German Shepherd Dog > Hock walker? (326 replies)
by Ibrahim on 02 June 2012 - 20:20
This angle suggests how well the hind leg will reach forward or follow through
behind. Steepness of pelvis is responsible for many German Shepherds exhibiting a
twisting motion in the stifle and hock joints that shows as "Cow Hocks".
With the coming of video studies and their slow motion modes another problem is
surfacing. Extreme over-angled dogs of America who cannot straighten their hind legs as
they drive forward have no choice but to drag the ground with the tops of their hind feet
as they bring the hind leg forward, after the drive. Part of this phenomena, is displayed by
a driving into a fixed
The dogs below show the problems of straightening
rear legs to get full drive. The near one has a steep
croup. Also notice the front leg angle, indicating lack
of shoulder layback.
angle at the knee; at the point of greatest
push and the forward movement of the leg.
This is associated with the above noted toe
curling and dragging the top of the foot.
Some contend that the extreme angulation
results from a disproportionate longer lower leg between the stifle and the hock joint. It is
not disputed at this time but know that by steepening the pelvis we are in effect,
lengthening the effect of the thighbone, and increasing angulation. The search should
now be on to find dogs that do fully straighten the bones of the femur and tibia fibula into
one unit at the point the dog pushes forward. This locks in the kneecap as an extra
stabilizer. A clue as to where to find the desired characteristics is to look for a long
properly angled pelvis. The follow through from the hock down will likely come along,
finishing close to the ground.
Now let's move forward with the push. As the drive is taken through the straight
column of bones of the rear into the firm level back, the push is forward without roll
sway or roach. There is some argument, that comes through the German authorities,
supporting the idea of less rear with the roached back allowing for greater forward reach
of the hind end. My slow motion studies of the German dogs indicate however that there
is a straightening of the topline at the point of final push, which also lessens the angle of
the pelvis allowing for a smoother and more definite follow through.
This action is in some way similar to that of the sight hounds such as th
by Ibrahim on 02 June 2012 - 20:21
in full gallop with a flexing topline. Recent pictures suggest the roach may be modifying,
in German dogs, even though most experts agree, a roach is strength.
The front is the receiver of the forward motion and supports the forward
propelling body each time a front foot touches the ground and levers the front onward.
Some Standard information on the German Shepherd breed called for more give in the
pasterns, supposedly to absorb the shock of landing. However, those working with
German Shepherds in extensive tracking, jumping, and other strenuous tasks, have found
the down or soft pasterned dog does not hold up. The dog that is more up, on good feet
and pasterns is more likely to withstand the rigors of the work they are expected to do.
The let down pastern is an American fashion development. It goes with flipping pasterns
and feet. A look back confirms it was not an original design.
Similarly, the better working dog usually has a better shoulder. The 45-degree
angle of shoulder is the proclaimed ideal. What are we talking about? Simply it is the
angle that the shoulder blade lays back on the body and is determined simply by placing
one finger on the point of the shoulder and running the other hand up the spine of the
blade to the top of the blade and looking at the angle created, off the perpendicular or
horizontal. The best would be the same.
A 45-degree angle is seldom seen. A simple geometric plastic protractor will
show just what 45 degrees is. The significance of the well laid back shoulder is shown in
the way the front moves. A dog with the blade angled off the perpendicular less than the
45 desired will proportionately land with the foreleg more vertically into the ground
causing greater stress. A let down pastern is an indication of loose ligamentation that
adds to the problem rather than cushion the landing. The angle of the foreleg when the
foot touches the ground is parallel to the angle of the extended imaginary line of the
shoulder blade. Consequently, the well laid back shoulder allows for a more gradual
angle and thus shock absorption as the foot touches the ground then proceeds to take the
weight of the dog. Look back to the dog pictured in full stride, two pages back, then look
at the dogs pictured on the next page. This is a study if you want to understand you have
to spend time studying pictures.
