Potentially showing a GSD under FCI..... Questions! - Page 1

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by fullmoonwss on 26 August 2020 - 06:08

Hi everyone!
(First of all, i'd like to point out that I am quite a newbie to the breed and am still learning so please excuse me if any questions come off as 'ignorant'~ But I won't be able to learn without asking any questions and getting straight to the point! GSD's are so majestic and all around awesome dogs. But I do know some enthusiasts may have some strong opinions so pls be nice? ;-) )

So, I am interested in purchasing a GSD in the future with FCI papers. I am also a beginner in the show ring with one other dog (FCI).
I've looked at many kennels, and after a lot of reviewing I have found my personal preference* - I find myself more attracted to a lot of Polish kennels or a few Russian kennels for example (and a lot of the ones I found seem to note "DDR lines" or from Czech so there def must be a type that I am attracted to, and not just a coincidence.)
but that may just a minor detail that I noticed.)

Anyway, whether they are from those such lines or not, the GSD's I tend to be drawn to tend to have lots of coat, thick boned but not giant, and I've also noticed that all the dogs have a very SLIGHT slope on the back instead of the exaggerated sloping back such as, for example, the American show-line GSD.

I have looked at the *FCI* standard for the German Shepherd Dog.
Detailed yet still quite vague to me as I want to be FOR SURE so I wanted to hear from personal experience or knowledge from fellow owners...
**For those of you who know what I am talking about when I described the "type" of GSD I described above, Is it possible to be successful in the show ring? FCI.

The standard includes pictures of a stacked dog, and I know when you stack a dog in such a way, the back automatically becomes sloped so I can't tell how the dog looks like without this stack in the standard - but with the type of GSD's that I like, with basically a straight back, is it possible (maybe I shouldn't use the term possible as perhaps anything is "possible" i'm sure...) to be successful in the show ring is what I am asking...

Obviously I don't have a GSD right in front of me so I can't use it as an example to try stacking myself and compare it to the Standard hah, so thought it'd be best if I ask owners with dogs with a straight back first hand. :)

Even though it's such a simple question, Perhaps the main reason why I thought i'd ask since I was second guessing in the first place is because- I see very few Championship titles from a lot of parents these beautiful dogs online. They may have working titles but I noticed very few have FCI championship titles. Is it any more difficult to become a champion than any other breed? I didn't think so? Then what is the reason for sooo many of the dogs not having these titles? I started to believe it can't be a coincidence? Is it the conformation? back is less exaggerated? Personal preference?? Or are they simply not interested in the beauty title vs working title?!

Thanks for reading any guidance is appreciated... :)


Hired Dog

by Hired Dog on 26 August 2020 - 06:08

Hello, I am NOT in the show ring game, but, my wife is a long, die hard fan, breeder and exhibitor, not in the GSD breed though, so, here is what I have learned through the years of watching, listening and general observations around and about the show ring.
Its seasonal, that means that this year, a certain "flavor" of dogs will be the favorites and next year, a different "look" will be in.
I have learned that you need to avoid certain judges and chase others who like what your dogs look like.
In the GSD breed, I have learned, there are the die hard work enthusiasts and the show people and I have seen both camps collide, in here and other places all the time.
If you are interested in a show dog, do NOT buy one, instead go and observe as many dogs as you can in as many shows as you can. There is a gentleman in here, Rik, who was a long time show dog exhibitor, I believe his knowledge may benefit you and I hope he sees this post and responds. Learn as much as you can, study what works and what does not.
Figure out what judges are looking for and remember, different countries different wants...showing is expensive and tedious at a serious level, I know, I have traveled the USA in a car, going from show to show, with my wife, many, many times.
Good luck in your quest.


by Rik on 26 August 2020 - 07:08

hi fullmoon, I did show AKC and some SV. I'm not really sure what FCI shows consist of.

I guess if I were to offer advice it would be to start attending FCI shows and determine what type dog it takes to win, rather than trying to fit a dog into the situation. that would be the same for any type shows.

the last thing I would want to do is sink a lot of money into a dog and then always be at the back of the line. there is not much fun in that.



by Hundmutter on 26 August 2020 - 08:08

I'm fairly familiar with 'Showdogs' too, but am in the UK and we have our own show scene because we have 'the' oldest Kennel Club and Show-ring history, so although we are ( sort of !!! - still geographically  ;-) ) in Europe where the FCI is based, we do not have FCI managed Shows.

