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 ?   

       No longer.   

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 breed?   
I have been judging since 1991
4.) How many times a year do you judge German Shepherds?   
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 of shows?   
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 Judges Association. 
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 ?   
    No Preference--I do mostly all breeds because I do several other breeds.  
    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 specialties  
    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.  
     

8.) Do you have a color preference?   
   No preference--Have never really cared one way or the other 

     a) Would the color of a dog influence your judgment? 
Absolutely not 

     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

9.) What importance do you place on condition of plush versus smooth coat? Please explain.   
 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 
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. 

10.) When judging the dog do you also judge the handler? Please elaborate if possible.   
NO 

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 on 
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.

11.) What importance do you place on missing teeth?   

        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?   
 Improved...hard question.  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 
the standard calls for but it is certainly easier for John Q Public to live with.
15.) Do you consider temperament today to be? Please explain.   
 See above
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 
Side Gait  9   These are both inseparable from structure.  
Temperament  10 
Teeth  7 
Coat  5 
Pasterns, hocks, feet  7, because they are such a problem right now.   
Pigment 2  
Structure 8  
Shoulder and reach - Again part of structure and gait   
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.
18.) Could you briefly describe your ring procedure, and any changes you may incorporate between a small Vs large class   
 
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 
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. 

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)?   
 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?   
 Neither
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 
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. 

22.) In your opinion should double handling be allowed?   
 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 
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)..

23.) Should all select dogs, in your opinion, be OFA (H&E)?   
 Yes
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 
calls for.
25.) Do you feel more emphasis should be put on the total package, and less on movement?   
 Yes
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 elaborate  

         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 
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
29.) Do you feel that in general the quality of the breed in this country is getting better or worse ? Please elaborate   
 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 
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. 
30.) Do you have a pet peeve about anything owners or handlers do concerning the showing of dogs ?   
 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 
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 breed. 
 

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   
    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.   

NO 
Back to Judges 
Copyright © 1997 - 2006, SpiderWoman