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GSD Breed Council responds to KC

THE GERMAN Shepherd Dog fraternity this week brought forth more of its feelings regarding the potentially devastating news that the breed needs to ‘sort itself out’, or lose its CCs in 2012.

Following our story in last week’s OUR DOGS, where we reported that the KC had issued a warning to breeders and enthusiasts concerning the health of the breed, John Cullen, Chairman of the GSD Breed council has written a lengthy letter to Kathryn Symns, herself the author of the original letter which had been sent previously to championship show secretaries telling them of the KC’s plans to withdrew CCs in 2012 pending co-operation from the GSD community.

Mr Cullen’s letter, written on behalf of the Breed Council and the GSD Partnership told of that fact that both felt very disappointed at the tone and timing of the KC letter and we found its content to be more dictatorial than democratic in the threats to withhold CCs for 2012.

The letter continued: ‘This kind of statement only makes our task more difficult in persuading our members that the way forward is discussion with the Kennel Club. Despite this, our members gave the Breed Council a mandate to carry on working in partnership with the GSDL and BAGSD to improve the Health and Welfare of the GSD in conjunction with the Kennel Club. We understand your concerns and this is our joint response on how we can continue to go forward.

‘It must be recognised that the concerns received from the KC regarding unsoundness are an issue for the Kennel Club, your appointed judges and our Breed Club members together.

‘The GSD community have been in a dialogue on how we can deal with KC Judges promoting unsoundness since the first time it was raised by the KC in November 2008 when we were faced with sparse and anecdotal evidence leading to the revising of the breed standard through the meeting with Ruth Barbour and the KCBHWSG.

‘The KC initiatives of issuing Judges before they judge with instructions on dealing with unsoundness and double handling is simply not working, coupled with the mixed messages we are getting from the KC Field officers (some very positive) at our shows is perhaps why the KC and us find ourselves in this unsatisfactory situation on double handling.


‘The Breed Council at its meeting on Saturday 25th July debated a number of initiatives on how to deal with the issues in the breed today specifically the ones highlighted within your letter and we are taking your letter very seriously.

‘For your information, an initiative was presented to the KC in April 2009 via the dialogue with the GSD Partnership on how we deal with some of the fundamental issues in your letter. At that meeting it was presented to the KC that the GSD Community are prepared to organise a Seminar/symposium for championship show Judges and Breed Clubs like we used to 7 or 8 years ago to discuss unsoundness (and now double handling) with the aim of coming up with some new and more effective ideas with yourselves over and above the unsatisfactory current attempts.
‘This is a joint problem and not one in which can be managed by the KC issuing threats regarding allocation of CCs. These are clearly joint and several problems and the only way in which they can be satisfactorily remedied is with the GSD Community and the Kennel Club working together.’
The story, which gained coverage in the national press, has certainly highlighted aspects of the breed which had perhaps been only internal matters before, indeed many GSD enthusiasts have backed the KCs actions wholeheartedly.

However, breeder David Payne, says it is time for the breed to quit the Kennel Club. He is incensed that the club has singled out health problems in the breed and insists that breeders have been improving health and welfare.

Retired GSD man Payne, who has 12 German shepherds, denies that there are health issues with dogs which have roach on the back or whose legs are not straight. He is convinced that the club is taking them on to persuade others to come to heel over new breeding standards.
“The German shepherd dog breed is one of the most powerful numerically and organisationally worldwide. I think the Kennel Club is trying to crush us to make other breeds fall into line. I think it’s time we set up alternative shows and run them under the rules of the breed society in Germany.”

John Cullen, however, feels that the vast interpretation of the current rules by KC Field Officers, judges and our Breed Clubs is not consistent, which leads to the exhibitors and clubs, he feels, not really knowing what to do.

He continues: ‘I am sure you are familiar with some phrases received from the KC Field Officers like "It is OK to walk but not run!", "it is ok to rattle keys but no horns!" Static outside attraction is OK! and so on. These mixed messages might have been appropriate on the day of a show but under analysis do not help. What will help is that we come up with a review and the KC. Taking CCs away is not the answer.’


His letter to Ms Symns he states: ‘We have been reminded recently that the GSD community need to produce evidence to show that we are actioning these issues before any accommodation regarding name change etc will be looked at favourably. We see the symposium as hard evidence that we are going to work with the KC and produce a solution to these two issues.

‘Finally we will discuss adding backlines to the symposium agenda, but all our clubs are firmly of the opinion, as was discussed and recorded to the KC in January 2009 with Ruth Barbour and the KCBHWSG that we do not have a problem with backlines.

‘We find it amazing that we are continually presented with anecdotal views, unsupported, subjective and non specific generalities from the KC regarding top lines and request again that you issue us with all the evidence of the health problems that might be as a consequence of the alleged "extreme backlines" of dogs in our rings today. As confirmed by Professor Sampson there is no evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that supports your subjective views regarding the GSD backline dipped or roached.

‘You may have had it reported back to you that at our meeting on Saturday that the BC unanimously voted (23 for and 2 abstentions ) to give a mandate to the GSD Partnership to continue to work with the KC on improving Health and Welfare for the GSD in conjunction with the ABS scheme. Bill Lambert witnessed this evidence of democratic representation now firmly in place and further provides evidence that the GSD Community is seeking to introduce better Health and Welfare aspirations within the KC ABS.

‘Two KC representatives specifically attended our BC meeting on Saturday to extol the virtues of the KC ABS and the EBV initiative being developed by Jeff Sampson, which was aimed at describing how the GSD community can further join the KC on improving the Health and Welfare of the GSD.

Positive note

‘The KC must now start to understand that the unanimous views of the clubs are articulated through the Breed Council and the GSD Partnership only. Using the KC ethic, we will continue to try and influence all clubs by inviting them to all BC events as Breed Council members and to join in the KC ABS initiative with the rest of the GSD community on Health and Welfare
‘Finally, on a positive note, of the 25 Clubs who attended on Saturday they all voted unanimously and produced even more evidence of harmony by withdrawing the motion to split the breed, which leaves the KC and the GSD community more time to focus on Health and Welfare issues and is another piece of evidence of the GSD community working together democratically.

‘In order to make positive progress we request a GSD Partnership meeting to discuss:- A) The proposed Agenda and terms of reference for a GSD Symposium for Judges and breeders and the KC attendance possibly; B) Our willingness to deal with the KC on the issue of Judges promoting unsound dogs; C) How do we really stop/revise the current rules and confusion regarding outside attraction and its danger to peoples Health and D) the KC ABS scheme for GSD ( in Progress) and how we can raise the Bar on Health within the GSD.

‘I assure you of the Breed Council’s - and all the GSD breed clubs along with the GSD Partnership - continued willingness to demonstrate evidence that the GSD Community wants to deal effectively with issues in regards to increasing the Health and Welfare of the GSD and will continue to produce hard evidence that we are doing so with the KC in order to quicken the pace of change.’

Our Dogs will continue to report on the story as it progresses and welcome readers’ letters on the subject.

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