[toggle title=”FCI Standard No 166 (SV_German Shepherd Dog Standard)” variation = “red”]
GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG (Deutscher Schäferhund)
TRANSLATION: Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SV) E.V. / Original version: (D).
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE OFFICIAL VALID STANDARD: 11.08.2010.
UTILIZATION: Versatile working, herding and service dog.
FCI-CLASSIFICATION: Group 1 Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs
(except Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs).
Section 1 Sheepdogs. With working trial.
Brief Historical Overview:
According to the official documentation of the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SV) e.V. (Society for the German Shepherd Dog, “SV” for short) – legal domicile in Augsburg, Germany, member of the Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen (VDH, German Kennel Club) – the “SV” as the founding club of the breed is responsible for the breed standard of the German Shepherd Dog. Established in the first General Meeting at Frankfurt/Main on 20 September 1899 according to suggestions by A. Meyer and Max von Stephanitz and in addition to the amendments of the 6th General Meeting on 28 July 1901, the 23rd General Meeting at Cologne/Rhineland on 17 September 1909, the Executive Board & Advisory Board Meeting at Wiesbaden on 5 September 1930 and the Breeding Committee & Executive Board Meeting on 25 March 1961, revisions were resolved within the framework of the World Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs (WUSV) Meeting on 30 August 1976. Revisions and catalogued measures were resolved with the Enabling Resolution through the Executive Board and Advisory Board from 23/24 March 1991, amended through the Federal Conventions from 25 May 1997 and 31 May/1 June 2008.
The German Shepherd Dog, whose methodical breeding was started in 1899 after the foundation of the society, had been bred from the central German and southern German breeds of the herding dogs existing at that time with the ultimate objective of creating a working dog inclined to high achievements. In order to achieve this objective, the breed standard of the German Shepherd Dog was determined, which relates to the physical constitution as well as the traits and characteristics.
The German Shepherd Dog is medium-size, slightly elongated, powerful and well-muscled, with dry bone and firm overall structure.
Important Dimensional Ratios
The height at the withers amounts to 60 cm to 65 cm for male dogs and 55 cm to 60 cm for female dogs. The trunk length exceeds the dimension at the height at the withers by about 10 – 17 %.
The German Shepherd Dog must be well-balanced (with strong nerves) in terms of character, self-assured, absolutely natural and (except for a stimulated situation) good-natured as well as attentive and willing to please. He must possess instinctive behaviour, resilience and self-assurance in order to be suitable as a companion, guard, protection, service and herding dog.
The head is wedge-shaped, and in proportion to the body size (length about 40 % at the height at the withers), without being plump or too elongated, dry in the overall appearance and moderately broad between the ears.
Seen from the front and side, the forehead is only slightly arched and without any or with only a slightly indicated middle furrow.
The ratio from the cranial region to the facial region is 50 % to 50 %. The width of the cranial region more or less corresponds to the length of the cranial region. The cranial region (seen from above) tapers evenly towards the nasal bridge with gradually sloping, not sharply depicted stop in the wedge-shaped facial region (foreface) of the head. Upper and lower jaws are powerfully developed.
The nasal dorsum is straight, any dip or bulge is undesirable. The lips are taut, close well and are of dark colouring.
The nose must be black.
The teeth must be strong, healthy and complete (42 teeth according to the dental formula). The German Shepherd Dog has a scissor bite, i.e. the incisors must interlock like scissors, whereby the incisors of the upper jaw overlap those of the lower jaw. Occlusal overlay, overbite and retrusive occlusion as well as larger spaces between the teeth (gaps) are faulty. The straight dental ridge of the incisors is also faulty. The jaw bones must be strongly developed so that the teeth can be deeply embedded in the dental ridge.
The eyes are of medium size, almond-shaped, slightly slanted and not protruding. The colour of the eyes should be as dark as possible. Light, piercing eyes are undesirable since they impair the dog’s impression.
The German Shepherd Dog has erect ears of medium size, which are carried upright and aligned (not drawn-in laterally); they are pointed and with the auricle facing forward.
Tipped ears and drooping ears are faulty. Ears carried rearward when moving or in relaxed position are not faulty.
The neck should be strong, well-muscled and without loose neck skin (dewlap). The angulation towards the trunk (horizontal) amounts to approx. 45 %.
The upper line runs from the base of the neck via the high, long withers and via the straight back towards the slightly sloping croup, without visible interruption. The back is moderately long, firm, strong and well-muscled. The loin is broad, short, strongly developed and well-muscled. The croup should be long and slightly sloping (approx 23° to the horizontal) and the upper line should merge into the base of the tail without interruption.
The chest should be moderately broad, the lower chest as long and pronounced as possible. The depth of the chest should amount to approx. 45 % to 48 % of the height at the withers.
The ribs should feature a moderate curvature; a barrel-shaped chest is just as faulty as flat ribs.
The tail extends at least to the hock, but not beyond the middle of the hind pastern. It has slightly longer hair on the underside and is carried hanging downward in a gentle curve, whereby in a state of excitement and in motion it is raised and carried higher, but not beyond the horizontal. Operative corrections are forbidden.
The forelimbs are straight when seen from all sides, and absolutely parallel when seen from the front.
Shoulder blade and upper arm are of equal length, and firmly attached to the trunk by means of powerful musculature. The angulation from shoulder blade and upper arm is ideally 90°, but generally up to 110°.
The elbows may not be turned out either while standing or moving, and also not pushed in. The forearms are straight when seen from all sides, and absolutely parallel to each other, dry and firmly muscled. The pastern has a length of approx. 1/3 of the forearm, and has an angle of approx. 20° to 22° to the forearm. A slanted pastern (more than 22°) as well as a steep pastern (less than 20°) impairs the suitability for work, particularly the stamina.
The paws are rounded, well-closed and arched; the soles are hard, but not brittle. The nails are strong and of dark colour.
The position of hind legs is slightly backwards, whereby the hind limbs are parallel to each other when seen from the rear. Upper leg and lower leg are of approximately the same length and form an angle of approx. 120°; the legs are strong and well-muscled.
The hocks are strongly developed and firm; the hind pastern stands vertically under the hock.
The paws are closed, slightly arched; the pads are hard and of dark colour; the nails are strong, arched and also of dark colour.
The German Shepherd Dog is a trotter. The limbs must be coordinated in length and angulations so that the dog can shift the hindquarters towards the trunk without any essential change of the top line and can reach just as far with the forelimbs. Any tendency towards over-angulation of the hindquarters reduces the stability and the stamina, and thereby the working ability. Correct body proportions and angulations results in a gait that is far-reaching and flat over the ground which conveys the impression of effortless forward movements. The head pushed forward and the slightly raised tail result in a consistent, smooth trot showing a gently curved, uninterrupted upper line from the ear tips over the neck and back to the end of the tail.
The skin is (loosely) fitting, but without forming any folds.
The German Shepherd Dog is bred in the hair varieties double coat and long and harsh outer coat – both with undercoat.
