Hip Dysplasia and the Cardigan Corgi


Posted in Health | Leave a comment

How to select a suitable puppy

BOB WW 2014There is a new litter and new people, who request an ACD puppy.
First question of the breeder is always for the experience of the new owner.
The ACD is an active herding dog, needing quite a lot of activity. Over and above he is very intelligent.If the ability and the spirit of the new owner satisfies the breeder, he asks if the new owner favourites a certain sport, which this dog should fulfill.
Let us take agility f.ex.: an excellantly suitable ACD should be out of not too heavy lines, quick, ready to work, healthy because of its body proportions and an intelligent spirit with the ability to work equally on on its own as to follow the trainer’s instructions. For this he needs a good concentration. For his future career, he also needs a careful building up and training of his capabilities.
Another dog lover would like to go to shows. While body and spirit in a puppy can be foreseen by an experienced breeder, the development of a certain winner spirit is due to the influence, which the puppy will experience in his early age.
Therefore the breeder can only promise, that a certain puppy is promising. To develop his promising virtues the knowledge and capability of the new owner is needed. During this process both will learn from each other to develop its temperament.
The experienced breeder will help to give every puppy to a suitable new owner, where human and ACD are fitting like twins

Posted in Breeding | 1 Comment

Westminster 2015


Posted in Videos | Leave a comment

The Code of Ethics in Us

Being devoted to the breed of Australian Cattle Dog means to protect every specimen ,who improves the development by skilful breeding. Who supports the talent for sport activities according to the standard and last not least is up-to-date in health matters and takes severe care in keeping the ACD healthy.
Everyone, who is concerned about the ACD, has an inner code of ethics and responsibility towards the breed. Every breeder of his time is footing on the honest basis of earlier breeder generations. And so it will go on. Every breeder must be able to rely on the breeding facts of earlier breeders, while he is honest in his own breeding. This honesty in breeding makes the improvement of our breed.
Compared to earlier breeders we are in the lucky position to have a data base, which is a very helpful tool to pass on breeding facts to our own kennel and make good use out of it.
Improving the breed of ACD must rely on honest breeders. The truth in breeding is the most important basis on which future generations will continue improving the breed.Only one dog with a WRONG title, which promises good nerves, will spoil his offspring. And these faulty genes go random like a red thread through an endless row of generations, because mental health is recessively passed on.
Our love to the breed and its responsibility must care for clean breeding.Help to keep our gene pool clean!

Posted in Breeding | Leave a comment


Please, click this link to study the different forms of epilepsy and its treatment


Posted in Health | Leave a comment

Australian Cattle Dog Description

Posted in Videos | 1 Comment

World Winner Helsinki 2014

Australian Cattle Dog
total number of dogs:12
Judge: Kärdi Maret
BOB Windwarrior’s Sweet N’toxic (Heikkinen Tuulia, Komi)
BOS Erkkertin Blue Flying Dutchman (Kuikka Juha, ESPOO)
BOB,Veteran Freya’s Charm Cidabro (Heikkinen Tuulia, Komi)
BOS,Veteran Kohon Elton (Vainio Seija, Muurame)


AVO Erkkertin Blue Firecracker (poissa)
Erkkertin Blue Flying Dutchman ERI AVK1 PU1 SA, VSP, CACIB
VAL Erkkertin Red Ranger EH VAK2
Windwarrior’s Dream Catcher ERI VAK1


JUN Windwarrior’s Lady Bulldozer EH JUK1
VAL Erkkertin Blue Foxy Lady ERI VAK2 PN3 SA, VARACA
Erkkertin Blue Nifty Maid EH VAK4
Windwarrior’s Sweet N’toxic ERI VAK1 PN1 SA, ROP, CACIB
Worrigal Hero Haylee ERI VAK3
VET Freya’s Charm Cidabro ERI VEK1 PN2 SA, VET ROP
Windwarrior’s Flaming Redrose EH VEK2

Posted in Shows | Leave a comment

Judging ACDs by Carrol Beckett (Australia)

It was commented that the GSD should be more angulated than the ACD because they patrol perimeters. The GSD is NOT more angulated and the ACD in-fact their shoulders are permitted to be at an angle of 90-110° therefore the GSD can be legitimately less angulated according to the standard. The hind-legs of the GSD are even more open at 120°. It is not the angulation but that greater length of bones and the sloping top-line that gives the illusion to the untrained eye of greater rear angulation.

The recent comment that ‘most judges do not know what they are looking at’ absolutely INFURIATES me. Yes, there are a few judges who are not as knowledgeable, but as a judge I can honestly say that 95% do know EXACTLY what they are looking at and can clearly identify both the virtues and the shortcomings of the dogs before them. Judging is a process of weighing up the good with the bad, and then making an on balance judgment.

Judge’s training is extensive, exhausting, methodical and definitely NOT easy. The criteria to train and pass are not for the faint heated. If you don’t have an eye for a dog, if you can’t articulate what see and you don’t know your standards you will NOT pass. Judges are required to attend lectures and write 1,000 word essays on EVERY breed in the group. They must judge and write written critiques on over 100 dogs all before they can even apply to gain a licence. Then they must pass an extensive written test on the standards and a practical examination under the scrutiny of three experienced assessors who know what they want to hear from the candidate. If you can’t place the dogs correctly and justify why, you don’t pass. If the JTS was easy then there would not be such a high dropout rate.

It greatly angers me when I hear people complain and criticise a judge’s knowledge if their dog is given a less than desirable critique. Let me say that judges are encouraged through the whole education process to be POSITIVE and constructive in their comments. We don’t feel powerful or take pleasure in saying negative things about any dog.

A critique is intended to give an appraisal of the dog before us on the day.
If as an exhibitor you receive a negative critique then LISTEN, understand why and take it on board. Is it not a personal attack on you or your dog it is meant to be a learning tool. You have paid for this person’s educated opinion. You can take it or leave it. Jumping up and down and claiming that the judge is used to seeing a particular ‘type’ in their own country and so that is what they will ‘put up’ is poor form.

Recently there were Australian judges in Europe and their judging was criticized in this way. Can I say that I have exhibited under these people. They are all extremely experienced senior level judges and furthermore although not their breed, they all have extensive experience judging ACDs.

There is not one particular TYPE ‘running around now in Australia’ and ACDs have NOT CHANGED in recent decades. The same types are running around now as there were here 40 years ago, at least there has been in the country of origin. There is not a ‘new fangled heeler’ that has recently been invented for the show ring.

All Judges have a picture in their mind of what the ideal specimen of each particular breed looks like and then they look for the dog that not only most closely fits the static picture and also moves the way described in the standard. They consider the presence/absence of breed hallmarks and then lastly overall presentation and performance.

A judge can only judge what is put before them! If there is not an ideal dog in the class you close your eyes and you say to yourself…OK so which one looks like a Pomeranian or a GSP, or whatever the breed is you have before you.

Judges do not live in the bubble of knowing about only one breed. They might not be an expert on the finer points of every bred they can judge. But they know damn well what correct structure and correct movement constitute for that breed. And believe me that can mean a very different thing from one breed to another. For example; the OES should ‘amble’, the British Bulldog must move unevenly with specifically the ‘right’ shoulder in front. The Chow has ‘stilted’ movement, the Dobermann has ‘rotary’ action, the Min Pin must ‘Hackney’ in most counties.

The defining things that constitute breed type are paramount. Head type is essential if judging for type amongst similar breeds. Sometimes the only difference in a written standard between similar breeds such as spaniels might be the absence or presence of fluting, the shape or position of the eyes or ears. Identifying correct breed type that distinguishes one breed from another (and I am not talking about the obvious things like coat and colour) take a great deal of skill and experience. I am not saying judges get it right all of the time but credit where credit is due please.

Posted in Judging | Leave a comment

ASH video

This is what the ACD and the was bred to do…move and control unruly cattle…working as a team with the stockman on his ASH (Australian Stock Horse)…unfortunately now it is mostly heli-mustering.

