Compared Standards

Compared Standards

The following is Chapter Four of Der Deutsch Kurzhaar, The German Shorthaired Pointer by Georgina M. Byrne, and is placed on my web page with her permission.

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CHAPTER FOUR

THE BREED STANDARDS COMPARED

INTRODUCTION

There are three GSP Breed Standards which as far as I know, cover the breed wherever it is found. The first of these (and the first to be set) is the German Standard, which is also the FCI Standard. This covers the European countries (except Britain) and the South American countries. The second ( and the next one to be set) is the American Standard, which is used in the USA, Canada and Central America, and the third, and most recently set Standard (the most recent revision was released and printed by the Kennel Club in 1986) is the English (British) Standard, used in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

I have obtained permission from the three Governing Bodies to reprint all three Standards herein, and although no words have been changed, I have in some cases, changed the order in which certain sections of each Standard appear in their usual format. I have done this to allow a more useful comparison, to allow readers to see where the similarities and variations occur. I have, in addition, included an interpretation of some facets of the Standards. This interpretation is, of course, entirely subjective, and I leave it up to the reader to accept or reject it on the merits of its arguments.

It must be remembered that breed standards are not the Word of God, they are merely guidelines, developed in the main, by groups of breed fanciers, to describe what they believe to be an ideal specimen of the breed. They are aimed not only at breeders, but also at conformation (show) judges, to enable them to assess the animals they are being asked to judge. There is no doubt that judges, through their interpretations of breed standards, can influence greatly the direction of breed development, sometimes to its detriment.

Only in Europe, and Germany in particular, is real control exercised over breeders, via the enforcement of aspects of the breed standard. The disqualifying faults, which render a dog not suitable for breeding, are listed on the dog’s official pedigree. In addition, no dog can be used for breeding registered puppies, without passing an official conformation assessment, and no pup will be registered unless it is free from congenital or disqualifying defects and its litter has been inspected, approved and tattooed (with their registration numbers) by a Club official, who thereby certifies that they appear to be pure-bred, and their coat colours conform to what one could expect, given the parents’ colours. For example, the presence of one black pup in a litter which is supposedly from two liver parents, would result in the disqualification of the whole litter.

For those readers who at this point cry "What about personal freedom?", I hereby relate the following tale: A leading breeder, in one of the English-speaking countries, was asked to give an opinion on a litter sired by a Champion stud dog from another leading kennel. To his horror, one of the pups was solid black, and another yellow. Both "parents" were liver and white. No doubt, the bitch had had a misalliance following her mating to the stud, and the novice breeder had registered the crossbred puppies by mail, not knowing anything was wrong. There was no criminal intent on anyone’s part, and I do not know whether the litter was de-registered as, of course, it should have been. The anguish suffered by the witness, the stud-dog owner and of course the breeder, could have been prevented, if the litter had been assessed prior to its registration.

The story does illustrate the usefulness of the German system of external assessment in preventing such situations arising. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, there always will be differences of opinion where subjective assessments of breed worthiness are concerned. The previous chapter discussed some of the problems involved in arriving at a uniform interpretation of the Breed Standards. Here are the three major GSP Standards for you, the reader, to read and interpret. My comments appear after each section.

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Germany (F.C.I.): "That of a noble, harmonious dog, whose proportions give a guarantee of endurance, power and speed. Its characteristic features are a noble appearance, graceful outlines, a clean-cut head, a well carried tail and a taut, gleaming coat."

DEFECTS WHICH EXCLUDE FROM BREEDING: Gross deficiencies in the typical physiognomy of a dog of that sex. Clearly undeveloped, malformed or missing testes.

DEFECTS WHICH PRECLUDE A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "GOOD": Heavy, lymphatic, coarse-boned body.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "VERY GOOD": Deficiencies in carriage. Deficiencies in the typical physiognomy of that sex."

U.S.A.: "The overall picture which is created in the observer’s eye is that of an aristocratic, well-balanced, symmetrical animal with conformation indicating power, endurance and agility and a look of intelligence and animation. The dog is neither unduly small nor conspicuously large. It gives the impression of medium size, but is like the proper hunter (hunter in this context refers to a horse used for hunting with pack-hounds) "with a short back, but standing over plenty of ground."

Tall leggy dogs, or dogs which are ponderous or unbalanced because of excess substance should be definitely rejected. The first impression is that of a keenness, which denotes full enthusiasm for work without indication of nervous or flighty character. Movements are alertly coordinated without waste motion. Grace of outline, clean-cut head, sloping shoulders, deep chest, powerful back, strong quarters, good bone composition, adequate muscle, well-carried tail and taut coat, all combine to produce a look of nobility and an indication of anatomical structure essential to correct gait which must indicate a heritage of purposefully conducted breeding. A judge must excuse a dog from the ring if it displays extreme shyness or viciousness towards its handler or the judge. Aggressiveness or belligerence toward another dog is not to be considered viciousness.

FAULTS: "Doggy bitches and bitchy dogs are to be faulted."

Britain: "Noble, steady dog showing power, endurance and speed, giving the immediate impression of an alert and energetic dog whose movements are well coordinated. Of medium size, with a short back standing over plenty of ground. Grace of outline, clean cut head, long sloping shoulders, deep chest, short back, powerful hindquarters, good bone composition, adequate muscle, well carried tail and taut coat."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: All three standards use the following words "noble (or "a look of nobility"), grace of outline ("graceful outline"), clean-cut head, power and endurance, a well carried tail and taut coat." Thus it is, that a lumpy, loose-skinned, droopy, nervous, hyperactive, weedy or fat GSP is unacceptable everywhere.

To be of correct type, a GSP must have the self confidence which will give it a look of nobility, enable it to carry itself purposefully and ensure that it carries its tail well. This means that good temperament is an essential ingredient, even in the look of the dog. It must also be fit and muscular, or it cannot have a look denoting power and endurance, nor the required taut coat.