The guard hair should be as dense as possible, particularly harsh and close fitting: short on the head, including the inside of the ears, short on the front side of the legs, paws and toes, some-what longer and more strongly covered in hair on the neck. On the back side of the legs the hair extends to the carpal joint or the hock; it forms moderate ‘trousers’ on the back side of the haunches.
Long and Harsh Outer Coat:
The guard hair should be long, soft and not close fitting, with tufts on the ears and legs, bushy trousers and bushy tail with downward formation of tuft. Short on the head, including the inside of the ears, on the front side of the legs, on the paws and toes, somewhat longer and more strongly covered in hair on the neck, almost forming a mane. On the back side of the legs the hair extends to the carpal joint or the hock and forms clear trousers on the back side of the haunches.
Colours are black with reddish-brown, brown and yellow to light grey markings; single-coloured black, grey with darker shading, black saddle and mask. Unobtrusive, small white marks on chest as well as very light colour on insides are permissible, but not desirable. The tip of the nose must be black in all colours. Dogs with lack of mask, light to piercing eye colour, as well as with light to whitish markings on the chest and the insides, pale nails and red tip of tail are considered to be lacking in pigmentation. The undercoat shows a light greyish tone. The colour white is not allowed.
Height at the withers: 60 cm to 65 cm
Weight: 30 kg to 40 kg
Height at the withers: 55 cm to 60 cm
Weight: 22 kg to 32 kg
Male dogs should have two obviously normally developed testicles which are completely in the scrotum.
Any deviation from the aforementioned points should be considered as a fault whose evaluation should be in exact proportion to the degree of deviation.
Deviations from the above-described breed characteristics which impair the working capability.
Faulty ears: ears set too low laterally, tipped ears, inward constricted ears, ears not firm
Considerable pigment deficiencies.
Severely impaired overall stability.
All deviations from scissor bite and dental formula insofar as it does not involve eliminating faults (see the following).
a) Dogs with weak character and weak nerves which bite
b) Dogs with proven “severe hip dysplasia”
c) Monorchid or cryptorchid dogs as well as dogs with clearly dissimilar or atrophied testicles
d) Dogs with disfiguring ears or tail faults
e) Dogs with malformations
f) Dogs with dental faults, with lack of:
1 premolar 3 and another tooth, or
1 canine tooth, or
1 premolar 4, or
1 molar 1 or molar 2, or
a total of 3 teeth or more
g) Dogs with jaw deficiencies:
Overshot by 2 mm and more,
level bite in the entire incisor region
h) Dogs with oversize or undersize by more than 1 cm
j) White hair colour (also with dark eyes and nails)
k) Long Straight Topcoat without undercoat
l) Long-haired (long, soft guard hair without undercoat, mostly parted in the middle of the back, tufts on the ears and legs and on the tail)
FCI-St. N°166 / 23.12.2010
[toggle title=”The Standard of the German Shepherd Dog_AKC” variation = “red”]
The Standard of the German Shepherd Dog as adopted by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, Inc., and approved by the American Kennel Club
The first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life. It is well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It looks substantial and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness or soft living. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility–difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Secondary sex characteristics are strongly marked, and every animal gives a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex.
The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, such as tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character. Any of the above deficiencies in character which indicate shyness must be penalized as very serious faults and any dog exhibiting pronounced indications of these must be excused from the ring. It must be possible for the judge to observe the teeth and to determine that both testicles are descended. Any dog that attempts to bite the judge must be disqualified. The ideal dog is a working animal with an incorruptible character combined with body and gait suitable for the arduous work that constitutes its primary purpose.
Size, Proportion, Substance
The desired height for males at the top of the highest point of the shoulder blade is 24 to 26 inches; and for bitches, 22 to 24 inches.
The German Shepherd Dog is longer than tall, with the most desirable proportion as 10 to 8½. The length is measured from the point of the prosternum or breastbone to the rear edge of the pelvis, the ischial tuberosity. The desirable long proportion is not derived from a long back, but from overall length with relation to height, which is achieved by length of forequarter and length of withers and hindquarter, viewed from the side.
The head is noble, cleanly chiseled, strong without coarseness, but above all not fine, and in proportion to the body. The head of the male is distinctly masculine, and that of the bitch distinctly feminine.
The expression keen, intelligent and composed. Eyes of medium size, almond shaped, set a little obliquely and not protruding. The color is as dark as possible. Ears are moderately pointed, in proportion to the skull, open toward the front, and carried erect when at attention, the ideal carriage being one in which the center lines of the ears, viewed from the front, are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. A dog with cropped or hanging ears must be disqualified.
Seen from the front the forehead is only moderately arched, and the skull slopes into the long, wedge-shaped muzzle without abrupt stop. The muzzle is long and strong, and its topline is parallel to the topline of the skull. Nose black. A dog with a nose that is not predominantly black must be disqualified. The lips are firmly fitted. Jaws are strongly developed. Teeth –42 in number–20 upper and 22 lower–are strongly developed and meet in a scissors bite in which part of the inner surface of the upper incisors meet and engage part of the outer surface of the lower incisors. An overshot jaw or a level bite is undesirable. An undershot jaw is a disqualifying fault. Complete dentition is to be preferred. Any missing teeth other than first premolars is a serious fault.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is strong and muscular, clean-cut and relatively long, proportionate in size to the head and without loose folds of skin. When the dog is at attention or excited, the head is raised and the neck carried high; otherwise typical carriage of the head is forward rather than up and but little higher than the top of the shoulders, particularly in motion.
Topline – The withers are higher than and sloping into the level back. The back is straight, very strongly developed without sag or roach, and relatively short.The whole structure of the body gives an impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness.
Chest – Commencing at the prosternum, it is well filled and carried well down between the legs. It is deep and capacious, never shallow, with ample room for lungs and heart, carried well forward, with the prosternum showing ahead of the shoulder in profile. Ribs well sprung and long, neither barrel-shaped nor too flat, and carried down to a sternum which reaches to the elbows. Correct ribbing allows the elbows to move back freely when the dog is at a trot. Too round causes interference and throws the elbows out; too flat or short causes pinched elbows. Ribbing is carried well back so that the loin is relatively short. Abdomen firmly held and not paunchy. The bottom line is only moderately tucked up in the loin.
Loin – Viewed from the top, broad and strong. Undue length between the last rib and the thigh, when viewed from the side, is undesirable. Croup long and gradually sloping.
Tail bushy, with the last vertebra extended at least to the hock joint. It is set smoothly into the croup and low rather than high. At rest, the tail hangs in a slight curve like a saber. A slight hook- sometimes carried to one side-is faulty only to the extent that it mars general appearance. When the dog is excited or in motion, the curve is accentuated and the tail raised, but it should never be curled forward beyond a vertical line. Tails too short, or with clumpy ends due to ankylosis, are serious faults. A dog with a docked tail must be disqualified.
The shoulder blades are long and obliquely angled, laid on flat and not placed forward. The upper arm joins the shoulder blade at about a right angle. Both the upper arm and the shoulder blade are well muscled. The forelegs, viewed from all sides, are straight and the bone oval rather than round. The pasterns are strong and springy and angulated at approximately a 25-degree angle from the vertical. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed, but are normally left on.
