==> All of us see it

But few people speak out

The Decline of the German Shepherd Dog

WARNING: This is a topic that is likely to be controversial.

Particularly if you are a certain kind of breeder(??) you may hate me for bringing up this topic at all. No problem, if you can't bear constructive criticism you are most welcome to UNsubscribe. :-D

But it is a topic that is close to my heart and feelings as a dog lover (and in particular as a GSD lover). And maybe close to your heart too?!

Further: If you haven't yet read the last two Periodicals, you should certainly read these first:

And the final introductory note:

If you already have a GSD like any of the ones pictured below, by all means cherish your dog and give your dog the best life you can.

Your dog deserves it, nothing of this is the dog's fault!

Now, in this Periodical:

  • The German Shepherd Dog - life at stake!
  • Who sacked the GSD? Why?
  • What speaks against sacking the GSD?!
  • What can we do about it??

The German Shepherd Dog - life at stake!

Decline of the German Shepherd Dog?? Didn't we all always believe that GSD ownership is on the rise? That each year there are more GSDs - like we had learned from the shocking images and statistics in the Periodical GSD Spaying and Neutering?

Well, yes and no. While the number of German Shepherds in the world certainly is still increasing, many people wonder with me, how many of these can really be considered German Shepherd Dogs as they were meant to be?

I am certainly not talking about complying with the breed standard here. No. And not about coat colors either (that topic will come in a future Periodical). No, I am talking about something much more fundamental.

After all, first and foremost, like any other dog, the German Shepherd is meant to be a ... DOG!

Not a cripple!

This is what a Top dog expert says:
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!

The problem can easily be depicted with this animation, but explained it can hardly be at all. :-(

GSD Sacking

Aue StadiumWhen I look at the winners(!) of the Bundessieger Zuchtschau that annually selects the presumably 'best' German Shepherds in the world (that descend on Germany for this event, in 2013 to this arena in Kassel), then it makes me cringe.

And weirdly, the offspring from these "dogs"(??) command the highest prices:

Winner 2012Winner 2011

Winner 2010Winner 2009

Winner 2008Winner 1954

In fact, the German Shepherd downfall (at its back) is clearly visible since at least 1954 - only it got worse!

Don't get this wrong: The downfall, downturn, decline, demise, fall, come-down, or however you want to call this, is NOT related to the difference between show dogs and working dogs. No: "GHKLR" winner means "Gebrauchs-Hund-KLasse Rüden" winner, or in English: "Working Dog Class - Male Dog" winner.

Of course I know myself that these dogs are no longer working dogs at all (in fact, their only function in life has become show and ... yes, breeding as much offspring as they can produce semen). I saw that last year's winner's puppies go at a rate of 1350 Euro (around 1755 USD), but I heard that uninformed buyers get shaken down for up to 5000 Euro. Nuts!

And that's my next point: Not even the class name in the German "Sieger Show" makes any sense at all anymore! Arnold Schwarzenegger would say: Total destruction - of what was, once upon a time, the prime dog breed (and dog show) in the world. But Arnie also always adds: "I'll be back" - well, hopefully he comes back one more time, to save this dog breed from its demise!

Conversely, in the early years of the German Shepherd Dog breed, and at least until v. Stephanitz died (1936), all was well (he ruled the SV with an iron fist)! See for example these showpieces of nature's (and breeder's) engineering:

Winner 1900Winner 1929

Sadly, like with everything else, many people (breeders in this case) jump on anything that's in vogue - and thus this new kind of "German Shepherd" has found its way from german show arenas into every corner of the globe. :-(

GSD sign

Even many German Shepherd signs and stickers now depict the GSD with a downfall at its back.

Worse: Many children now draw the GSD that way, and they believe that this is how it has to be!

So, a message to all children in this world:

NO, this is NOT how it has to be. Not at all.

Never forget, this is how a DOG looks - and in particular how a German Shepherd Dog initially indeed did look:

GSD shape original

Even this shape may be in balance with nature, namely depending on the dog's pedigree - which always is a cross of different breeds of dogs(!):

GSD shape okay

But isn't this shape a poor, sad, and inhumane outcome of human 'creativity'?

GSD shape sick

Sometimes I wonder if the only reason why the Germans went down that route (quite literally!) might be that they failed to get full grip on German Shepherd hip dysplasia?

Because, the downfall has one (questionable) 'benefit' - the legs already have the angle that fits flat into the dog wheelchair:

dog in wheelchair

But is this what we want for our dogs - to be tailor-made for the wheelchair??

Just because the same breeders that caused health issues like hip dysplasia (due to their irresponsible inbreeding, vastly based on pseudo-scientists like Lloyd Brackett) can't get the outcome of their own irresponsible practices under control?

NO, dear children in the world, this is NOT what we want for our beloved DOGS. And certainly they don't want this either!

Who sacked the GSD? And why?

I have no idea. Well, breeders did! But I don't know who started this disaster, who was the first culprit.

And that's quite irrelevant really. Because: Had not so many more breeders happily jumped onto that (band) wagon, then we wouldn't have this problem!

ONE nutty breeder is not preventable - but thousands of nutty breeders I thought would be preventable. I was wrong.

What speaks against sacking the GSD?!

Too much to mention here! But for a start:

Health reasons

With a dog breed that is (still!) prone to Hip Dysplasia, we shouldn't meddle with its hips!

The new 'layout' of the dog puts incredible weight on the hip joints - even when the dog is nothing but standing still. You can figure this out yourself easily: Try to hold - just a tiny weight - with your elongated arm.

It changes a proper, proud, prestige DOG to ... a FROG!

gsd frog backDr. Helmut Raiser, long-standing member of the SV Augsburg, German Shepherd Dog insider, and publisher of documentaries and books - like that high-end The Protection Dog (Schutzhund) book - brings it down to the point. A point of concern:

"Hinten Frosch, vorne Hund".

Meaning: "Dog at the front, frog at the back". Splendid diction describing the dog's new posture, no?

The breed standard itself speaks against sacking the GSD!

