German Shepherd Dogs - The Kennel Club's Position

17-Nov-09 Press Release from the Kennel Club

The German Shepherd Dog is one of the UK’s most popular breeds and the Kennel Club is committed to ensuring its health and welfare and continuing popularity.

With these ends in mind, the Kennel Club has worked with the GSD community over many, many years, and together have achieved considerable benefits for the breed and its owners, including:

•        Relaxation of Show Regulations to allow for verbal critiques at breed club shows

•        Relaxation of Show Regulations so that breed club shows need not provide wet weather accommodation

•        Approval for the British Sieger special event

•        Alteration of Regulations to allow for the registration of Working Dog Branches

•        Provision of an escalation procedure, at the request of the breed clubs, to help show organisers deal with double handling at their shows

•        Development of enhanced pedigrees to include working test results, DNA profiles, and health test results

•        Agreement to facilitate the research required to formulate a DNA test for haemophilia A to identify carriers

On the 18th August 2009 a meeting was held between the Kennel Club and the GSD Partnership (which includes representatives from the Breed Council, BAGSD, GSD League of GB); but unfortunately no representatives of the BAGSD attended. At that meeting the GSD Partnership agreed a number of actions which included:

•        Obtaining samples from haemophilia A affected dogs to assist in setting up a DNA scheme

•        Facilitating a Judging seminar in October to ensure that Judges understand the breed standard changes and issues surrounding a lack of soundness that it was accepted occurred in the breed

•        Preparing a 4 point plan to address a number of issues concerning the health and welfare of the breed.

However, the minutes of that meeting are now being disputed by some of the GSD Representatives and it is regretted that they have yet to acknowledge or act upon these issues.  This is particularly inappropriate given the reported comments made by Herr Reinhardt Meyer, SV National Breed Warden, following the Sieger Show in Germany this year.  On that occasion he made it clear publicly that the soundness of the breed is now of great importance. This point was also made at this year’s British Sieger competition.

There has, in addition, been comment in specialist magazines that the German style of showing the breed is inappropriate within the context of the UK show structure and the style and size of rings and venues.  The Kennel Club has long supported this view by opposing double handling on health and safety grounds, and on simple fairness as not everyone has access to professional and/or additional handlers. Comments have also been made that it is difficult to assess properly a dog’s temperament and movement whilst its attention is being attracted from outside the ring.  Again, it is disappointing that this issue is simply not being dealt with more robustly.

There has been a great deal of talk about the way forward, but the Kennel Club has yet to see any real action from the GSD community since raising its concerns.  Many side issues have been introduced and special pleading that the breed needs to be treated differently to over 200 other registered breeds. The Kennel Club simply cannot and will not allow itself to be diverted from addressing the fundamental issue of soundness in the breed.

It was with considerable regret, therefore, that the Kennel Club found it necessary to defer allocation of its highest award, the Challenge Certificate, to GSDs for 2012.

When the GSD clubs embrace the need to address these concerns, and commit to an effective and realistic plan of action, the Kennel Club will support their actions and will ensure that Challenge Certificates are allocated appropriately.