The German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia Inc.
A Reply to Sister Johnston’s article
‘LOVE OF THE BREED OR SELF-PROMOTION’ been circulated via the Internet and has
appeared on the GSD Forum. It is our opinion that the article as written by
Sister Johnston is inaccurate both in fact and assumptions made. On behalf of
the German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia Inc (GSDCA), the National Breed
like to now reply to the article.
The GSDCA has over the last 30+ years implemented
breed improvement schemes. These are the GSDCA Breed Survey Scheme, GSDCA Hip
Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia Schemes and the GSDCA Haemophilia Scheme. All
these schemes have contributed to the betterment of the GSD in Australia. The
schemes provide much needed information to breeders and enthusiasts, and are the
reason why our dogs today are far sounder in both body and mind when compared to
the breed 30 years ago.
Chondrodysplasia in the GSD) Dr Karen Hedberg
Hereditary Diseases Chairperson (HDC has as a Veterinary Surgeon seen the
condition: Chondrodysplasia in German Shepherds sporadically over the years,
other members of the NBC Executive were not aware of the condition nor had they
ever seen a German Shepherd puppy with this particular disease.
The first case was reported to the HDC in late
December 2002 with a case from Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Two more
cases were reported in January and late March 2003, one from the ACT and the
second from South Australia (SA). The bloodlines were quite diverse from the
bitches concerned, the only common factor in these cases was the sire and whiste
noted, the HDC could only carry out preliminary investigations as only 3 cases
were reported. April 2003 saw a case as presented to Dr Hedberg. This case had
no common bloodlines and unlike the three before did not have the same sire.
November 2003, another case was reported to the HDC. This time the sire of this
case was the same as the three cases reported prior to April 2003.
NBC Executive discussed the matter in late November as we now had 5-recorded
cases with 4 from the one sire. It was decided that the HDC Chairperson would
commence an investigation and follow up the cases reported thus far. In addition
Dr Hedberg contacted Dr Malcolm Willis, Murdoch University, Bob Maver, ANKC
Hereditary Diseases Chairperson, Dr Robert Zammit and Dr Roger Lavelle. Dr
Zammit reported he had seen two cases within his practice. Of these, when
contacted by Dr Zammit, only one breeder would supply the required pedigree
The NBC Executive undertook to investigate the matter further as the number of
cases reported had increased, and in late December an article was published on
the GSDCA Website.
[*There was a report of an affected puppy being born
in New Zealand from a son of the first dog, however this has been proven to
be incorrect. It was only the repeated requests to the breeder of the puppy,
that in mid January we received a reply confirming this. It cannot be stressed
enough that any report should be backed up with factual, definitive information:
hearsay and or innuendo must be DISCOURAGED.]
The GSDCA believes that we need to address problems
that occur within our breeding program. It is important that the breeders of
this country are aware of the positives and negatives of their breeding stock
and to keep these problems in perspective. It is one of our missions that
Breeders should be provided with correct and substantiated information. It is
only with this that they can make valued decisions related to their breeding
programs. In return the GSDCA asks that when problems arise that they are
reported to the HDC, It is only with this feedback that we are able to act
swiftly when a problem is recurring.
process in this instance worked very well with
Breed surveyors were notified of the situation and of breed advice regarding the
condition. The advice was to used starting with the forthcoming Breed survey
season that began in February 2004..
The NBC Executive agrees that part of the problem
arises from the reluctance and or refusal of breeders to co-operate with the
reporting of genetic problems and other health issues to the Hereditary Disease
Chairman. This attitude unfortunately arises from a fear of some sort of
imagined reprisal or denigration of various dogs or bloodlines. We can only
state again and again that any information given to the HDC is treated as
confidential and only used to better the breed and not denigrate breeders and or
Comments by Dr. Karen Hedberg – Chairman of the
Judges Committee and the HDC Chairman.
One cannot act without input and even when this comes, you need statistically
significant numbers before action can be taken. While this disorder has appeared
sporadically in the past, a cluster of cases occurring within a short space of
time and was acted upon once we had sufficient input where the data could be
verified. Until the exact mode of inheritance can be determined, one can only
give general advice to our breeders as a whole and equally keep the problem in
perspective – around 1% of this dog (and the other dog’s) progeny have been
affected to our knowledge.