If you are a breed standard sponsor or fan, now sit down and hold tight to your armchair:

Sacking the German Shepherd Dog is even against its very own breed standard, as published by the SV Augsburg, Germany and incorporated by all members associated via the World Union of German Shepherd Dog Associations (WUSV)!

And that are 78 nations in 5 continents, see last week's Periodical.

Need proof? Sure, here's the English version:

"Topline: The withers are higher than and sloping into the level back. The back is straight, very strongly developed without sag or roach, and relatively short. The whole structure of the body gives an impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness."

"level back", "the back is straight", "very strongly developed", "without sag or roach" - doesn't this say everything?!?

Since this is merely the official translation of the GSD standard in the German language, you may believe me that the GSD standard mandated by the SV Augsburg in Germany says exactly the same thing.

Hence it doesn't get into my head why on earth they allow, yes even promote, that breeders sack the GSD!?! Or sag the GSD. Or both. Why?

Promote it? Yes, just look at all the past years' prize winners (see again above).

If I were a judge, by all means I would NOT let a dog win the competition that doesn't even comply with the rules ("level back. The back is straight"). Where are we??

I wouldn't even grant admission to any breeder whose dog doesn't meet the rule book, right?! Where are we??

Why do those daft club functionaries set rules and a "breed standard" if not even they themselves want to comply with that?!! Then why would anyone else?

What can we do about it??

If we want to prevent that this dog:

original GSDRin Tin Tin GSD

via the step of this frod (frogdog):

sagged GSD

ultimately becomes like this Namibian beach "dog":

future GSD?

then we MUST speak out wherever we can!

Nature gave us so many wonderful and outright amazing creatures - then we shouldn't even think of changing them to something like this visibly handicapped frod, right?

sagged GSD

The most powerful measure we can take against this is: NOT to buy our next German Shepherd without having seen the dam and sire (both parents) to establish whether our dog will have a slope/slant back or whether our dog will have a straight back - like DOGS naturally have!

In nature, only hyenas have not.


Checklist * (see note at the bottom)

  • Just two points: Let us not buy our next GSD without having checked dam and sire (both parents).
  • But let us cherish our current GSD, and give our dog the best life we can - because (s)he deserves it!


==> Next edition: My Farting Prince(ss) <==

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    Anytime you put ego and profit together the wrong people will ultimately get involved in breeding. I am just as concerned about spay/neuter laws, breed restrictions in communities and the number of GSDs that are abandoned each year when people can't take their GSD with them when they move. We are killing the gene pool and destroying countless dogs that do not deserve to be treated that way. Education and asking GDS owners to join forces to save the breed is to be commended. Thanks for this article and all the good that you do.


    I have been horrified for decades as the dog of my childhood has been mutilated by poor breeding. as a child of the fiftys I remember our amazing gsd . My father said that she was a direct descendant of hitlers personal dogs. Well regardless she was pretty amazing -straight backed , protective , loving and so much fun. As an adult I have decided time and again not to own a German Shepard as I knew they now had numerous physical problems , the most serious being hip dysplasia caused by that awful slanty back. I now have my very first gsd :) . I found a breeder ( a genetist) who is working on bringing back the breed. His breeding stock has 14 generations of clear hips etc, and of course a lot of straight backed gsds. When I chose the litter I picked my pup from I looked for straight backed parents ( although I'm pretty sure that one of the dogs you showed as an example is my bitchs grand father Javir Tarka Marda). Breeder ( Kreative Kennels)) states he too has concerns abou
    t slanty backed dogs . My gsds back is almost as straight as her mothers and she is athletic, highly intelligent,loving and a beautiful animal. This breed is so worth saving.


    Here, Here! How hard is it to look at the dog and literally see how damaging this is to our breed? It is only common sense that should tell us to stop this disfiguring of the GSD. There is no wondering why we have to look for Hip Dysplasia, WE are causing it by breeding it into our lines. There is no excuse for this any more than there is for "designer dogs" being called Pure Breeds when they are nothing more than cute MUTTS! A Mutt is a Mutt. Back problems and hip dysplasia is what wins in the ring, but at what cost to the breed! Not to mention the pain we cause our pets especially as they age. The only way to stop this is not to purchase from breeders that adhere to what sells in the ring while at the same time is destroying out breed.


    I agree totally! My GSD , Gerda, of which you have pictures , is a straight back GSD. I intentionally avoided frogdogs because they seem so unnatural and unable to function properly. Unica kennels in Shelburne, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia is only breeding straight back GSD's. Thank you for taking a stand on this. A hyena picture resembles a slope-back GSD.


    My GSD's have all been rescues I would not even think about taking a dog home with it's back slopping like that. It must be very uncomfortable if not in pain poor thing


    I love German Shepherd dogs. When we were looking for a dog, I specified that I would not buy a GSD with lower hind quarters. As you said, it's a dog not a frog, and it looks unnatural. Thanks for the always insightful views into GSD ownership.


    Thank you for this post, I've been noticing how the back swoosh seems to be getting more pronounced. I just put my white GS down 2 weeks ago, she was about 11 years and her back end could barely keep her up, it was very painful to see her slowly suffer the last couple of years. I want to get another one (I usually rescue the older ones), but I think I want to get one that's around 2 years so I have them longer. I was thinking about getting one from a local breeder, when they get one back from a client, so I'll start off with a younger healthier dog. I'll read your last post, and if you have any earlier posts. I love GS!


    Thanks for your posts, it keeps all of us informed of the latest and greatest. My GS (year old today) has fairly level back and the tail does not touch the ground - the trainer I took him to, was condescending that he did not display the characteristics of GS. I really did not care as my dog is neither for breeding nor shows - but your article put my mind to ease. Thanks


    Very well said. The extreme angulation on the 'show dog' these days is indeed ruining the breed. I cringe when I see the roachy sheps as they usually have or are in the beginning stages of hip, knee or back issues. The natural gait on a well built shep is truly something to behold.


