Varieties Within the Breed:
In accordance with the GSD breed standard written by the SV, the German Shepherd can have fluctuations in structure to a certain extent. Seemingly, the most evident changing characteristic is color. Any change outside the stipulations of the standard of breed is disqualifying.
Long coated German Shepherds for example, are mentioned in the standard, but do not fulfill the ideal described in it; so, although long coated German Shepherds are German Shepherd dogs, they are not acceptable representatives of the breed. Although a long coat is considered a disqualifying fault, there are breeders in the US and Canada mainly, that still breed them. Certain breeders are committed solely to breeding long coated German Shepherds.
There also exist different types within the breed. They can be divided in two categories. One category includes dogs with physical attributes that embody the expected function of the dog and dogs that have physical characteristics which expose where they are originally from.
>>> In the first category, I'm talking about the evident distinctions between Show Lines or High Lines, and Working Lines. The physical structure of German Shepherd dogs from Show Bloodlines closely approximates the goal delineated in the breed standard, and GSDs of Working Bloodlines are bred emphasizing their inclination for the job more than their physical characteristics.
>>> In the second category, I'm talking about the different types that look different depending on where they come from. A few examples of these dogs are west and east German, Czech and British. All these German Shepherds have types which are typical of their place of origin, but they all abide by the German Shepherd dog breed standard.
New Breeds Developed from the German Shepherd:
We also have the White German Shepherd (known as the American White Shepherd) which being white is not accepted under the standard of the breed and is not bred in Germany. Nonetheless, in the USA there are breeders who are devoted exclusively to breeding them. Because of this, they have evolved individually; so that they don't share some of the characteristics of the German Shepherd dog breed any more.
There are other breeds, including wolfdogs, which have been conceived using the German Shepherd dog as their base. A few of them are the Shiloh Shepherd, King Shepherd, American Tundra Shepherd and Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.
The German Shepherd Dog Breed- Tattoos
It is a fact that German Shepherds born in the United States on or after January 1st 2005 must be tattooed or they must have a microchip identification. Normally the tattoo goes in the right ear.
These tattoos should be at least five numbers or 5 letters; or a combination of numbers and letters. They may be a unique tattoo number chosen by the owner, or the breeder may obtain a seven digit tattoo from the American organizations. The tattoo has to be verified by a licensed veterinarian. Another important point is that the tattoo or microchip number has to be certified on the original four generation pedigree.
The main reason for this is to record a permanent identification of all GSDs born in the USA.
In most countries in the world, with the exception of the United States and very few other countries, national registries obey the rules that the Fédération Cynologique Internationale sets. The FCI is a world canine organization which is dedicated to promote and preserve purebred dogs. It also links all dog clubs around the world with the intention of having uniform breed standards.
The Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde, or the German Shepherd Dog Club in Germany, also called the SV, is the parent club of the German Shepherd dog breed and it is also the most extensive and most diligent club dedicated to a specific breed in the world. The SV is an active member of the World Union of SV's, also known as the WUSV. The WUSV in is a member of the FCI.
The main function of the WUSV is to serve as a link to the SV (in Germany) and to connect German Shepherd clubs worldwide to the Fédération Cynologique Internationale.
The American Kennel Club doesn't follow the rules set by the FCI. Because of this, the United Schutzhund Clubs of America, known as the USA, is the main social organization in the United States dedicated to the protection and preservation of the German Shepherd dog breed.
The USA, being a member of the WUSV, has established itself as the only German Shepherd breed registry in the United States that abides by the international rules of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale and promotes an SV-USA registry. The United Schutzhund Clubs of America demands that all German Shepherd dogs be tattooed between the age of six and eight weeks.
I believe if a German Shepherd is only registered in the American Kennel Club, it probably doesn't require a tattoo. However, as I have mentioned in other articles, GSDs which are not registered in a national registry that obeys the rules of the FCI have probably not been bred in accordance to the breed's standard dictated by the SV.
