The German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, which is no wonder, given that the Shepherd is both a dependable working dog and a loyal, affectionate family dog. German Shepherd show dogs are also perennial favorites at the Westminster Dog Show.
Could your sweet Shepherd make the show? Does he or she have what it takes? Is yours the pooch that just can’t lose?
The Shepherd Attitude
Your German Shepherd might be the kindest, cutest dog on the block; affectionate, even slobbery, with both your family and the neighbors alike. But you may be surprised to hear that this might not score the biggest points with the Westminster judges.
According to the American Kennel Club, the ideal show Shepherd is regal in temperament, a dog with a noble bearing, fearless and self confident. But the Shepherd that will take home the prize will also be a bit standoffish, even aloof. In other words, can your Shepherd be a snob?
The fact is, the Shepherd is still prized for the qualities that make it a good guard and police dog. As such, confidence, independence, and a touch of calm wariness will make a Westminster judge sit up and take notice.
The Shepherd Look
When it comes to the ideal look of the German Shepherd, the dog’s past is a big factor. As a dog that was originally bred to be put to work, both on the farm and while out on the hunt, Shepherds needed to be strong and muscular.
As guard dogs, they need to be tall, broad of chest, and imposing. In other words, German Shepherds have to be a bit scary, at least to strangers.
In consideration of all this, the Westminster judge will be looking for a dog that’s got some heft, and a well-formed physique. The dog should be well balanced too, so that the chest and the hind quarters have developed in harmony.
Your Shepherd’s head should be cleanly chiseled and well formed, in good proportion to their body. What’s more, the face and features should reveal the dog’s sex, with male dogs looking distinctly male and females looking, well, female.
A Couple Shepherd No-Nos
Since we’re talking about what a show Shepherd should be in terms of temperament and appearance, we might as well list the few things that would take a German Shepherd out of contention.
To start with, a show dog will have neither cropped nor hanging ears, nor a docked tail. White-colored Shepherds are not allowed, and neither are dogs whose noses aren’t predominantly black.
Needless to say, Shepherds who wiggle, wag, and lick the judge’s faces probably won’t get far either. Remember, poise counts. Finally, as if it weren’t obvious, a Shepherd that bites a judge will be immediately dismissed! Attitude is great, but too bad a ‘tude won't win any prizes.
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