    I so despise those crippled up Shepherds being produced today. My girl's grandparents were imports from Germany and her back has just a hint of a slope which I do not find objectionable. I too read the standard and can't believe that it is being totally ignored by the show judges. I believe that all entries with the extremely sloping backs should be excused from the ring. Of course, today that would mean that there would be no entries at all, but if all judges followed the standard as written, within a few generations a sound breed would again return.


    I had no idea that GSD's were bread specifically with that trait. Very sad looking at how unnatural that looks. My breeder pointed out about how she breeds her dogs so that the straight back is an important quality (among many positive traits she strives to achieve).


    I am horrified at the abuse - yes, abuse - that is perpetrated on dogs to make them slope at the back as per the photos posted above. I would never even think of getting a GSD like that. My GSD Ava is 20 months and has a beautiful straight back and no sign of hip dysplasia. May she live a long and happy life with her straight back.


    I agree for the most part... In question is the top line which should be straight and somewhat short, but we should be focused on the 'croup' angle relationship. Length and angle of the croup in relation to femoral structure. This relationship also reveals part of the dogs rear muscleular structure!

    When the dog is forced stacked it can distort this relation and some think they can hide a short croup or a insuffintent angle.

    This also can make the top line appear longer.

    A well trained judge should be able to reconcile this differences in the observation during movement under pulling and no pulling, at a modern gait.

    The practice of forced stacking should not be allowed!

    Why not just walk the dog into a natural stand... The dog will always find it's most comfortable standing rest position. Thus, we can then judge the dog once again on it's natural attributes, or preformace movement into a stand.


    It is disturbing to note that the roach-backed GSDs were introduced by the SV - the supreme custodian of the German breed- ostensibly to "correct" weak backs of some English lines. Astute breeders know better: you cannot correct a fault by introducing a fault in the opposite direction. Apes abound in the dog world, and there are judges willing to bend over backwards to join the bandwagon in the pursuit of popularity devoid of purpose or propriety. The damage has been done, and traces of the hyena linger even in specimens that we are now compelled to accept as proper. Incidentally, I believe the SV is so arrogant as to even modify the contents of the book they now publish as von Stephanitz's original classic.


      That will be interesting, cause I've read v. Stephanitz' original work, and if the SV misrepresents anything I will publicize it! "arrogant", yep that's the word! I would add another: "dumb", ha!
      Now you know why MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG exist.


    g'day mate, goodonya ,great article. I cant believe the slopey back dogs that passes as breeding stock.it is cruel and wrong. I looked at a few dogs before I got my boy. he is an ol school black shepherd from working guard dog lines, a big strong straight backed 46 kg( about 105 pound) dog.he is 22 months old today. you can look at any breed today and than look back 100 yrs and see what has been done to many breeds. all to please the human eye. what a joke. bulldogs cant even whelp any more and must have a c/section to birth. it is disgraceful. people are stupid. goodonya mate burt Australia.


      Hey Burt, his birthday is the best day to finally put his details in our research database, hm? Just before another year ends ;-)
      Yeah, "it is cruel and wrong", you are so right, hopefully fellow Aussies are warned and won't do that.
      I don't even find it pleasing to the human eye, not sure how breeders got this idea? Very sad development indeed. And, always seems to coincide with temperament weakness too, doesn't it? The combination is why more and more police forces in the world have been looking for alternatives in recent years. If we here, you and you and I, don't save the breed, its popularity will further decline, because dog owners rightfully complain "I didn't get the dog I thought I would". You know, that extremely empathic, balanced, poised and "happy" German Shepherd who loves to "work" all day.


      Onya burt man :-) my girl Penny's black, straight-backed and at 19mo a bit over 40kg; she can walk for hours and jump higher than I can reach (dammit). Like yours, from a security dog background.


    Wow! Very powerful words of wisdom! I am a true fan of the historic GSD. Straight back! I will only have those in my stock with all checked for genetic diseases. I think it's a true crime to breed anything else. We need to bring back the true meaning of our GSDs. Thank you for writing with such passion.


    Wow. I havent watched the"shows" for a while now because of the changes I was already seeing and was stunned to see the "new standards". I chose Hanz based on a shepherd I had growing up so he has that old standard look which I absolutely love. And for the record he also loves the attention he gets most of the time. Some people are still intimidated by his size so those reactions can get a bit confusing for him every now and then.

    I've skimmed through the other comments and believe money had a lot to do with it but believe the "me" mentality has played an even bigger role in the destruction of the breed. Seems there are people out there that need to have their name known for the prestige of something even in the midst of destroying it.

    The only way to change it is through educating people which I believe you already do. Another reason the site needs to survive! So with that being said, can you send me a copy of the tier levels or are you still working that out? : )


    My Fifty has a straight back and I am so happy about that! He's my rescue baby and I think one of his most stunning features is that he doesn't look like he's sitting when he's standing. He actually has that erect and regal stance that a GSD should have. Seeing the poor GSD below Rin Tin Tin was heartbreaking to me. I can't imagine that poor baby not being in pain and having to work harder just to move through life properly with that posture.

    Sadly, I think breeders of all dog breeds are slowly conforming the breeds to what they want them to be and how they think they will be most profitable. I used to have Saint Bernard's and there are so many breeders in that community who are breeding the dogs to where they don't have freckles. That is a MAJOR issue for them. Breeding the dogs to conform to a cosmetic standard first because it "looks better" to them and "makes them look better in the ring". I'd rather my dog have freckles on its legs and snout and not have a history of hip dysplasia, seizures or heart disease than to be freckle-free and end up suffering or dying a horrible death later.

    It makes me angry when I see people who claim to have the "best intentions of the breed at heart" thinking more about winning in the ring and making big puppy profits than actually about the health, well-being and happiness of the dogs they claim to love so much.

    Breeders need to be educated about what is right and where their priorities should be. They need to sit down and read articles like this and whether they like what the article has to say or not they need to read it and understand fully what it is saying. Dogs shouldn't have to suffer and become something they were never meant to be for the sake of profits and blue ribbons.