Posted in Breeding | Leave a comment

Our ACD the Living, Correct Standard. Explained by Carol Beckett


The standard for the ACD is very clearly written. It requires the dog to be well angulated, compact, powerful and with substance, and breadth in the head, the chest and down through the entire body.

It is NOT a standard that in ambiguous, it is NOT a standard that is poorly written or unclear. Yes the finer points might need clarifying for a novice but for an experienced breeder or judge it is very clear especially when compared with other vague and lesser detailed standards that do exist for many other breeds.

If you are a novice then hopefully this post will help you to consolidate what you think you understand from reading the standard a few times, looking at photos and dogs around you. If you consider yourself to be experienced in the breed but you think you know better than the standard or that it is wrong and the above ‘essentials’ are NOT necessary then I CHALLENGE you.

I challenge you to read all the standards within the Working/herding group this weekend, not just the ACD but all working/herding breeds. If you have done this and you still think the ACD standard is written incorrectly and that ‘form does not follow function’ throughout the entire standard, then you are fooling yourself. If you accept this challenge and still believe that the BASICS (angulation, proportions, movement) not necessary then stop trying to justify
your position with comments about other breeds or trotting horses or whomever authority/author you choose to quote to give you opinion weight and get out of the breed!

The ACD is REQUIRED to be well angulated. That is; ‘well laid’ shoulders with equal length in the bones (including the upper arm) and forming an angle of 90°. The hindquarters are ‘well turned’ and should also be 90° to create a balanced animal.

There is NO ambiguity, it is written in black and white! I do not want arguments over a moderately angulated dog being balanced and able to show more endurance than a correct well angulated dog…what a crock of rubbish. Anyone who has owned moderate or straight angulated dogs and also owned well angulated dogs, knows only too well the difference in their ability to cover the ground and move. You only need to place these two dogs into an open area to free fun to see that an angulated dog with both outrun and chase down the lesser angulated one. Doing roadwork or any type of sustained exercise (as we do with our dogs) it is clearly apparent that an angulated dog has much more endurance.

As for statements that ACDs now days are over-angulated….sorry but I do not and have not seen this. Maybe I need to post a diagram of exactly what 90° actually looks like….it is actually ¼ of an entire circle, or in layman’s terms a right-angle!

It is NOT rocket science it is simple kinetics….Over a set length of ground a correctly angulated dog having a greater stride length will take say 10 steps to cover this area…a moderately angulated dog will take say 13 or more steps and a dog with straight angulation will take say 16 steps or so to cover the same piece of ground.

Equate this to a whole day working and following cattle over many kilometres. Dogs who do not have the required angulation break down quicker as they do it much harder. The ACD should move freely, flowing over the ground with minimal effort. If you can walk beside your dog in a show gait (even a puppy) then there is something very wrong and it is not displaying effortless movement with correct reach and drive.

As for the comments that current show dogs are hyped up animals who fly around the ring at an un-natural pace which is non-sustainable. Rubbish! The ACD is required in the standard to be ALERT and AGILE. They should be excited to move and willing to do so. If one is to judge by the standard they are LOOKING for an active dog not a lump of meat standing at the ring entrance that has to be encouraged to move and plods around the ring. The image the ACD must portray is one of an active working dog.

If a dog has the required angulation (and is sound) it should move freely ‘free, supple and tireless’ and at the pace described in the standard, ‘the capability of QUICK and SUDDEN movement is essential’. QUICK refers to the pace, quick to cover the ground, NOT slow, stilted or plodding. Meaning as the handler you run to keep up on your dog’s shoulder you could not ‘walk’ beside such a dog. SUDDEN, referring to the dog’s ability to both start from a standstill and change direction suddenly. Powerful hindquarters and strong SHORT loins are required for a dog to be capable of this.

Quick movement is easy to see and this is how the dog should be gaited. This is ‘breed speed’ for the ACD. I am not talking about legs flying in an uncontrolled manner going ‘ten to the dozen’ around the ring and looking like a frantic blur…this is ’busy movement’ and busy movement is NOT is what the word ‘quick’ relates to in the standard, nor is it efficient or sustainable. CORRECT Sustainable ‘quick’ movement means that the dog covers the ring quickly and easily, it swallows up the ground in an effortless manner when compared with the quick moving but ‘busy’ dog.

Sudden movement is not so easy to see/assess in the show-ring but all too apparent if your dogs free run. Although if a dog presents with short, muscled loins and powerful hindquarters you can bet it will more than likely have sudden movement and be able to explode of the mark and pivot on it’s quarters to change tack.

Yes, let’s DO talk about CORRECT proportions, we don’t need another threat to do so because as with the angulation being clearly laid down so TOO are the requirements for correct proportions….That is, if you know how to understand what is written in the standard. Correct proportions do not JUST relate to applying a simple RATIO of 10:9 there is a lot more involved and it IS explained in the standard.

PROPORTIONS are NOT just created by length of BACK…it is the sum of all the dog’s parts that give it’s proportions. It relates to; length of back, length of loin, development of fore-chest and height of the dog.

You DO NOT asses if a dog has correct proportions by simply looking at it’s length to height and by JUST measuring to see it is in fact 10 long to 9 high. A dog who accurately measures 10: 9 from the fore-chest (brest-bone/pro-sternum) to behind the buttocks when compared with height does NOT necessarily have correct proportions! There is more to it than just a measurement.

For example:
A dog which has very little pro-sternum development and a longer than required back or loin may still MEASURE with correct proportions because he lacks chest out the front (chest and shoulders contribute to the overall measurement)…Lets call him dog ‘X’

A dog who has the required developed pro-sternum (obvious from the side profile) with a correct SHORT back and SHORT LOIN will ALSO measure with the correct 10:9 proportions. Lets call him dog ‘Y’.

Both dogs measure with the correct 10:9 ratio and one could WRONGLY assume both were right…however dog ‘Y’ is the only one with the correct PROPORTIONS because all his parts are correct (assuming for argument sake that he also has correct leg length).

Therefore in the ACD much of the extra length in the 10:9 ratio does not come from length in the back it actually comes from the extra length created by correct fore-chest development ‘in-front’ of the dog. More often than not this dog also has the correct lay of shoulder and front assembly.

Leg length and depth of body is also important in creating proportions. For example, a dog that is short in leg may give the false impression of being long in back when in-fact the leg are the part that is actually incorrect.

It has been stated that the ACD is not a ‘square’ breed. Yes that is correct but with the correct body parts (short loin and back, good pro-sternum and well-laid shoulder) they are not far off being square. What the ACD is NOT is long backed. That much is clear if you read and understand the general appearance requiring a COMPACT animal.

As a judge you learn that aside from heads one of the primary considerations defining type differences between similar breeds are the differences in body proportions and how to correctly assess this. It is drummed into you from the get go and something that good judges have a natural eye for.

Proportions are a primary consideration defining breed type. Amongst my own 4 Australian breeds there are 4 different required proportions. The ACD is compact (short bodied but not square) at 10:9. The Stumpy (ASTCD) is ‘Decidedly Square’, the Aussie Terrier is ‘Long and low set’ the Silky is slightly long and low. Believe me, in a line-up you could never confuse the difference in body length between one of our ACDs and our Stumpies.

For those who believe an ACD does not have to work all day and that a GSD needs to patrol perimeters and therefore cover more ground, I say RUBBISH! The ACD was not bred to follow a few sheep around a pen. It was not breed to work human friendly tame dairy cattle or fat breeds of beef cattle in small paddocks…the ACD was developed to move and control feral beef cattle across vast areas. Cattle on huge stations that have never seen a human, who may have been mustered once to be tagged and castrated at the most or more likey, never been rounded up until being sent to market or fattening yards for a few months. Wild cattle who’s only contact with a dog has been wild dingoes or feral dogs. Cattle that have a high flight instinct, and a fear of the unknown. If you have been involved in mustering such beasts you would know if takes many days/weeks for an animal who has been wandering in the bush for years to settle and not break away from the main group or try to head for the thick scrub.