Both the German and the American Standards describe "doggy" bitches and "bitchy" dogs as faulty. One should never have to look at the rear end of a GSP to determine its sex.

Both the British and American Standards mention "medium" in regard to size.
This term is used in a number of Breed Standards, both to dogs larger than (the Doberman and the Weimaraner, for instance) or of similar or slightly size (the Hungarian Viszla and the Pharaoh Hound) than the GSP. An impression of "medium size" is usually given if a dog is rather square in its proportions. A long dog tends to look larger, a leggy dog looks taller, and a fine boned and/or small-headed dog looks smaller, even if they are all the same height at the withers.

The British and American Standards also mention "short backed", whilst the German Standard does not. It is interesting that some of the top-winning American, British and Australian show GSPs, and some of the great German studs as well, whilst balanced, are most definitely not short backed. It is generally true that it is very hard to breed a short-backed dog which also moves well at the trot, without over-reaching ("crabbing" or "sidewinding").

Nevertheless, a rather square outline is desirable in the GSP. This means that the dog should be only slightly longer than it is tall, with its legs slightly longer than its body depth. A dog which has its elbow midway between its withers and the ground is too low on leg.

All three standards either mention or imply that a coarse and heavy-bodied GSP is undesirable. For a dog to look energetic as well as aristocratic, it must be neither. The British and German Standards mention speed and the Americans ask for agility. This does not imply a Greyhound look, but it does give one a clear indication that heavy, ponderous GSPs are incorrect. Nor however, are fine-boned, "Whippetty" types desirable, for they lack the strength and endurance to perform the various tasks required of them in field and water.

The U.S. standard criticises "tall, leggy dogs" as being faulty, but although no standard makes specific mention of it, a short-legged GSP is equally faulty and even more than a leggy specimen, is unsuited to perform all of the tasks required of a GSP.

CHARACTERISTICS

Germany (F.C.I.): not defined

U.S.A.: "The Shorthair is a versatile hunter, an all-purpose gundog capable of high performance in field and water. The judgement of Shorthairs in the show ring should reflect this basic characteristic."

Britain: "Dual purpose Pointer/Retriever, very keen nose, perseverance in searching and initiative in game-finding, excellence in field, a naturally keen worker, equally good on land and water."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: Here are instructions for the breeder, rather than the judge. The Germans take it for granted that the GSP must be a hunter, for that is what it is bred for, and that is what it does, in the main, in its native land. The characteristics mentioned above only serve to reinforce the need for the physical and mental type described in "General Appearance".

SYMMETRY

Germany (F.C.I.): not defined

U.S.A.: "Symmetry and field quality are most essential. A dog in hard and lean field condition is not to be penalised: however, overly fat or poorly muscled dogs are to be penalised. A dog well balanced in all points is preferable to one with outstanding good qualities and defects."

Britain: not defined.

AUTHOR’S COMMENT: The above is clearly an instruction for show judges. From the breeder’s point of view, however, the last sentence may not be true, for a dog with no obvious faults may also be one with no great virtues. Such a dog may well be of little use to the breed. This is a problem with a system such as that found in the USA and Australia, where much of the competition and kudos is gained by winning All-Breed shows. Breed type can be sacrificed in the search for a flashy, sound-moving animal which may win in the show ring but be seriously at variance with appropriate breed type.

TEMPERAMENT

Germany (F.C.I.): not defined

U.S.A.: (from General Appearance) "A judge must excuse from the ring any dog which displays extreme shyness or viciousness towards its handler or the judge."

Britain: "Gentle, affectionate and even-tempered. Alert, biddable and very loyal."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: The British Standard, only in its most recent revision, has mentioned temperament; the German Standard does not make a direct reference to it and the American Standard mentions only negative aspects of it. Temperament is however, one of, if not the most important characteristic of the breed.

I have witnessed man-shyness (active guarding) in Shorthairs in both Holland and Germany, where such a characteristic is considered not only acceptable, but useful. For example, Dr. Dewitz Colpin (1951) describes with obvious pride an occasion on which his bitch "Batti", returning through a village street with her hare, warned off the village lads "with her white teeth."

In most of the English-speaking countries, however, aggression towards humans is less acceptable in a gundog (sporting) breed. This is perhaps why the word "gentle" was included in the recently revised British Standard.

"Gentle" can be interpreted in a number of ways. The one which best fits the GSPs is "gentle" as in "gentleman", meaning kindly and well-mannered towards its human companions. In addition it should be "soft mouthed" , i.e. gentle when handling shot game. It should not, however, be "gentle" in the sense of being overly soft and submissive. The GSP undertakes much of its work well in front of its handler, unlike some of the "gentle" Retrieving breeds which spend much of their time at heel awaiting commands.

A shy, retiring, fearful dog is incorrect, as is a neurotic, hyperactive one. Although the American Standard seems to make some allowance for aggression towards other dogs (only aggression towards humans is mentioned as a fault), species aggression is not a trait to be encouraged, for it must be remembered that in many places, GSPs are required to work in braces, often with strange dogs of the same sex. Habitual fighters are a nuisance, of not a danger, at home, at shows and in the field. No GSP should display aggression towards a handler or a judge. The American Standard requires the disqualification of such a dog.

The "very loyal" requirement in the British Standard is difficult to interpret and impossible to assess in a show ring. In a breed which is often required to adapt to several different owners/trainers/handlers during its lifetime, the passionate lifelong attachment to one individual which is a characteristic of some breeds, is uncommon in GSPs. They should, however, display obvious affection towards their owners and families. Aloofness and disdain are uncharacteristic of the breed.