The feet are short, compact with toes well arched, pads thick and firm, nails short and dark.
The whole assembly of the thigh, viewed from the side, is broad, with both upper and lower thigh well muscled, forming as nearly as possible a right angle. The upper thigh bone parallels the shoulder blade while the lower thigh bone parallels the upper arm. The metatarsus (the unit between the hock joint and the foot) is short, strong and tightly articulated. The dewclaws, if any, should be removed from the hind legs. Feet as in front.
The ideal dog has a double coat of medium length. The outer coat should be as dense as possible, hair straight, harsh and lying close to the body. A slightly wavy outer coat, often of wiry texture, is permissible. The head, including the inner ear and foreface, and the legs and paws are covered with short hair, and the neck with longer and thicker hair. The rear of the forelegs and hind legs has somewhat longer hair extending to the pastern and hock, respectively. Faults in coat include soft, silky, too long outer coat, woolly, curly, and open coat
The German Shepherd Dog varies in color, and most colors are permissible. Strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified.
A German Shepherd Dog is a trotting dog, and its structure has been developed to meet the requirements of its work. General Impression — The gait is outreaching, elastic, seemingly without effort, smooth and rhythmic, covering the maximum amount of ground with the minimum number of steps. At a walk it covers a great deal of ground, with long stride of both hind legs and forelegs. At a trot the dog covers still more ground with even longer stride, and moves powerfully but easily, with coordination and balance so that the gait appears to be the steady motion of a well-lubricated machine. The feet travel close to the ground on both forward reach and backward push. In order to achieve ideal movement of this kind, there must be good muscular development and ligamentation. The hindquarters deliver, through the back, a powerful forward thrust which slightly lifts the whole animal and drives the body forward. Reaching far under, and passing the imprint left by the front foot, the hind foot takes hold of the ground; then hock, stifle and upper thigh come into play and sweep back, the stroke of the hind leg finishing with the foot still close to the ground in a smooth follow-through. The overreach of the hindquarter usually necessitates one hind foot passing outside and the other hind foot passing inside the track of the forefeet, and such action is not faulty unless the locomotion is crabwise with the dog’s body sideways out of the normal straight line.
Transmission – The typical smooth, flowing gait is maintained with great strength and firmness of back. The whole effort of the hindquarter is transmitted to the forequarter through the loin, back and withers. At full trot, the back must remain firm and level without sway, roll, whip or roach. Unlevel topline with withers lower than the hip is a fault. To compensate for the forward motion imparted by the hindquarters, the shoulder should open to its full extent. The forelegs should reach out close to the ground in a long stride in harmony with that of the hindquarters. The dog does not track on widely separated parallel lines, but brings the feet inward toward the middle line of the body when trotting, in order to maintain balance. The feet track closely but do not strike or cross over. Viewed from the front, the front legs function from the shoulder joint to the pad in a straight line. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs function from the hip joint to the pad in a straight line. Faults of gait, whether from front, rear or side, are to be considered very serious faults.
Cropped or hanging ears
Dogs with noses not predominantly black.
Any dog that attempts to bite the judge.
Approved February 11, 1978
Reformatted July 11, 1994
[toggle title=”German Shepherd Dog_Official UKC Breed Standard” variation = “red”]
Official UKC Breed Standard
Revised May 1, 2012
@Copyright 2012, United Kennel Club, Inc.
The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges. Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.
Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.
The tendencies toward exaggeration and steep angles are unacceptable. German Shepherd Dogs with unstable temperaments, sharply angulated croups, overly long front and rear pasterns, and hocks that are weak and wobbly are poor representations of this working breed. UKC is unwilling to condone the validity of using exaggerated specimens of this breed in a breeding program and, to preserve its health and vibrancy, cautions judges about awarding wins to these representatives.
The German Shepherd Dog is a relatively young breed, developed almost single-handedly in the first half of the twentieth century by a German cavalry officer, Max von Stephanitz, president of the Verein far Deutsche Schaferhunde S.V. Using a variety of German sheepdogs as his foundation stock, von Stephanitz developed a distinctive breed in a very short period of time, due in large part to the authoritarian practices of the German dog fancy at that time. Von Stephanitz emphasized utility and intelligence in his breeding program, enabling the German Shepherd Dog to switch easily from herding duties to other fields of work, particularly military and police work. The breed was just gaining notice in the United States when World War I broke out. All things German were shunned and popularity slumped. After the war, however, movie star Rin-Tin-Tin stimulated interest in the breed again. The striking good looks of this breed, combined with its remarkable intelligence and loyalty, have made it a favorite working and companion dog.
The German Shepherd Dog was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1924.
The German Shepherd Dog is a medium-sized, well-balanced, muscular dog, slightly longer than tall, with a medium length coat, erect ears, and a low-set natural tail that normally reaches to the hock and is carried in a slight curve like a saber. The outline of the German Shepherd Dog is made up of smooth curves rather than angles.
The head is in proportion to the size of the body, strong without appearing coarse or fine. Gender differences are readily apparent. The German Shepherd Dog should be evaluated as an all-around working dog, and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to how much they interfere with the dog’s ability to work.
Disqualifications: Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid
The German Shepherd Dog is confident and fearless, willing to be approached, yet a certain level of aloofness towards strangers is acceptable. When working, the German Shepherd is alert and eager, adapting well to new tasks. Lack of confidence is a serious defect in the character of a German Shepherd. The structure of this breed was designed for efficient locomotion, particularly at the trot, so poor movement is another serious fault.
Disqualifications: Viciousness or extreme shyness.
The head is proportional to the size of the dog, and cleanly chiseled. Males should appear masculine without coarseness; and females feminine without being overly fine. The skull and muzzle are of equal length, parallel to one another, and joined at a very slight stop. There is little or no median furrow.
SKULL – The skull is broad and only very slightly domed. In males, the skull is slightly wider than it is long; in females, the skull is slightly narrower. Viewed from the front, the skull tapers evenly from the ears toward the muzzle. The cheeks are just slightly rounded but do not protrude.
MUZZLE – The muzzle is long and wedge-shaped, with strong, well-developed jaws. In profile, the bridge of the muzzle is straight and parallel to the topline of the skull. Lips are tight and darkly pigmented.
Faults: Muzzle too short, blunt, weak, pointed, or overlong.
TEETH – The German Shepherd Dog has a complete set of evenly spaced, white teeth meeting in a scissors bite.
Faults: Overshot or level mouth; missing first premolars.
Serious Fault: Missing teeth other than first premolars.
Disqualifications: Undershot; wry mouth.
NOSE – The nose is always black. A “snow nose” is acceptable but not preferred.
Disqualification Total lack of nose pigment.
EYES – The eyes are as dark as possible, of medium size, almond-shaped, and set slightly obliquely. Expression is alert, calm, and intelligent. Eye rims are dark.
Fault: Protruding eyes.
EARS – Ears are erect, moderately pointed, of medium size, broad at the base, and set high. Ear leather is firm. When the dog is alert, the centerlines of the ears, viewed from the front, are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other.
Disqualifications: Cropped ears; drop or tipped ears.
