German shepherds are famous for having pretty wrecked structures, thanks to the sacred “breed standard” and dog shows, so it’s always something that I pay attention to — especially with our own dogs.
Our dogs are both rescues, so from the start, we already lack the guarantee of a responsible breeder (and you can pretty much bet that a purebred GSD in rescue did not come from a terribly responsible breeder, since most reputable breeders would be willing to take back a puppy).
Here’s a picture of the girls, side by side:
Here’s what we know about them.
Pyrrha came from an unscrupulous backyard breeder in rural North Carolina. Based on her fairly level topline and lack of exaggerated hocks, however, my guess is that he wasn’t trying to win dog shows but rather churn out a bunch of puppies to make a buck or two. We are lucky in that Pyrrha is healthy and has a very strong, solid gait.
Eden is from a breeder who imports dogs from Germany and competes with them in schutzhund trials and in dog shows. She’s only 6 months old, so she’s not full-grown yet, but as you can see from the photos, her topline is not as straight as Pyrrha’s. Her hocks are slightly more exaggerated, but not by much.
When we brought Eden home, I was particularly interested in her movement. She is still very much a floppy, uncoordinated puppy, but she’s also not nearly as fast as Pyrrha, and I wonder if that has to do with her more “show-line” build. (It could also be just, again, that she’s still growing.)
Pyrrha, as you can see, doesn’t have that downward sloping back.
Even though we know more about Eden (and know that her parents’ hips and elbows passed as normal), I worry about her more, simply because she comes from a show line. The fact that her parents are both titled in schutzhund makes me feel somewhat better. And at least she’s not an American-line show dog, which are the worst in terms of exaggerated structure. So she has some things in her favor.
For now, though, we are lucky to have two bright, healthy shepherds. We hope and pray that they will continue to be so!
Do you ever obsess over unchangeable qualities of your dog (i.e., her structure, her heritage)? If you have a purebred, are you like me and you worry about your dog conforming too much to the “breed standard”?