Because of this, it is my belief that German Shepherds of American lines shouldn't really be called German Shepherds.
The main reason why the German Shepherd dog breed is one of the most popular breeds in the world still, after more than one hundred years, is because of these Clubs and their rules. These rules ensure that all German Shepherds are bred according to the standard of the breed.
The German Shepherd Dog Breed- Difference between German Lines and American Lines
The first German Shepherd registry was developed in 1899. Captain von Stephanitz was the president of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (an association engaged in cultivating the breed).
He created the first standard of the breed for the German Shepherd dog. In the standard he stresses the importance of the utility and intelligence of this breed. His and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale's (SV's) objective was to form a dog with a structure and working ability that was consistent as well as a dog that was high performance.
The German Shepherd dog was conceived as a herding dog. Herding dogs must trot on and off, for extended periods of time. This dogs must have considerable endurance, movement, vitality and fortitude.
Another important component of the German Shepherd dog breed is its character.
The German Shepherd dog breed standard specifies that a German Shepherd must be courageous, confident, alert, watchful, trainable, loyal and incorruptible. It must also be courageous, have fighting drive and hardness. All these characteristics make it appropriate to be a remarkable working dog, an exceptional guard dog, a preferred protection dog, a perfect companion and a superb herding dog.
In Germany the SV, a regulating entity that controls its breeding, has explicit requirements that have to be followed. Anyone can examine the hip ratings, show titles and working titles on these dogs for generations. In the USA, the American Kennel Club has no control and does not have a rigid standard.
There are a lot of differences in structure and temperament between the German Shepherd and the American Shepherd. I will talk about some of these so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.
There are a few differences anybody can notice at first site. Size is the most visible. German Shepherds of German lines are normally a little larger than German Shepherds of American lines. The color is another one. German Shepherds bred in Germany are normally darker in color than German Shepherds bred in America.
There is a difference that is the most obvious and important; it is stance. German Shepherds of German lines have a more horizontal back. On the other hand, American style German Shepherds have a back that has a downward angle which starts at the head and ends at the base of the tail. Their hip joints are also very sharply angled. This makes the German Shepherds bred in America seem longer and totally different from German Shepherds of German lines.
These characteristics also give the American German Shepherd the flowing gait so appreciated in the American show ring. Some people think this looks good, but this is not about taste; it is more a matter of health. This stance is not normal in the German Shepherd Dog and it increments the probability of developing hip dysplasia. German lines have a lower chance of having hip problems, mostly due to the breeding requirements by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale.
One of the most important traits in the German Shepherd dog breed is temperament. The GSD is a great overall dog, it has good temperament, it is a great family dog and it is a very social and protective dog. American show breeders have been breeding for extreme angulation and the effect is that German Shepherds of American lines have lost their working ability, their drive, their temperament and their nerves.
In America and actually all over the world, extreme beauty wins dog shows. The fact that this dog has been bred for beauty and extremes in America, has made this dog what it is now. American German Shepherds are not being bred for their intended authentic purpose, which was to be working dogs.
They are being bred to win dog shows. I think it is senseless to breed a dog only to show him on a conformation ring. The German Shepherd dog breed is one of the most versatile dog breeds to ever exist, but in order to keep that, it has to be bred for its intended purpose.
The German Shepherd Dog- German Lines or American Lines - Which are better?
The German Shepherd dog breed which was brought into existence over 100 years ago, has changed immensely since then. These breed has gone in separate directions in Germany and America.
Now, German Shepherds bred in Germany have a completely different look and a different temperament from those bred in America. Different breeders have different preferences as to which they prefer; German lines, or American lines. Because of the contrasting points of view in this matter I intend to share some information today, so that you can decide which side to be on.
First allow me to explain how the many dog breeds and dog associations are organized. If you are trying to understand the German Shepherd dog breed, this is an important point; as you will understand later.
There is an organization called the FCI or the "Fédération Cynologique Internationale", based in Belgium. This world canine organization was constituted on May 22nd 1911 and its main mission is to advocate and preserve purebred dogs around the world.
