Positive suggestions to improve the relationship between breeders of working dogs and breeders of show dogs.

by Dennis Fisher


Note:  This article is one of many dealing with every aspect of the German Shepherd Dog - breeding, training, bloodlines, famous German show winners, and a great deal more, that appear on the author, Dennis Fisher's website. Visit  http://www.allaboutgermanshepherddogs.com to see these articles.


 I have left for last, what I believe to be positive suggestions that will not take much time to be  implement, but could result in a significant improvement in the relationship between “show dog breeders” and “working dog breeders”.

At the beginning of this section that deals with an analysis of the reasons for the problem and possible solutions, I mentioned the importance of fashion, and the fact that popular opinion is very much influenced by fashion.

In every field the perception of the public of what is most currently sought-after, popular and desirable is dictated by fashion.

 What determines what is currently fashionable?    This question is not difficult to answer.  It is promotion.  This applies to every important sports tournament; every event in which the public is invited to participate as spectators or competitors; every contest and every competition. 

It makes no difference whether it is a hairdressing competition; a fashion show, a beauty contest, a dog show, or any other competitive event, promotion is the key to the success of the event.  

Sponsors use various means of effective promotion to persuade contestants and spectators that the event  they are sponsoring is of major significance.  It makes no difference whether the contest is one that  involves throwing  a pole the longest distance, or  remaining on a  wild horse for the longest time, with effective promotion  the public comes to accept the  contest is  a very  important event.  As a result, the winners of these contests are admired and held in great esteem. 

 What does  this   cynicism  have to do  with a positive suggestion to introduce a common meeting ground between Show dog breeders and Working Dog breeders?

It is concerned with  the effective promotion of  the “Universsalsieger” title; a title  introduced in 1997,  but one that appears to have lost its  appeal completely.

It will be recalled that the title of “Universalseieger”  was  won that year by “Lasso v. Kampchen who was placed 32nd in  breed and 43rd. in the Working Trials, certainly noteworthy accomplishments,  considering the intense competition in both fields.

The praise  heaped on this exceptionally good  dog and his expert  handler  was fully deserved, and the subsequent   coverage in the Dog  magazines understandable.

But Since 1977 the title has  steadily assumed less and less importance each year

As has been mentioned, the winner of  the “Universalsieger” title last year in 2006  was  “Eyk aus der  Eichendorff-siedlung”.  His standard of achievement in both the  breed show and the working trials was considerably less impressive than that of “Lasso”.

“Eyk” was placed  74th  in the working trials.   He was placed 139th in the Breed show with a very unimpressive grading  of only S.G

Why this should be? 

 The answer  is simply because the title  has  been insufficiently and inadequately  promoted. The incentive for winning what should be an extremely prestigious title has been absent for years.

 The title of “Universalesieger” should be one of the most important  titles  a German Shepherd Dog can win.  It is the ideal that von Stephanitz  always had in mind.

 As  a consequence  of effective promotion, the title of  “Universalsieger” could come to  represent  a goal that every breeder  of   show dogs and also every working dog breeders  should strive to achieve.

How can this be done?      There could be far more prestige attached to the winning of this event.   Although every Sieger Show has a very full agenda of events, the awarding of the “Universalsieger” title  should be marked  by  a special  event, accompanied by  all the necessary fanfare, speeches  and  congratulations both to the owner of the dog and the breeder.

Special attention should be made to giving the breeders  of  the "Universalsiegers" due recognition for  their    efforts.

It  would  mean a tremendous boost  for  the prestige and standing of  the  kennels of a German Shepherd Dog breeder  – whether it a well known  kennel or one that has only started recently – if there was greater public recognition,  admiration and prestige attached to their efforts.

If  German Shepherd Dog breeders, all over the world, were asked today to name   the winners of the “Unversalsieger” title” since it was inaugurated in 1977 and -  what is probably more important -   the names of the Kennels in which they were bred,  how many Kennels names would  come immediately to mind?

Certainly  not many.   This is not as it should be.   Their names should be just as familiar to the  German Shepherd show going public as “vom Huhnegrab”,  “von Batu”, “von Arlett”,  “von Arminius”,  “Karat’s”  “vom Farbenspiel”   “von Frankengold”  “vom Holtkampfer See” and  all the other famous Kennels with which  German Shepherd  enthusiasts  are so familiar.