The ACD was developed before the day or road-trains, motorbikes, heli-mustering or bull catchers (open 4wd vehicle). The ACD was required to chase down these runaway animals and bring them back. Some of these cattle would also be young tenacious uncastrated bulls which are headstrong and have known no discipline.

cattle dog in moving

Posted in Standard explained | Leave a comment

How to develop a new bloodline

To start takes much effort and much time, because you have to find a couple, which combines both the phänotype and the the genotype of future ancestors in your kennel. Do not forget the importance of a human friendly temperament. Over and above you have linebred on a certain import kennel, whose offspring shall be a link to the new line.The best possible couple to start with was:

FI & EE CH JAYBLUE AUSSIE SALUTE, Australian import  : 2 litters  in 2011 und 2014,
HD:C-B, ED:1, EYES: free
Pavesi Wind Spirit, Australian Import
HD:C/B, ED:0-0, eyes: free

Daughter I:

HD:D-D, ED:0-0, EYES free
Daughter II:

World Winner 2013:CH Windwarrior´s Rundown N Rollback

HD:B2, ED:0-0, EYES: free
HD:C-C, ED:0-0, EYES: free
their dam was:
HD B-B and ED 0-0, EYES: free
BAER Normal, PRCD A, PLL Normal                                                
 HD B-B, ED 0-0,EYES: free
BAER Normal, PRCD A, PLL Normal (obligated)                          
2nd litter of 2014:DAM:

Windwarrior’s Bulldozer BOB Puppy
The first aim was to improve the results for HD and ED in the sir! Both sire and dam had the same HD result: B/C. The three examined offspring showed not really the wanted results: HD D-D (in Finland),HD C-C /in Finland) and HD B (in Germany). But already the grandsons were B-B (in Finland)
All examined offspring was ED 0-0.
The phenotype showed after only two litters several BOB, CAC, title and C.I.B winners. Biggest success were the two bitches, who gained the World Winner title in 2013 in Budapest and 2014 in Helsinki.


CH Jayblue Aussie Salute


Pavesi Wind Spirit


WW CH Windwarriors Sweet N’Toxic


WW CH Windwarrior´s Rundown N Rollback





CH Windwarrior’s Blue Argon


Windwarrior’s Blue Bulldozer

Posted in Breeding | Leave a comment

Legacies: How to Ensure Your Bloodline Goes Forward

Whether just starting out on your path of breeding or looking to pass on your bloodline to the next generation, none of it can happen without a good plan for the future.

By Jonathan Jeffrey Kimes | March 20, 2013

Bull Terrier authority Raymond Oppenheimer mentored a worldwide network of students through his letters. Just like Oppenheimer, breeders of today should pass along their knowledge and bloodlines to the next generation.

For the true dog breeder, one who has devoted decades to developing a bloodline, the greatest concern must be the assurance that all the effort, all the learning, all the eventual mastery of the art does not dissolve into thin air upon your retirement. Nothing can be more satisfying and enriching than to believe you have made a lasting positive impact on your dog breed of choice, one that will continue onward long after you have stopped making the breeding decisions yourself.

The term “bloodline” is often subject to misuse by those in the dog fancy. Only a very small percentage of breeders have the right to call their efforts “a bloodline,” and yet we hear the term bandied about by almost everyone. I must assume that many, when speaking of “my bloodline,” are not referring to the decades of careful breeding and development of a family of dogs. Instead they are referring to the dogs they currently own. However, to rightly refer to your breeding efforts as a “bloodline,” you must have developed a unique, identifiable and consistent family of dogs that are interrelated through many generations. A bloodline must be physically identifiable, which is to say it must have distinguishable family characteristics. In essence, a bloodline is the manifestation of a breeder’s vision of their concept of ideal breed type. Although there are useful and useless bloodlines, with regard to the perpetuity of such we need only consider those that have proven themselves to be valued as a virtuous family.

Healthy Bloodlines

Although I do not subscribe to any actual rule regarding what constitutes a bloodline, I will put forward that it must be a genetically related, phenotypically consistent family of dogs that are of a viable population to maintain basic consistency even as relatively unrelated dogs are added into the gene pool. It has become the current fashion by many in the dog fancy to refer to the “danger” of inbreeding coefficients as an argument against close breeding. Although we cannot make generalizations about all dog breeds, as each breed is unique with regard to phenotypic variation and genetic health, there are many bloodlines with generations of closely bred ancestors that have excellent health. Indeed, while sloppy inbreeding is guaranteed to produce defective dogs, an intelligently managed bloodline can boast exceptional health not in spite of but due to close breeding. By carefully weeding out unwanted characteristics, including diseases, a skilled breeder can absolutely create a healthy family of dogs. The attempt at wholesale regulation of the inbreeding coefficient should be critically questioned upon the veracity of applicable scientific data. In other words, there are breeds in which close breeding is inadvisable and breeds in which it can be very beneficial. I know of no controlled scientific study using experienced breeders that can prove otherwise, and I have extensive personal experience to support the concept of a bloodline. The canine genome is the most expansive of any living species, and most broad generalizations are invariably refutable.

So let us describe what a bloodline worth perpetuating would be. Through decades of dedication, it must be one in which breed type virtues are exploited to a very high degree. In essence we want breed examples that are verging on perfection in many ways; they will not be perfected in all ways, but they will be considered “the source” for many breed type features. The breeder creed is to produce ever stronger and ever more breed virtues in one’s stock. Do not misinterpret “stronger” to mean “exaggerated,” as unwanted exaggerations are just as unwelcome as deficiencies. Yes, many breeds are the subject of exaggeration of the original desired characteristics, and they must be brought back to balance through the skills of true breed connoisseurs. A good example is the Pekingese coat. Traditionally, the coat has been an enhancement to the breed, but over the last few decades, the breed began to look for all the world like a moving tumbleweed, attractive to no one but restless hairdressers. Today we see a strong swing back to a manageable and proper-fitting coat that enhances this proud lionesque dog. Likewise, the athletic and square Afghan Hound went through a phase where the appeal to exhibitors and judges was more focused on yards of hair than the amazing hunter under the coat. Today I wonder just how much taller Poodle and Shih Tzu topknots must be before their breed intelligentsia tire of the infantile silliness. It is never the followers who force these corrections; it is always just a handful of knowing breeders who lead breeds out of their dark corners.

Every legacy breeder must feature breed health as a top criterion. And by that I mean, the breeder must aggressively work to identify animals with unhealthy genes and remove them from the gene pool. This, of course, must be countered with maintaining appropriate genetic variability within the breed, a sometimes difficult and complex balancing act. The dog world today must realize the “purebredishness” of most of our dog breeds is a relatively recent invention. Some breeds that are plagued with disease may have gotten there through misfortune, but refusing to find solutions is tantamount to mismanagement. Falconi in the Basenji breed has been addressed through the importation of native African dogs to good effect. Development of genetic testing for Lens Luxation has pulled the Miniature Bull Terrier back from the brink of inevitable extinction. Aggressive programs to wait until full maturity is helping the Pomeranian combat Black Skin Disease. A broad spectrum of strategies must be used to right seriously compromised breeds that today face real risk of becoming extinct in the next human generation. The option to introduce healthy genes through cross-breeding to phenotypically and/or genetically related breeds if intra-breed options are not viable must be included in that arsenal.

The dog fancy has done itself no favors by setting up benchmarks that do more harm than good for a dog breed. I have always spurned top producer rankings as little more than devices to spread unhealthy genes throughout a breed. And so there are instances in a number of breeds in which once rare health conditions are now on the list of required disease testing because of popular and overly used stud dogs that transmitted disease to a large population of dogs. These situations didn’t occur without the cooperation of participating breeders. For a bloodline to carry on, for it to be worthy of continued propagation, it must be genetically healthy. And while you may have learned to “manage” existing health problems in your dogs, you are kidding yourself if you think there are others in the next generation who will do the same, regardless of what else you have achieved with your breeding program. Health is absolutely critical to the continuance of a bloodline.

