Well, in the last blog, I discussed many of the issues which demonstrate the superior genetic culling which results from the West German show line approach of the Germans. We talked about how the American lines do not have this quality control, which has led to loss of drive, stability and soundness, working ability, joint health, and increased incidence of genetic problems.
In this piece, I want to briefly and, admittedly, in a cursory fashion, address a number of other quality control characteristics of the German breed system that lend to the superiority of German vs. American lines. First would be the kor klasse system. Under this system, dogs are breed surveyed and over 50 metrics are gathered regarding a dog including general physical features such as height and weight and pigment, conformation characteristics, how they stand move, nerves and self confidence, and many others. The highest rating, and what we consider at Banffy Haus the only acceptable rating, is KKL1 or “highly recommended for breeding”. We will not breed or purchase any dogs which are not KKL1. Nor will we offer puppies from litters in which parents are not also rated KKL1.
So at this point the German dog has a hip and elbow rating, HD1 being the highest for hips and ED1 being the highest for elbows. They will likely have a ZW rating, indicating the probability of passing bad hips to their progeny. They have obtained their BH obedience and temperament title. They have had an endurance test and passed the AD. They have gone through a rigorous breed survey and met the mark with a KKL1, “highly recommended for breeding”. As this point they have two more hurdles to be navigated.
The first is the Schutzhund title. This is a very complex obedience/intelligence/courage, working ability test made up of three parts and with three levels. The three parts include a test of tracking ability, one of obedience, and one for courage/protection. The three levels are SchH1, SchH2, SchH3. The highest is SchH3. One might see the three levels as equivalent to an AA degree, BA degree and Masters degree. Each has the three parts but in markedly increasing level of difficulty. The technical details of the trial are enough for a complete article if not a book and therefore will not be covered in this blog. But it is evident that German German shepherd dogs have to go three a very challenging mix of tests to assure the judge that they have what is considered characteristic for the breed.
Finally, the dog will go through a conformation show where they can receive a number of ratings. The two highest ratings, the only ones Banffy Haus German shepherd breeders will accept, are V (excellent) and VA (excellent select).
The American shepherds, although some make participate in some aspects of the German breed system, will likely not. One could argue that this quality control genetic vetting system for German German shepherds is rigorous and lends to developing a far superior breed than the very lax American system. Although there are clearly some flaws in the German system, ways around many of the rules, this system creates amazing canines specimens of superior health, temperament, working drive.
It is a shame what has happened to the American lines. Occassionally they look to breed to West German lines to breed back in some of the positive characterics preserved by the German breed system. However, what a pity that the American lines have been allowed to languish for so many years. Our recommendation is resoundingly to buy a West German show lines German Shepherd.