HEAD AND SKULL

Germany (F.C.L.): "Clean-cut, strong-featured, neither too light nor too heavy, proportionate to the body in size and length. Top of skull sufficiently broad, slightly rounded, the central furrow not too deep. The top line of the muzzle showing an easy curve, varying from a full aristocratic Roman nose to one with a slight elevation from the straight line, this generally being more pronounced in a male dog, corresponding with his typical overall masculine appearance. A perfectly straight muzzle is also permissible but less attractive. A concave or "dished" muzzle is undesirable.

The lips fall away almost vertically from the somewhat protruding nose, down to the point where they separate, and then continue in a smooth, well-rounded curve to the corner of the mouth. They should not be too overhung. Jaws powerful, jaw muscles well developed. An even rise from the chops to the forehead. Seen in profile, the eyebrows produce a clear stop. The muzzle must be powerful and long, to enable the dog to pick up and carry game correctly.

DEFECTS WHICH EXCLUDE FROM BREEDING: none listed

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "GOOD": Snipey muzzle. Sagging concave topline of muzzle (dished muzzle). Pronounced stop.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "VERY GOOD": Lips too large or too small.

U.S.A.: "Clean-cut, neither too light nor too heavy, in proper proportion to the body. Skull is reasonably broad, arched on the side and slightly round on top. Scissors (median line between the eyes at the forehead) not too deep, occipital bone not as conspicuous as in the case of the Pointer. The foreface rises gradually from nose to forehead. The rise is more strongly pronounced in the dog than in the bitch as befitting his sex. The chops fall away from the somewhat projecting nose.

Lips are full and deep, never flewey. The chops do not fall over too much, but form a proper fold in the angle. The jaw is powerful and the muscles well developed. The line to the forehead rises gradually and never has a definite stop as that of the Pointer, but rather a stop-effect when viewed from the side, due to the position of the eyebrows. The muzzle is sufficiently long to enable the dog to seize properly and to facilitate his carrying game a long time. A pointed muzzle is not desirable. The entire head never gives the impression of tapering to a point. The depth is in the right proportion to the length, both in the muzzle and in the skull proper.

The length of the muzzle should equal the length of the skull.

FAULTS: a. A pointed muzzle
b. A dish-faced muzzle
c. Too many wrinkles in the forehead

SERIOUS FAULT: A definite Pointer stop.

Britain: "Clean cut, neither too light nor too heavy, well proportioned to body. Skull sufficiently broad and slightly round. Nasal bone rising gradually from nose to forehead (this more pronounced in dogs) and never possessing a definite stop, but when viewed from the side a well defined stop effect due to position of eyebrows.

Lips falling away almost vertically from somewhat protruding nose and continuing in a slight curve to corner of mouth. Lips well developed, not over hung. Jaws powerful and sufficiently long to enable dog to pick up and carry game. Dish-faced and snipey muzzle undesirable."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: In spite of the uniformity in the three descriptions of correct type, there is great variation to be found in GSP heads world-wide. Also, in spite of uniform condemnation of both snipey and "Pointer-type" heads, these are to found everywhere. The greatest variation in type in the countries I have studied seems to be found in the USA and the least in the UK, where type overall is the most consistent. This is probably due to the relatively small gene-pool British breeders have utilised, and the great variety of GSP "bloodlines" to be found in America. In addition, it seems to me that the greatest division of the breed into "show-type" and "field-type" has occurred in the USA.

The essentials for a good GSP head are: a long, strong broad muzzle with a slightly aquiline profile, (particularly in a male), a skull and cheeks which are not too broad, (particularly in a female), only a slight curve to the top and sides of the skull, and a slight but apparent stop-effect. Dogs with no stop at all are completely atypical, as are those with an exaggerated stop. The planes of skull and muzzle should be parallel.

The expression is most important. It should be benign yet self confident, and in the presence of game, purposeful, alert and intense.

EYES

Germany (F.C.I.): "Medium sized, neither protruding nor deep set. Eyelids should close properly. Ideal colour, dark brown.

DEFECTS WHICH EXCLUDE FROM BREEDING: Entropion, ectropion, distichiasis (double row of eyelashes).

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "GOOD": not listed.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN ‘‘VERY GOOD": Eyes too light. Light yellow eyes similar to birds of prey."

U.S.A.: "The eyes are of medium size, full of intelligence and expression, good humoured and yet radiating energy, neither protruding nor sunken. The eye is almond shaped, not circular. The eyelids close well. The best color is dark brown.

FAULTS: a. Light yellow eyes (Bird of Prey) are

undesirable and are a fault.

b. Closely set eyes

DISQUALIFICATION: "China or wall eyes."

Britain: "Medium size, soft and intelligent, neither protruding nor too deep set. Varying in shades of brown to tone with coat. Light eye undesirable. Eyelids should close properly."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: All three standards ask for brown eyes. Black dogs generally have darker eyes, and in fact, in some cases have almost black eyes, which are something of a disadvantage, for black eyes in a black face are very hard to see, and that tends to spoil the expression.

Pale yellow eyes produce an uncharacteristically harsh expression and are most undesirable, regardless of coat colour.

All three standards ask for a medium-sized eye which is neither protruding nor deep set. Only the American Standard mentions the shape of the eye (almond shaped). None mention the fact that the eyes should not be slanting. Both round, poppy eyes and narrow slanting eyes provide an atypical expression.

The eye defects mentioned in the German Standard, two of which (entropion and distichiasis) cause constant weeping of the eyes due to irritation of the eyeball, if discovered in the show ring, should be severely penalised. Both conditions are hereditary, in most cases.

I had always assumed the sections in the British and American Standards referring to "eyelids closing properly" referred to the above conditions. However, English breed specialist David Layton interprets it to mean just as it says, for some GSPs seem to sleep with their eyes partially open as if they cannot close them. This is a typical example of the variation in interpretation of breed standards found amongst almost all groups of dog fanciers, for both interpretations are quite valid.