In a similar vein, the over-importance of show ring success can also have deleterious effects on the continuation of a viable bloodline. For instance, surgically correcting tail carriage in many of the long-legged terriers is as common as having dewclaws removed. Yes, you may have produced generation after generation of top-winning show dogs, but if every one of them requires cosmetic surgery, coloring or some other falsification to allow them to win in the ring, the chances of finding someone else equally committed to doing the same with your bloodline in the future is going to have a very low probability at best. Your dogs must be honest. They must thrive on normal diets, their temperaments must be typical of the breed, and they must be sane and healthy animals.

Creating and Passing on the Legacy

As a teenager, I saw a series on television with a line that has ultimately directed my whole life. It was uttered by a woman who had worked her way up from the bottom to ultimately owning a fine London hotel. She opened the doors of her new establishment eager for customers. When an unpleasant gentleman entered, she decisively refused his business. To her astounded staff she said, “I am starting out as I mean to go on.” To do this you must examine your own morals, your values and firmly draw the line in the sand. You must decide what you will and will not tolerate in your bloodline right from the start because once you give yourself permission to include sires and dams with significant health problems or dogs needing fakery or some other inappropriate allowance, you will allow it a second time and a third — and before long you will have infected your bloodline so completely a legacy of your work will be out of the question. Start out as you mean to go on.

Equally important, and ultimately more critical to the survival of your bloodline, is instilling in others the “vision” that is manifested by your breeding efforts. Indeed, it could be argued that your legacy through mentorship could prove to have more impact than the survival of your bloodline. The development of the “look” of your bloodline is driven largely by your perception. Because of your “eye,” you will make breeding decisions and resulting puppy selections that are unique to your perspective. The transference of this “eye” is dependent upon your ability to mentor.

It is wise to realize that your accomplishment in developing your bloodline is based on your own unique talent. Let’s be quite clear on the meaning of “talent” versus “skill.” Talent is an aptitude, a natural ability to do something. Talent is therefore something innate; it cannot be instilled. Skill is a learned capacity to do something. Obviously, the more talent one has, the greater the skill that can be achieved. With a lack of talent, the skill cannot be perfected. When choosing one or more individuals to mentor, those who hopefully will continue your legacy, you must be very aware that they must have the talent to do so. I have seen many bloodlines over the years become a sad shadow of the original developer because the individual assuming the bloodline did not possess the talent to do so or was not properly schooled in the founder’s “eye.”

Once the “who” to mentor has been identified, the challenge is “how” to mentor. Obviously, taking on an individual who is physically co-located, who can participate in every daily activity and is present for every decision-making opportunity is the ideal. Many happy situations have occurred when the original owner brings in a new partner who is as eager and as talented as the founder of the bloodline. The new partner can assist with the physical demands, often allowing the founder to remain active with his or her bloodline much longer than would ordinarily have been the case. If the individual has financial resources, such as employment, additional benefit can be achieved with appropriate sharing of expenses.

My mantra in working with another individual is “contract, contract, contract.” Regardless of whether you enter into a co-ownership agreement on a single dog or a sharing agreement on an establishment, ensure a proper contract is drawn up by a qualified lawyer and that both parties are appropriately covered. Although both parties will assure themselves there will never be a need for a contract, I can only say if people knew at the onset exactly if and how long-term relationships might change, there wouldn’t ever be a divorce! It is exceptionally bad judgment not to very clearly delineate how a partnership will be dissolved should the occasion ever occur.

If such a close relationship is not possible, the next choice may be to at least have someone who can travel to dog shows or who is at dog shows with you. Staying in contact with them through the week will keep them interested and fully invested in the ups and downs of managing the kennel.

Even if a close physical relationship is not possible, effective mentoring can occur across distant countries. Today with easy access to the Internet and with social media such as Facebook, an ever-present communication construct is easily devised. I recently tested this theory by setting up a private group on Facebook where topics can be discussed and pictures and videos shared. The participation can be limited to two individuals or can include multiple participants. Another “free” communication medium is Google Chat where you can have free video chats with one or more individuals. So for the cost of a computer and an Internet connection, you have a number of technologically advanced, basically cost-free solutions for communicating frequently.

One of the best examples of mentorship I have ever seen was demonstrated by Raymond Oppenheimer of the world-famous Ormandy Bull Terrier kennel in England. As revealed in W.E. Mackay-Smith’s book, Letters from Raymond, during the 1960s and ’70s, he maintained a worldwide network of students he mentored with endless passion. His letters not only shared his views on current circumstances of the Bull Terrier in England, he requested mercilessly of his students to share their observations of the outcome of every significant specialty. He wanted catalog markings, descriptions of the dogs and perceptions of the judging. Through his questioning he forced his students to really look at the dogs in the ring, to evaluate them and to compare their perspectives to what the judge did. He provided suggestions on breeding their bitches and wanted to know what choices they made, why and the eventual outcome of the resulting litters. Through this tireless interest in his students, he effectively shaped world opinion of Bull Terriers. Although his kennel was the leading producer of top-quality stock, his development of intellectual capital across the planet was in every way as important and lasting.

If you think about it, it is the whole mix of your husbandry that makes your bloodline successful. To mentor the next generation effectively thorough communication and understanding will be your never-ending task. In terms of breed type, your view of outline, head type, proportion, structure, movement and temperament is vital. What are your views on size variation? What are the key elements which must always be considered for exceptional type? What are the things you don’t like, can’t tolerate and why? How are your dogs kept, exercised, groomed, socialized, trained? Think about every task and decision you make through the day and relate this to your pupil. Share and share and share. As a teenager, I greatly treasured the two-hour conversations I had on a weekly basis with my mentor Norma Chandler. She brought the past alive in my mind, shared what she used to believe and what she believed now. I was allowed to share her past, her present and her thoughts on the future. I shared my thoughts, and she helped me to greater insight.

And finally, you must consider what will happen to your dogs when you pass into the great dog show on the other side. Make decisions about who should get your dogs, what you want done with them and ensure the intended recipients are fully aware of your wishes. An unexpected demise without your proper preparation may well ensure the end of your line.

Whether just starting out on your path of breeding or looking to pass on your bloodline to the next generation, none of it can happen without a good plan for the future. Every day affords us the opportunity to direct the rest of our lives; if your bloodline is the stepping stone to future breed improvement, do all that is necessary to ensure that is the legacy you leave behind.

Posted in Breeding | Leave a comment

20 Basic Breeding Principles by Raymond Oppenheimer

1. Don’t make use of indiscriminate outcrosses. A judicious outcross can be of great value; an injudicious one can produce an aggregation of every imaginable fault of the breed.

2. Don’t line breed just for the sake of line breeding. Line breeding with complimentary types can bring great rewards; with unsuitable one, it will lead to immediate disaster.

3. Don’t take advice from people who have always been unsuccessful breeders. If their opiinions were worth having, they would have proved it by their successes.

4. Don’t believe the popular cliche about the brother or sister of the great champion being just as good to breed from. For every one that is, hundreds are not. It all depends on the animal conceerned.

5. Don’t credit your dogs with virtues they don’t possess. Self-deceit is a stepping stone to failure.

6. Don’t breed from mediocrities. The absence of a fault does not in any way signify the presence of its corresponding virtue.

7. Don’t try to line bred to two dogs at the same time; you will end by line breeding to neither.

8. Don’t assess the worth of a stud dog by his inferior progeny. All stud dogs sire rubbish at times. What matters is how good their best efforts are.

9. Don’t allow personal feelings to influence your choice of a stud dog. The right dog for your bitch is the right dog, whoever owns it.

10. Don’t allow admiration of a stud dog to blind you to his faults. If you do, you will soon be the victim of autointoxication.

11. Don’t mate together animals which share the same fault. You are asking for trouble if you do.

12, Don’t forget that it is the whole dog that counts. If you forget one virtue while searching for another, you will pay for it.

13. Don’t searh for the perfect do as a mate for your bich. The perfect dog for every bitch does not exist — never has, never will.

14. Don’t be frightened of breeding from animals that have obvious faults, so long as they have compensating virtures. A lack of virtues bis by far the greatest fault of all.

