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The German Shepherd Breed Standard

Hello, fellow German Shepherd enthusiasts.! Asd many of you know I've been a dedicated breeder since 1970, a journey that has not only been my profession but my passion.

Over these decades, I've been steadfast in my belief that breed standards are the cornerstone of responsible breeding. They serve as a blueprint, guiding us in preserving the essence and purpose of the German Shepherd Dog—traits that have been carefully selected for their intelligence, versatility, and physical capabilities.

Southernwind  President Cecilia Martinez Offering a Seminar for GSD
Cecilia From Southernwind offering a German Shepherd Standard, Performance, Temperament Seminar

From a young age, I was taught to respect, protect, and follow these standards, seeing them as a legacy passed down to ensure the breed's integrity and future. This philosophy has been the bedrock of my breeding program, where ethical practices and the well-being of the dogs have always taken precedence.

The landscape of dog breeding has indeed evolved, branching into directions that sometimes diverge from the traditional path I've followed. The emergence of diverse colors and physical traits, some falling outside the established breed standards, presents a challenge to my long-held views. Particularly, the discussions around the sloped back—a feature critiqued by some but understood within the context of a working, trotting dog's physical requirements—reflect broader debates on breed characteristics and health.

German Shepherd Standard Image
Image of the Structure, angles, degrees, lenght of German Shepherds in the Standard

Adherence toThe German Shepherd Breed Standard is more than a preference for me; it's about maintaining the German Shepherd's heritage and the functional attributes for which they were originally bred. These standards aren't arbitrary; they encapsulate the breed's history, its roles as a working dog, and the health considerations crucial for its longevity and quality of life.

However, I also recognize the importance of dialogue and understanding in the evolving world of dog breeding. It's crucial to engage with and understand the perspectives of those who advocate for diversity within the breed. The motivations behind diverging from traditional standards, whether due to aesthetics, a belief in enhancing genetic diversity, or personal preference, merit consideration and respectful discussion.

Illustration of a German Shepherd gaiting
Illustration showing the correct gaiting of a German Shepherd

As someone deeply ingrained in the tradition and discipline of breeding German Shepherds to standard, my aim is not only to preserve these principles but also to foster understanding among breeders. While my commitment to the German Shepherd breed standards remains unwavering, I am open to learning about the complexities of modern breeding practices. It's through this understanding that we can continue to advocate for the health, welfare, and future of the German Shepherd Dog, ensuring its legacy for generations to come.

The controversy I'm describing touches on a fundamental debate within the German Shepherd Dog (GSD) breeding community and, indeed, within the dog breeding world at large. This debate centers around the adherence to breed standards versus breeding for diversity, including colors and traits not recognized within these standards. There are several factors at play in this discussion:

Adherence to Breed Standard

1. Health and Predictability: Breed standards are established by kennel clubs and breed clubs to ensure the health, temperament, and functionality of the breed. Following these standards helps maintain predictability in breeding, which is crucial for dogs intended for specific work, show, or as predictable family pets.

Chart of Colors of the German Shepherd
Chart of Colors in the German Shepherd, As the standard describes

2. Preservation of Breed Characteristics: Standards help preserve the physical and behavioral characteristics that define each breed. For GSDs, this includes traits that contribute to their versatility as working dogs, such as intelligence, strength, and a specific coat color and structure.

3. Recognition in Shows and Competitions: Even Tho many of my Dog Owners do not show nor intent to show or participate in shows its good to know that Adhering to breed standards is necessary for participation in dog shows and many competitions. Breeding to standard allows breeders to showcase their dogs in these venues, where adherence to the breed standard is a key criterion for judging. Many of our Southernwind puppy owners do not show their dogs , but feel highly proud to know they have a dog with the category and virtues to be able to be presented in a show and create a winning mpression to any GSD judge

Breeding Beyond Standard

1. Demand for Variety: There is a significant public demand for dogs that look unique or have rare colors, which can drive breeders to produce dogs outside of the standard. These dogs often attract attention and can be sold at a premium, despite not being eligible for standard breed shows.

2. Belief in Health or Temperament Improvements: Some breeders argue that diverging from strict breed standards, including introducing other colors or traits, can improve genetic diversity and reduce the prevalence of hereditary health issues. This perspective is subject to debate, as it can sometimes conflict with the goal of preserving breed characteristics.

3. Personal Preferences: Some breeders and owners may simply prefer the appearance or temperament of GSDs that fall outside the standard. They might prioritize these personal preferences over conformity to breed standards or eligibility for official recognition.

The Controversy and Its Implications

The controversy between these two approaches stems from differing values: the preservation of breed standards and characteristics versus the desire for diversity and personal preference.

Critics of breeding outside the standard argue that it can lead to the dilution of breed characteristics and potentially introduce health problems. On the other hand, proponents of diversity in breeding practices argue for the benefits of genetic variety and meeting public demand for unique pets.

It's important to note that breeding responsibly requires a deep understanding of genetics, health issues, Temperaments, attitudes, working ethics, and the welfare of the dogs involved, regardless of whether one is breeding to standard or not.

The debate is complex, involving ethical considerations about animal welfare, the preservation of breed traits, and the responsibilities of breeders to their dogs and to the people who will live with those dogs.

Ultimately, the German Shepherd Dog community—like those of other breeds—faces the challenge of balancing these concerns in a way that honors the breed's heritage, ensures the health and well-being of the dogs, and respects the preferences of owners and breeders.

I will Include some links that explain the Standard

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