Standards Of The Noble German Shepherd Breed
By Jan A Ryan
The body that establishes standards of dog breeds in the United States is the American Kennel Club (AKC). The American Kennel Club decides what qualities make a dog a show quality German Shepherd. German Shepherds in dog shows are judged against these standards, and the dog that comes the closest to matching all the standards of the breed wins the dog show. German Shepherds that win certain prizes in American Kennel Club dog shows can earn the rank of American Kennel Club champion, a designation that appears on a dog’s pedigree.
The categories that make up the standard of the German Shepherd breed include: appearance, temperament, size and proportion, coat and color and gait, the way the dog moves. A German Shepherd who meets the appearance standard of the breed gives the impression of a strong animal, alert and full of life. A good German Shepherd looks substantial and muscular, with an expression of nobility and quality breeding. The standard of the German Shepherd breed calls for a confident personality, slow to make friends. German Shepherds are alert and eager, ready to be report for duty as guide dogs, guard dogs, police dogs, herding dogs or loyal family companions.
The standards require that German Shepherd males should be twenty four to twenty six inches tall at the shoulder; females should be twenty two to twenty four inches tall. The German Shepherd head is noble, strong, and in proportion to the body. Males should look masculine, and females should look feminine. The face includes dark eyes, moderately pointed ears and a long, strong muzzle. A dog with cropped or hanging ears will be disqualified from competition, as will a dog with a nose that is not predominantly black. The neck should be strong, muscular and relatively long, carrying the head high and forward. The body should be deep with long ribs, a firmly held abdomen and a high, bushy tail. The forequarters are well muscled, with short, compact feet. The upper thigh should run parallel to the shoulder blade. The hindquarters are broad, with dewclaws removed from the hind legs.
The standard for German Shepherds require a double coat, with a thick, short outer coat on the main part of the body and shorter coat on the head, legs, and paws. A slight wave may be acceptable to some judges, but silky, wooly and curly coats are faults that require disqualification from judging. The health of the dog shows in the coat, so a German Shepherd’s coat should be glossy and well groomed. The classic German Shepherd is a deep tan with black saddle and facial features. Variations in color are permissible, although a white dog must always be disqualified. The German Shepherd moves in a trademark trot, covering ground quickly and steadily. A good German Shepherd trots effortlessly, as gait faults nearly always result in disqualification.
These are the American Kennel Club standard for breeders and dog show judges. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary. German Shepherd dogs who fall short of these standards make loyal, loving companions, so don’t overlook dogs offered for adoption through German Shepherd rescue organizations when selecting a German Shepherd as a companion animal.
About the Author: Jan Ryan is a dog show judge who especially enjoys judging the Working Group. American Kennel Club standards for a German Shepherd cover a dog’s appearance and temperament. Maintaining high standards requires breeders to follow practices that promote healthy German Shepherds. Breeders are always looking for German Shepherd information that will help them maintain the standards of this noble breed. To talk to a breeder or see German Shepherds that meet the standards, go to a dog show and see these dogs first hand.
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