The neck is relatively long but strong and muscular. The skin is tight. The German Shepherd Dog normally carries the head just a little higher than the shoulders, particularly when moving.
The shoulder blades are long, well muscled, well laid back, and laid flat to the body. The upper arms, also long and well muscled, join the shoulder blade at nearly a right angle. A straight line drawn from the withers to the ground should pass just behind the back of the foreleg.
FORELEGS – From the pasterns to the elbows, the forelegs are straight and strong with oval-shaped bones. The pasterns are strong and supple, sloping no more than 25 degrees. The elbows are neither close to the body nor out, but are set on a plane parallel to the body. The length of the forelegs should be just slightly more than half the height of the dog, measured at the withers.
Serious Faults: Pasterns slanted more than 25 degrees. Pasterns so long and weak that proper movement is compromised.
A properly proportioned German Shepherd Dog is longer (measured from prosternum to point of buttocks) than tall (measured from the withers to the ground) in a ratio of 10 to 9. The length is derived from proper construction of forequarters and hindquarters and not from length of back.
The line of the back slopes downward from the withers into a straight, strongly developed, and relatively short back. Ribs are long and extend well back, resulting in a short, broad loin. The croup is long and slightly sloping.
Viewed from the front, the chest is deep and well filled. From the side, the forechest extends in front of the forelegs and the brisket down to the elbows. Tuck-up is moderate.
Faults: Barrel ribs; ribs too flat; long loin.
Serious Faults: Any measure of a roached back. Shelly appearance.
Viewed from the side, the hindquarters are broad and muscular. The angulation of the hindquarters is in balance with the angulation of the forequarters. The rear pastern is short and strong, and should remain upright and functional. Powerful hindquarters are necessary to enable the effortless movement that is an essential feature of this breed. Rear pasterns should remain upright and functional.
Serious Faults: Over-angulated rear, with anything exaggerated beyond a mild slope. Rear pasterns so long and weak that proper movement is compromised.
Feet are round and tight, with toes well arched. Pads are thick and hard. Nails are strong and dark. Front dewclaws may be removed but are normally left intact. Rear dewclaws, if any, are removed. The feet should recoil cleanly from each stride.
Serious Fault: Feet that drag along the ground on recoil.
The tail is set on low in a natural extension of the unexaggerated, slightly sloping croup. The tail extends at least to the hock joint. When the dog is relaxed, the tail hangs in a slight curve, like a saber. When the dog is excited or moving, the tail may be raised and the curve accentuated but the tail is never carried above a vertical line extending from its base. The coat on the tail stands outward, giving the tail a bushy appearance.
Faults: A slight hook in the tail to the extent it mars the dog’s general appearance.
Serious Faults: Tail too short; ankylosis.
Disqualification: Docked tail.
The German Shepherd Dog is double coated. The outer coat lies close to the body and is dense and straight with harsh texture. A slight wave is acceptable in a particularly harsh coat. The undercoat is short, dense, and fine-textured. The coat on the body is of medium length but not so long as to detract from the dog’s ability to withstand bad weather conditions. The coat is shorter on the head (including the inside of the ear), the legs, and the feet. The coat on the neck is longer and thicker, forming a slight ruff, particularly on some males. The hair on the back of the legs is longer and thicker, forming trousers on the hindquarters, and extending to the pasterns in front and the hock joint behind.
Serious Faults: Short, mole type coat; long coat that stands away from the body; soft coat; absence of undercoat.
The German Shepherd Dog comes in many colors and white. In evaluating colored dogs, strong, deep colors are preferred. Nose, lips, and eye rims must have dark pigment, regardless of coat color. Color faults are minor in comparison to defects of type and structure.
Serious Faults: Pale, washed-out colors; blue; liver.
Desirable height at maturity for males is 24 to 26 inches; for females, 22 to 24 inches.
Absolute soundness of movement is paramount. Correct gait is an essential feature of the German Shepherd Dog. When trotting, it moves with a long, effortless, efficient stride that is driven by a powerful forward thrust from the hindquarters.
The rear leg, moving forward, swings under the foreleg and touches down in front of the point where the forefoot left an imprint. The result is that one rear leg passes outside its corresponding front leg and the other passes inside its corresponding front leg. This is a breed characteristic and should not be penalized as long as the body is straight in relationship to the direction of movement.
As the rear leg moves backward, the body is propelled forward. The front and rear feet remain close to the ground throughout. When trotting, the back remains firm and level with no superfluous vertical movement. Hocks should be strong and straight, turning neither in nor out as the dog moves. There should be no visible “wobble” to the hock. Neither front nor rear pasterns should strike the ground; this is an unacceptable exaggeration and an indication of incorrect movement. As the speed of the trot increases, there is a tendency to single track. Correct movement and soundness must be evaluated from front and rear as well as the side.
Serious Faults: Any fault that affects correct movement.
DISQUALIFICATIONS (A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
Viciousness or extreme shyness.
Total lack of nose pigment.
Drop or tipped ears.
[toggle title=”Breed Standard for the German Shepherd Dog_CKC” variation = “red”]
CKC Breed Standard for the German Shepherd Dog (Jan, 2004)
The first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong, agile, well-muscled animal, alert and full of life. It should both be and appear to be well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The dog should appear to the eye, and actually be, longer than tall, deep bodied, and present an outline of smooth curves rather than corners. It should look substantial and not spindly, giving the impression both at rest and in motion of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness or soft living.
The Shepherd should be stamped with a look of quality and nobility, difficult to define but unmistakable when present. The good German Shepherd Dog never looks common.
Secondary sex characteristics should be strongly marked, and every animal should give a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex. Dogs should be definitely masculine in appearance and deportment; bitches, unmistakably feminine, without weakness of structure or apparent softness of temperament.
The condition of the dog should be that of an athlete in good condition, the muscles and flesh firm and the coat lustrous.
The breed has a distinct personality marked by a direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, and self-confidence and a certain aloofness which does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The Shepherd Dog is not one that fawns upon every new acquaintance. At the same time, it should be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and a willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It should be poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert, both fit and willing to serve in any capacity as companion, watch dog, blind leader, herding dog or guardian; whichever the circumstances may demand.
The Shepherd Dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler, nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions to strange sounds or sights, or lackadaisical, sluggish, or manifestly disinterested in what goes on about him. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character. Cases of extreme timidity and nervous unbalance sometimes give the dog an apparent, but totally unreal, courage and it becomes a ?fear biter,? snapping not for any justifiable reason but because it is apprehensive of the approach of a stranger. This is a serious fault subject to heavy penalty.
The ideal height for dogs is 25 inches (64 cm), and for bitches, 23 inches (58 cm) at the shoulder. This height is established by taking a perpendicular line from the top of the shoulder blade to the ground with the coat parted or so pushed down that this measurement will show the only actual height of the frame or structure of the dog. The working value of dogs above or below the indicated height is proportionately lessened, although variations of an inch (3 cm) above or below the ideal height are acceptable, while greater variations must be considered as faults. Weights of dogs of desirable size in proper flesh and condition average between 75 and 85 lb. (34 and 39 kg); and of bitches, between 60 and 70 lb. (27 and 32 kg).