I can say however that there is much truth in what Hired Dog passes on in terms of his wife's generalised Showing experience. You do get fluctuating fashions of preferred breed type, whatever breed you show; you do get some judges who, by their winners and/or what they breed themselves, are known for particular preferences, so it pays to get to know who judges are and what they like, else it's a waste of time & money to enter under them. Although they almost all deny this, saying they are always totally objective. Yeah, right. Some are; but if you attend enough Shows and see their results, you learn for yourself who is really judging only to the Breed Standards and not demonstrating any sort of bias. OTOH if you have what they like and are looking for, you are more likely to be successful. This is universal, no matter which body runs the shows. So it isn't automatically only a 'bad thing'.

When you talk about the type of GSD which you are attracted to, the sort that 'fills your personal eye', it very much sounds as though you instinctively prefer what is generally more likely to be from the 'working line' side of the breed; rather than the International type currently in the majority throughout Germany and the rest of Europe (France, Italy etc), with the exception of the Low Countries - Belgium and Holland fanciers seem to lean more towards the W/L, Czech / DDR / Polish etc breeding kennels. [ But be careful that you are not just looking at colour ! If you surf around on PDB you will see a lot of sable dogs, but they will not all be either structurally or temperamentally of 'working type'. ]

As I am no expert in FCI showing, I'll just say that my impression is that the FCI is mainly concerned with the 'beauty' factor; aspects of the GSD which rely on the dog being totally correct in: not just the currently favoured  bodily structure, with the 'right' topline, but having all the right teeth in the right place, having the right length of tail, having a correct angle of the shoulder so it moves to maximum effect, having a clean underline, being the right height and length, usually flashier appearance, usually black & gold ... and so on.  This will be different to American AKC show rings, where mostly dogs conform more to the specifics of the AKC Standard, a slightly different version to that used by most of the rest of the world and the source of that 'ski slope' topline.

Get a book on the breed and study what the baselines are, know what the (FCI - based on the German SV) Breed Standard asks for. FCI countries in general seem to follow the lead of the country of origin, ie Germany, and shows are run on much the same lines and with the same expectations in the remainder of Europe as those in Germany. Although, if anything, with LESS emphasis on the sport/work competition aspect than the German shows. Which is why you get the disconnect between Show Awards and working Qualifications next to dogs' names.

SV - style shows in the USA seem to differ from the German originals in that they put more emphasis on the dogs' ability to work than do virtually all other sorts of Show;  the W/L community is strong in America.

Rik and others are right; the more time you can spend at Shows - and at Breed Training club(s) - looking and learning, the clearer all this will become. Good luck. Keep on asking your questions.

by fullmoonwss on 26 August 2020 - 10:08

@hireddog @Rik @Hundmutter

Thank you for all of the input and detailed information!! Def have a clearer insight.

As far as the show scene in regards to the fluctuating "trend" issue - Yes, it is something I have heard about and kept in the back of my mind... But hearing it again straight up in a GSD forum def validates it even more for me heh.

But one thing is for sure the general mood and style of AKC shows and FCI shows are quite different (different topic so won't get into that) which is why I was hoping to see some input from someone who has experienced with FCI in particular?

Yes, I believe I am attracted to the working type GSD commonly found in the countries mentioned above, but I especially love a fluffy plush coat on top of that. Typically found as all black or a variety of sable colors. (Although color is not my main priority)

Speaking of- Not sure how a sable or all black GSD will do in competition in this country as it's still quite uncommon to see here (S. Korea) and I don't know what to expect of the domestic judges' knowledge or preference (because of covid, can't fly in foreign, European judges).

So then again it all comes down to what you all have suggested - observe and attend FCI shows.

Though... I have yet to see a GSD at a FCI show in (S. Korea) (out of the 5 times I've attended). We have quite an impressive K. SV club however.... Anyway, I shall attend the club competitions and 'get the feel' of things... (From what I've observed so far through club's website- totally different GSD's - seeing a lot of the short coat/medium coat types, black and tan/red, very angulated topline type, and gait... the "internationally known German Shepherd Dog") ...but who knows really! Maybe they will like it. It'd be nice to introduce new types and lines here and get positive feedback all while at it...

All in all, It'd be nice to be able to compete and get good results (because why not?), but ultimately I won't put that above the fact that I want this type of dog... ;) It would be a plus if the dog is of show 'type', then why not try and prove your dog's worth if I have breeding goals, you know? As long as the judges follow the Official Standard and are unbiased, I feel as though there shouldn't be any huge issues IMO. but I won't beat myself up for it If not. I am interested in the working with the future dog as well.