The main activity of the FCI is to link all the dog clubs around the world in order to have consistent breed standards. Even more; it insures that all the pedigrees and the judges are recognized by all FCI members bilaterally.
The organization has 84 members, one of each country. They all issue their own pedigrees and train their judges. These are national registries, but there are some that are international. All over the world, national clubs are members or partners of the "Fédération Cynologique Internationale". The only important exceptions are the United States, England and Canada.
The FCI has 10 groups which encompass the different breeds:
1st Group ; Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (with the exception of Swiss Cattle Dogs)
2nd Group ; Pinschers and Schnauzers - Molossoids - Swiss Mountain Dogs, Swiss Cattle Dogs
3rd Group ; Terriers (large and medium)
4th Group ; Dachshunds
5th Group ; Spitz and Primitive Types
6th Group ; Scent hounds and Related Breeds
7th Group ; Pointing Dogs
8th Group ; Retrievers - Flushing Dogs - Water Dogs
9th Group ; Companion and Toy Dogs
10th Group ; Sight hounds
The German Shepherd dog breed is part of the herding group.
There is also an independent organization; a breed-specific registry club which is not a national registry. It is known as the SV or Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (the German Shepherd Dog Club in Germany).
This is the breed's parent club. It is the most extensive and active breed specific club in the whole world. The SV has two main activities. It is a breed specific registry and it sponsors sporting and training events, thus influencing the breeding of working dogs.
There is also a third club, the World Union of SV's or the WUSV. The WUSV was founded in 1974. This club is a member of the FCI. It is a link club, which brings the more than sixty GSD clubs throughout the world together and it serves as a link to the SV in and also connects them to the FCI.
There are other clubs, like the American Kennel Club or AKC which are not members of the FCI and don't comply with its conformation standards.
The "Fédération Cynologique Internationale" recognizes the standard of the breed of the country of origin. For this reason, the conformation standard adopted by the FCI is that of the SV. Thus, any German Shepherd dog not registered in a national registry that follows the rules of the FCI has undoubtedly not been bred according to the standard of the breed.
The American "German Shepherd" is not admitted by the FCI as a real German Shepherd dog. This is controversy is so important that it's necessary to use a little time to explain how the argument started.
By the beginning of World War II, German Shepherd dogs in the States were exact to German Shepherds in Germany. An example that exemplifies this is a dog by the name of Pfeffer von Bern.
This was the last German Shepherd (which had an important impact in the advancement of the GSD in the United States) to be imported to America before the war started, Pfeffer won the American Grand Champion title in 1937 and was taken back to Germany the same year and won the Sieger; later came back to America and became American Grand Champion, again in 1938.
He was also the first dog to ever be awarded a Register Of Merit or ROM. This is a title which is based on accumulative credits awarded to the animal's progeny. The intent is to recognize outstanding studs. Pfeffer von Bern's bloodline dominated the breeding of German Shepherd dogs in America, during the 1940's.
During World War II there was great hostility between America and Germany, so the Americans isolated their breeding from that of Germany. There was excessive line breeding and inbreeding and American "German Shepherds" began displaying characteristics of their own.
By the end of World War II there were a few American breeders who realized they needed to go back to the original German Shepherd and they imported a large number of German Shepherds.
Nevertheless, there was already a new trend in place. Judges and breeders in America had started to cherish their own style of "German Shepherd". This type was more refined and had much more angulated hindquarters which was a necessity due to its distinct gate.
The last imported German Shepherd to be American Grand Champion was Arno von der Kurpfalzhalle, in 1969. From that day on, the American "German Shepherd" evolved on its own and nowadays no German Shepherd imported from Germany would stand a chance at any dog show in America. The American "German Shepherd" is now mostly an object of beauty.
Many aspects of this dog's characteristics, like its utility and its great temperament and good health have been sacrificed for its "floating trot". In this days, there is really no likeness between the American version and German version except for the sharing the name.