by Ibrahim on 02 June 2012 - 20:25
That is not all there is about the front. Seldom mentioned
is the significance of the upper arm in the degrees off the
vertical. The upper arm must also angle back at 45
The dog above reaches poorly in front, is soft
in the pasterns, lacks follow through behind
but reaches well under with hind legs. The one
to the side has no reach, short upper arm,
drives front leg into the ground, has no reach
or drive in the rear and with all this, it is
balanced and going nowhere. Note the lifting
The upper arm is more likely to have the desired angle than the shoulder blade but
it also must have length. It must have enough length to bring the foreleg it is attached to
directly under the upper tip of the blade. When the upper arm or humorous swings
forward it usually extends to a point slightly beyond the vertical in the best examples.
The length brings the elbow closer to the ground, which will make the angle of the
foreleg more horizontal as it reaches forward. Extension of the upper-arm beyond the
vertical indicates ligament looseness and does not take the weight as well. If the upper
arm balances the angle of the shoulder the foot will hit the ground, at the point of full
extension, in the best examples, in unison with the alternate rear foot.
The whole dog can still appear balanced, if both upper arm and blade are short
and not well angled, if not driven by a well angled or properly moving rear. If the upper
arm is shorter than the blade the angle will be less and at full extension the foot will be
above the ground and have to drop, an almost hackney wasted motion. If the upper arm is
long on a less angled laid back shoulder, the front foot reaches forward in an upward arc,
pawing the air before landing.
by Ibrahim on 02 June 2012 - 20:32
Note the pictured dog at full stride has both front and rear feet well off the
ground. Rear not quite extended at stifle, good back, good shoulder angle, but
suspect short upper arm. A three-stage gait, right legs down, left legs up.
The ideal front will contain flat muscles on
the outer side of the well laid back blade, The
upper arm will slope back at an identical angle
and the closer the two angles together
approximate 90 degrees the more efficient the
front will operate.
As the dog reaches forward, whether moving fast or slow, it will reach forward
close to the ground, place the foot on the ground at the point of full extension, then give
somewhat on a strong pastern, the angle of the foreleg will not be a steep angle and will
match that of the laid back shoulder. At a faster speed the upper arm and blade angle will
open as the arm swings forward and the blade swings back, the angle of the foreleg as the
foot hits the ground will be the same angle that the blade is laid back at that point. As the
front leg follows through, pasterns that flip right up behind the leg are an indication to
look for softness in landing. The ligamentation is weak. As with the rear, a smooth follow
through close to the ground is the ideal, but often missed. Look at the ideal dog picture.
This is the tie in of structure and movement. Some dogs will have less than
desired angles but may display an outstanding balance of movement. There are various
reasons why dogs do not move true but with the German Shepherd an over reach of the
rear is actually desired which makes the legs not usually move in a true one behind the
other line. However both hind legs on either side of both front legs is an indication
by joanro on 02 June 2012 - 20:34
|In response to above post by ibrahim.... The dog is not supposed to emulate it's prey, the rabbit, by traveling with it's ENTIRE foot( from hock to toes and pastern to toes) in contact with the ground. Instead, the dog is designed to travel on it's toes for maximum power and minimum impact on body.|
by Ibrahim on 02 June 2012 - 20:36
usually of too short proportions of body. Sound coming and going has not always been a
priority with American German Shepherd breeders but many years ago when
interviewing a German judge I was surprised when he placed such importance on this
feature. I have since come to believe he was right. I will continue the study of structure
and correlative characteristics in a future chapter, when this was first written in the early
‘80s I was working with a Pentax camera. Later I had better access to better and better
video cameras and the ability to slow the motion down. Then there followed progressive
computer capabilities as the study
continued. More pictures and analyses
will be included later in the book. To the
left is Ch Bihari’s Houdini. Joe Bihari
came from Hungary in the fifties, bred
dogs for working and along European
line, but eventually integrated with
American lines. The dog on the left is
symbolic of the balanced shepherds he bred; observe the great front.