The Shepherd is normally a dog with a double coat, the amount of undercoat varying with the season of the year and the proportion of the time the dog spends out of doors. It should, however, always be present to a sufficient degree to keep out water, to insulate against temperature extremes, and as a protection against insects. The outer coat should be as dense as possible, hair straight, harsh and lying close to the body. A slightly wavy outer coat, often of wiry texture, is equally permissible. The head, including the inner ear, foreface, and legs and paws are covered with short hair, and the neck with longer and thicker hair. The rear of forelegs and hind legs has somewhat longer hair extending to the pastern and hock respectively. Faults in coat include complete lack of any undercoat, soft, silky or too long outer coat and curly or open coat.
The German Shepherd Dog differs widely in colour. Generally speaking, strong, rich colours are to be preferred, with definite pigmentation, and without appearance of a washed-out colour. White dogs are to be disqualified.
Clean-cut and strong, the head of the Shepherd is characterized by nobility. It should seem in proportion to the body and should not be clumsy, although a degree of coarseness of head, especially in dogs, is less of a fault than over-refinement. A round or domey skull is a fault. The muzzle is long and strong with the lips firmly fitted, and its topline is usually parallel with an imaginary elongation of the line of the forehead. Seen from the front, the forehead is only moderately arched and the skull slopes into the long wedge-shaped muzzle without abrupt stop. Jaws are strongly developed. Weak and too narrow underjaws, snipey muzzles, and no stop are faults Teeth: The strong teeth, 42 in number (20 upper and 22 lower) are strongly developed and meet in a scissors grip in which part of the inner surface of the upper teeth meets and engages part of the outer surface of the lower teeth. This type of bite gives a more powerful grip than one in which the edges of the teeth meet directly, and is subject to less wear. The dog is overshot when the lower teeth fail to engage the inner surfaces of the upper teeth. This is a serious fault. The reverse condition – an undershot jaw – is a very serious fault. While missing premolars are frequently observed, complete dentition is decidedly to be preferred. So-called distemper teeth and discoloured teeth are faults whose seriousness varies with the degree of departure from the desired white, sound colouring. Teeth broken by accident should not be severely penalized but worn teeth, especially the incisors, are often indicative of the lack of a proper scissors bite, although some allowance should be made for age.
Eyes of medium size, almond shaped, set a little obliquely and not protruding. The colour as dark as possible. Eyes of lighter colour are sometimes found and are not a serious fault if they harmonize with the general colouration, but a dark brown eye is always to be preferred. The expression should be keen, intelligent, and composed. The ears should be moderately pointed, open towards the front, and are carried erect when at attention, the ideal carriage being one in which the centre lines of the ears, viewed from the front, are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. Puppies usually do not permanently raise their ears until the fourth or sixth month, and sometimes not until later. Cropped and hanging ears are to be discarded. The well-placed and well-carried ear of a size in proportion to the skull materially adds to the general appearance of the Shepherd. Neither too large nor too small ears are desirable. Too much stress, however, should not be laid on perfection of carriage if the ears are fully erect.
The neck is strong and muscular, clean-cut and relatively long, proportionate in size to the head and without loose folds of skin. When the dog is at attention or excited, the head is raised and the neck carried high, otherwise typical carriage of the head is forward rather than up and but little higher than the top of the shoulder, particularly in motion.
The whole structure of the body gives an impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. Forechest, commencing at the prosternum, should be well filled and carried well down between the legs with no sense of hollowness. Chest should be deep and capacious with ample room for lungs and heart. Well carried forward, with the prosternum, or process of the breastbone, showing ahead of the shoulder when the dog is viewed from the side. Ribs should be well sprung and long, neither barrel shaped nor too flat, and carried down to a breastbone which reaches to the elbow. Correct ribbing allows the elbow to move back freely when the dog is at a trot, while too round a rib causes interference and throws the elbow out. Ribbing should be carried well back so that loin and flank are relatively short. Abdomen firmly held and not paunchy. The bottom line of the Shepherd is only moderately tucked up in flank, never like that of a Greyhound.
The bone of the legs should be straight, oval rather than round or flat, and free from sponginess. Its development should be in proportion to the size of the dog and contribute to the overall impression of substance without grossness. Crooked leg bones and any malformation such as, for example, that caused by rickets, should be penalized. Pastern should be of medium length, strong and springy. Much more spring of pastern is desirable in the Shepherd Dog than in any other breeds, as it contributes to the ease and elasticity of the trotting gait. The upright terrier pastern is definitely undesirable.
Metatarsus (the so-called “hock”): short, clean, sharply defined, and of great strength. This is the fulcrum upon which much of the forward movement of the dog depends. Cow-hocks are a decided fault, but before penalizing for Cow-hocks, it should be definitely determined, with the animal in motion, that the dog has this fault, since many dogs with exceptionally good hindquarter angulation occasionally stand so as to give the appearance of cow-hockedness which is not actually present.
Rather short, compact, with toes well arched, pads thick and hard, nails short and strong. The feet are important to the working qualities of the dog. The ideal foot is extremely strong with good gripping power and plenty of depth of pad. The so-called cat-foot, or terrier foot, is not desirable. The thin, spread or hare-foot is, however, still more undesirable.
The withers should be higher than, and sloping into, the level back to enable a proper attachment of the shoulder blades. The back should be straight and very strongly developed without sag or roach, the section from the wither to the croup being relatively short. (The desirable long proportion of the Shepherd Dog is not derived from a long back but from overall length with relation to height, which is achieved by breadth of forequarter and hindquarter viewed from the side.)
Loin: viewed from the top, broad and strong, blending smoothly into the back without undue length between the last rib and the thigh, when viewed from the side. Croup should be long and gradually sloping. Too level or flat a croup prevents proper functioning of the hindquarter, which must be able to reach well under the body. A steep croup also limits the action of the hindquarter.
A German Shepherd is a trotting dog and his structure has been developed to best meet the requirements of his work in herding. That is to say, a long, effortless trot which shall cover the maximum amount of ground with the minimum number of steps, consistent with the size of the animal. The proper body proportion, firmness of back and muscles and the proper angulation of the forequarters and hindquarters serve this end. They enable the dog to propel itself forward by a long step of the hindquarter and to compensate for this stride by a long step of the forequarter. The high withers, the firm back, the strong loin, the properly formed croup, even the tail as balance and rudder, all contribute to this same end.
The German Shepherd Dog is properly longer than tall with the most desirable proportion as 10 is to 8-1/2. We have seen how the height is ascertained; the length is established by a dog standing naturally and four-square, measured on a horizontal line from the point of the prosternum, or breastbone, to the rear edge of the pelvis, the ischium tuberosity, commonly called the sitting bone.
Forequarter: the shoulder blade should be long, laid on flat against the body with its rounded upper end in a vertical line above the elbow, and sloping well forward to the point where it joins the upper arm. The withers should be high, with shoulder blades meeting closely at the top, and the upper arm set on at an angle approaching as nearly as possible a right angle. Such an angulation permits the maximum forward extension of the foreleg without binding or effort. Shoulder faults include too steep or straight a position of either blade or upper arm, too short a blade or upper arm, lack of sufficient angle between these two members, looseness through lack of firm ligamentation, and loaded shoulder with prominent pads of flesh or muscles on the outer side. Construction in which the whole shoulder assembly is pushed too far forward also restricts the stride and is faulty.