Is it just me or does it seem like the GSD breed in particular have what it seems never-ending information that you can learn about compared to other breeds?! I feel like there are sooo many variations of this breed in particular which is also why there may be endless amount of information. Since there is so much information out there, it makes me even more passionate to figure out the breed. I have much to learn still...



by Hundmutter on 26 August 2020 - 14:08

Yeah it is partly because the GSD breed has 'split' so many ways that so much explanation has become necessary ! Take some other breeds for example: there are basically 2 sorts of Shar Pei. "Horse" coated on the one hand, I forget what the other version is called (oh ! 'Brush' coated, I think) - but arguments within the breed basically boil down to one preference or t'other, more or less end of story. Same for so many other breeds...

BUT in Shepherds, it's complicated; we now have:

WGWL or "Working Lines": (West) German Working specialist (often old-established herding) kennels. (Keep reading lots on PDB & elsewhere and you will begin to recognise Kennel Names / affixes or suffixes on dogs' registered names).

Eastern European 'Working' kennels (including those you have spotted, 'DDR' etc; some going back to the Cold War era in origins, developed partly separately from the foundation German dogs c. 1890s).

American bred Working lines (based originally, as all GSDs are, in the early German dogs, but bred by working / sports kennels specialists within the USA, some from recent German, or Czech etc, imports inc. studs or AI, but some from a few generations of USA-bred and owned stock) - For SV style Shows.

American bred (Ambred) Showlines - S/L dogs destined for AKC showrings; some of the history there goes back a very long time before you reach the founding German imports. Mostly very much of the specific type preference that means they are somewhat heavier and longer in body and more angulated - especially in hind legs - leading to that classic sloping topline. Many never do any 'work', although some do.

(West) German International type 'Showlines' - the SV's current idea of what should be the 'ultimate' blueprint version of the GSD. Unfortunately not everyone agrees that this version is any good; not impressed by a flashier coat & pigment, nor by what they see as a generalised 'softening' of the dogs due to erosion of the demands of Schutzhund, now IGP, over the past several decades. Distinctly unimpressed by those specimens which have a particularly curving spine or a 'hinge' in the middle of the topline. Please bear in mind here that although some specimens do demonstrate a degree of those exagerated curves, the canine spine is very flexible ...
and a great deal of what looks very distorted in still photographs is mostly about how the dog has been 'stood' for the judge / camera; real dogs in the flesh can look very different. It is also worth noting that there is still no conclusive proof (although a lot of theorising) that there is any greater problem linking various degenerative joint diseases to one sort of topline or the other, of the two main 'versions' of toplines in the GSD. Dogs with 'straighter / flatter' backs AND dogs with more upward apparent spinal curves can equally suffer with Hip Dysplasia, Arthritis, Degenerative Mylopathy, Cauda Equina syndrome, and so on. Some people believe these dogs cannot work. Mainly SV style shows, where exhibited; some people do enter these in AKC (always have) but they often don't do terribly well, as publicity pics of Winners would indicate.

International / 'Germanic' style Showdogs favoured by a majority of owners / breeders / exhibitors / handlers across Europe and the UK / Ireland - essentially the same dogs as the immediately preceding 'WGSL'. Some - too few - are worked as well as having to look pretty. UK kennels that show in Germany for example have to train in the IGP stages as well as ring etiquette !  Exhibitors who stay home, not so much. Participation is slowly improving ...

UK - & just about ONLY the UK - "Alsatians"; this is a style of GSD developed in the 1950s and subsequent decades for the Showring, with a conscious effort to move back from the modernisation of the German dogs; as much as anything because as Showing got going again, the Brits didn't want anything associated with Germany but they liked the GSD breed and wanted to keep it. So, as with the AKC dogs, subtle adjustments were made to lengthen and lower the dogs and develop a 'flatter' topline, greater rear angulation etc. Sadly they threw that baby out with the bathwater and the Alsatian was plagued with temperament problems for many years (and some still today). This I think is why the (now majority) Germanic Show fraternity partly sets so much store by having outgoing friendly stock from the German kennels, and bred by British ones. And exported to the West Indies, Africa, Asia ...

UK W/L kennels - more appearing all the time, people wanting to do 'sports' with their dogs ( although mostly somewhat less concentrated on the bitework capabilities than our American cousins), specific breeding to do IGP etc, rather than worry about the 'beauty' aspects including Showing, but unhappily leading to some lack of interest in Surveys (UK 'Koer' equivalent).

Various outcrosses between W/L and S/L, on both sides of the Atlantic, with very variable results.

Back-yard breeding / 'pet' style: these are either generally not very careful breeding, from both the health testing and 'looks' (phenotype) points of view, but perhaps (if we are lucky) with more care to acceptable temperaments; purely the mating of one GSD to any other GSD for the production of puppies, either to get a dog like one they already have, or purely for financial benefit. Some more carefully raised than others, by hobby breeders rather than puppy millers.
Coats & colours breedings - more of the same but with conscious effort to limit the gene pool in the dogs used to animals carrying dilute ('unacceptable') colours and long hair genes, in order to produce as many of their pups as possible that have those features ... because they SELL.