EARS

Germany (F.C.I.): "Of medium length, neither too fleshy nor too thin, set high and wide set, smooth and hung close to the head, without twist, rounded at the tip. When brought forward, the ears should reach almost to the corner of the mouth.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION THAN "VERY GOOD": Ears too long, too short, set too low, narrow or twisted."

U.S.A.: "Ears are broad and set fairly high, lie flat and never hang away from the head. Placement is just above eye level. The ears, when laid in front without being pulled, meet the lip angle. In the case of heavier dogs, the ears are correspondingly longer.

FAULTS: Ears too long or fleshy."

Britain: "Broad and set high; neither too fleshy nor too thin, with a short, soft coat; hung close to head, no pronounced fold, rounded at the tip and reaching almost to corner of mouth when brought forward."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: There seems to be consensus as to the shape and length of GSP ears. They are of medium thickness, neither too thick as to appear coarse, nor too thin as to be a hazard for a dog working in heavy, prickly cover. They are broad and flat and rounded at the tips. Sometimes this is hard to assess in a showdog, for some dogs, when gaiting, or when stacked, will fold their ears. When alert and attentive, however, the ears should come up and reveal themselves to be as described in the three Standards. Long houndy ears are atypical, but are preferable to small, pointed, Pointer-type ears. Permanently folded ears are equally undesirable.

The ears and eyes together help provide the typical expression of the GSP, and singly or in concert can, if incorrect, spoil it completely. It appears when reading the American Standard, that it allows a lower earset than the others. However its description of the way correct length is determined contradicts this impression, for if the ears were set lower, yet reached the same place (the corner of the mouth), they would be proportionately shorter. That does not seem to be the case in the American GSPs I have encountered, nor in the many photographs I’ve seen of them.

NOSE

Germany (F.C.I.): "Solid brown. Well-opened nostrils, sufficiently wide and soft. Flesh coloured and spotted noses are undesirable and are only permitted when white is the basic coat colour.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "GOOD": Flesh coloured and spotted noses (only permitted with white as basic coat colour)."

U.S.A.: "Brown, the larger the better, nostrils well opened and broad. Spotted nose not desirable.

DISQUALIFICATION: Flesh colored nose."

Britain: (from head and skull section) "Nose solid brown or black depending on coat colour. Wide nostrils, well opened and soft."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: Presumably due to an oversight, the German Standard neglects to call for black noses on black dogs. A brown nose on a black GSP is simply not obtainable, according to the universally accepted laws of coat/skin colour inheritance (see Chapter Twelve). Black GSPs, as the British Standard requires, must have black noses.

It is interesting that the German Standard allows for flesh-coloured noses on white dogs, whilst the American Standard, which governs in all likelihood, the largest population of "white" GSPs, lists that particular nose-colour as a disqualifying defect.

MOUTH, TEETH, BITE

Germany (F.C.I.): "Strong, with the jaws registering as completely as possible. The teeth correctly shaped and positioned, i.e. P4 (the fourth premolar) of the upper jaw partly overshooting M1 and M2 (the first and second molars) and the pre-molars of upper and lower jaw positioned alternately. The incisors should fit closely (scissor bite). The upper jaw incisors should not overshoot those of the lower jaw by more than the width of a matchstick (2mm).

DEFECTS WHICH EXCLUDE FROM BREEDING: More than two teeth missing (P1 and M3). Teeth missing (apart from P1 and M3). Teeth which are not visible count as missing teeth, unless they were declared present in the course of an earlier official conformation assessment. A bite which is overshot, undershot or crossed, as well as all combinations of the same.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "GOOD": Pincer bite in a dog under three years of age. A pincer bite, which is confirmed as having appeared after the age of four years, does not affect the rating. If two incisors meet as a pincer, the bite must be rated as a pincer bite.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "VERY GOOD": A total of two teeth missing (P1 and M3), i.e. a maximum of two teeth may be missing from the total of 4 P1s and 2 M3s. A dog can only be rated excellent if it has a complete set of teeth."

U.S.A.: "The teeth are strong and healthy. The molars intermesh properly. The bit is a true scissor bite. A perfect level bite (without overlapping) (pincer bite) is not desirable and must be penalised.

DISQUALIFICATION: Extreme overshot or undershot bite."

Britain: "Teeth sound and strong. Jaws strong, with perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws."

AUTHOR’S COMMENT: As can be seen from the foregoing, the Germans take the teeth of their dogs far more seriously than do most fanciers in other countries. Nevertheless, most judges, the world over, look askance at working dogs with missing teeth and incorrect bites. It is interesting that judges take a much dimmer view of undershot, no matter how slight, than they do of slightly overshot dogs. In pups, that is understandable, for the bottom jaw tends to grow more than the top jaw, and a slightly overshot puppy bite is likely to result in a perfect scissor bite in the adult.

Level (pincer) bites are to be penalised, in both Germany and the USA and by default in the British Standard. Such bites cause the dog’s teeth to wear down very quickly, which is a serious fault in any working breed. In addition, dogs with pincer bites frequently produce undershot offspring (see Chapter Thirteen).

NECK

Germany (F.C.I.): "Length must be proportionate to build. Neck very muscular, slightly arched, becoming gradually wider towards the shoulders. Skin of throat fitting closely.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "VERY GOOD": Loose, pendulous throat skin."

U.S.A.: "Of proper length to permit the jaws reaching game to be retrieved, sloping downwards on beautifully curving lines. The nape is rather muscular, becoming gradually larger towards the shoulders. Moderate houndlike throatiness permitted."

Britain: "Moderately long, muscular and slightly arched, thickening towards shoulders. Skin not fitting too loosely."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: Here is an area of definite dissension, for the American Standard condones "moderate" throatiness, whilst the other two Standards list any throatiness as a fault..