The angulation of the hindquarter also consists ideally of a series of sharp angles as far as the relation of the bones to each other is concerned, and the thigh bone should parallel the shoulder blade while the stifle bone parallels the upper arm. The whole assembly of the thigh, viewed from the side, should be broad, with both thigh and stifle well muscled and of proportionate length, forming as nearly as possible a right angle. The metatarsus (the unit between the hock joint and the foot commonly and erroneously called the hock) is strong, clean and short, the hock joint clean-cut and sharply defined.
Bushy, with the last vertebra extended at least to the hock joint, and usually below. Set smoothly into the croup and low rather than high, at rest the tail hangs in a slight curve like a sabre. A slight hook – sometimes carried to one side – is faulty only to the extent that it mars general appearance. When the dog is excited or in motion, the curve is accentuated and the tail raised, but it should never be lifted beyond a line at right angles with the line of the back. Docked tails, or those which have been operated upon to prevent curling, disqualify. Tails too short, or with clumpy end due to the ankylosis or the growing together of the vertebrae, are serious faults.
General Impression: The gait of the German Shepherd Dog is
outreaching, elastic, seemingly without effort, smooth and rhythmic. At a walk it covers a great deal of ground, with long step of both hind leg and foreleg. At a trot, the dog covers still more ground and moves powerfully but easily with a beautiful co-ordination of back and limbs so that, in the best examples, the gait appears to be the steady motion of a well-lubricated machine. The feet travel close to the ground, and neither fore nor hind feet should lift high on either forward reach or backward push.
The hindquarter delivers, through the back, a powerful forward thrust which slightly lifts the whole animal and drives the body forward. Reaching far under, and passing the imprint left by the front foot, the strong arched hind foot takes hold of the ground; then hock, stifle, and upper thigh come into play and sweep back, the stroke of the hind leg finishing with the foot still close to the ground in a smooth follow-through. The overreach of the hindquarter usually necessitates one hind foot passing outside and the other hind foot passing inside the track of the forefeet and such action is not faulty unless the locomotion is crabwise with the dog?s body sideways out of the normal straight line. In order to achieve ideal movement of this kind, there must be full muscular co-ordination throughout the structure with the action of muscles and ligaments positive, regular and accurate.
The typical smooth, flowing gait of the Shepherd Dog cannot be maintained without great strength and firmness (which does not mean stiffness) of back. The whole effort of the hindquarter is transmitted to the forequarter through the muscular and bony structure of the loin, back, and withers. At full trot, the back must remain firm and level without sway, roll, whip or roach. To compensate for the forward motion imparted by the hindquarter, the shoulder should open to its full extent – the desirability of good shoulder angulation now becomes apparent – and the forelegs should reach out in a stride balancing that of the hindquarter. A steep shoulder will cause the dog either to stumble or to raise the forelegs very high in an effort to co-ordinate with the hindquarter, which is impossible when shoulder structure is faulty. A serious gait fault results when a dog moves too low in front, presenting an unleveled topline with the wither lower than the hips.
The Shepherd Dog does not track on widely separated parallel lines as does the terrier, but brings the feet inward toward the middle line of the body when at trot in order to maintain balance. For this reason a dog viewed from the front or rear when in motion will often seem to travel close. This is not a fault if the feet do not strike or cross, or if the knees or shoulders are not thrown out, but the feet and hocks should be parallel even if close together. The excellence of gait must also be evaluated by viewing from the side the effortless, properly coordinated covering of ground.
It should never be forgotten that the ideal Shepherd is a working animal which must have an incorruptible character combined with body and gait suitable for the arduous work which constitutes its primary purpose. All its qualities should be weighed in respect to their contribution to such work, and while no compromise should be permitted with regard to its working potentiality, the dog must nevertheless possess a high degree of beauty and nobility.
Evaluation of Faults
Note: Faults are important in the order of their group, as per group headings, irrespective of their position in each group.
Very Serious Faults
Major faults of temperament; undershot lower jaw.
Faults of balance and proportion; poor gait, viewed either from front, rear or side; marked deficiency of substance (bone or body); bitchy male dogs; faulty backs; too level or too short croup; long and weak loin; very bad feet; ring tails; tails much too short; rickety condition; more than four missing premolars or any other missing teeth, unless due to accident; lack of nobility; badly washed-out colour; badly overshot bite.
Doggy bitches; poorly carried ears; too-fine in head; weak muzzles; improper muscular condition; faulty coat, other than temporary condition; badly affected teeth.
Too coarse head; hooked tails; too light, round or protruding eyes; discoloured teeth; condition of coat, due to season or keeping.
Albino characteristics; cropped ears; hanging ears (as in a hound); docked tails; male dogs having one or both testicles undescended (monorchids or cryptorchids); white dogs.
[toggle title=”Choosing a Reputable Breeder_MN Purebred Dog Association” variation = “red”]
You have decided that a purebred dog is for you. What is your next move? What steps should you take to insure that your new dog meets your requirements? Your decision needs thoughtful consideration. The dog you choose will be a member of your family for a decade or more. Your first step is to seek out reputable breeders. Since it is almost impossible for you to know what a puppy will grow into physically and emotionally, you must rely entirely upon the breeder. In choosing a breeder there are three basic options available to you:
PET SHOP or DEALER—The worst possible choice. Puppies are poorly bred and raised. They are thought of as merchandise to be sold for a high profit. This high profit is possible because little has been put into the care of the puppies. Many are sickly. Pet shops rely heavily on impulse buying, which is no way to choose an addition to your family.
BACKYARD BREEDER—Also a poor choice. This person owns a “pet quality” purebred dog and thinks having a litter would be fun or a good experience for the children. These pet owners believe this is a quick and easy way to make money. This type of breeding is done without consideration of their dog’s health, history, and conformation. They are unaware of their breed’s standard and possible genetic problems and concerns. Their pet has not been certified free of disorders. Often their dogs are not even regularly checked by a veterinarian. Their goal is to produce puppies and sell them quickly at a very young age.
HOBBY BREEDER—The best choice. The serious and dedicated hobby breeder is passionate about their dogs and their breed. The hobby breeder’s goal is to produce superior dogs. They do this by breeding only the very best animals, keeping in mind the AKC breed standard and the background of their dogs. They do not make a high profit on their puppies, the money earned is reinvested into their breeding program in their continuous quest to improve their breed. These breeders have an undeniable dedication to the breed and stand behind their dogs.
Your wisest decision in purchasing a puppy will be to buy from a hobby breeder. Poor quality puppies from pet shops and backyard breeders are usually sold for the same price and sometimes even more than those from a serious hobby breeder. All three types of breeders sell puppies with AKC papers, however, this is not an assurance of quality.