+ 'Breeders' with a vision ... for developing their own brand of (sort of ) GSD; those into 'King Shepherds', 'Shilohs' and the like.

I'm sure if I left anything out, others here will contribute ! You can see why there might be a lot of arguments about the 'best' kind of GSD.


by Hundmutter on 26 August 2020 - 14:08

However, it is also true that there is such a lot of info on the breed partly because, when it was developed and ever since, it seems to have attracted committed people who have shown interest not just in their interpretation of what the breed should be like but in the general issues of any dog breed: health campaigns, training, behaviours, multiple uses eg Law Enforcement, Search & Rescue, etc; many of whom - though sadly not all - have wanted to be open and honest, and to help other enthusiasts, rather than just ploughing their own furrow and winning things with their own breeding.


by Rik on 26 August 2020 - 19:08

I watched a couple of FCI classes courtesy of google. it was the exact same procedure as an AKC/CKC class in North America.
around the ring, down and back, judge exam.

so I'll just add that if there are very few to no GSD showing in your country and you show up with a GSD, you're going to win a lot.

good luck buying dogs from ads. it never worked out that well for me, but I understand you don't have many options.



by Hundmutter on 27 August 2020 - 03:08

Maybe, maybe not. Entries in UK Shows (no matter which 'side' the officiating judge is on) are down, to what they used to be. Same is true in America from what people say; I don't have statistics for other countries so not sure if this applies globally. Some GSD people in Italy have said the same recently. And yet there continue to be huge numbers of GSDs produced everywhere.

Certainly there is no guarantee (in the UK) that if you put a GSD in an all-breeds Show, whichever 'type' it is, and it is the only one there, it will automatically get placed. Far from it; I think that is largely down to public opinion being soured by the TV programme "Pedigree Dogs Exposed". Personally would not let that thought influence how I bought the dog.

I have said elsewhere that I would not buy a GSD pup from the Internet, from an ad or other source. I would never recommend that anyone else does either. Even given the difficulties with geography some people might have; a relationship established by phone or e mail over time is still better than nothing when you can't meet face to face, but it needs to be more than the 2 or 3 calls it takes to buy from an advert. As ever, doing your 'homework' is THE most important thing. Site-search PDB; use their List of Breeders to view websites; ask other people who they can recommend. Consider who does what in terms of health testing.Take your time. I reckon finding a decent breeder is more important than ancestors in the pedigree.


by Hundmutter on 27 August 2020 - 03:08

P.S. Going back to the problem of 'stacking for ring stance': last year ( or the year before ?) the SV issued a warning to exhibitors that handling GS should have limited 'hands on' contact, it is no longer officially acceptable to be fiddling about placing the legs, holding the rump down, etc to get the overline 'right' for the judge. My attendance at Shows is very very limited these days, but as far as I can tell (UK) handlers have heeded this instruction TO SOME EXTENT. What happens outside the Showring for the photographers is in many cases a different story, however.

You don't tell us, fullmoon, which other breed you have ? Unless the 'wss' on the end of your username is a clue ? I was going to suggest, if maybe your other dog's size allows, you actually can practice getting another squarer breed to stand in a way that approximates 'Shepherd stance' - it won't be exact, obviously, as the GSD is longer-cast, apart from any other consideration.

Get a friend or relative to help and take pictures. Stand the dog sideways on, in front of your legs, make sure his/her front legs are directly below their shoulders ( i.e. not forward placed like a rocking horse's would be !) and both feet level with each other. Stroke the dog gently down the back, running your hand all the way to the hock in a smooth uninterupted motion; lift the hock next to you, at the back of the joint, so that you move that hind foot towards the dog's head. Only a little ! This will leave the other hind foot (nearer your helper / 'the judge') behind the dog's pelvis, and the foot nearest you a bit in front of the pelvis. You can then gently take that 2nd hock and move it back - only a little ! - away from the dog's head. Be careful to move slowly and gently as this will not work if the dog starts to resist and kick. Don't expect the dog to hold the position for long.

Now you have the dog standing with its feet in the 'right' places, get the photo ! You can then use this to see the result as your helper [or a judge] saw it. The helper does not need to know anything about dog exhibition, they just need to be able to handle a camera so the subject is all in the frame (no missing heads or feet). That will begin to give you some idea of whether you are getting it right (it is harder than it looks), what any dog looks like in an approximate GSD Stance, and how flexible the canine spine is.
Obvs. it would be better if you can 'borrow' a GSD from someone else to have a practice with ;-)


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