A Good Dog Is Just That…A Good Dog

I thank God daily for letting me live my life with my dogs. Dogs give unconditional love, unconditionally! That’s always been a favorite saying of mine and the best part about it is that it’s true. ‘Mans Best Friend’ is also another true statement about dogs. There’s always a kiss waiting for me, a gentle nudge for more attention, and the knowledge that life with my dogs is a ‘good life’.

So where does the controversy come from that this dog is better than that one? Who stokes the fires of doom that says the German lines of the German Shepherd dog are better than the American bred dogs? I could name names here, but that wouldn’t serve anyone well or get to the real meaning of this discussion. You see…I believe a ‘good dog is a good dog’ no matter where it’s from. I also believe that form should follow function and if the dog functions well, its form is good. I don’t have to see a dogs Passport or birth certificate to determine if that function is correct. The two go hand in hand and are evident in a good dog.

There are ‘bad’ American, German, Lithuanian, and Australian German Shepherd dogs. There are also ‘good’ American, German, Lithuanian, and Australian German Shepherd dogs. Once again I allude to function…that is the keyword. ‘Ole Capn Max’ might well look at today’s version of any GSD and roll over in his grave. They hardly resemble the 1900’s version he created to herd sheep. That said, could they still herd sheep? They can and do. Some do it more easily than others and that’s because they are structurally capable of herding sheep in an efficient manner. In the American GSD Standard…there is a wonderful passage that refers to the dogs gait…"The gait is outreaching, elastic, seemingly without effort, smooth and rhythmic, covering the most amount of ground with the minimum amount of steps." I fail to see where that description alludes to any particular ethnicity nor should it! Remember…a good dog is a good dog!

There is a movie of the above description; I have hidden in my mind. It plays every time I find myself in the center of the ring judging these wonderful dogs. The dog that approximates that description the closest will most always get my nod. This breed was created to herd sheep. In order perform that function, the form must be correct. The dog must be balanced front and rear. Too much of anything will prevent correct function…rear, wither, bad toplines, carped backs, it makes no difference. The Germans have a wonderful word for balance ‘Gestalt’. A dog that is balanced will be able to herd sheep all day. A dog that is ‘Gestalt Challenged’…will take more steps to accomplish the same task. It’s ‘Movement 101’…folks! There are American, German, Lithuanian, and Australian GSD’s that are ‘GC’…and there are dogs in the same countries that are not ‘GC’. They can and do, do the work.

Of course there are other factors that constitute a quality GSD…temperament, type, and courage…but to name a few. However, a typey, courageous, sound in mind dog that is not ‘Gestalt’ in form will not perform Capn’ Max’s intended function for this dog. The key is for everyone in every country to breed for that total dog. I do not believe that anyone in any country has an exclusive on that intent. 

This is not a debate on ethnicity…rather a debate on style. I think it should be a debate on form and function. We can all agree to disagree on style…but the effects of function and form are constant…no matter where your dog is from!

A ‘good dog is a good dog’…period!

Paul Root
Rivendell German Shepherds


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