15. Don’t mate together non-complementary types. An ability to recognize type at a glance is a breeder’s greatest gift. Ask the successful breeders to explain this subject — there’s no other way of learning. (I’d define non-complimentary types as ones which have the same faults and lack the same virtures).

16. Don’t forget the necessity to preserve head quality. It will vanish like a dream if you do.

17. Don’t forget that substance plus quality should be one of your aims. A fool can breed one without the other.

18. Don’t foret that a great head plus soundness should be one of your aims. Some people can never breed either.

19. Don’t ever try to decry a great terrier. A thing of beauty is not only a joy forever, but a great terrier should be a source of aesthetic pride and pleasure to all true lovers of the breed.

20. Don’t be satisfied with anything but the best. The second best is never good enough

Posted in Breeding | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

World Winner 2014 in Helsinki

australian cattle dog / Australian Cattle Dog 57
Judge Spagnolo Guy, Australia
BOB Windwarrior’s Sweet N’toxic (Heikkinen Tuulia, Komi)
BOS Banana Bender The Governor (Coletta Paolo, Cesena)
CACIB dog, MV-14 Banana Bender The Governor (Coletta Paolo, Cesena)
CACIB bitch, MV-14 Windwarrior’s Sweet N’toxic (Heikkinen Tuulia, Komi)
BOB veteran, MVV-14 Worrigal Eager Edith (Kälvinmäki Niina, Korkeakoski)
BOS veteran, MVV-14 Kohon Elton (Vainio Seija, Muurame)
dog, JMV-14 Banana Bender Duke Of Edinburgh (Cusan Massimo, CONCORDIA SAGITTARIA/VE)
bitch, JMV-14 Solka From Tasmanian Salt (Ovodneva Polina, St. Petersburg)
BOB breeder Erkkertin (Rantamäki Kerttu, Ulvila)
BOB brace Windwarrior’s Dream Catcher/Windwarrior’s Sweet N’toxic (Heikkinen Tuulia, Komi)
» Show all results for breed
Banana Bender Duke Of Edinburgh EXC JUK1
Cattlepark’s Hawker Hurricane VG JUK3
Cattlepark’s Thunderbolt EH JUK4
Iznogood Iisakki EH
Windwarrior’s Blue Ares (not present)
Windwarrior’s Blue Argon EXC JUK2
Working Mates Dewil In Disguise EH
Asahi Hills Adrenalin Rush EXC AVK3
Cattlepark’s Simply Smokin’ EH
Cossaks Down-At-Heel Dolan EXC AVK4
Erkkertin Blue Flying Dutchman EH
Faleser Hogland Ezhi Grand Crosko EXC AVK1 VARACA
Iznogood Golden Primrock EXC AVK2
Lebensberuf Ende Gut Alles Gut (not present)
Antey EH
Banana Bender The Governor ERI VAK1 VSP, SERT, MVA, CACIB
Heelersridge Emublu King ERI VAK4
Iznogood Pop Da Taliho ERI VAK3
Professional Choice Alpha ERI
Snjos Blue Fire Stick ERI
Windwarrior’s Dream Catcher EXC VAK2 VASERT
Working Mates Another Dewil EH
Kohon Elton ERI VEK1 VET VSP
Lebensberuf Genehm Gewinner EH VEK3
Willacarrras Blue Aramut EXC VEK2
Solka From Tasmanian Salt EXC JUK1
Bushbug’s I’m Ice EH
Cattlepark’s Hellcat EH
Cattlepark’s Kittyhawk ERI JUK2
Hacker Di Monte Tonico ERI JUK4
Iznogood Ivalo EH
Pk Hovikosken Cata Hero’s H
Working Mates Dingos R So Yesterday ERI
Working Mates Does Trick For Treat EH
Worrigal Jojo Jarrah ERI JUK3
Woylie’s Karkki EXC
NUO Illinois Kazari Toyo-Ken EXC NUK1
Cossaks Bite The Bullet EXC AVK3
Girra Ween Kazari Toyo-Ken EXC AVK1
Highland Mill’s Bones Of Blue Knight ERI AVK2
Inglisilm Greta Nuuskurnina EXC
Iznogood Raicilla ERI
Wallaroo Miss Moneypenny EXC AVK4
Windwarrior’s Solar Wind EXC
Banana Bender Senorita Rosarita EH
Cattlepark’s Smoky Blue Pearl EXC VAK4
Erkkertin Blue Foxy Lady EXC VAK2 VASERT, VARACA
Erkkertin Blue Nifty Maid EXC
Iznogood Elviiran Helmi EXC
Lebensberuf Ozna Orellana EXC
Mccoy’s Dunja Of Blue Spirit EH
Windwarrior’s Sweet N’toxic EXC VAK1 BOB, SERT, MVA, CACIB
Vlada EH
Worrigal Hero Haylee ERI VAK3
Freya’s Charm Cidabro ERI VEK3
Worrigal Eager Edith ERI VEK1 VET BOB
Worrigal Eager Elisah ERI VEK2

Posted in Show Results 2014 | Leave a comment

The Shoulder in the Working Dog

Author: Fred Lanting

Dog breeds are usually grouped—often arbitrarily or erroneously—into from five to ten categories based on function, superficial appearance, or geographical origin, depending on the registry organization. Just because it may make more sense to assign them to groups based primarily on ancestry and then on historical function, does not mean that such will be the case. In most dog circles, the “working” breeds have always been considered as those that originally did such work as herding or guarding livestock, pulling loads, and protecting property. Even though other breeds had specific occupations in the service of man, they are not known as working breeds: sighthounds running down prey or predators, gundogs flushing food for the table, terriers and toys terrorizing vermin — these were more or less doing what they would do without human ownership, anyway, so their jobs were considered less like “work.”

Many dog organizations split the huge Working Group into two, with the ones that had historical development for tending, driving, or bunching flocks and herds being called “Herding breeds.” Never mind the confusion about whether the reindeer-herding Samoyed is hardly much different from the sled-pulling Husky—that’s a puzzle for another time. Most of the Group that did not resemble the mastino-type wagon puller or the bear-fighting wooly flock guardian type were once employed to trot around the animals raised by man for his food, and assigned to the herding subcategory. These latter were specialists in trotting, in covering much ground with the most efficiency (least effort). This meant that success favored those with the most shoulder angulation over those with the stiffer, more vertical front ends.

When we speak of a shoulder in a dog, we usually include a lot more than just the scapula (shoulder blade)—although the flat, broad bone is often the center of attention. No part of a dog exists alone, not even those “floating” bones such as the hyoid, sesamoid, clavicle, patella and penile bones, all of which are connected to muscles and other bones by ligaments and tendons. The shoulder is intimately related to most other portions of the foreassembly or “forequarters,” from the skull to the ribs, from vertebrae to arm and breastbone.

The scapula does not articulate with any bones at its top, but is attached by four muscles to the spinal column at a number of places from the first cervical to the ninth thoracic vertebra and to the first seven or eight ribs. This is the case whether the dog is steep-shouldered or well-laid back, so differences between the two types must be due to minor differences in scapula and humerus lengths and ratios; perhaps the lengths of the vertebrae; and the tightness and condition of the ligaments and muscles that hold the bones in their positions.

At the most forward and lowest portion of the scapula is a shallow socket in which articulates the head of the upper arm (humerus). This area, especially the humeral greater tubercle that protrudes in front of the articulation, is called the “point of the shoulder.” Running roughly up the center of the blade from that point nearly to the top is a ridge of bone known as the spine of the scapula. The lowest and thickest section of that spine close to the socket is the acromion. See Figure 2. There are several muscle groups attached to the scapula. Don’t be frightened by their names; use abbreviated nicknames if you stumble over pronunciation. What matters is that you know what action each gives to the blade and the entire limb, and where the muscles are attached.