    Great article, Tim! :)


      Fully agree, Jennifer. But I fear we have only a couple of breeders amongst our members. Guess they prefer counting their money over studying GSDs.


    Excellent article!! I always wondered why the sloping and obviously painful hips were actually desired? It was just some fashion statement! Thank you for info.


    That picture of the German Shepherd right next to Rin Tin Tin could be my dog. She has such a nice straight back. She is so athletic, its incredible, and I credit that nice back for it. She runs circles around other GSD's. I have had people ask me if she is a "real" german shepherd because she has no slope at all. She is a rescue, and so I dont know her lineage at all but I sure wish I did. I would bet she is from working stock, she can go all day long, and its a rare day when I can tire her out. I have always said that I wish the breeders would get back to a straighter back, and save these wonderful dogs from the pain and suffering they go through when they get old, because of the malformation of their hindquarters. And the fact that they are deliberately malformed is just sick. What I hate the most, and what is so bothersome to me, is when a young dog drags his back feet because his back is so low. I want to shake people and wake them up to what they are doing.Maybe more articles like yours will turn the tide and help breeders rethink what they are doing, and this beautiful and noble breed will return to its former glorious self.
    As always, Tim, a well written, informative and relevant article. Thank you!


    I'm from Brazil. It really worries me the direction of the breed around the world, i had a GSD in the 90s, her name was Agatha, she lived 15 years and one month, was a typical GSD, today, I am looking for here a kennel that has the original type of GSD . But unfortunately there are no kennels here committed to the health of the breed. Sorry for my bad english.


      That's insteresting, so you're saying even in Brazil the breeders are now following that stupid German fashion??
      I understood Ian Dunbar the way that he said in South America are to be found the best dogs?
      Your English is fine Thiago ;-)


    Tim-I havent purchased my first sheppie yet because I'm committed to learning as much as I can before purchasing (yes...I just purchased every one of your training kindle books!) and now I'm terrified...I had NO idea this even existed! I don't pay much attention to dog shows and just assumed the majority of non show dogs had the straight back of the gs I've always known! How can I tell if Im purchasing a straight backed gs? Are there lists of breeders who are preserving the breed? Ty for all you do to help educate! Regards, carmen


      Carmen, easy: See above, look at both parents (you appear to want a puppy). A proper breeder can show you both parents. In rescue centers you'll likely get an adult GSD anyway. A strong decline you can outright see with a small puppy.


    It's a shame we humans mutilate our animals in order to please some kind of warped image we choose to shape our animals into. And shame on officials at these dog shows for allowing this to happen.


      >And shame on officials at these dog shows for allowing this to happen.

      Yes! They should be stoned by all patrons of every "Bundessieger Zuchtschau" and similar "Championships" abroad. - Did you know that stoning evildoers is still common practice in many parts of the world? ;-)

      Now, since we are more civilized here (but no less angry), how about throwing mouldy tomatoes at the officials at every German Shepherd event where they choose a hyena-ized GSD as champion? :lol:

      I'm in! Are you?

      "So, I, I think, that is very important that we educate prospective pet owners, because that is the power to change breeders and trainers."

      I've done my part. Please join in. Pass it on. Pay it forward.


    Pure-breeding with closed-registries always eventually ruins animals, including dogs. Even if the shape of the animal remains normal, the genetic diversity inevitably goes down, leading to the rise of genetic disorders. Moreover, many pure breeds of dog, including the German shepherd, have been mutilated by extreme breeding practices that have more to do with fashion than science, or even common sense.

    Today's show-line German shepherd dogs are victims of highly irresponsible breeding practices. Not only is their genetic diversity very low, leading to heritable problems like dermatitis and hip dysplasia, but they now have these horrible sloping toplines (declining croups) that interfere with stance and locomotion. Not only is this conformation totally wrong for any canid (family Canidae), it's even too extreme for carnivorans that have naturally sloping toplines, like hyenas (family Hyaenidae).

    These poor dogs have been intentionally deformed so that they always stand in a dramatic pose, like Rin Tin Tin on a rock. But Rin Tin Tin was a normal dog, whose back became level again on level ground. Not so these living statues, whose breeders and owners think they should be in an affected posture their whole lives. Now the mighty German shepherd has joined the ranks of other intentionally deformed, formerly robust dogs, like the bulldog, pug, boxer, bull terrier, Neapolitan mastiff, rough collie, dachshund, and many others whose breeders and owners don't understand the first thing about canid biology. The whole thing is a mess and an embarrassment to animal husbandry. It's high time people started treating dogs like what they are: canids, not statues.


    Love reading all this information. We just want a normal straight back Shepard but can't seem to find one anywhere. Thanks for a great site, more people should read this.


      >We just want a normal straight back Shepard
      I found one. A normal, straight back German Shepherd I mean. They really become rare these days. What a shame. Glad you're persistent in your search. Only that can teach breeders a lesson.


    I've had Shepherds previously and the question has arisen as to whether we want to get another dog. I'm absolutely horrified at the deterioration in the breed even in the last 15 or so years.

    Based on my research I won't be buying a roach backed shepherd and if we do decide to get a dog I'll be looking long and hard before making a purchase


    Hi Tim, I was not well aware when I bought my GSD male puppy. I didnt know my pups dame or sire as to what they looked like. Was not sure if my gsd wil grow up to have a sloppy back or straight. But as time passed by, My gsd is 17 months now, he has straight back, very active and intelligent. I love him more than anything. I would not trade for any other dog but a GSD. I heard many critics back at home who look at my gsd and say its not a pure breed cos' it doesnt have a sloppy back.. I tend to correct them but I think these shows are causing people to believe slopped back gsds are the pure breeds not the straight ones. We should sign a petition to have these shows to eliminate breeders who showcase their crippled GSD's. A Firm message needs to be sent across to put an end to this torture of a beautiful breed.