This did not rate a mention in the epistle, but when these were first found in
the breed in the late 70’s early 80’s, the same drama and hysterics occurred.
Such notable dogs as Ingo Hafenlorhtal, Masuta Piuate and Prima Zorba threw
dwarfs, yet these dogs were significant sires of top quality stock, were widely
used and appear in the back generations of most current homebred dogs today.
This is supposedly a simple recessive disorder, yet the percentages seen are
well below what is expected, running at less than 2%. No sire was penalised for
this problem, no sire was removed from stud, and no breed survey status was
removed. The great Uran Wildsteiger Land, whose blood would now be in around 80%
of specialty GSD’s anywhere in the world, also threw the problem.
As you have stated, the most important aspect of any
hereditary disease is the reporting of cases. If they are not reported, how are
we to act? One cannot act on hearsay alone. Concrete evidence and pedigree
backing is required for each case. One also needs as many cases reported as
possible in order to find common denominators within pedigrees. One interesting
aspect with the Chondrodysplasia cases is the fact that there is an additional
case, which is by a largely unrelated sire. The fact that these cases are
appearing within the same timeline is indicative that the gene has in all
probability been floating within our population for a long period of time and
only recently has passed the “threshold” point where the combinations of
carriers reaches a significant level. Until the exact mode of inheritance is
correctly determined and preferentially that a reliable DNA marker found, we
continue to gather information and give breed advice to avoid doubling up on
suspected lines. The NBC Executive is currently looking into several avenues to
see if a DNA marker can be found for the disorder. If a reliable marker can be
found, suspect carrier animals can be readily tested and bred from without loss
of valuable animals or bloodlines.
As with the Haemophilia problem when it occurred,
the GSDCA rapidly responded by introducing the Haemophilia Scheme by testing all
imported males, sons of imported bitches and sons of possible carrier bitches.
The problem was rapidly brought under control with no loss of valuable breeding
stock. The GSDCA is now at a stage that this disease is in the process of being
removed from the Litter Registration Limitations (LRL’s) as a requirement for
all sires of GSD litters, as no cases have been reported in well over the 5 or
so years that it has been a necessity Australia wide. The original GSDCA
requirements covering imports will still stand and will be administered by the
ANKC with assistance from the GSDCA if needed.
It is inferred that the GSDCA has tried to censor
the debate relaing to this condition. This is not true. The only comments made
were to instill calm whilst the true situation could be ascertained. If people
want to comment so be it, however please try to be factual. Do not denigrate
others, eg making fun of someones work practises is really offensive. Vince
Tantaro informs us that an apology was forthcoming for the cheap shot. In
relation to the comment in the article regarding the removal of an article from
the Rhosyn website, the only article that was asked to be removed was the’
Chondrodysplasia in the Havanese breed’, which has little in common with the GSD
condition and was misleading by its inferences to the GSD condition.
The National Breed Commission Executive has always
expressed their concerns of all problems affecting the soundness of the German
Shepherd dog, both mentally and physically, and has been detailed to the
affiliated Clubs in the following manner:-
Reports to the
GSDCA Annual General Meeting
Reports to the
National Breed Commission Meeting
of both the National Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Control Scheme tabled at the NBC
Meeting and then printed in the Quarterly Magazine. Additionally, an annual
report will also be printed in each Breed Survey yearbook.
· Improved details of the Sires Progeny Class printed in the Magazine and supporting the motion to broaden the criteria for automatic entry into the class.
delivered to various member Clubs when one of the members of the NBC Executive
is visiting a show or judging.
It must be noted that all sires are producers of
positive and negative virtues in their progeny. The NBC Executive has a
responsibility to keep a balanced viewpoint, collate the information and deliver
it to the breeders on a regular basis in this country.
Monica Stewart has the right to express her opinion
however at no time has Monica Stewart contacted the National Breed Commission
Executive to express her or seek their opinion on the matter. Again, the GSDCA
did not dampen down the matter. What it was doing and achieved in the end was a
very good investigation that highlighted the need for proactive and not
reactionary response to the condition. Our position was to act responsibly and
not add more wood to the fire.
