recently and I
probably will really like them as adults, but they were behaving like very
typical puppies when I had them in the ring, and I placed several lower
than I might have had they been actually
trotting around the ring instead of jumping,
twisting, and whirling. Shows they are agile, though.
Very important--Again, this is an area that affects the dog's
utility and it is inherited. I can live with a missing premolar,
but missing molars or missing carnassials are serious faults, I
think and not likely to be my winners.
12.) How do you see bites today?
Very good--Almost all are very good and show full dentition.
13.) How do you see strength of ears?
Getting better slowly. For
a while we had a lot of very weak ears that were overset as well.
This is related to the shape of the head and over the years, heads have
gotten very weak. As the head gets longer and narrower the ear set
changes too. I also see some dogs with very big ears, very out-of-proportion
to the heads.
14.) Do you feel the GSD's temperament
has improved over the past 5 years?
I think it has definitely changed, although I don't think much in the last
five years. Certainly in the last 20! I think we have far fewer
dogs with tough, hard temperaments and many that are inordinately friendly.
I don't see anywhere near the number of spooky dogs that I saw in the 70's
and early 80's, but I don't see that reserved, calm, watchful demeanor
that I feel characterizes the best Shepherd temperament. I guess people
are trying to breed less of a guard and more of a companion animal, hoping
the guard stuff will take care of itself. That's not what
15.) Do you consider temperament today
to be? Please explain.
the standard calls for but it is certainly
easier for John Q Public to live with.
16.) Do you prefer a dog to be shown
on a loose lead?
Yes--Insist on it
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 8
18.) Could you briefly describe your
ring procedure, and any changes you may incorporate between a small Vs
Side Gait 9 These are
both inseparable from structure.
Pasterns, hocks, feet 7, because they
are such a problem right now.
Shoulder and reach - Again part of structure
Attitude I would put this in temperament.
If the dog doesn't look at me but looks at the owner, that's okay. I don't
think it needs to have its ears up every minute.
I can't look at more than 3 or 4
dogs at a time, so I split up large classes. If they are very large,
I take them in groups. If not, I just have them stand on the side
off the mats. I usually go through all the dogs ranking them as Excellent,
Good, Fair and then call them all back. I pull all the fairs and
goods (unless I don't have enough excellents) and gait
19.) Do you think there should be an
age limit in placing points on a dog (i.e.dogs and bitches under 12 months
them around in case I've missed something.
Then I excuse them. I hate running around last or next to last in
a huge group where the judge never looks at anything but the first three
dogs. So, I try not to do that to anyone else. Then, I go on
to comparing the dogs I have kept to each other and resorting them.
I sort smaller classes as I go based on the
individual and then look at them again. I do think it is important
that exhibitors understand that AKC urges us not to regait dogs in Winners
that we are not going to use. People seem to get very insulted when
you don't look at all of them, and usually I do, but if I don't, it's because
there is no question inmy mind as to what I am going to do and I am pressed
for time. AKC considers staying in the allotted time frame very very important.
Yes--I would prefer that dogs
have to get a major or some number of points after 18 mo
20.) If a dog is not exactly to the standard
in size, would you prefer slightly larger or smaller?
21.) Do you think on average German Shepherd
Dogs are too extreme?
Yes--I think most dogs deviate
from the standard, especially, what people consider "specialty" dogs. I
think this is often used to describe a dog that has very poor balance and
that is poor both coming and going. I think the most common dog in
the ring today is one with a straighter shoulder, a sloping topline, and
a very long second thigh with very extreme rear
22.) In your opinion should double handling
angulation and a short, flat croup.
This is about as far from the standard as you can get.
I've seen dogs that look fabulous at one
speed, but a proper Shepherd should have reach and drive and balance at
every gait, not just a trot. You can see good shoulders at a walk
and I do watch dogs in my ring as they walk from place to place as well
as watching them trot.
And dogs should no more have to walk on their
rear pasterns than people should have to walk on their knees.
Yes and No--I don't really
mind if someone pops into view for a second when their dog stops so that
it looks pretty and alert. Otherwise, I think it is a device to distract
dogs with poor temperaments from the approach of a stranger or an excuse
for handlers not to train their dogs. Owners and
23.) Should all select dogs, in your
opinion, be OFA (H&E)?
handlers think when they praise these dogs
for looking for the owner that they are rewarding the expression and attitude
displayed. I think what is really happening is that the dog is being
rewarded for anxiety about the departure of the owner. Over years,
I think this can become a profound
separation anxiety that produces a dog in
the ring that displays anything but the character called for in the standard.
