Comparing our German shepherds’ builds

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:

Pyrrha and Eden body comparison | Doggerel

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.

Looking at the girls' lines | Doggerel

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.)

Studying Eden's movement
Eden, prowling. December 2013.
Prancing around the yard
Eden, prancing. January 2014.

Pyrrha, as you can see, doesn’t have that downward sloping back.

Post-deer chase
Pyrrha, post-deer chase. August 2012.
Stick patrol
Pyrrha. April 2013.

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”?

My hot-button topics in the dog world

The more I learn about dogs, the more opinionated I seem to get. Anyone else feel that way? 😉

It’s hard to keep my mouth shut sometimes. I don’t like writing combative or purposefully aggressive posts here, but I do have strong opinions.

Secret garden shepherd. #gsd #backyardliving
Secret garden shepherd.

Over the years, here is what I have come to feel most strongly about with regard to dogs. So, without starting any kind of ranting and raving session, here — simply put — are the topics that I have a hard time keeping quiet about:

  1. Inhumane breeding practices, merely to fit the sacred “breed standard.” (See: bulldogs, pugs, most brachycephalic breeds, many toy breeds, most any breed without any current working line.) The more I read, the more I am convinced that we all just need to get mixed breeds. (Says the woman with a purebred German shepherd, one of the most physically effed purebreds there is. I know, I know…)
  2. The deeply damaging use of shock collars (euphemistically termed “e-collars”) in dog training. Many of the most respected trainers, behaviorists, and dog bloggers have written about the detrimental effects of shock collars (see Patricia McConnell and Jean Donaldson, to name a few). Eileen and Dogs also has compiled helpful articles and videos on this topic. What particularly interests me about this divide in training is that the people with the most expertise, academic background, and scientific credentials are always against the use of shock collars. The people without scientific credentials always seem to be the most vociferous proponents of shock collars.
  3. Cesar Millan being respected as a “trainer.” I always cringe as soon as someone starts throwing around the words “pack leader,” “dominance,” or starts making that silly “tsk, tsk” sound and then poking their dog in the side. God forbid they follow his other tactics at home (flooding, alpha rolling, wrestling fearful dogs to the ground, etc.).
  4. People who use retractable leashes for everyday walks. As the owner of a reactive dog, I think that is all I have to say about that.
  5. Toy or tiny breeds that are not trained, simply because they are small and “cute.” My Mega-E Dog recently wrote a post on this that resonated with me. I often see toy breeds get away with behavior that is simply appalling, merely because they are tiny and can be scooped up in one’s arms. They are still dogs. They still need to be trained.
  6. Breed-specific legislation. And as the owner of a frequently maligned breed, I am well aware of how silly and damaging these regulations are.

What are YOUR hot-button topics, related to dogs? And feel free to share if you disagree with some of mine! This could be a healthy way to release steam without starting an Internet war…

And, on a happier note: Trina already has a slew of approved adopters interested in her (no surprise there). Now we just have to choose the best family for her! Wish us (and the little pup) luck!