The legacy of Herr Herman Martin - was it for the better or worse for the GSD - Page 1

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by Mackenzie on 19 December 2014 - 16:12

The legacy of Hermann Martin - Is it better or worse for the breed

The influence of Herr Herman Martin over the German Shepherd breed spanned many years. First as Bundeszuchtwart and later as President of the SV. As Bundeszuchtwart his influence was with the females and then later as President (1982 - 1994) it was with the males. It was from the latter term that his influence was the greatest.

To fully understand what we have today we have to go back to yesteryear to discover the way forward today.

One of the first moves he decided upon was that the four family system should go with the Marko v Cellerland family being the first. Also, there should be, as far as the show dogs were concerned, no grey dogs, no blacks and no bi-colour. All of these colours were acceptable in the breed standard. We then saw that very rapidly the colour of the animals changed to the black and red colour that is so predominant in today’s show dogs. The only way to make such a change so quickly is to have a period of very close inbreeding. How close we can only wonder about because during this period not all the pedigrees were correct. Inbreeding in this way is all very well providing that no other changes take place in achieving the reason for the inbreed, however, as we know such close inbreeding also stamps in the faults of the breed resulting in changes that are undesirable and detrimental.

We now see that dogs are too big, too heavy and deep in the brisket. Too much rear angulation is present in many, many dogs with the result that unsoundness has arisen to a detrimental degree and is definitely not desirable in a working dog. The characters of the dogs now is not as strong as they were when Hermann Martin took over the males. The willingness to work is diminishing and I think that this is evident in so many of today’s top dogs.

In time the breed bottleneck was channeled through Zamb v d Wienerau and Jeck v Noricum both of whom are sons of Odin v Tannenmeise who was by Quando v Arminius. It is also widely thought that Quando was mated to his litter sister Quana to produce Cello v Romerau, a widely used Sire and, not the sire on Cello’s pedigree. It is also widely thought that there are doubts about Fedor v Arminius’s breeding is not as shown on the pedigree. With the inbreed on these males the question is “how on earth is a breeder able to evaluate his breeding programme” when he was unaware of the true situation within the breed led by Hermann Martin.

We are also seeing more and more big health issues resulting from the inbreed in recent years. These are problems arising which will require a continual chain of testing and certification.

One thing that Herr Martin did do was to raise the profile of the German Shepherd. The Sieger shows were always in a Stadium used by the top football clubs in Germany. Entries and spectators numbers grew year on year and with it came the money men only interested in the type of dog that could easily be sold. Fashion dogs were becoming the order of the day. Fashion is normally a short term thing, however, clearing up the mess left behind is not.



by susie on 19 December 2014 - 17:12

Better ? Worse ?
You are able to find a page with BSZS results on this board ( thank you PDB ) - take a look at the VA dogs ( 1982 - 94 judged by Hermann Martin ) - a lot of different dogs out of different ancestors ( and I´m talking about the VAs only ).
The change of the German Shepherd dog was not created by Hermann Martin ( the change of type started earlier, during the presidentship of Mr. Rummel in the seventies ), this change was created by the breeders using the same studs over and over again.
There were famous dogs during all decades, but the "new" German Shepherd was able to mobilize the masses, everybody on the world wanted to own such a dog. Buyers didn´t ask for working ability any more ( and during the seventies there were A LOT OF DOGS WITH SHIT TEMPERAMENT ), but for color and angulations.
EVERYBODY tried to jump on this bandwagon, globalization made shipping dogs more and more available...

His influence?
During his aera the SV was led like a multinational company for the first time on a professional basis, the amount of members within Germany grew up tremendously ( 100.000), groups of successful breeders formed and made a lot of money, including himself.
He was smart, he was the perfect salesman, he started "marketing campaigns" throughout the world ( historically the "normal" German Shepherd owner/handler/breeder was a "normal" worker, neither rich nor smart, never made much money with his dogs ). Now times changed - we had the know-how, we had the clubs, and Mr Martin ( and some others ) were able to convince the world that everybody was in need of a German Shepherd dog.

I grew up during this time ( end of Rummel aera, the rising star of Hermann Martin ) - nobody was forced to follow him, nobody was forced to use the same studs over and over again - we liked this new kind of dog, and we liked the chance to make money.

by Doghotch on 19 December 2014 - 17:12

We can all be wiser in hindsight. It is true the comments you make regarding the mentioned males and different males as sires and anyone with contact with any German Breeder would also have got the information.  BUT what we need to know was why were they covered up in the first place!  It wasn't the President only that had this information, what did the breeding committee do about it at the time?.  Why wasn' it published that an error had been made?.  It was when we found out about Leif v Norriswand !!!