A picture of a dog taken at full extension
with ideal front reach, but this dog is
unable to straighten at the stifle and
properly follow through. So front and rear
are not quite coordinated.
by Ibrahim on 02 June 2012 - 21:19
|Here's the link to the book " German Shepherd Dog History" by Gordon Garrett|
by Gustav on 02 June 2012 - 21:40
|At the end of the day the breeding of show people and sport people should be to enhance the dogs structural and temperamental working ability. Period.......The END result of what you are seeking in the show ring or sport field should be able to seamlessly transfer into the the real working world.....Period. If in the course of the pursuit of singular aspects of the breed, you lose other aspects that create a decline in working use, you are deluding yourself and the breed at the breed's peril. Its really very simple....this is the only way to ultimately measure the worth of what you are breeding. Sure, all pups won't become working dogs we understand that, but if the essence of your breeding does produce working dogs, then we should change the breed from a working dog to a "show dog" or sport dog.|
by SitasMom on 03 June 2012 - 14:36
|At the end of the day the breeding of show people and sport people should be to enhance the dogs structural and temperamental working ability. Period.......|
The END result of what
If in the course of the pursuit of singular aspects of the breed,
Its really very simple....this is the only way to ultimately measure the worth of what
Sure, all pups won't become working dogs we understand that, but if the essence of
Gustav - please define "working dog" and "real working world".
by SitasMom on 04 June 2012 - 00:03
After pm'ing with Gustav......he (falsely) believes that the only thing a GSD can do that is work is "police work".
by Red Sable on 04 June 2012 - 00:47
|I doubt if he said that.|
Police work definitely requires a dog of good conformation that can withstand rigorous work such as climbing high walls, speed, endurance etc.
by darylehret on 04 June 2012 - 01:08
|I've been told (I don't know) that this dog below would probably be awarded well in conformation. She can cover a lot of ground, smoooothly and really fast, and has the endurance (and desire) to tend flocks all day long. One thing she certainly doesn't do, is walk on her dang hocks!|
by Red Sable on 04 June 2012 - 01:12
|Wow, nice looking (shiny) pup! that has beautiful conformation IMHO.|
by darylehret on 04 June 2012 - 01:20
|Her four year pic, and 3&half month pic, just for comparison.|
She reminds me of the "V" rated Fenga vom Kirschental, who doesn't appear much of a "hock walker" herself.
by Gustav on 04 June 2012 - 01:37
|Sitasmom, I spelled out what I thought was working and it was more than police dogs .....now i can make the emails public to show this, but for what purpose. After seeing you write what you just did, I have no more dialogue for you and your supposedly set up questions. Fortunately, people who know me don't buy your garbage about me saying ONLY police dogs were working dogs.....integrity is something we should all have, take care!|
by SitasMom on 04 June 2012 - 02:45
|The FCI standard........which comes from the SV standard......|
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.
by Gustav on 04 June 2012 - 11:54
|When asked by Sitasmom did I consider police dogs only work....here was my response;|
Guide dogs do work, herding dogs do work, SAR dogs do work, there are plenty of dogs that do work besides police work.....but for breeding I differentiated that we must use dogs that possess the courage and nerve to be the things that are in the standard.Therefore, people who are breeding dogs that have the Golderetreiver temperament ONLY is faulty. The breed's legacy was made in many different fields but you can't get away from the strength of protection and fearlessness and courage. And some people today are breeding for Golden temperament....all of my dogs could be seeing eye dogs or therapy dogs or pets.....but they can do the protection piece well and that's the crux of the breed. They are not exclusive of each other except for these new "line" breeders that are breeding dogs for specialty purposes. The breed was never intended to be specialty but rather an all around great working dog capable of many task. That's not what people are focusing on today....they let their likes come before the standard
Compare this to what she says above........As far as I am concerned the character of some SL people is the same as their dogs.....not very reliable. As my mother would say....nothing is worse than a LIAR!
by crhuerta on 04 June 2012 - 13:20
|My 2 cents.....|
I have to come and post in favor of Gustav.