After digesting  all that has been written about the present state of the breed and the marked differences in the objectives of  those who breed primarily for show and those whose interest lies exclusively in working dog trials, let us return to the original question posed at the beginning of this detailed  study of show and working dog bloodlines.

“Is it possible  to breed a German Shepherd Dog  that is not only an excellent show specimen, but also an exceptional working dog, able to take top  honors at breed shows as well as working trials?

The answer to this is:  "Yes! I believe it is possible!  It can be done!""

 But this answer has to be qualified with the following important  conditions and  provisos:  

1.      To breed a dual-purpose dog that can succeed at breed shows and also in working trials, you have to be extremely knowledgeable with regard to German Shepherd Dog bloodlines. You have to be fully conversant   with the special virtues – and faults - not only  of the dogs you decide to breed from, but also the dogs in their pedigrees. This applies as much to temperament as it does to construction.

2.      The bitch you breed from must be a reasonably good show specimen, although not necessarily a top winner herself.   She must have a strong, stable temperament and come from very good show stock, with a background in her pedigree of some animals known to have been good working dogs.

3.   After you have made an exhaustive study of pedigrees and selected what appears to be the most suitable mate for your bitch, you will also have to make a point of finding out what type of progeny the male has produced, with special emphasis on temperament.

4.  Once you have bred a litter from the very best stock and the finest bloodlines available, you will need to be very lucky indeed to find even one exceptionally good pup in the litter - not just a very good pup but one that is exceptionally good. 

5.   You will have to be even luckier to find that the best constructed pup in your litter also happens, by chance, to be  the one with the very best  working temperament - the most intelligent, anxious to please, dynamic bundle of energy you have ever bred!

       At first glance,  it  may seem  that the odds are stacked against you and  the  chances of  this happening  are almost nil.  But in practice this is not really  so. It happens far more often than you realize. The two distinct qualities of excellent conformation and excellent working temperament are not mutually exclusive.

      There is no logical reason why the best constructed pup in a litter  should not also be the pup with the best working temperament.

       The age of of  "dumb blond stereotype has long past.   These days you don't have to be ugly to be clever. In fact some of the best looking people today  are also the smartest!

6.  Once you have selected your future dual-champion and started the training process, you must become completely obsessed with achieving your goal.  You will have to spend an enormous amount of time conditioning and training your dog to perform at his best in the show ring - a highly specialized form of training.

7.   In addition to the hours you spend training your dog for the breed ring, you must be prepared to spend even more time training your dog to be as perfect as possible in every exercise required in Working Trials.

 8.       You will need to be to be an exceptionally good trainer to do well  in the highly  competitive  working dog trials.

      If, for example, it is the Bundessiegerprufung you have entered, keep in mind you will be competing with men with years of experience and exceptional skills  – like Dr. Helmut Raiser, Friedrich Biehler, or Ingeborg Balonier.   These are  men with such a remarkable degree of training expertise they are able to win,  or be very highly placed, year after year.  

9.   If you do not have the skill or sufficient  time  yourself to spend  countless hours in training your dog to compete successfully in breed shows and also working trials, you will have to find someone with sufficient expertise to do this for you.

10. In order to be successful in breeding a top-quality  dual- purpose dog, all the above conditions are important to be successful.   There is one requirement however,  that is probably  more important than the rest.  It is luck!  You have to be very lucky indeed!

      As everyone who has ever   participated  in any form of competitive sport knows, luck is an essential ingredient for success.   But successful sportsmen and sportswomen are  also  aware, that  the harder they train the luckier they get!

       The following words of   encouragement  and advice written many years ago by the Scottish poet, Robbie Burns, apply just as much to the German Shepherd Dog breeder whose objective it is to breed an exceptionally fine dual-purpose dog, as they do to anyone else committed to achieving their personal goals:  "If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again!"

     Persistence is the name of the game  and the key to success.   Keep on trying to breed that exceptional, dual-purpose German Shepherd Dog  you have firmly fixed in your mind.        Don't give up!

      It is something I have  been trying to achieve for almost  50 years.    I still haven't  given up!

      In conclusion, I wish you the very best of luck  in the very difficult - but not impossible - task  of breeding a dog that is going to make you and your kennel famous - a top breed show winner and a highly successful competitor in working Trials.