The comment related to the honesty of the SV Judges
and officials of the GSDCA that they would conspire to penalise dogs owned or
bred by Rhosyn Kennels at the forthcoming National GSD Show & Trial to be held
in South Australia, because of their involvement in this matter is most
offensive and a slur on all of us. We request that Sister Johnston apologises
for this immediately.
The GSDCA Hip Dysplasia Control Scheme Registrar was
appointed in 1983. The introduction of the scheme was based on voluntary
participation however as of 1st of January, 1987 only animals
adjudicated with an “A’ stamp (pass) would be eligible for Breed Survey Class
The results of sires are presented at the National
Breed Commission Meeting and published in the Quarterly Magazine. The
information given is the mean average, the percentage of pass and fail.
Everyone should realise that this adjudication ruling is in place,
an animal receives a second result with a variation greater than 6 points, the
plates are forwarded to Dr. G. Allan for adjudication to ascertain that the
plates are of the same animal.’
Comments from Hereditary Diseases Chairman. Dr.
Re the hip scheme. As stated originally when it was
allowed to re-submit animals to the hip and elbow scheme. It is not the fault of
the dog if a bad plate is taken. The majority of animals that are re-submitted
to the scheme have written on the report – “the result would have been better if
there was not a tilt to the pelvis”. Equally, of those resubmitted, at least
half still fail. Those animals with any degree of arthritis will continue to
show those changes no matter what type of film or processing is used. Schemes
such as the hip and elbow scheme must be looked at in the long term. One cannot
shift a whole breed’s average in a short space of time. We in Australia have a
lot to be proud of, we have worked very hard for over 20 years, X- rayed well
over 20,000 dogs and currently have a breed average that is nearly a 1/3rd
lower that its UK counterpart. The vast majority of our top stud dogs (around
80%) have breed averages of 10 or less. In the UK one is lucky to find 4 or 5
sires within an extensive list that have averages 10 or less.
Details in the article relating to the Elbow
Scheme, which are not accurate.
The National Elbow Dysplasia Scheme was introduced
In 1995 it became mandatory to obtain a Normal, Grade One, or Grade Two Elbow grading (ie. the ‘Z’ Stamp) to be eligible for a Breed Survey classification.
no time was a motion place on the GSDCA AGM Agenda to limit the Excellent
Grading to only those animals with Normal Elbows.
Discussion and motions have been placed on the GSDCA agenda in the past include:
For an Excellent Grading the animal must be in procession of a Normal or
Grade One Elbow Grading.
Breed Survey Class One the animal must be in procession of a Normal or Grade One
It is correct
that these motions were defeated.
For the past two years, any animal that has been
breed surveyed in either Class One or Class Two, that has Grade Two elbows;
under the section of breed advice, the breed surveyor must issue a
warning with regard to the elbow classification when selecting a breeding
elbow statistics are also presented to the National Breed Commission Meeting
each year and published in the Magazine. Again it should be noted that the
Chairman urges all breeders to read and digest the results. The Elbow Scheme in
Australia is second only to that of Sweden We lead the way in front of Germany.
Currently we are endeavouring to tighten up the elbow scheme by reducing the
accepted amount of arthritis in the Grade 2 classification. The motion will be
voted on by the clubs at the upcoming AGM.
The Elbow Scheme equally is working well if breeders take note of results. Always check the sire’s progeny statistics where available. Breeders need to understand that the best way to reduce the incidence of elbow dysplasia is to have at least one normal parent when contemplating using a dog with an elbow score, especially if breeding with a Grade 2 animal.
It should equally be kept in perspective that many
dogs with Grade 1 elbows have had excellent elbow results with high % of normal
progeny – eg. Iwan Lechtal, Troy Noriswand. Always check the sire’s progeny
statistics where available.