How does one recognize the serious, dedicated hobby breeder? They should meet the following requirements, your breeder should:
1. Belong to a local all-breed club and their breed’s national club, this indicates participation and depth of involvement. This also exposes the breeder to other points of view. They keep up to date on breeding practices, health considerations, other bloodlines, and general dog care. They breed in accordance with the MPBDA Code of Ethics.
2. Show their dogs. This prevents the breeder from breeding in a vacuum. The breeder who does not show will have no idea how good or bad their dogs are. They deprive themselves of the opportunity to learn/share information and ideas with others. Showing provides the competition which encourages breeders to produce better dogs. The breeder who shows wants to prove their dogs in competition by putting their breeding program on the line. They do not allow the pedigree alone to indicate quality. Even though you are not buying a show dog, you want and deserve a puppy that resulted from a carefully planned litter, a puppy which has received the same care and attention as a potential champion. This breeder is very conscientious of their reputation and will be careful and honest with you in selling you one of their puppies.
3. Allow you time to have the puppy examined by a veterinarian, usually 48 to 72 hours. You do this as an assurance to yourself that the puppy’s health is sound, even though the puppy has previously been checked by the breeder’s veterinarian. This way if any problems are found they can be resolved quickly.
4. Give you written instructions on feeding, training, care, and grooming. You will receive a copy of the puppy’s vaccine and health records. The breeder should provide you with information and resources about your puppies breed.
5. Show you proof that the sire and dam of your puppy have been x-rayed clear of hip dysplasia, preferably with an OFA certification number.
6. Make it clear to you that they will be available to you after you leave with your new puppy. Many dedicated breeders will ask that the dog be returned to them or placed with new owners who meet with their approval if you are unable to continue ownership.
7. Want to know what kind of dogs you have had in the past and what happened to them.
8. Ask questions of you. They will make you aware of the negatives of owning a dog as well as the positives.
9. Will have a clean environment, well socialized puppies and a dam with a good temperament—happy and self-assured.
10. May be hesitant to sell you a puppy until they know more about you. Will not pressure you into deciding immediately, and encourage you to see other litters before making your final decision.
11. Provide you with a contract and/or conditions of sale.
12. Require spaying or neutering of pet quality puppies. Breeders spend a lot of time and effort planning breeding programs designed to improve the breed. They selectively carry on their programs with the best quality available. Pet quality puppies should be loved and enjoyed as pets. Reputable breeders do not want their dogs being used to just ‘make puppies,’ or have their bloodlines end up in a puppy mill. Therefore, they will require your puppy to be spayed or neutered before being registered with AKC.
If your breeder meets the above criteria you are in good hands. If you have a negative response to any of the above, think twice. Do not be impulsive and ask questions. Keep in mind you will pay for quality, whether you get it—is up to you. Select your puppy’s breeder carefully!
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1. Do your homework. Be sure that a German Shepherd Dog is the right breed for you. Go to dog shows, talk to breeders, read as many books and magazines as you can on the German Shepherds and dogs in general.
2. Buy from a reputable breeder. You should see the dam (mother) of the puppies. If possible view the sire (father) of the litter. Many times, however, this is not possible as breeders often select stud dogs based on what best compliments their female, and that may mean breeding to a dog 3,000 miles away.
3. Reputable breeders breed quality animals that are free of health problems. Ask about health clearances. The sire and dam of the puppies you are considering should have OFA certified hips and elbows. If you do not see the actual certificates get the OFA numbers and verify them either by calling the OFA directly 1-800-442-0418 or checking their web site: offa.org, you will need the dogs registered name to do this.
4. Never take home a puppy before eight weeks of age. Do not consider getting a dog from a breeder who will let a puppy go that young. It is extremely important that the puppy stay with its litter mates and its mother to help learn desirable behavior and develop socialization skills.
5. Look for a clean, bright-eyed puppy, one that comes to you readily without shying away. Look carefully at the puppies surroundings; are they clean? Is the puppy exposed regularly to different people, situations, and environments. This “socializing” is very important and must be continued throughout the dog’s life.
6. You should receive a three or four generation pedigree, health records, and a written contract. Have your puppy examined by a DVM shortly after you bring him/her home, preferably within a week. If anything is seriously wrong you should be given a full refund or another puppy.
7. If you want a show dog, expect to pay accordingly. Some breeders say they can pick a show dog at 8 weeks, but often that is a show potential puppy. When selecting an animal for show the older the better.
8. Do not buy the first cute puppy you see. Look at more than one litter from different breeders. Make sure the parents have acceptable temperament and are the “type” of German Shepherd you are looking for.
9. Know why you are buying your German Shepherd. Is it for showing, companionship, etc.
10. Never buy a puppy as a gift for an unsuspecting friend. A dog is a serious commitment. All family members need to be in agreement as to the actual purchase, breed and dog care responsibilities.
—Prepared by the German Shepherd Dog Club of Minneapolis-St. Paul
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What is a pedigree? Simply stated a pedigree is the lineage of a particular animal, it is a “family tree.”
Pedigrees can either give you a lot of information or very little. It depends on the knowledge of the person looking at the pedigree and the pedigree itself. A basic pedigree is a record of a dog’s lineage, which includes the names of consecutive generations of sires and dams and their respective titles and health certifications. This is the basic form from which breeders work from. Much more complex pedigrees are often used by scientists (researchers, geneticist, etc.). These more complex pedigrees are used to track genetic traits (good or bad) often including all progeny within a pedigree. These pedigrees become massive and complex.
The pedigrees you will examine will be limited to names of direct descendants, titles, and health certifications. Getting the most from a pedigree comes only with experience and knowledge of the dogs and the dogs related to the ones listed on a particular pedigree. At that point a pedigree is like looking at a book which is loaded with information. It tells you a story about the genetic makeup of that pedigree; limited to the personal knowledge you have of the dogs in this pedigree. Sounds rather covert doesn’t it? Not really, it is all a matter of interpretation, knowledge, and that elusive combination of science and art. I don’t know if science will ever fully replace the “art” of breeding. I doubt it. There are many subtleties to the art of breeding, and many of them are too intangible to quantify by science. One of the most promising scientific tools on the horizon is the promise of DNA analysis which hopefully will be able to tell us all the positives and negatives carried in the genes of an individual dog.
In your quest of knowledge you must start somewhere, and the first place to start is with the basics. Let’s begin!
A pedigree is read left to right, but instead of starting at the top like you would normally do when reading, you start at the far left center and branch out from there. The name that appears farthest to the left is generally the name of the dog whose pedigree you are looking at. Sometimes there may be two names that are foremost to the left. In this case, these are the sire and dam of the animal (or litter) whose pedigree you are looking at.
This is a simple pedigree of “Champion Rebel Without A Cause,” his sire is “Champion Rebel,” his dam is “Lost Cause ROM.”
CH Rebel CD
CH Rebel Without A Cause OFA
Lost Cause ROM
The sire is always listed above the name of the progeny, therefore the dam is always listed below the progeny’s name. From this short pedigree above we know that “Rebel Without A Cause” is a champion and OFA certified. From this pedigree we can not tell “what” is OFA (Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals) certified. It could be his hips, elbows, cardiac, thyroid, patellas, and many other things that are certified by the OFA. Generally, when all it says is OFA, I assume that it is an OFA certification on the dog’s hips.