As to length of neck, only moderate length is required, yet in the quest for show ring success, many of today’s Shorthairs have inappropriately long, swanlike necks. It t must be kept in mind that the GSP must be able to carry, for long distances, if necessary, a bird or animal up to the size of a fully grown fox or a goose. Its neck must therefore be very strong, and an excessively long, thin neck does not fulfill this requirement.

Curving and arching is mentioned in all three standards. A curving "crested" neck is certainly an attractive feature, particularly on a male. This in no way interferes with the function of the breed.

Thus a fairly long, curving, clean-cut neck, "well set" into sloping shoulders, provides to the correct picture for the breed.

FOREQUARTERS

Germany (F.C.I.): "Shoulders sloping, strong, taut muscles, shoulder blades lying flat. Upper arms as long as possible. Elbows laid well back, turning neither inwards nor outwards. Upper forelegs straight, sufficiently muscled, bone structure strong but not too heavy. Pastern-joints slightly angled. Pasterns never too upright.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "GOOD": Badly out at elbow. Soft, overangulated pastern-joints. Very loose shoulders.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "VERY GOOD": Slightly out at elbow. Toes too wide or toes too narrow when moving. Loose shoulders."

U.S.A.: "The shoulders are sloping, moveable, well covered with muscle. The shoulder blades lie flat and are well laid back nearing a 45 degree angle. The upper arm (the bone between the shoulder and elbow joint) is as long as possible, standing away somewhat from the trunk so that the straight and closely muscled legs, when viewed from the front appear to be parallel. Elbows which stand away from the body or are too close, indicate toes turning inwards or outwards, which must be regarded as faults. Pasterns are strong, short and nearly vertical with a slight spring.

FAULTS: a. Toes turning inwards or outwards
b. Loose, short bladed or straight shoulders.
c. Knuckling over
d. Down in the pasterns."

Britain: "Shoulder sloping and very muscular, top of shoulder blades close; upper arm bones, between shoulder and elbow, long. Elbows well laid back, neither pointing inwards nor outwards. Forelegs straight and lean, sufficiently muscular and strong, but not coarse-boned. Pasterns slightly sloping."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: A reading of the three standards, provides an excellent picture of this aspect of the dog. David Layton, during a lecture given to West Australian fanciers in 1986, made the point that a GSP’s shoulder blades should be at least two fingers’ breadth apart at the withers, for when the dog extends its neck to pick up game, the blades move closer together, and if too close will touch, preventing further neck flexion.

Although the shoulders should be well muscled, the dog should not look unduly "bulgy" from the front ("loaded shoulders"). When seen from the side, if the angulation is correct, the forelegs should be under the point of the withers. Short upper-arms are a common failing in the breed. The upper-arm bones should be approximately the same length as those of the forearm (this can be quite easily measured with one’s hands). Upright pasterns are another rather common problem, and should be penalised, for they can lead to knuckling over and the joint-breakdown in the older dog (McDowell Lyon 1950). Soft pasterns, another fault, seem to be seen less frequently in the breed. Interestingly, it seems to me that fine-boned dogs rarely "knuckle over" whilst heavily boned dogs quite commonly do. The dog should move with its weight distributed over the whole foot, allowing all the pads to assist in cushioning the joints during movement. The slight spring of pastern required by all three standards also aids in this joint-cushioning effect.

It is important when assessing puppies, to remember that slightly "east/west" feet may well correct themselves as the pup matures.
"Toe-ing in" usually worsens with age, and is often associated with an overly broad front and loose elbows.

BODY, CHEST, THORAX

Germany (F.C.I.): "The chest should give an impression of depth rather than width but should be in proportion to the rest of the body. The breastbone (sternum) should be level with the elbow joint, assuming a correct length of the upper arm. Where the front of the chest is well developed, the breastbone should be long, falling gradually in a pleasing line to the costal arch. A short check (pigeon chest) is not desirable. Ribs well sprung, not flat as a Greyhound’s and never barrel-shaped (completely circular ribs do not allow proper expansion during inhalation). Back ribs reaching well down.

DEFECTS WHICH EXCLUDE FROM BREEDING: Pigeon chest.

DEFECTS WHICH PRECLUDE A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN GOOD": Serious lack of depth of the chest, a barrel chest, a poor front to the chest."

U.S.A.: "The chest in general gives the impression of depth rather than breadth; for all that, it should be in correct proportion to the other parts of the body with a fair depth. The chest reaches down to the elbows, the ribs forming the thorax show a rib spring and are not flat or slabsided; they are not perfectly round or barrel shaped. Ribs that are entirely round prevent the necessary expansion of the chest when taking breath. The back ribs reach well down. The circumference of the thorax immediately behind the elbows is smaller than that of the thorax about a hand’s breadth behind the elbows so that the upper arm has room for movement."

Britain: "Chest must appear deep rather than wide but in proportion to rest of body; ribs deep and well sprung, never barrel-shaped nor flat; back ribs reaching well down to tuck up of loins. Chest measurement immediately behind elbows smaller than about a hand’s breadth behind elbows, so that upper arm has freedom of movement."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: Overly broad chests seem to be more common in the breed than are very narrow chests. It must be remembered however, that the GSP is expected to perform a lot of waterwork, and enter heavy cover, so its chest, as in the retrieving breeds, must be reasonably broad (about a hand’s breadth. 8cm or 3 1/8 in. measured by placing one’s hand on the chest between the front legs, is an appropriate breadth in a mature dog). A narrow, pinched front is a worse fault than is a slightly broad one.

A good forechest is most desirable. The GSP should not have a hollow-fronted appearance ("Cathedral front"). It should not, however, have an excessively developed prosternum, such as is sometimes seen, for example, in Weimaraners. The prosternum, when seen from the side, should protrude only slightly in front of a correctly angulated shoulder/upper arm assembly.