    Tim, I was wondering if you could please write an article about mating GSD's. As my buddy has reached 17 months, im not sure what to look out for, when is the right age, health checks, if I decide not to will it turn my dog in to a monster? if you could please post the do's and dont's it will help a lot in saving these breeds and not make similar mistakes of having straight back gsds mate with the so called Frog. If you already have any articles on it, please send the link. I would really appreciate to have a good insight on this matter.


      "We should sign a petition to have these shows to eliminate breeders who showcase their crippled GSD's."
      There are so many things you can do, from simple retweeting our regular tweet on the topic, to calling and writing to breed show organizers and denying support if they allow hyenas to compete, etc etc.
      Btw, the other way round: Sloping back is not purebred. As clarified above, even per their own breed standard nothing but a straight back is a purebred GSD. Thus NO champion was even allowed to compete when you follow their rules' wording.

      As for breeding, we are against that obviously, see again the Periodical you received 5 months ago (about overpopulation and euthanization).
      I did publish strict criteria though, and for the above reason only available to the really interested: Site members with the Dog Expert Interview Series with Reviews.


    Hear hear! I completely agree with everything stated in this piece. Thank goodness my dear dog Gudrun has the "old" classic (and correct I might add) form of the GSD and hasn't been crippled by this sloped breeding. More of us need to speak out on this horrible practice to save our breeds integrity and save all the future dogs from a life of suffering!


    i live in Scotland and i had a nightmare trying to find decent pups that werent off parents that looked like hyenas!! most of the so called 'top show winning parents' breeding, are all these slope back dogs and they are charging £800 upwards per pup! glad something is getting done! we ALL have to speak out about this travesty. i was lucky, in the end i traveled down to england and bought two lovely pups with straight backs and they were a very reasonable price. keep up the exellent articles.


      glad something is getting done! - yes, only if all of us together, Jason. The power is in the people who choose a GSD, not in the breeders who mutilate them.

      We retweet this topic every day here: //twitter.com/mygsdorg
      The more of you retweet it, the more impact!


    We looked for German Shepherd puppies for a long time before finding 2 straight backed parents and our 2 straight backed pups. I strongly believe that what they have been doing and done to this fine breed should be illegal.

    I believe that the Kennel clubs should no longer allow the sloping backs to be bred as show worthy but have no idea how to stop the destruction of this animal, and so many other breeds!!

    Keep up the crusade!!


      How to stop it? Easy:
      - None of us should pay kennels, clubs, membership organizations, show events etc any fees, and clearly tell them: "We will no longer support your **business** until you stop the breeders of these cripples from being accepted and even elected!"
      - Retweet our and other tweets about that incanine nonsense
      - Write to AKC etc that you do not accept idiots playing god (breeders)
      - But do always support the currently living slope-back dogs!! None is their fault. Help them to have a happy life.

      If and when we all speak up, we will be heard.
      If the vast vast vast majority of our subscribers and visitors and other dog owners and trainers continue to do nothing (not even comment!!), then nothing, absolutely nothing will change. :-?


    The culprits are the show judges. They set the value of the winners they declare. They need a proper sense of what is reasonable, even of what is ethically and morally permissible. Show audiences by virtue of number and specialised interest can provide an informed consensus. Looks are certainly important, but overall health should be a prerequisite before you even consider looks. Let audiences discuss among themselves, and then let them boo judges out of the ring who select as winners sick or deformed animals.


    Extremely sad i had wondered if it was a health benefit but sickening to find out just to suit the masses. 30yrs with 2 beautiful GSDs but couldn't find non slope so moved to Rhodesian ridgeback also very loyal regal looking breed. Thanks for article hopefully I am around to see the return of the breed standards


    I've been noticing how the back swoosh seems to be getting more pronounced.  I just put my white GS down 2 weeks ago, she was about 11 years and her back end could barely keep her up, it was very painful to see her slowly suffer the last couple of years.


      I'm so sorry to hear about your puppy! We had to put our 10yrs old Tsar down a week ago... His sloped back certainly did not help his mobility or ability to keep up on walks at all! It's so heartbreaking. xo much love


    Just following the controversy regarding the GSD Best in Breed 2016 at Crufts. While the uproar and criticism is being levelled at the Crufts judge, the owner has posted an impressive list of achievements in the show ring (too long to list here) and also that the dog was vet checked prior to entry in the show and again before being awarded BiB. The dog has been judged as a fine specimen over and over again, this is not a rogue judge issue. I checked the video of her in the ring with another dog competing for BiB - lo and behold the other dog was almost identical - sloping back, crabby walk. I for one am glad that the dog won Crufts as it gave many of us an insight into why this magnificent breed doesn't look like it used to. I would hope that public opinion will again force changes in Pedigree dog breeding. An interesting discussion responding to the issue can be found on Youtube by typing in Crufts 2016:GSD sofa discussion.


      Thank you. "this is not a rogue judge issue." - Exactly. All the above here makes that very clear indeed. EVERY GSD judge is rogue who even only accepts cripples into the ring, not to mention elects them as "best of breed". :lol: EVERY such show is mockery. They all should be JAILED for murder of an entire breed. It's called mass murder.

      Title won? Vet-checked? - Who cares? Anyone with an ounce of brain OR with common sense does not give a penny on rogue judges and vets so incompetent they should never have gained a practicing licence in the first place! It's about time to have their licences withdrawn.

      Also let's remember that absolutely NO dog lover wants to see hyenas in ANY dog breed event. We want to see DOGS. We see none. Please join the petition to rename "Best of Breed" to "Best of Hyenas" in any such event!


    I have just purchased a lovely old style shepherd, after a mountain of research and lots of emails, I found the perfect breeder in Wickepin WA, I must add quiet a challenge to find our perfect baby. So sad the neglect of an outstanding species, has had such an impact that the straight backs are rare.. I would commend all the breeders that have dedicated there time and research into keeping this beautiful original breed alive.. All this cruelty needs to stop. Because and the end of the day we want a majestic proud original shepherd.. The German Shepherd Show Society have a lot to answer for to even suggest the frog backs are worth showing.. Stop Animal Cruelty!!!