I AM a SL breeder.....and I believe what Cliff says is pretty much what "he" expects from ALL bloodlines, not just the SL enthusiasts.
Dogs that are capable of performing the multiple tasks set forth in the standard of the breed....not just excelling in one.
Understandably...not all puppies or litters are going to produce puppies that will be capable....but it should still be the goal of the breeder to do such.
Unless you actually breed or bred dogs that can and have been able to do so.....all you can do is post or parrot from someone else's knowledge and accomplishments....and it makes for a poor fight. *And it happens all over the forums, from everywhere.*
I have bred good dogs and some, less than I desired....but I can guarantee...that each litter we "consider" has the same goal in place.....
by SitasMom on 04 June 2012 - 13:37
|Gustav, by saying that every GSD must be able to be a police dog to be breedworthy you are missing much of the point. The way in which you wrote you pm shows that while trying to playcate people who train their dogs to do others things, you believe that the only real work is police work...........just how it sounded to me......|
If you notice, the breed standard listed "companion" first..... in documents like these, the order in which the words are listed important. A companion animal with balanced temperament and trainability....
He must possess instinctive behaviour, resilience and self-assurance in order to be suitable as a companion, guard, protection, service and herding dog.
Sorry if this sounds like a golden or a lab, but this is the first sentence that discribes the character of a good German Shepherd.....once again the order in which the statements in such a document is very important. Where we have a problem is to the degree we place on "strong nerves"....... "
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."
GSD's were selectivly bred for seeing eye dog and for herding.......this is nothing new. The dogs bred for these uses didn't have SchH titles, yet were used to develop special purpose dogs way back when the breed was young.
The use of GSD's for guard/protection was devised later in the history of breed when they needed patrol/guard dogs for the war. This is also when the breed standard changed.... Max realized that with time fewer and ferwer dogs would be needed for herding, and to save the breed changed how they were to be used. This is when they went from VA1 SGR, CH. (US) Klodo vom Boxberg to VA1 Volker vom Sonnenstein , dogs with much more stubtance. This is when SchH titles started to come into play......before this there were a several of different titles that were acceptable as far as prooving breed worthness.
As far as people looking at the very first GSD's and saying this is what they should be, I have to disagree, Max had much influence over his breed until around 1929, and one must look at the progression. From this VA Jörg von der Krone (fr. von Schwabisch-Gmund or Wolf) to SGR Hussan vom Haus Schütting .. though he was not there to see it win VA1, Max was still involved in the developement of the breed when this one was born and raised.....
One of the greatest promoters of new tasks was von Stephanitz. He claimed the new breed could do almost anything and there were trainers to do the training. They found the dogs adapted to all sorts of diversified jobs that no one would have expected a dog to be able to do. The SV developed tests and offered degrees (titles) to those dogs that passed the tests. These dogs were actually used in disciplines they were trained and tested for. The developed a sit of requirements for ambulance dog. When the passed the test, the were given the title SH. The did the same with police work and gave them a title PH. Possible this is why they got the popular name, for years as the German Shepherd were known as “police dogs.” For dogs actually working in police they brought out some tougher tests. And the passers of these were given the title PDH.
Some of these titles included SuchH (tracking), HGH (herding), MH (scout dogs), Zpr (companion), SchH (defence), BlH (blind guide dog)….
by Blitzen on 04 June 2012 - 15:00
|Personally I prefer GSD's that can title in both SV and AKC venues.|
This photo is all about bad timing when the shutter was pressed and lack of knowledge of the person who submitted the photo in the first place. Even the soundest, best moving GSD can look unsound if caught on film at the "wrong" time in the gait sequence. Why anyone would post a photo like this totally baffles me. I have to think it was a rank novice; I hope that a seasoned dog person would know better.