Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

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Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Caryll on Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:26 pm

This is a hard read - quite in depth - but fascinating for anyone who admires the GSD.

http://www.louisdonald.com/new--june-2014--the-evolution-of-the-back-of-the-gsd.html

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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Shisa on Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:28 pm

I've been reading and re-reading his articles. I like that they're written scientifically and that he tries to keep unbiased.
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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Eleanor on Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:30 pm

Very, very interesting novel article! The illustrations were great!
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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Caryll on Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:41 pm

It seems to indicate that the sloped back isn't all bad. The medium slope is stronger & gives more reach when the dog is trotting, therefore allowing a stronger and more energy effective trot. The level back is weaker with a shorter stride, and the real exaggeration, whilst not injurious to health, overdoes the stride and is, again, weaker.

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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Eleanor on Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:43 pm

I don't like to see the exaggerated slope; exaggeration is usually the prequel to health problems. Mess with the spine and you miss with everything it connects to!

Very interesting to read his thoughts on the matter though.
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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Shisa on Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:12 am

I've done a quick run through of all his articles.
He does say that breeders have gone to far and sloped the backs to much.
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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by LyndaW on Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:34 pm

I've had next to no experience with GSDs so maybe I shouldn't express an opinion. But I just cannot understand why the show world wants the GSD hindquarters to be lower and lower to the ground. It's not pretty and it's not functional. Working GSDs, such as those used in the Services, are not constructed like this.

I'm sorry if I offend anyone - this is just my personal opinion.





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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Caryll on Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:31 am

The extremes, no Lynda, you're right. But some of the dogs' backs only really slope when they are in a show stance. When you see them walking about, their backs are strong & straight. The slight slope that he mentions as favourable increases back strength and reach of stride, and therefore increases trotting endurance - which is obviously neede in a shepherding breed.

The vastly exaggerated dogs you see in (for example) the American show ring are definitely freaks - sorry if that offends anyone & I must stress that is just my own personal opinion.

Linda (Serendipity on here) has a working line GSD botch (Link), and she has a straight, strong back. But if you stack her, you will see a definite slope downwards.

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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by LyndaW on Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:55 pm

Again, I know I shouldn't comment because it's a long time since I saw GSDs in the show ring.

I understand about stacking, although I personally don't care to see the roached back. What worried me most when I did see GSDs showing was their movement - front end looked great, but the hind legs were so cow-hocked and feeble, especially when viewed directly from behind, they almost plaited themselves.

I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but I was shocked at the time (and this was about 15 years ago now) and am glad to learn that things have improved.

We don't have many pet GSDs around here nowadays, just two long-haired white ones and the one that is allowed off the lead moves magnificently.

I'll butt out now!
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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Caryll on Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:18 pm

Again, you're right - the show line GSDs were becoming weak hocked & couldn't have lasted a couple of hours out in the field, doing their proper job, let alone a full day which is what they are supposed to do.

The good breeders are now taking note of the faults & (hopefully) breeding towards better health. One of the big problems (and it's the same in a lot of breeds) is that there is a huge difference between
a. Working Line GSDs
b. Show Line GSDs (England)
c. Show Line GSDs (Germany)
d. Show line GSDs (USA)
e. Pet Line GSDs (Everywhere)

Personally I love the working line dogs, although they can be a tremendous handful if you don't work them. Out of the show lines I prefer the German & then the English. The American ones are awful!

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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by LyndaW on Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:51 pm

That's good news Caryll (that breeders are trying to improve the health of the breed).

As far as GSDs are concerned I much prefer the working-line dog. As well as the occasional police dog, I also see the occasional Army dog (living near Aldershot), and they all look fantastic.

It just saddens me to see over-exaggeration in any dog.

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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Hayley on Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:02 pm

the 1920 dog looks lovely. i have to say that here they tend to stay more true to type, the back thing has not caught on here.
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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Shisa on Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:42 am

Straight back does not mean level with the ground.

He (Louis) states that the roached back need not be a bad thing. He says in the Borzoi you see a definite roach but that is because the vertebrate's top sticky out bit (spinous process) is elongated giving more bone for the muscles to attach to - hence stronger back with no bend. The spine is still straight although it looks roached.
With the GSD they have bent the spine with no extra bone for muscle. This gives a weak back and the dogs can not do what they were bred for.
A lot of the drop you see in GSD's is also because they have 'bent the knees' over much for lack of a better discription.