    Oh thanks I have a straight back German shepherd 4 months pup and I was thinking that it may not be the original one, because of straight back..


    I love my German Shepherd! She talks to us and when she annoys my husband she laughs. She is almost ten and slowing down. She has the original body and back line. I don't agree with messing with nature for any reason.

    She is sweet with babies and kids, even though she wasn't raised with either. When we have guests she is very congenial. She doesn't jump or pester. She greets and lays down.

    Now if I may babble about her a bit, she does like to do yoga when I teach in my house. She loves to get in the middle of the room and do corpse pose with all of us.

    She does have Panis, which is a terrible thing for any dog. Because of it, she has lost most of her sight.

    She is still our baby girl. Anyone that's considering a gsd, I highly recommend them. They have the best personalities! Truly individual in every aspect.

    Love your dogs! Perfect thought.?


    Thank you thank you for this article! I was feeling alone in my belief that the shepherd world had gone crazy in the years since I last owned one.
    My beautiful 6 month girl, Karma, has a beautiful straight back. I had to find breeders in Northern Alberta and drive 5 hours to get this healthy version of dog. Our vet thinks she is one of the healthier versions of the dog he has seen for a while. She is everything I remember the breed to be from my childhood and more (if a tad on the large side lol).


    We just got a 3 month old German Sheperd how can I tell if it's s straight back?


    I live in Michigan and my Shepherd is an old fashioned straight back model. He is getting old and we are starting to look for a new one. We do NOT want one of these weird slouching things. Can you recommend a place where we can find what we are looking for? (we are not interested in a show dog, I just love German Shepherds.


    I live in Northeast Mississippi, and looked for years for a straight-back GSD. If you are interested, and I have no agenda other than wanting to protect the breed, I got my latest shepherd from the Royalair/Rosehall line. Robin Krumm is the owner of Royalair and you can Google her website or find it on FB. My Gracie is a beautiful, healthy, sweet, and even-tempered and NORMAL German Shepherd Dog!!! I paid a lot of money for her but it was worth it to me to know that she came from good, solid stock. Wish I could post a picture of her but not sure how on this site. Anyway, thank you for the excellent article. Truth!!


      Kathy, images on the net are posted like this:


    I inherited my sons German Shepherd service dog. He weighs 105 lbs.and is 5 yrs. old. He is extremely intelligent. His back is straight. He is the way a German Shepherd used to be. My son got him as a puppy when he was still in the military. We looked for a female but had to settle for a sloped back female....I was disappointed.


    We have 3 or 4 adult straight back German Shepherds and we used to see the show dogs. We are thankful you put this article together to shed light on the bigger problem of breeding. Only concerned breeders will put a stop to this and turn the breed back to the correct standards. Straight backs, strong hips, long legs, and fast runners are my German Shepherds!


      Thanks Sharon, I reply to get the numbers right, lol. Can you just look now please whether you have "3 or 4 adult" GSDs?
      I like that. :mrgreen:


    I am looking for a healthy GSD that has had genetic testing. My last 2 very expensive dogs came from well known breeders and both had DM and suffered terribly (as did my family). I am heartbroken that the GSD's have declined considerably. There is genetic testing available to breeders to only breed the healthiest dogs. Why isn't this being used to bring back healthy GSD's??? We have had German Shepherds for 35 years and cannot find a reputable breeder. Does anyone know of a breeder with healthy puppies in the South Jersey / PA area?


      "There is genetic testing available to breeders to only breed the healthiest dogs. Why isn't this being used to bring back healthy GSD's???"

      Because too few owners have had your experience Cappella, and so they don't apply your strict criteria, nor our comprehensive list in How to choose a dog.

      The downfall of the GSD doesn't happen because too many dog breeders are irresponsible (they are) but because too many wannabe dog owners buy irresponsibly those sick and/or mutilated dogs. As long as people throw money at breeders that are as sick in their mind as their dogs are in their body (lol), the practice of breeding and selling the worst crap as DOGS won't stop.

      None of the three huge GSD ailments (Hip Dysplasia, Degenerative Myelopathy, and Allergies) would exist if wannabe dog owners had already suffered as much together with, and because of their sick dogs as you have.

      As you admit, with your last two GSDs you too still threw (a lot of) money at those breeders (in your case even "well known breeders"). But you learned your lesson (the hard way; easier would be just to read through all in our menu), while others neither have learned the hard way yet, nor taken the easy way here. :roll:

      On the right of all pages under menu > SOURCES you see our widget with local rescue GSDs near you.
      Further, Where to get a dog and Reviewing a breeder are helpful too.

      Let us know how you get on, share you experience again! Thanks.


        Thanks for your comment Tim. I went to reputable well known breeders. I met the mother and father of both of my dogs. They were X rayed for hip dysplasia. The Dogs had straight backs and looked very healthy as well as their other relatives. I bought each dog from a different breeder. One was from an American line and the other from German ancestry. Our veterinarian said she sees DM very often in Shepherds. Only Shepherds. I searched for a long time and got recommendations for these breeders. I don't know what else I could have done. I would like another GSD but don't know what breeders I can trust after my 2 bad experiences. Do you recommend anyone in the South Jersey area ?


        "I don't know what else I could have done." - You did more than anyone else, Cappella. "I went to reputable well known breeders. I met the mother and father of both of my dogs. They were X rayed for hip dysplasia. The Dogs had straight backs and looked very healthy as well as their other relatives. I bought each dog from a different breeder."

        "Our veterinarian said she sees DM very often in Shepherds." - I can't remember for sure, but I think I found out that more than 10% of American GSDs have DM, more than anywhere else in the world, for sure. Read it for yourself, you will also find a link to the DM test.

        That's what I would suggest: Have the breeder pay for ALL available tests, AND like I wrote in the articles I linked earlier, make a contract that the breeder has to pay you $5,000 or better $10,000 if the dog is later diagnosed with any such hereditary defect. Most breeders will then decline to sell to you (exactly those who aren't sure, because they didn't bother to test their dogs!). The one who does sell to you must feel financial pain if the dog is found to be sick. If you make the pain massive, that breeder will never again breed sick dogs. Lesson learned.