Step back and take a cold, unbiased look
at the dogs in the ring, ducking from side to side around the judge to
look for the handler, whining, barking, jumping up to see around the crowd,
lunging out the ring gate to find the owner and tell me that looks like
"incorruptible character!" They look like a bunch of nervous animals
on speed, and while I am sure most of
them are wonderful dogs outside the ring
(mine was), in it, they look like they are nuts (he did)..
24.) When making the final selection,
does the dog with the most front reach usually win the class?
No--the dog that fits the
standard best, in terms of breed type, balance, and movement that fits
the standard--the dog that expends the least amount of effort to cover
the most ground. Most of the time, this dog isn't in the ring, and
I try to look at which dogs have the most of what the standard
25.) Do you feel more emphasis should
be put on the total package, and less on movement?
26.) Do you think the German Shepherd
Dog standard should be changed?
NO--except that if we want
to perpetuate the suspended trot as the gait of our dogs, then it should
be in the standard and not a piece of extra-standard lore which is the
current case. When the standard was reformatted, I think it should
have been put in then, but I've never known why it wasn't.
27.) Do you think there should be any
changes in any of the existing rules concerning dog shows? If so, please
Lots, but none that have anything to do with Shepherds specifically
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
Can't remember their full names
or correct spelling on some but dogs I have greatly admired:
Hollamar's Judd, Lakeside's Frack v. Rosshaus (sp?),Tannenwald's Igor,
Santana's Man O War, Von Ivo's Blithe Spirit, Ossipee
29.) Do you feel that in general the
quality of the breed in this country is getting better or worse ? Please
Ceaser (sp?), Yoncalla's Mike, Treffer of
Clover Acres, Lakeside's Gilligan's Island, Reno, Piper, Mannix of
Fran Jo, Scorpio, Asslan of Robinsway, the K Waldesruh dogs
I think it has bottomed out
(or I hope so) and that people are actually trying to breed dogs that fit
the standard better rather than what is in vogue. Part of the problem
is that the breed is so hard to really do well in that a lot of people
leave for other breeds. I haven't shown Shepherds in years, but when
I judge, I know lots of the people that come in the ring
30.) Do you have a pet peeve about anything
owners or handlers do concerning the showing of dogs ?
under me which says to me that the breed
isn't attracting the numbers of newcomers that it once did. I don't
mean that no one comes in and stays, but that there is a lot of turnover
in the novice breeders and exhibitors and they just haven't seen dogs that
really did fit the standard so it's hard for them to visualize the standard.
I hate poor sportsmanship.
I don't like seeing people run up on the dog in front or letting their
dog run up and nip at the one in front of them (I've seen this several
times both in my ring and while watching). I despise the clapping
wars, where two dogs get clapped for and the rest are ignored. I
wish spectators would either clap for all or clap for none. AND,
don't feed your dog a piece of bait just as the tooth exam begins.
Shepherd people usually aren't so bad about this nor are they guilty of
the egregious bait throwing that goes on in other rings. I don't
think spectators should have to worry about being pelted with liver.
31.) Do you have any suggestions for
owners or handlers regarding anything they should ALWAYS do when showing
under you ?
Show with a loose lead, have
the double handlers sit down, and be considerate of the other exhibitors.
32.) Do you have any suggestions for
owners or handlers regarding anything they should NEVER do when showing
under you ?
Don't throw bait outside the
ring, pick up what you might drop or toss in front of the dog.
33.) Do you have any advice for people
who are relatively new to showing and/or breeding?
Never be afraid to ask question.
There aren't any stupid questions, only people too stupid to ask them.
The breed is blessed with tons of books and ages of Reviews. Beg,
borrow, or buy them and look through them. Look at pedigrees and
study the standard. Learn why it asks for what it does and
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
decide what your vision of the perfect dog
is then work towards it.
Also, never be afraid to approach people
with a lot of experience. We have so many people in dogs that know
so much who are untapped resources because newcomers think they aren't
interested in passing on what they've learned.
I think that is very far from the truth,
but because people are afraid to approach the more experienced breeders,
they end up congregating with those who are less "scary" but who are by
the same token much less experienced.
Be honest. Show honest dogs and be
honest with others and yourself about your dogs. However realize
that no dog is perfect.
Most of all, despite the way that people
talk around the ring about this dog having that wrong and that dog having
this wrong, learn to look at dogs for what they are instead of what they
are not. Look always at a dog's assets and the overall animal rather
than looking at his faults. All dogs have some and if you are looking
for the perfect dog, you'll never find anything to show or anything to
I will always love this breed, not just
because it was where I started but because the dog is such a fabulous
worker. There just isn't any dog that is better as a companion or
worker or who is more versatile in the work he can do.
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.