The first of these is the triangular trapezius muscle originating on the bones and ligaments of the vertebral column from the third cervical (neck) vertebra to the ninth thoracic vertebrae. Its insertion is on the spine of the scapula. Since part of this thin broad muscle lies forward of the ridge it is attached to, and part extends to the rear, it can easily be seen that its function is primarily to elevate the limb. It also brings the arm forward and helps in changing the angle of layback during movement. The omotransversarius starts from the first cervical vertebra (the atlas) next to the back of the skull, dips beneath the other muscles of the neck, which extend to the sternum and arm, then attaches to the scapular spine near the acromion. Its obvious action is to draw the limb forward and rotate the bottom of the scapula forward while other muscles are trying to hold the rest of it in place. Knowing that, you can easily understand why a dog trotting in the show ring isn’t going to extend its forelimbs in ideal or equal reach if it has its head turned toward its handler. Nor will it cover as much ground if it trots with its head held high instead of forward and slightly above back level. Yet terrier and cocker dog-show handlers are notorious for the silly spectacle in which their dogs often barely touch the floor with their front paws!

Beneath the trapezius lies the rhomboideus muscle, which originates on the vertebrae from near the head to about the sixth or seventh thoracic vertebra. Its insertion is along the edge of the scapula, farthest from the acromion. Because of its wide origin, it can lift the limb upward, pull the limb and shoulder forward or backward and draw the scapula against the rib cage, depending on which portions are ennervated (stimulated by nerve impulses.)

The muscle filling the space in front of the scapular spine is called the supraspinatus, and it is attached to the top of the humerus. Thus, you can envision it straightening out the shoulder-arm angle and bringing the limb forward. The (behind the spine) will either flex or extend the shoulder joint, depending on the position when the muscle contracts. It also is inserted on the humerus. Other muscles include the infraspinatus, serratus, teres, deltoideus, and sub-scapularis; all play some parts in moving the scapula in relation to the ribs, vertebrae or upper arm.

Now that you have a little more understanding of the muscles and their actions on the bones, let’s get back to the subject of angulation. Some of what follows is similar to an excerpt from my book, The Total German Shepherd Dog.

The Front

Variously called the front assembly, forequarters, or shoulder, the whole combination made by the shoulder blade (scapula), upper arm (humerus), breastbone (sternum), and their related soft tissues is at the heart of much poor movement in dogs the world over.

Shoulder assembly — The least understood and most controversial portions of the AKC and most other Breed Standards relate to the angles proscribed for the forequarters and hindquarters. I disagree with the angles commonly reported to be ideal in the shoulder area, though much of the discrepancy may be a matter of how that angle is usually measured. To specify angles is useless unless exact points of reference are not only agreed upon but also easily determined. Since the bones forming these angles are curved, such “landmarks” as (1) the highest point of the scapula, (2) the foremost point of the upper arm where it meets the shoulder, and (3) the topmost point of the elbow should be used as well as a detailed illustration decided upon. Without X-ray vision, we need to rely on our fingers.

None of the editions or versions of the AKC Standard for the German Shepherd Dog has been sufficiently explanatory, nor have they been so in other breeds. Many years ago I radiographed standing dogs and found that what I had been reading in books and seeing in artists’ drawings was not true, even though I had already discovered that by digital palpation of bones and joints.

Many people hear and even use terms without a good understanding of their meanings. See my article on “topline” for another example of this. What is “shoulder layback?” Many dog fanciers are not sure. See Figure 1. It is the front-to-back inclination of the shoulder blade, seen and felt when one touches both the point of the shoulder and the top of the scapula or the withers at the same time. The withers is the area atop the shoulder from where the neck ends to where the “true back” begins. In most dogs, the last cervical vertebraeand the first thoracic vertebraeare down between the shoulder blades, so you might not be able to feel them, especially in well-muscled dogs. The withers is thus a transition stage between the neck’s relatively upright carriage and the nearly level back called for in most working breeds. (I use the term “working” in the utilitarian sense, and especially refer to the herding breeds.) The beginning judge (or the one evaluating heavily-coated breeds) often checks and compares layback by running his thumbs down the spine of the scapula. That line is almost parallel to, and only an inch or so behind, the envisioned line from the highest point of scapula to point of shoulder. Even so, among novices there is usually great disparity between what the fingers feel and what the mouth spouts!

In examining the standing dog, the good layback of 35 or 30 degrees can be determined either by feeling that line of the slope of the scapular spine, or by palpating those points mentioned above, and imagining a line between these points. These two sloping lines will be essentially parallel, so take your choice; in either case, you will have approached the question more scientifically. By observing the facts for yourself you will be able to arrive at a conclusion or hypothesis. The sooner we understand what is as opposed to what we imagine, the sooner we’ll understand how to get the most out of our dogs. Feeling that scapular spine is more difficult in a heavily muscled breed such as the Rottweiler.
The often-heard call for a 45-degree shoulder layback plus another supposed 45-degree angle to the “line” of the upper arm, equaling a 90-degree shoulder angle, is inaccurate and misleading. If lines are drawn on a radiograph or a sketch, along the scapular spine and down the center of the humerus as they usually are, a 90-degree angle in the real, live dog standing there before you will never be realized. Since the time I started challenging this notion, there have been noted authorities who have corroborated my claims with independent research, but it will be a long time before the old books are all revised and longer still before writers do their own investigative work instead of copying sketches from each other. One of the better drawings of the “ideal” (according to American tastes) German Shepherd Dog ever made in this country is Lloyd Fanning’s which appeared in the Review and in an early, small booklet on the breed published by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America. Strange, that so many have used incorrect representations instead of this fairly accurate sketch. An even better sketch is available from the SV and appears in many posters and magazines owned by those who appreciate the international (German) type. And the pictures and photos in my slide-illustrated lectures are even more helpful.

If you draw your line (on a radiograph or in your mind) from point of shoulder to the highest part of the ulna that we call the point of the elbow (leaving the humerus to do so), you get points of reference you can see and feel. Now draw your second imaginary line from point of shoulder to top of shoulder blade. The angle between is closer to 90 degrees than if you tried to imagine and use a line going through the shaft of the humerus, but you still don’t get a right angle, even with the best laid-back shoulder blades. That touted right angle cannot be attained by drawing your lines down the middle of the upper arm on a radiograph. Whether or not you have x-ray vision, you will not be able to agree where a “center” line of this slightly curved, well-padded bone is!). In my live-dog illustrated lecture, “Analytical Approach to Evaluating Dogs”, I show where the lines can connect palpable points by drawing chalk lines on dark, short-coated canine volunteers. Even without using a protractor, my audiences can see the fallacies of those printed standard specifications. See Figures 1 and 4.

Sketches and radiograph pictures in my book on the breed represent the typical German Shepherd with a good shoulder. Dogs with better reach and a floating gait have close to the same angles and layback. I suspect much more credit for such gait lies in the muscles and ligaments than has been imagined, measured, or hinted at in the past. And of course, desire and drive make a big difference, too. In actuality, the ideal shoulder with an angle approaching that much-vaunted “90-degree” number (from point of elbow to point of shoulder to highest point on scapula) has about a 30 to 35-degree shoulder blade layback, not 45 degrees. Factors such as the relative lengths of scapula and humerus, the angle at which the humerus inclines, plus the dog’s attitude, play parts in both the standing appearance and in the reach in motion. While they didn’t have all the answers, Humphrey and Warner had most of them, and they determined that a scapula-humerus angle of 102° was ideal for the working German Shepherd Dog.

Another problem in reports of that fictitious 45° or greater layback is that it just doesn’t occur in the standing dog. Possibly you might exclude achondroplastic dwarf breeds such as the Corgi, although a noted Dachshund breeder once told me that my statement about “no such shoulder angle as 45 degrees” was true for his breed as well. It does happen when the dog is trotting, running, deeply crouching, or lying on its chest and belly in the manner of the Great Sphinx. The reason for this is that the scapula is not fixed or stationary; its lower end is pulled back by the trapezius and forward by the omotransversarius and serratus, with many other muscles being involved to a lesser extent. These angles can be visualized by watching slow-motion movies or the frames taken from those, and superimposing (technically, infra-imposing) the skeleton or lines representing the bones. Examining many dogs of varying qualities, hopefully with the guidance of a knowledgeable veteran, will enable you to see these proper angles in motion and in standing.
A very unfortunate situation has arisen out of ignorance and laziness: many AKC breed standards were written by people who copied the wording from other erroneous standards without checking accuracy first. The same problem is seen in the multitude of breed books in which artists’ drawings of canine skeletons could almost have been traced from other books, judging from the mistakes they have repeated.