        This approach however doesn't relieve you of the strain of having a DM dog. Hence why I would suggest not to buy from a professional breeder at all, but instead to get a dog from a shelter or from a "backyard breeder".

        This makes it much more likely that your next dog is healthy: People who paid a lot of money to a professional breeder (like you did), don't give their dog to a shelter. It is rather the "backyard breeder" dogs that end up in a shelter, and those dogs likely are healthy.

        Remember that it was the insane inbreeding of "professional breeders" that brought up all those hereditary defects. Incidental "Backyard breeders" don't do that.

        EDIT: I should add that my current dog Miguel, whom I got as a tiny puppy to produce the LIVE and multimedia New Puppy Diary (because until then all authors wrote from memory, and our memory so often betrays us), Miguel is from a "backyard breeder" too (in Portugal GSDs don't end up in a shelter, I searched for a year in vain). And like you, I did as many checks as was possible under those circumstances.


    Hi all
    When i was a lot younger 20yrs ago I had a gsd cross bred with a labrador he was all black with little of the labrador looks. His father was magnificent straight back.
    For various reasons I since have only had one dog another x breed lap dog and like my previous i love him dearly
    He is getting on now and i decided to look for another pet only to be horrified with the gsd mutants.
    I viewed some breeder sites in south australuan and interstate and they all hilight the lineage being german etc even emphasising the sloped backs.
    I've since decided to avoid these guys and look for proper gsds or even go to the animal welfar league for a non specific breed that needs love and a home.

    Thankyou for the information dusturbing as it is.

    Also, as others have pointed out a lot of breeds have been engineered so i think these lessons should also apply to the other so called pure breeds.
    Apologies for going slightly off topic but im just a dog lover.


      Has Australia now the jet-style GSDs too? I thought, like in UK, you have primarily the good al' sheps?
      Please look around, and tell us the results of your investigation.


    Good on you for posting this. My boy is a mix, but he is stunning with a straight back and tall strong legs. I think he is stunning and I wish there were more like him . (not sure how to post his photo)


      Feel free to include a photo here, images on the net are posted like this:
      Thanks! :-)


    you are making it sound like 'original' GSDs are not man made, which of course is incorrect. since there are both types and have been for years, do you have a link or two that shows more problems occur? i have read comments like "it looks painful" so surely there must be proof of this. i find it strange that all breeds are man made and forced unnatural selection, but if a breeder breeds for a trait you do not prefer it is blasphemy somehow. are there not 15+ working breeds with hip problems? most are straight backed, correct?


      you are making it sound like you are upset about this Periodical because you are breeding sloped "GSDs", which of course is incorrect, you are not even breeding a DOG then, more like hyenas.
      Please where have you "read comments like 'it looks painful'"? We will be happy to share those comments too. :mrgreen:

      In addition to all the above, meanwhile thousands like these came up too:
      GSD Travesty
      Crude judges
      Canine Cruelty
      German Shepherds at their low point

      "if a breeder breeds for a trait you do not prefer" - what trait are you thinking of? You say a trait that I "do not prefer"?
      Do you mean this?

      Then I will say that I do not "prefer" ANY defect, disorder, or disease being bred INTO a living species (incl. people). Obviously!
      Are you suggesting that you prefer that?!?? Incl. the pain clearly visible in the dog's behavior in the video linked above?

      "i find it strange that all breeds are man made" - indeed, and all people too are "manmade", and "womanmade". :idea: But I don't know of any people that purposefully raise offspring with a defect, disorder, or disease - neither among human beings nor among dogs (dog breeders). Do you?

      As you see in videos of the worst examples of such "breeding ventures", the dogs are not only in pain but they can't even walk normally, not to mention run, which is what dogs naturally would like to do (youtube is a huge resource for these).

      "i find it strange" how anyone could want to consider such defect a "trait", whether breeder or not?
      Here you agree, don't you?


      In addition to my first reply to your weird standpoint, Mark: On our early morning walk we just met a French Bulldog. Of course we've met one many times before, and I had thought about the breeding practice then. To be clear, I too love this breed.
      This morning was different though. Again I thought about the breeding practice when we met the French Bulldog, but today I also remembered your comment here, and thought I should add this for further clarification:

      Many dogs get crippled by "professional breeders", yes. And in many cases the result of this crippling actually is what defines the breed (what made it get a new breed registration), because THIS IS WHY certain "professional breeders" attempt to change the appearance of a dog. They seek prominence!
      (the first such breeders; as always the masses then just mindlessly follow)

      So yes, if you Mark, find that the sloped back defines a new "trait" then by all means try to register that new breed. Likely not as dog breed but as hyena breed, but that's a whole different matter. What name would you like to give "your" new creation?

      May I suggest some ideas: "Jet Fighter", "Low Hanging Fruit", "Lowpoint", "Wheelbarrow"?
      Have you got any other ideas how to name "your" new creation?

      Let us know, very interested! :mrgreen:


    Thank you for bringing to truth the horrible popular confirmation of GSDs. I was raised with straight backs and am currently considering starting a kennel. I want German line only straight backs to reestablish the real king of all breeds. I have the land, upstate rural New York and this is a serious consideration.


    I am sick to my stomach that the Germans are breeding the GSD like this. The low end is ugly, not natural and very painful! What a disappointment. I flew to German in 1980 & drove through Austria to visit my relatives in Hungary. I remember the huge, gorgeous & well bred shepherds that the German military men had at the border when I had to show them the passports to enter Germany to come back to the states. Those dogs were perfect specimens of the breed. I am so sad right now. The look now disgusts me!


    I have a with a stright topline. Wonderful dog. It amazes me how many people buy into this slope type dog. How these breeders, who by the way think they are the only ones who know anything about dogs , can get away with this is beyond me. And, they are the first ones who will tell you that you can only have a limited registration, and of course you cannot breed your dog because you are a backyard breeder. Well I will tell you, I would never breed a sloped or roached back dog to make more cripples. They have single handedly ruined a breed and the akc should be ahamed of themselves for letting and watching it happen. Glad to see people are finally saying something about it!!


