The Kennel Club has asked all German shepherd dog (GSD) breed clubs to sign a formal undertaking that “accepts there is a degree of unsoundness in the hindquarters of the breed” and that these problems are to be penalised at shows.

The Kennel Club has asked all German shepherd dog (GSD) breed clubs to sign a formal undertaking that “accepts there is a degree of unsoundness in the hindquarters of the breed and in particular in the hocks of some dogs and that these problems are to be penalised at shows”.
 
The breed clubs have also been asked to undertake “positive action” to address this unsoundness issue.
 
According to The Kennel Club, a vocal minority in the GSD community continues to attempt to distract attention from the KC’s main concerns about the soundness of the German shepherd dog breed. The club remains “in no doubt” that currently the single biggest threat to the reputation and interest of the breed is the lack of soundness in hindquarters, particularly the hocks.
 
German shepherd dogIn an official statement, a KC spokesman said: “The presence of this unsoundness is generally recognised by most people except by some with vested interests in the GSD breed who steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem in this area. The Kennel Club remains frustrated that something so patently obvious to many dog people – even those with a limited knowledge of dogs – is being ignored and denied by some people in the breed. Indeed the recent Bateson Inquiry singled out the GSD as an example of a breed ‘where drastic action is require’ to address conformation and movement.
 
“The GSD community has commendably introduced a number of valuable voluntary health testing schemes addressing issues such as haemophilia, hip dysplasia and others. The Kennel Club has supported this voluntary testing and will continue to support all responsible breeders who put the health of their animals first. These tests are undeniably important, but crucially they do not address the most important current issue – lack of soundness in the hindquarters and hocks. 
 
“Furthermore, the GSD Partnership has repeatedly claimed that the Kennel Club is not accepting its proposed Breed Improvement Programme and its requests that the programme forms the basis of a mandatory requirement for showing and breeding. The fact remains that no part of the proposed programme acknowledges, let alone addresses, the issue of soundness in the hindquarters and hocks.”
 
“The Kennel Club believes that the health and soundness of dogs should be the fundamental and overriding concern of breeders. The improvement of soundness in the GSD lies with GSD breeders, owners and judges all working towards the same goal. The judge’s role is a vital one in the development of many aspects of a breed, but one of their primary responsibilities is to ensure that unsound dogs are not rewarded in the show ring.
 
“This issue of soundness is not a simple difference of opinion, it is the fundamental issue of the breed’s essential conformation and movement.
 
The statement concluded: “GSD owners and breeders have the chance now to make a positive impact on the future of their breed by supporting the Kennel Club’s measures to address this essential factor. Owners and breeders should make their views known to the breed clubs that represent them and ask that the undertakings be signed for the future protection and welfare of this breed.”

GSD image ©iStockphoto.com/steamroller_blues
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