The whole SV were to blame, true the buck stops with the President, but others should take the blame for where we are today.  We have now the WUSV, why were these things NOT discussed or mentioned at the meeting at the end of the Sieger Show?.  With honesty and integritry we would not be in the sistuation we are today.  Good article John - food for thought.  In conclusion I would say - Worse for the breed



by susie on 19 December 2014 - 17:12

The DNA test was "invented" in 1984. in Germany the first official ( human) DNA test was made in 1988, dogs ------way later....
You can´t blame something you can´t proof. Sorry
As soon as DNA tests were affordable SV started to use them.
It´s like bad guy ( owner, breeder, handler, trainer ) / good guy ( institution SV ) - the bad guy is cheating, the good guy tries to catch him, making rules after rules.

by Mackenzie on 19 December 2014 - 17:12

Susie you seemed to overlook the fact that the gene pool was more open under Chris Rummel and the fact that Hermann Martin had control over the females for many years as the Bundeszuchwart. This is where the foundations were laid for the time when Herr Martin became President. Also under Chris Rummel the inbreed was not allowed to be as close as we have seen in the years of Herr Martin’s control over the males.

There has always been famous dogs in different eras, however, not all of these dogs were the greatest producers. You are quite right in saying that there were bad temperaments in the past and there will be so in the future. Whether a dog is bought to work, or, not is not the point unless it is just to make money for someone. Obviously breeders have to be a bit commercial but there is also a responsibility upon them which is to breed to the breed standard and maintain the admiration for the fact that the GSD is a multi function animal. Also an attractive colour does not make a dog outstanding it only makes it stand out.

Historically in Germany the breeders were normal working people and some of these people are still around and doing the right thing.

As for your comment that “nobody was forced to follow him” then woe betide you if you did not.




by Mackenzie on 19 December 2014 - 18:12

Dog hotch is quite right in his comments.   What I cannot understand is why there was no opposition to what Herr Martin was doing from the senior Judges and Koermeisters of the day.   Some of them, if not all, had to know.

If the breed is to go forward then we have to understand the things that happened in the past and take steps to ensure that it does not happen again.



by susie on 19 December 2014 - 19:12

"As for your comment that “nobody was forced to follow him” then woe betide you if you did not. "
Sorry, but I don´t understand this sentence ? Please, once more in easier words for me....

I  only tried to tell you, what people felt during that time. It was impressing for all of us, it was new, and it was successful.
Successful for the breed? NO ! But during that time almost nobody thought about the consequences.
We lived the dream of success and allowance.
Does this make sense?


by Xeph on 20 December 2014 - 02:12

"then woe betide you if you did not. ""

This is an english phrase that basically means "You are totally screwed if you don't do what I say.  I will make life hell for you."

by joanro on 20 December 2014 - 03:12

In even easier're in deep doodoo if you don't do as told.
Yes, Susie, that makes for the moment without thought of consequences. Same thing that happens when people take from nature without thinking of the damage done.


by susie on 20 December 2014 - 08:12

"'re in deep doodoo if you don't do as told."
"You are totally screwed if you don't do what I say.  I will make life hell for you."
Thank you Xeph and Joanro, now I understand Red Smile....
but the statement of this is not correct.
Nobody was sanctioned, nobody was suppressed, nobody lost money he didn´t have before....
People WANTED to be part of the game.

The "change" didn´t start with the Martin brothers, but after the 2. worldwar, when people all over the world admired the "German" Shepherd dog.
The market changed - German Shepherds, formerly only used by police, military, and in sport clubs, now slowly but surely became trendy pets for people who didn´t train their dogs, but were interested in the "look" of their pet.
The USA became famous in breeding German Shepherd dog pets Sad Smile, we "tried our best", but thankfully over here we had to title our dogs prior to breeding ( that´s the only reason why our dogs are not THAT bad...our rules became stricter and stricter - an attempt to maintain the temperament of the breed ). Eastern Europe was different, people over there weren´t interested in "pets" that much ( no money, different cultural background ) - but during the last 25 years even they learned fast.....Thumbs Down

Below is shown Rolf Osnabrücker Land, born in 1947, this was the "type" of dog people wanted to own...

VA1 Rolf vom Osnabrücker Land

and the BREEDERS started breeding dogs of this kind.

Canto Wienerau was born in1968   President Funk
Quanto Wienerau 1967                   President Funk
Canto Arminius 1972                       President Rummel
Quanto Arminius 1976                     President Rummel

The "change" was a process, this process is going on for more than 60 years now, the Martin brothers have been an important part of this, but they didn´t re-invent the wheel, they just were successful breeders/salesmen/marketingmen breeding FOR the (inter)national market.



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