BACK, LOINS, TRUNK, CROUP

Germany (F.C.I.): "A strong back is of prime importance for speed and staying power, so it should be not too long overall, wide and supple in the loin, and either straight or slightly curved. The spinal processes should be well covered by muscles. The croup wide and sufficiently long, not ending abruptly, starting on a level with the back and sloping only slightly down towards the tail. Abdomen slightly raised to provide and necessary clearance at the gallop, but without giving the appearance of being "herring gutted."

DEFECTS WHICH EXCLUDE FROM BREEDING: Spinal curvature, pronounced swayback.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION ASSESSMENT RATING THAN "GOOD": Marked roach back, slight swayback.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION ASSESSMENT RATING THAN "VERY GOOD": slight roach back."

U.S.A.: "Back is short, strong and straight with a slight rise from root of tail to withers. Loin strong, of moderate length and slightly arched. Tuck-up is apparent. Excessively long, roached or swayed back must be penalised."

Britain: (from Body section) "Firm, short back, not arched. Loin wide and slightly arched; croup wide and sufficiently long, neither too heavy nor too sloping starting on a level with back and sloping gradually towards tail."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: A long rib cage is required by all three Standards, together with a rather short, strong loin. In a mature dog of 63.5 cm (25 in.) the distance between the last rib and the start of the hindquarters (the loins) should be approximately a handsbreadth in length (8cm or 3 1/8 in).

A longish dog, whose body length is made up of a long ribcage, but has a short, strong loin, is preferable to a dog which is shorter overall, with a short ribcage and a longer, therefore weaker loin. This is particularly true of a bitch, where a very short-backed animal is less suitable for breeding purposes than a slightly longer one, but strength of loin is still required.

HINDQUARTERS

Germany (F.C.I.): "Pelvis long, broad and roomy. Upper thighs correspondingly wide set and well muscled. Lower thighs properly angled to lower legs – too much angulation limits staying power. Strong hind lower legs pointing straight or slightly outwards below the hocks, viewed from behind. No wolf toes or claws (near dew-claws) as these hinder the dog.

DEFECTS WHICH PRECLUDE FROM BREEDING: Pronounced cow-hock.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "GOOD": Pronounced bandy-leggedness. Cow-hocked. Over-developed hindquarters with insufficient angulation.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "VERY GOOD": Slight bandy-leggedness, slight cow-hock."

U.S.A.: "The hips are broad with hip-sockets wide apart and fall slightly toward the tail in a graceful curve. Thighs are strong and well muscled. Stifles well bent. Hock joints well angulated and strong, straight bone structure from hock joint is such as to combine maximum combination of both drive and traction. Hocks neither turn in nor out.

FAULTS: A steep croup.

SERIOUS FAULTS: Cowhocked legs"

Britain: "Hips broad and wide, falling slightly towards tail. Thighs strong and well muscled. Stifles well bent. Hocks square with the body and slightly bent, turning neither in nor out. Pasterns nearly upright."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: The worst hindquarter fault in both the German and American standards is cow-hocks. In my experience of show ring competition, straight stifles seem to be penalised more heavily than are cow-hocks, yet the latter are listed as faulty by all three Standards. Clever stacking can be used to hide cow hocks in the show ring. In addition, some dogs tend to stand with their hocks turned slightly inwards, when they are looking up at their handlers, so the condition is best assessed when the dog is moving away from the judge, at a moderate pace. High speed movement also can be used to disguise the fault.

Excessive turn of stifle (as, for example, is often seen in German Shepherd Dogs) is both inappropriate and undesirable in the GSP. Aesthetics apart, it has been by experience that the dogs with the best hips on X-ray are usually those with only moderately bent stifles. This may, or course, only apply to the strains with which I am familiar. A good width of hindquarters is, however, very important with long, well developed muscles on both upper and second thighs required to provide the necessary drive and endurance for a full day’s work afield.

Short hocks are also highly desirable in the GSP. Long hocks are often accompanied by straight stifles and/or high rears. It is interesting to see that the American Standard asks for strong straight bones from the hock-joint to the foot and the other two Standards ask for hocks to be "not quite straight." This must surely refer to the angle of those bones in relation to the hock-joint and the ground, which, when the dog is standing naturally, tilt very slightly forward.

The croup is mentioned only in passing in the British and German standards, in their descriptions of the topline falling slightly and gradually towards the tail. An obvious fall-away (or steep croup, mentioned as a fault in the American Standards) which results in a low tail-set, is atypical. A flat croup is also faulty.

A short croup also is undesirable and is usually accompanied with a too-high tail-set and an overly high tail-carriage.

FEET

Germany (F.C.I.): "Firm and compact, round to spoon shaped. Toes sufficiently arched and heavily nailed. Pads firm and hard.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "GOOD": Splayed toes (open paws)."

U.S.A.: "Are compact, close knit and round to spoon shaped. The toes sufficiently arched and heavily nailed. The pads are strong, hard and thick. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed.

FAULTS: Feet pointing in or out."

Britain: "Compact, close-knit, round to spoon shaped, well-padded, turning neither in nor out. Toes well arched with strong nails."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: Dogs which are kept indoors often have overlong toenails which must be kept trimmed by their owners or the feet with be spoilt. Dogs kept wholly on concrete seem to develop flattish, wide and spread feet. This should be penalised in the show ring, but should be kept in mind by breeders as it may not be an hereditary defect. Good feet are essential in a working gundog.

