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The German Shepherd Dog

Just an Impression

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I’ve devised a quick and easy way of assessing gait in a GSD. This method ignores everything except the basic mechanics of how the dog moves. You don’t have to look at angles, proportions, what the feet are doing or any details at all. You can even squint if you have to, so that all your eye sees is the fundamental framework of the back, and the basic positions of the legs in the extended phase. Everything else is extraneous, and a lot of it can’t be seen with the naked eye anyway. You are just looking for the basic impression.

If the example below is what you see, you are looking at a good moving dog. This is a reasonably quick trot, but not excessively fast. The beam of the back is straight and level and the legs are moving in a free, but not overextended manner:
 drawing A
The example below could well be the same dog, moving at a slightly slower speed. Or it may be a dog slightly lacking in angulation, but still well balanced:
 drawing B
If the next example is what you see, this dog is lacking in angulation. It could be lacking at either end, and compensating at the other. A very long legged dog might normally move this way, but not a dog with GSD proportions:
 drawing C
Alternatively, the next dog is over-angulated in the rear, and possibly loose in front. This dog is moving too fast, and will look very flashy and impressive in the show ring, but will tend to tire more quickly:
 drawing D
If the dog is running uphill, it may be extreme in the rear, or pulling on the lead. This is not efficient movement and is tiring over the long haul:
 drawing E
A dog with convex curvature of the spine will move like the example below, especially if it is pulling into the lead. This is abnormal movement:
  drawing F
A dog with convex curvature of the spine may also move like the next diagram, when permitted to move free. The greater the arch of the back, the greater the abnormality:
 drawing G
 A dog that runs downhill may be breaking down in front, lacking rear angulation, or have short front legs. This is more common in tall, square dogs. Normal GSDs with moderate angles may move very, very slightly high over the lower back. Show judges hate it, but it is normal movement in wild dogs:
 drawing H

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