Here we have two dogs at pretty much the same phase of the supported trot. The top dog is Blackthorn’s Kiva, a working line companion dog. Below is VA Remo. The differences should be obvious.

Kiva is a pretty typical, well bred working line, not much different than the dogs of the mid 20th century. Her withers are slightly more steeply sloped than her back or lumbar spine, and the slope of the croup starts well behind the midback. Her spine and back are running pretty level, her stride is roomy but not exaggerated, and her humerus, femur and metatarsus (upper arm, thigh and hock) are moderately sloped. In other words, normal.

Remo shows the roach typical of so many German show dogs. His withers are more flat and the thoracic spine angles more steeply down to the head. The junction of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae (T13 L1) shows a pronounced breakpoint, with the lumbar spine sloping dramatically down behind the withers. His lumbar spine also appears proportionately longer than Kiva’s. This causes his pelvis to become more upright. The slope of his croup starts right behind the withers, angling the entire hindquarters abnormally low. His stride is more extended, causing the long bones to become almost parallel to the ground. He is pulling into a lead that has been brushed out, but this should not be sufficient to distort his spine so dramatically. In any other canid, this gait would not be considered normal.

It used to be said that it was better that a dog should have several minor flaws, than be perfect but for one big flaw. Remo seems to be the perfect dog, but for one big flaw. Sadly, there are probably few SV judges who would put Kiva over Remo. I wonder what Max would think.

If you are interested in learning more about the breed, please click on the tab for The Illustrated Standard for the German Shepherd Dog, and follow the download instructions.

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