Let’s expand the above pedigree:
Duke von dadogue CDX
CH Rebel CD
Sheba of Belle
CH Rebel Without A Cause OFA
CH Many Causes OFA GS-10 Good, OFA EL-12
Lost Cause ROM
Can CH Happy Girl CERF
We now see the grand sires and the grand dams of Champion Rebel Without A Cause OFA. We now have information on three generations. We can see that in three generations there are three AKC champions and one CKC (Canadian) champion. Two of the dogs have performance titles – a CD and a CDX (companion dog and a companion dog excellent – both obedience titles). We also can see that in three generations we only have two dogs with OFA certification. One is not clearly marked as to what is OFA certified and the other is clearly marked. Champion Many Causes is OFA certified hips with a “good” rating and this OFA number is included, enabling anyone who desires to verify this information. Also OFA certified elbows, again with the OFA number for verification. We have one other health certification on this pedigree, that of Canadian Champion Happy Girl. According to this she has received a CERF certification.
Some of these dogs are not titled because their owners did not put the time and effort into the animals to earn some breed or obedience titles; or was it because the dog couldn’t cut it in either the breed or the performance rings? Or was because the dog died an untimely death, and if so, why?
Some of these dogs have health clearance certifications and others do not. Why? Because they couldn’t pass the health tests? Because the owners never did the testing? In my opinion, it is ridiculous to spend the time and money to do health checks and then not follow them up by certifying the results with an outside certification registry such as OFA (Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals). The fee to complete this last step is minimum in comparison to the expenses already incurred. The certification process gives credibility to the health claims asserted by breeders. A dog with a OFA number on its hips and a dog whose owner says the dogs hips are good are two very different realities.
OFA certification establishes a permanent record as to the health status for that particular dog for the health item being certified. This is very important as each breeder is merely a guardian of the breed and work with that past breeders have developed. The more information that is available to all the better for the breeders of the here and now and in the future.
Hopefully, you can now look at a pedigree, gather information, and start asking some informed questions. In the world of dogs, you are always learning.
[toggle title=”Acronyms, Commands and Terms for the German Shepherd Dog” variation = “red”]
Listing of commonly used acronyms, commands and terms: Click here for PDF
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The best tool for breeders in the fight against canine hip dysplasia (CHD), to come along in years, is the SV’s HD Zuchtwert, or Breed value assessment number (HD ZW). The HD ZW number is an estimation of the probability that a dog will produce progeny with CHD.
The HD ZW value factors in many variables in the calculation, but is based mostly on the hip status of a dog’s progeny. This is the critical factor in the usefulness of the HD ZW. The dog’s own hip status is only one of several important variables in the equation, not the sole determinant. This is because it is possible for a dog with excellent hip status to produce a majority of progeny with CHD. And conversely, a dog with Fair hip status can produce a majority of progeny with excellent hip status. Without factoring in this critical look at the dog’s Genotype (what his genes pass on to progeny) in addition to his Phenotype, (what his actual hip status is) real progress cannot be made in reducing the incidence of CHD.
So how does it work? Each dog registered with the SV is assigned an HD ZW number at birth, based on its Parents HD ZW numbers. After a dog is x-rayed, its own hip status is factored into his HD ZW. Upon producing progeny of his own, the results of the progeny’s x-rays are then factored into the parents HD ZW numbers. The HD ZW number is not a static value. It fluctuates depending on what the dog produces! This is what is important: A dog’s Genotype; what the dog produces. Not his Phenotype; what his actual hip status is.
An HD ZW value of 100 has been set as the breed average. HD ZW values LESS than 100 mean the dog produces fewer progeny with CHD than the breed average. A number greater than 100 means a dog produces CHD more often than the breed average. So HD ZW values less than 100 are desirable. HOWEVER, the focus must still be on the Total Dog. Breeding decisions need to include much more than only a dog’s HD ZW! Working ability and Temperament are most important!
To allow for this, the SV requires that the calculated HD ZW for progeny of a desired mating be 100 or less. So a bitch with an HD ZW of 80 can be bred to a male with an HD ZW number as high as 120! The pups of a breeding like this would be assigned HD ZW values of 100 at birth. So HD ZW values Less than 100 are not just desirable, they offer greater options in breeding partners. Additionally, stud dog owners can prove their dog’s prepotency by accepting breedings to bitches with high HD ZW values.
For breeders in the US, you must register your dog with the SV or USA/SV, and have the dog’s x-ray evaluated by the SV for ‘a’ stamp. This also settles the PennHIP vs. OFA vs. ‘a’ stamp question. The diagnostic method to determine a dog’s hip status is not relevant. The most relevant data comes from a dog’s actual production, “Do his progeny have CHD or not?”
There are several sources to obtain data on an individual dog’s HD ZW value. The SV website has a search engine which allows entering a dog’s SV registration number, or parts of the dog’s name, to obtain the HD ZW. This site maps that feature in the “HD-ZW Search.” You can also buy the data on CD from the SV as a one-time purchase, or as a subscription updated quarterly.
This tool is a must have for every serious breeder! And now, every puppy buyer can have additional, useful information, regarding the potential for a puppy to develop CHD.
Change in the reference basis (numerical calculation) of the HD Breed Value Assessment
On 5 February 2000, representatives of the WUSV and the responsible HD evaluation officials met in Viernheim to consult over possibilities for a common Breed Value Assessment. Since various nations’ issue official HD classes based (grounded) on differing claims, a standard needed to be devised to guarantee the comparison through controlled interpretation/evaluation/analysis and technical measurements of the x-ray film. For that purpose, the SV measured about 900 films. In conjunction with this international standardization, the SV found it necessary (they changed from using) to no longer set the the BREED Average (Cross-section of the Breed = starting figure of 100) as the reference basis, but instead to select a constant figure (measure) as the reference point.
On 8 April 2000, the Breed Advisory expressed the recommendation to set the expected heritability of a dog with the HD hip rating of ‘fast normal’ (ALMOST normal, as described by the SV rating standard) as the new reference basis. This recommendation was accepted at the National convention in Koblenz on 20-21 May. In establishing the standard, the data particulars of a fictional animal with unknown father and unknown mother was used so as to avoid any hip rating influence of related animals. German Shepherd Dogs which produce (pass on) to a standard equivalent to that, receive the numerical hip rating valuation of 100.
The Breeding Plan of the SV is reworded in §2 accordingly.
The committees were of one opinion that, in setting restrictions on the permissible pairings, no adjustments are necessary at the present…..breeders will be responsible for, and relied upon to, supply the appropriate information to other breeders.
The Breed Value Assessment itself has not changed. The HD (Breed) values are calculated as before, apart from the fact that new data will be updated quarterly. In a second step, the existing heritability numbers will be converted into a relative calculation whereby the BREED average (cross-section of the Breed = 1.70) will no longer be used, but rather the heritability factor of the ?fictional’ GSD with ‘fast normal’ hips (2.0) will be set as the reference point (=100). SV_HD Zuchtwert Ratings Website
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