Pads must be hard and thick. This heel-pads not only help the dog’s joints to withstand shock when the dog is working over hard ground, but will increase endurance by shortening the leverage action needed to lift the dog (McDowell Lyon, 1950). No Standard mentions that pads should be dark, but I have observed that white dogs with white toenails and pink pads tend to suffer more injuries to their feet than dogs with dark pads and black toenails. The pink pads seem to be thinner and softer than the dark ones.

The German Standard criticises extreme cat feet, with short, very arched toes, upon which the dog stands and moves (see "Forequarters"). Such feet are often admired in the show ring, where they are quite commonly seen on show-type (English) Pointers. The GSP is required to work in mud and snow, and is expected to undertake a great deal of water-work in many places. A large, webbed semi-cat foot is therefore the most desirable type, with longish, well arched toes. The dog should stand and move with its weight distributed over the whole pad. The back pads should touch the ground.

As mentioned earlier, in a youngster, feet turning out are a lesser problem than are feet turning in, provided the dog is not also "tied at the elbow."

TAIL

Germany (F.C.I.): "Set high, starting strong then growing gradually thinner, of medium length, but docked to about half to avoid injury. When the dog is at rest, the tail should hang down; when moving slowly, it should be carried horizontally, not too high over the back nor markedly bent; when quartering, the tail should move actively.

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "VERY GOOD": Tail carried too high over the back, or very bent."

U.S.A.: "Is set high and firm and must be docked, leaving 40% of length. The tail hangs down when the dog is quiet, is held horizontally when he is walking. The tail must never be curved over the back toward the head when the dog is moving.

SERIOUS FAULTS: A tail curved or bent toward the head is to be severely penalised."

Britain: "Starts high and thick growing gradually thinner, customarily docked to medium length by two fifths to half its length. When quiet, tail carried down, when moving, horizontally; never held high over the back or bent."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: There are two areas in which the standards disagree. The most obvious one is length. 40% (as in the US Standard) is quite distinctly shorter than 50%, which is the maximum which should be removed, according to the British Standard (and is the desired length mentioned in the German Standard).

There has in the past been some confusion in regard to the British Standard, with some British breeders removing three fifths (60%) instead of leaving that amount, and hence ending up with "American" tails. As matter of fact, it appears that US breeders, perhaps influenced by Germany, are leaving longer tails than in the past, to the point that it is no longer possible to identify an American-bred dog by its shorter tail.

I for one, would far rather see a GSP with a tail to long than too short. When a dog is on point, its rigidly held tail is an essential part of the picture. A short stumpy tail cannot provide the same effect as that of a longer thinner one. More things can go wrong with a long tail of course (a shortened tail may well have removed a kink or a bend). A longer tail, however, not only enhances a point, but can assist in locating a dog working in heavy cover (the tailtip in ticked dogs is often white), and acts as a rudder for both a swimming and a galloping dog.

Germans abhor a thick tail in a GSP, and will trip off any long hairs, even on a field dog’s tail, to achieve the desired look. Although their standard includes the words "starts strong" this should never be taken to mean thick. The US standard fails to mention the thickness of the tail, and although the British standard includes the phrase "starts high and thick", the thickness should only apply to the base of the tail and not extend along its length.

In both Germany and Britain, the ideal tail carriage on a pointing dog is that which forms a continuous line with the back, i.e. head, neck, body and tail held rigidly in an unbroken line (see KS Cara v. Hohenfeld, Fig.. 6.16e, Dunpender Eva, Fig.9.2d). In the USA, however, many field aficionados train their pointing dogs to point with tails held vertically, a feature at odds with the American GSP Standard. Fig. 6.8 provides an admirable example of the contrast in styles amongst dogs of related breeding.

All three Standards penalise an upright, forward-curving houndlike tail. Both British and American standards mention horizontal tail carriage when the dog is moving. The US standard is more specific, however and describes that movement as "walking." Most judges and fanciers prefer to see a dog carry its tail slightly above the horizontal when moving at the trot. Such tail carriage is an indication of good temperament, although some dogs with excellent temperaments are heartily bored by dog shows, and express their feelings on the matter by carrying their tails in a half-hearted manner. No GSP should carry its tail between its legs.

Slightly high tail carriage can be forgiven, particularly in a male being shown with other males, provided the angle at which the tail is carried is no greater than 45 degrees above the horizontal.

GAIT/MOVEMENT

Germany (F.C.I.): (from "Forequarters") "Toes not too narrow or too wide apart when moving."

U.S.A.: "A smooth lithe gait is essential. It is to be noted that as gait increases from the walk to a faster speed, the legs converge beneath the body.

The tendency to single track is desirable. The forelegs reach well ahead as if to pull in the ground without giving the appearance of a hackney gait, and are followed by the back legs which give forceful propulsion. Dragging the rear feet is undesirable."

Britain: "Smooth lithe gait essential. As gait increases from a walk to a faster speed, legs converge beneath the body (single tracking). Forelegs reach well ahead, effortlessly covering plenty of ground with each stride and followed by hind legs, which give forceful propulsion."

 

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: The above descriptions provide an admirable word picture of GSP movement. As mentioned in the previous chapter, some German breeders assess GSP movement at the canter or gallop. Since such assessment is not possible in the show ring, most GSPs will have their movement assessed at the trot. Many conformation faults will be revealed by this particular gait particularly if the movement is slow enough for the judge to see the dog clearly. Unfortunately, many handlers race around a show ring at high speed, which looks spectacular, but makes the judge’s task in focusing on faults very difficult.

Since the GSP performs many of its working tasks at the gallop, its structure and movement should reflect those requirements. Overangulation is probably more of a fault in the breed than underangulation, provided the dog is balanced. An extreme length of trotting stride, like that of the show ring German Shepherd Dog, for example, is, whilst spectacular, not appropriate for a GSP (see Chapter Three).