I had been preaching scientific honesty and artistic accuracy for years, thinking I was, like Elijah, “the only prophet in the land of Baal”—until Rachel Page Elliot’s book Dogsteps came out. As I had done on a smaller scale, she x-rayed many standing and running dogs to prove the nonsense about 90 degree angles between humerus (upper arm) and scapula, and the impossibility of a 45-degree layback of the shoulder. That so-called right angle cannot even be approached if you draw your lines down the middle of the upper arm (if you have x-ray vision, maybe you can tell me where the “center” line of this slightly curved, well-padded bone is!). Curtis Brown’s book on Canine Locomotion is the only other, besides Elliot’s and my books, that correctly describes skeletal angles and their relation to gait.

The Bouvier’s AKC standard has quite good wording on this subject, as does the Collie’s. The “about a right angle” in the AKC German Shepherd Standard is misleading. Is slightly less as good as slightly more? Is it even possible? Their Doberman Pinscher standard is a travesty, what with the 45° layback and 90° shoulder/arm angles being specified. Might as well specify cubical tires for cars! And Dobes have a terrier-schnauzer-sighthound type of structure, with more “open” front angulation than in the herding breeds.

Why, within a particular breed, are some shoulder angles better than others? In a few cases this is the same as asking why some scapulas are laid back at a greater angle than others, though most deficiencies in front angulation lie in the upper arm rather than the scapula layback. If the angle of the spine of the scapula does indeed differ between dogs, it is possibly because some dogs have proportionately shorter vertebrae in the neck or sacrum, and some may have longer bones in the true back and loin (the true back being between the scapula and the croup). If the dog has shorter vertebrae and disks, the shoulder may more upright.

Use Your Fingers

If you draw your line from point of shoulder to the highest part of the ulna that we call the point of the elbow (leaving the humerus to do so), you get points of reference you can see and feel. Now draw your second imaginary line from point of shoulder to top of shoulder blade. The angle between is closer to 90 degrees than if you tried to use the line going through the shaft of the humerus, but you still don’t get a right angle, even with the best laid-back shoulder blades. In my live-dog illustrated lecture, “Analytical Approach to Evaluating Dogs,” I show where these lines are by drawing chalk lines on dark, short-coated canine volunteers. Even when I don’t use a protractor, my audiences can see the fallacies of those printed standard specifications. Again, see Figures 1 and 4.

Action and Motion

Remember that those trapezius and rhomboideus muscles extend to the ninth and sixth thoracic vertebrae with only a small portion of their fibers, and if the vertebrae are relatively short or the scapula is slightly more upright in that dog for another reason, the muscle attachment will be relatively forward and less broad. The same may be true to a lesser degree with the serratus ventralis, which runs from the scapula to the last five cervical vertebrae and the first seven ribs. The more forward all these attachments are, the less the blade will be inclined when a pup begins to move and muscle forces help shape its semi-cartilaginous bones and joints. In such a dog, there would be less muscle mass present to rotate the top of the scapula back and forth, thus a restriction of motion here contributes to a lack of reach in front and even follow-through beneath.

There is a far greater cause for poor reach, or less smoothness of front action. Some dogs have an upper arm (humerus) that is not laid back at a good angle from point of shoulder to elbow joint. This is sometimes accompanied by a proportionately shorter arm compared to the scapular length. Such dogs are in the minority, but it’s wise to keep an eye on the problem. Because of cyclic neglect, German Shepherd Dogs, have periodically become alternately better and worse in this respect. At the time of this revision, the AKC-GSDCA type has lacked good upper arm layback for many years while the international type has improved (at least, in the front) since the 1970s. See Figure 3 for one artist’s conception of ideal structure.

Whether herding livestock, doing police work, performing obedience exercises, or pulling loads, the working dog needs a well-angled shoulder/upper arm assembly. Let’s consider this synonymous with good layback of both bones, for convenience’s sake. A “straight” (more vertical) foreassembly is somewhat like a car without springs. Imagine a dog with poor front angulation hitting the ground with its forelimbs after climbing over a wall in pursuit of an errant lamb or thief. The hard shock will have a detrimental effect before long.

A dog with better angles (yet strong ligaments in pasterns, elbows, and shoulders) can spread that shock over an imperceptibly longer period of time, during which the muscles slow the impact while the bones go through their “folding up” action relative to each other, then release that stored energy by straightening out again (bouncing back). Trotting creates very nearly the same sort of shock that jumping does, only far less violent.

A successful parachutist survives because he takes only a tiny fraction of a second longer to hit the ground than someone whose chute didn’t open. A good boxer “rolls with the punches”, while the guy who holds his head still when the other guy’s fist approaches finds himself waking up some time later. The baseball player relies on padding and moving his hand back to slow the speed of the ball as it makes contact with his glove. The differences in time intervals in each illustration are truly minute, but they can mean the difference between ease and pain, or life and death. Likewise the differences in layback from dog to dog may be small, but a tiny difference can mean smoother action, greater ability to hit the ground effortlessly whether jumping or trotting, and a longer useful working life. The galloping breeds minimize that shock by increasing the horizontal-to-vertical motion ratio. My show champion, lure-coursing Whippet was undefeated after he learned to run “flat” instead of “up and down.” The trotter breeds have a little more need for more acute angles in the foreassembly.

Not many dogs are used for pulling loads anymore, but the dog with a smaller angle between scapula and upper arm is better suited for this type of work, too. Even if only for historical interest, the ability to pull carts or sleds should be preserved in those breeds that are developed for such purposes, for breed type is inextricably bound to that utility. Form follows function, and if we get too far in the evolution of breeds from their original purposes, we will have created (though gradually) a distinctly different breed. What time traveler from centuries past would recognize today’s utterly non-functional English Bulldog from those he had seen chase and tame wild bulls in the days when the breed had a useful purpose? Do not let our working, utilitarian breeds slip away into uselessness as some other breeds have. There is a good reason why I put so much emphasis on shoulder and upper arm angles, and reward good examples in the show ring. It’s the same reason why it is so difficult to improve in breeding.

Why is good front angulation harder to achieve and possibly more important?

In the case of angulation at the knee (“bend of stifle”), ignorance and fad-following have resulted in American and “Alsatian” GSDs with lower-thighs that are too long, with hocks too far behind the torso to be adequately controlled by ligaments and muscles. This rear angulation at the stifle can go either direction from the middle (moderate) ideal for most breeds, with the American-fashion GSD at one extreme and Chows at the other. However, in the case of the shoulder, the ideal is not in the middle of a normal range, but on one end; namely, closer to the fictional 45-degree layback and 90-degree shoulder/arm angles. Actually, depending upon breed and whether you draw the bottom line to the point of the elbow, a layback of 35 degrees in either scapula or upper arm is very good, and an angle of 95 degrees from withers to point of shoulder to point of elbow is excellent for a herding breed. Drawing that line through the upper arm, you would get about 115 degrees in most of the efficient trotters. If it were possible to create a 45-degree layback in both bones, some say that such a dog might fall on its face.

But back to those palpable points of reference, those being the indentation at the point of shoulder, the highest point of the scapula, and the top of the ulna. If a number of genes affect the angle between these bones, some would be “ideal genes” (let’s say they’d call for a 35° angle from vertical, for each bone, for purpose of illustration), and others would be “less than ideal genes” calling for some lesser angle. Of all the possible genes that could be transmitted, the vast majority would be calling for an angle of somewhere in the 20 degree to 30 degree range, with a miniscule number calling for the coveted approximately 120 degrees remaining between the scapula and humerus. Genes are inherited randomly, and statistically would show a bell curve with the smallest amplitude in the two extremes (say, 15 degrees and 35 degrees, for example) and the greatest in the middle of the curve.