I read another article where they compared what has been done by breeders against what nature has done with the hyena. It comes down to length of the back legs.

I just look at mine that have straight level backs and the power they have, the force with which they drive, stamina they have and I can't see how you would want more?

PLUS and a big one: None of the other endurance breeds have 'sloped toplines'. Border collies, Huskies, Malamutes etc etc etc.
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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Caryll on Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:33 am

Hayley wrote:the 1920 dog looks lovely. i have to say that here they tend to stay more true to type, the back thing has not caught on here.

Not so keen myself - from a purely aesthetic point of view it looks unbalanced. The shoulders & stifles are too straight, leading to a stilted gait. Not good for endurance. Look at a good working border collie - the shoulder placement is at about 45%, so is the bend of stifle (although slightly less). They can go on and on and on!

Shisa wrote:Straight back does not mean level with the ground.

No, that's true. It's the 'shape' of the portion of spine which is referred to as the 'back'.

Shisa wrote:He (Louis) states that the roached back need not be a bad thing. He says in the Borzoi you see a definite roach but that is because the vertebrate's top sticky out bit (spinous process) is elongated giving more bone for the muscles to attach to - hence stronger back with no bend. The spine is still straight although it looks roached.
With the GSD they have bent the spine with no extra bone for muscle. This gives a weak back and the dogs can not do what they were bred for.
A lot of the drop you see in GSD's is also because they have 'bent the knees' over much for lack of a better discription.

That's why exaggeration is so wrong! they achieve a 'desired' look without any consideration to purpose. There's no point in a 'bent' back - it's the length of certain sets of vertebrae that gives the strength.

Shisa wrote:
I just look at mine that have straight level backs and the power they have, the force with which they drive, stamina they have and I can't see how you would want more?

PLUS and a big one: None of the other endurance breeds have 'sloped toplines'. Border collies, Huskies, Malamutes etc etc etc.

I'm sure, Theresa. that if you put your two sheps into a show stance, with one rear leg stretched back (hock to paw at right angles to the ground) and the other brought forwatd, underneath the loins, both will have a sloped back! But both have good, strong, non-roached backs.

I used to be able to stand my second border collie in a GSD show stand & her back sloped! But collies/huskies etc are stood square in the show ring.

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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Shisa on Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:03 am

Definitely, If I stack them they have a 'sloped' back but the slope is not steep enough.

The thing that baffles my mind to craziness is that there are serious problems with their idea of the perfect dog.
We have a GSD girl in class, same age as Axel, from 'excellent' breeders, GSD Federation registered etc etc etc... The owners went through a lot of trouble to find a healthy dog from really good breeders. It breaks my heart to see their dog. She trips herself when running she has such bad cowhocks. The breeder is winning competition after competition with her sister and she is only slightly better.
They planned on doing so much with her and those plans are now ruined. They were so excited as about 5 of us got puppies round about the same time that we want to train up and compete with. I think they were looking forward to it the most as their last 2 dogs just weren't working material.
Now... we wonder if the dog is going to last till she's 4. I get so sad when I see them. They love their dog so much but it's been destroyed before birth.
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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Caryll on Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:38 pm

The hocks are another problem entirely. No thought has been given, in breeding, to overall soundness. Not all breeders, it's true, but the win-at-all-cost ones!

But you have to also point the finger at judges - they have a duty NOT to reward unsoundness. But I sometimes wonder how many of them actually recognise a sound dog! angry 

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deep roots are not reached by the frost - Tolkein
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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Shisa on Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:07 pm

Plus the amount of breed specific judges is limited.
I've seen a judge go over the breed standard before a show and judge according to what he quickly read there or with the standard in hand and going over it point for point. He has no idea about the history of the breed and the problems in that breed that he should specifically note.

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Re: Evolution of the GSD 'back'.

Post by Caryll on Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:54 pm

You'd think that they'd be chosen for their knowledge of the breed, wouldn't you?

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