Perusal of the overall elbow results shows that
various states eg. NSW – the % of affected animals is dramatically lower than
the original 30% affected. It comes down to whether the breeders wish to take
note of results that are regularly published by the GSDCA for both hips and
elbows. We as a Council provide as much information as possible so the breeders
can make informed decisions in their breeding choices. Like a horse taken to
water, we cannot force them to take that advice.
Additionally, the GSDCA has by its efforts over
the years, now made it mandatory for all breeders of GSD’S across Australia,
that the parents of all GSD litters registered must have been X-rayed for both
hips and elbows. It is not however mandatory that the dogs must be submitted to
the GSDCA Scheme. The end result of this significant achievement is that there
is no excuse for breeding with severely dysplastic stock and common sense
generally stops people from breeding with these animals.
It should be noted that the GSDCA does not have any
rules regarding the requirements for listing of puppies by individual Clubs, nor
that both parents must be breed surveyed. Affiliated Clubs have rules regarding
this matter which varies from State to State. This rule applies to the
recommended breeding practices and for puppy listings in each Club.
The ANKC have a rule that no litter will be registered if the sire/dam is under
18months of age. No dog/bitch can be used for breeding until they are18 months
old. Statement should be correct.
If the survey quoted in the article is the survey
conducted prior to the National held in Sydney in 2002, then there are
inaccuracies in the statements reported.
The following should be noted: -
concerned was presented to survey in Broken Hill with the officiating breed
surveyors being H.J. Neddermyer, L. Donald and J.M. Neddermeyer.
We know that the writer was not present at the breed
survey in Broken Hill. At no time was a comment made by Breed Surveyors who were
present regarding the measurement, size, and the cost of the dog.. With regard
to the progeny of this dog, breeders should read the Sires Progeny Class from
the 2003 National Show. To date of the writing of this letter no son or daughter
from this sire has been presented to survey, however some progeny have been
penalised for size in the show ring.
With regard to the Kantenna Ablaze incident, the
incidence occurred after the judging was completed. The dog had left the ring
and was returning to its trailer. The person bitten did not wish to report the
incident and at that time, there was no mandatory requirement to report a bite
by the RNSWCC.
Moves are already in place to try to establish a
temperament and working test to be run prior to Breed Survey, most probably
along similar lines to the German BH requirement. Again, references to this are
in the current AGM and will be voted on shortly as to the general format that is
considered suitable, before the Clubs formally vote to adopting such a
requirement. While still in its early stages, this has been under discussion for
the last 2 years at NBC meetings. We are not aware of the temperament testing
that the former President, GSDCA tried to introduce years ago. In fact the
reluctance of the membership to accept the Temperament Instinct Tests and
agility at MBE has been one of the major goals not achieved by the GSDCA. The
GSDCA is currently reviewing a work type test for introduction as a prerequisite
for Breed Survey. Comments related to judging at State Breed Exhibitions and
shows in general are quite mischievous and are unfounded. Comments related to
colour testing at shows is one that is interesting as it has been commented on
at NBC meetings and by the current President. We like many of you do notice
colour change in some dogs however at this point in time no motion has been put
forward to introduce colour testing at shows.
made about specific dogs are again unfounded and whilst the author may make
premises and inferences about this and that the fact is that whatever has been
said is rumour mongering at best. The comment related to self-promotion is
really unwarranted. Who are we promoting? The hours of voluntary work done by
many members of Member Clubs and the GSDCA Executive is hardly a reward of
self-promotion. The GSDCA is different to the days of Louis Donald and Max
Stokes. They were the days of the benevolent dictator. Those days have caught up
with them and the organisation. There was massive upheaval in the power
struggles and change in the last 8 years of Council. The change was full as
opposed to directed democracy. We now have processes that are transparent. The
membership is fully aware of all issues and can change the direction of Council.
The Executive as always is only empowered to carry out the wish of the
membership. In closing we ask anyone who has a question of what, how and why we
do our business, namely the caretaker of the GSD in Australia, then please do
not add to the rumour mill, but go and ask. This can be done via your Club or
direct to the GSDCA Secretary (
For and on behalf of the GSDCA Inc
Vince Tantaro President
Joylene Neddermyer, Chairperson, National Breed Commission
Dr Karen Hedberg Chairperson, Judges Committee