Despite all the talk about angles, it boils down to this advice: forget the numbers, examine as many dogs as you can get your hands and eyes on, compare one dog to the next, and reward or admire those with the smallest apparent angle between shoulder and upper arm, while proving what appears in stance by watching the dog perform in the trot. See Figures 4 and 5.

Since he cannot do “better” than the ideal shoulder angle, which is at one end of a range of possibilities, the breeder must be more diligent in such an instance to cull from breeding programs all dogs which drift an undesirable distance from that good end of that spectrum. More so than is necessary in any trait in which the ideal is at some intermediate point between the worst on one end and the worst in the opposite direction. In the case of good forequarter function in a herding breed, and in most other working breeds, there is only one direction from the ideal, when we speak of breeds developed for trotting. To paraphrase Sir Edmund Burke, eternal diligence is the price of freedom from poor forequarters.

The Hindquaters
The thigh — What is meant by “the whole assembly of the thigh” in the wording of the AKC Standard for the GSD? Viewed from the side, it includes the croup, upper thigh (femur and associated soft tissues), and lower thigh (tibia and fibula). If these three skeletal sections are too “vertical” or steep, the hindquarters will not present the broad picture called for by the Standard. Obviously, if the croup and lower thigh are slanted downward toward the rear, the femur will not also be so. Nor is it angled forward when the GSD stands in a normal pose, in spite of the AKC Standard’s inaccurate statement about it paralleling the scapula. Many books on many other breeds have made the same error; even some written by well-known judges who should have known better than to report on something they did not experience in real life.

From experience both in radiographing live, standing dogs and in feeling for the bones in the hindquarters, and getting my seminar attendees to do the same, I have repeatedly shown that the femur is vertical when the metatarsus (hock) is vertical. The natural stance for German Shepherd Dogs is with one rear leg placed a little (and only a little) under the torso for added support of a long, substantial body. In this leg, the femur is not vertical, but neither is the hock. Stand your dog with metatarsi vertical and parallel. Lift the dog’s rear leg while you feel with your fingers for the acetabular (hip) joint capsule, and make a chalk mark there. Then feel the depression between the upper and lower leg bones. This is some distance below the patella, which is too hidden in cartilage to be accurately palpated. Make another chalk mark there. You can now see that the femur is quite vertical between these two easily-located points.

The slant of the lower thigh in the GSD can roughly approximate that of both the croup and the humerus, although there is considerable variation, and it probably comes closest when the metatarsus is vertical, but even then not in all dogs — too much has been made of this similarity and the concept should be dropped. The angle that the lower thighbones make with the femur in a natural stance is not a right angle. Here again I am forced to contradict a poorly worded line in the AKC Standard which is more fancy than fact, and probably harks back to the days before radiography was used much.

Even von Stephanitz may have understated conditions a little when he said this angle should be “90 to 100 degrees, sometimes even a bit more.” He was talking about the angle made between the pelvis (croup) and femur, which right angle we have shown is not possible. But one of the axioms of geometry indicates that if the croup is parallel with the tibia, the angle between the femur and tibia equals that between the femur and croup. Remember that this premise of parallel lines is approximate at best. The angle between pelvis and femur is not a 90° angle, as you now know. With a slope of (typically) 35° to the croup, and a nearly vertical femur, that angle between lower thigh and femur in most excellent moderately- or even very-angulated dogs will be around 125° (90 + 35) from the horizontal, however one measures it. To have a right angle would necessitate a horizontal croup or a forward-slanting femur, neither of which are found (except in incorrectly-drawn imaginative illustrations!). The angle between a vertical line from hip socket through the stifle indicating the femur, and the line from stifle joint to point of hock varies from 95° in an “extreme” dog to about 130° or 140° in a less-angulated, straighter-stifled dog. This means the angle of the lower thigh from the horizontal varies from 5 to 50 degrees in various breeds. The relative length of the lower thigh is the biggest anatomical factor in determining this angle. See Figure 6.

People who are used to other breeds are often turned off or confused about the obvious difference in structure they see in the German Shepherd Dog. There are many (American-line GSDs, especially) that appear in stance to be so over-angulated in the rear (thigh-to-tibia-to-metatarsus) that you’d think they would not be able to adequately extend the hock. But given enough speed in gait, some might. Odds are, though, that the dog would have to step pretty high in front to compensate. The more the unbalance between front and rear, the more the dog has to do something screwy with its front in order to take the same number of steps in the same time as he does in the rear. And there’s only so much flipping and lifting a dog can do before he simply has to stop pushing back with the rear foot and bring it forward before a full stride could be accomplished. Illustrations in my Gait-and-Structure lecture show these faults clearly.

Some dogs (mostly GSDs but occasionally a few others) are so unbalanced that they are unable to fully extend the hock joint. When they are finished thrusting the body forward with the rear leg, even though the angle at the hock resembles a sickle at 90 degrees, they must bring the leg forward because the corresponding front foot has finished its forward motion. In order to confirm that a dog that appears overly-angulated in the stifle-hock area is truly sickle-hocked, you need to watch from the side as that dog trots past.

For a good understanding of the anatomy of the dog, additional pictures and discussion would be helpful. Toward that end, I urge you to get your own copy of “The Total German Shepherd Dog”, regardless of what breed you have, and study the illustrations and information.

See illustrations following:

Fig.1 Shoulder Angles – It is impossible to duplicate, by eye or hand, the typical illustration in most books that shows a 90-degree angle between limbs, with lines going through the middle of the humerus and from either the most-forward point of the shoulder or the imagined location of the center of articulation to the highest point of the scapula or along the scapular spine. Only in the “best” fore-assemblies will an angle of 90 degrees even be approached, and then only if lines are drawn on radiographs from top of ulna to front of upper arm to a point behind the highest point of the scapula.


Figure 3 Various Bone-Joint Angles in a Well-built Herding/Working Breed

(Actually, few GSDs have this good a shoulder, and very few from American lines since the 1970s)

Figure 6 Rear Angulation. This is defined as the angular relationships between croup (pelvis), femur,

lower thigh, and metatarsus. The term is erroneously used by rank novices to describe slope of topline.
Figure 7 Correct Rear Angulation in the GSD

People who are used to other breeds are often turned off or confused about the obvious difference in structure they see in the German Shepherd Dog. There are many (American-line GSDs, especially) that appear in stance to be so over-angulated in the rear (thigh-to-tibia-to-metatarsus) that you’d think they would not be able to adequately extend the hock. But given enough speed in gait, some might. Odds are, though, that the dog would have to step pretty high in front to compensate. The more the unbalance between front and rear, the more the dog has to do something screwy with its front in order to take the same number of steps in the same time as he does in the rear. And there’s only so much flipping and lifting a dog can do before he simply has to stop pushing back with the rear foot and bring it forward before a full stride could be accomplished. Illustrations in my Gait-and-Structure lecture show these faults clearly._______________________________________________________________________________

Figure 2 Proper rear angulation in the German Shepherd Dog

The stifle is the joint or connection between the upper rear leg (thigh) and the lower rear leg (tibia, fibula). Stifle angulation is highly variable… much more so than shoulder layback. When a dog stands with the metatarsus (that part of the foot between the hock joint and the pad) vertical, the upper thigh (femur) will also be vertical or nearly so… parallel with the metatarsus.

COMPARISONS with other breeds:

Keep breed function in mind when judging rear angulation (or any other feature).

In some breeds, especially those with a fighting background, rear angulation is very slight. They need stability to prevent being overturned, rather than angulation for covering much ground at a trot.

Comparing very poor to very good rear angulation in Airedales. What is correct and desirable for a Chow-Chow or PitBull Terrier is not desirable for other-use breeds. The Airedale, built for chasing as much as fighting, should have more angulation than the dog on the left, but needs no more than the dog on the right.

Fred Lanting

Posted in Breeding | Leave a comment