      "They have single handedly ruined a breed and the akc should be ahamed of themselves for letting and watching it happen."

      Couldn't agree more, and would add, all their officers should be jailed for animal abuse. 25 years in prison labor - so as not to be more taxing on taxpayers! No parole. That will teach other freaks a lesson.


    Thank you for your wonderful article! I had a beautiful German Shepherd unfortunately his life was cut way too short and the traffic accident but he too was beautiful even add under a year old he had a straight back. I'm trying to find a breeder in the Midwest where I live Kansas City area, that has breeding of straight-backed, old-style, old-fashioned German Shepherd dogs. The standout variety that I am used to and once owned. Let me know if you have suggestions for breeders in my area. Thank you


      See the menu at the top: Sources.
      And, Sources > Rescues even brings up your local dogs in the right widget.
      Gosh, are we good! :mrgreen:


    As a veterinarian I have seen the medical problems that come with the extremely deformed spinal conformation that has become the breed "standard". I agree that extreme breeding has turned this once magnificent animal into a cripple and it is heartbreaking. Fortunately, Australian Kennel clubs are starting to promote healthier breed standards and many are breeding out the sloping back. Now that tail docking has been banned here we are seeing all breeds with lovely tails, Boxers and other brachycephalic breeds are regaining their noses. I encourage all my clients who come in for breed advice to search from breeders who are breeding GSDs with straight backs and other breeds with less extreme features. It seems the message is getting through to breeders here.


      That's fantastic news to hear from Australia, thank you! Sadly the UK, USA, and Germany have not progressed like Australia has in this regard. It is sad to see that such "breeders" run free while their "creations" can hardly walk at all. The mutilation of French Bulldog, Boxers etc is continuing here also.


    Images and history of the German Shepherd Dog from the early 1900's illustrate companion pets, working dogs, champions, and celebrities (like “Rin Tin Tin”) as specimens of grace, health, speed, and strength.....straight back, long straight legs, hunch sitting directly above gorgeous straight legs, head high, tail pointing to the ground, and so on...

    Unfortunately, the German Shepherd Dogs I see today (including police, search and rescue, etc.) have curved backs with low hunches; so, unhealthy to these magnificent creatures.

    How can we get the AKC, Westminster, German Shepherd Dog Club of America, Inc., breeders, etc. to adhere to the original German Shepherd standard from the past?


      1. By sharing these insights as much as you possibly can (share buttons at the top).
      2. By refusing to ever buy a dog from such a corrupt breeder.
      3. By insisting on seeing both parents of any puppy you consider buying.
      4. By choosing adoption of a rescue dog over buying from a breeder.
      5. By refusing to become/remain a member of any breed club/organization that turns a blind eye on this.
      6. By boycotting breed shows etc where such mutilated animals are shown, gain entry, or even win prizes!

      Any further ideas?


    Nice to see another aussie. Its a pity our rspca
    Simply doesnt outlaw the practice on cruelty grounds they can take it much further and simply ban the breeders from selling them.


    I totally agree with you regarding the German Shepherd's sloping back.They look awful as if they are crouching or weak in the hind quarters.
    Keep protesting.


    They are no longer usable with cattle. The cattle are always watchful of any do g, and will quickly spot weakness and then close in. This dog is no longer a working dog.


    I say the above, as cattle do watch. If a cow is sharing or testing the dog, you had better believe the rest of the heard is watching, and WILL take care of business.

    The bull will remember the hassle to 'his' cows and sooner or later will finish it. No drover dog that can't maneuver quickly and avoid the kicks, horns, or stomps , should be allowed near cattle.


    I have to admit and mentioned it nanny times before that the Americans have to exaggerate everything. This is not supposed to be a judgement against Americans but it's their culture.there are ore GSD in the USA then anywhere in the world
    Including Germany itself.
    There should be a definat breed distinction between German Shepherd Dogs and Americanised GSD. .


      The sloping back GSDs are not "made in America", Hans. The reckless breeders in Germany were the first (as far as I saw, but I may be wrong, pl show us), then exported those "models" to the USA, like has been done since the early 20th century, and so the only complaint one can hold against other countries (in my opinion) would be that no other country should have acquired that kind of breeding stock from Germany. Sadly, yes, many breeders anywhere in the world are just as reckless and happily jumped on that new "fashion" train when it was reaching their town...


    I agree it makes mensick how people have completley deformed this amazing breed. We have straight ba k GSD's and even when my kids see a slopped back they ask me what is wrong with it. Sad!


    Thanks for spending time and writing this wonderful article on GSD. It gives all the information about this breed and mistakes done by people in near past.

    I just brought a GSD male puppy a week back, and his name is LEO.
    A silly friend of mine told me that a pure breed GSD has a sloped back, and my dog didn't had. So I was worried if the breeder had fooled me but after reading this informative page, m happy to know how LEO is.

    Finally how so ever the dog is its all about loving him, and m happy that my family is allready in love with him. :) :)


    Just to inform anyone who's still due to "enjoy" this Periodical :roll:
    I have just sent an educational email to louis@ozmeridian.com after coincidentally seeing his webpage and email address here THAT SHOCKED ME LIKE IT DOES YOU.

    I will post an update here if/when he replies, including what he replies... ;-)


    I totally agree about the back on shepherd dogs Mine a straight back.. and i wont buy one any other way ,, less spine hip problems and a beautiful bitch


    We saw a handsome GHS whilst on holiday in Italy, sadly, when the dog, got up to move, he could hardly walk, his back end was in a terrible state and the sloping back was horrendous, don't these breeders and owners realise how much pain these poor dogs are in?? I had a GHS bitch for 14 years, straight back, and could run and jump right up until her passing. It really upsets me to see the once honourable and majestic breed go the way it has in the past 20 or so years.

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