More can be seen in a moving dog, than just reach and drive. Topline and tailset, for example, should be assessed during side-on movement. A roll in the rear usually indicates unsoundness, particularly in an adult dog. The trotting dog should move towards and away from the observer with its legs slightly converging (single tracking). Tied in elbows will be revealed as the dog travels towards one, (the front feet will be flipped outwards). Cow-hocks and loose elbows will be revealed as the dog travels away.

Slightly loose or "untidy" movement, provided it reveals strength and power, is preferable to neat-and-tidy "pitter-pattering" without reach or drive.

 

COAT AND SKIN

Germany (F.C.I.): "The skin should be taut and without folds anywhere. The coat should be short and thick, firm and hard to the touch; thinner and shorter on ears and head, not noticeably longer on the underside of the tail."

 

U.S.A.: "The skin is close and tight. The hair is short and thick and feels tough to the hand; it is somewhat longer on the underside of the tail and the back edges of the haunches. It is softer, thinner and shorter on the ears and the head.

SEVERE FAULTS: Any dog with long hair in body coat is to be severely penalised."

 

Britain: (from "Body") "Skin should not fit loosely or fold." "Coat short, flat and coarse to touch, slightly longer under tail."

 

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: Here is a striking difference. Both US and British Standards allow longer hair on the underside of the tail, whilst the German Standard lists it as a fault. The Germans look for a tail on which the hair grows evenly as, for example is expected with the tail of the Labrador Retriever. ("otter tail"). There certainly should be no impression of a "brush" in a GSP tail.

Only the British Standard fails to mention that the GSP coat should be thick. This should be more so in winter than in summer, and is generally more pronounced in kennel-dogs and amongst those living in cold climates rather than hot ones.

A thick coat with a dense, furry undercoat is of great importance in protecting dogs from injury in heavy cover, and from cold when working in water, or in the field in cold weather. A hairy belly is highly desirable, although not mentioned in any standard. The ideal GSP coat should be extremely water-repellent. Anyone who has tried to wet a GSP with the ideal coat-type, will appreciate this quality.

Sad to say, it appears that dogs living in hot climates, such as are found in much of Australia, tend to develop thinner coats, both in the individual and in succeeding generations. This must be watched, for thinly coated dogs have a tendency to dislike working in water, even in a warm climate. That is a serious behaviour fault in the breed.

Solid-coloured dogs tend to have slightly finer, thinner coats than do ticked ones (the white hairs tend to be longer and thicker than the heavily pigmented ones), so some allowance must be made for that. In addition, a recent bath will soften the coat slightly. Show judges should keep this in mind. I prefer to handle clean dogs when judging, so am always ready to make some allowance for the effects of a recent shampooing! I know that most "how to show" manuals advising bathing a dog several days before a show, but those of us who own GSPs and allow them access to a natural environment know how difficult it is to keep them clean for any length of time!

The most desirable GSP coat is thick, coarse and slightly oily, i.e. rather like an otter’s coat. It is more important that the coat be dense and water-repellent than that it be coarse in texture.

 

COLOUR

 

Germany (F.C.I.):

1. Solid liver.
2. Liver, with slight white or ticking on chest or toes.
3. Dark liver roan with liver head, liver patches or spots. The basic colour of this dog is neither liver with white or white with liver, but an intimate blend of the two colours, resulting in that unobtrusive appearance which is so valuable for practical purposes. The inside of the hind legs and the tip of the tail are often lighter in colour.
4. Light liver roan, liver head, liver patches or spots. This type of colouring has few liver hairs, with the white hair predominating, makingthe dog appear lighter overall.
5. White, liver head markings, liver patches or spots.
6. Black, in the same shades and variations as liver.
n.b. Slight tendency to sandy colour around the muzzle and feet is permissible ("Gelber Brand.")

 

U.S.A.: "The coat may be of solid liver or any combination of liver and white, such as liver and white ticked, liver spotted and white ticked or liver roan.

DISQUALIFICATIONS: A dog with any area of black, red, orange, lemon or tan will be disqualified."

Britain: "Solid liver, liver and white spotted, liver and white spotted and ticked, liver and white ticked, solid black or black and white, same variations (not tri-colour)."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: The word "spotting" in all three standards, refers to patches of solid colour on the body, and not "spots" as in the Dalmatian. The British Standard does not distinguish between ticking and roaning, but describes either, both, or a combination of these as "ticked."

The German Standard refers: 1. to solid liver with no white at all, 2. to solid liver with white restricted to toes and chest, 3. to liver roan, 4. to liver and white ticked, 5. to liver and white (no ticking) and 6. To all the above patterns, with black rather than liver

No standard gives preference to one colour over another.

It is interesting that the German Standard allows what amounts to tricolour with its allowed "sandy colour" on the muzzle and feet. Atta Sand, a littermate of the very important sire, Artus Sand, was tricoloured (Maxwell, 1965), but I have no idea of how her colours were distributed. I have asked several distinguished German fanciers about the "Gelber Brand", and there seems to be some disagreement as to what it really is. There is no doubt however, that it is very rare.

It is important to recognise that dogs left in the sun will often suffer bleaching of the coat, on the head and muzzle in particular, and dogs which are out of coat may have a striking variation in colour between the old coat and the new. Such dogs cannot be called tricoloured.

Our first few litters produced a number of dogs which had an area of slightly bleached-looking hairs towards the end of the tail. This was virtually invisible in the ticked dogs, but could readily be seen in the solid livers. The individual hairs had an "agouti" appearance, with definite shading along their length, from light liver to dark. It was not penalised by judges and seems to have disappeared from our dogs.

I do not know of any black with a liver (or any other coloured) patch, although I have seen two liver and white littermates which had what amounted to "pink patches." These were a single area of coat which looked as if it had had bleach spilt on it. This condition may well have been due to a somatic mutation, like the black spots sometimes appearing on Cocker Spaniels and Irish Setters (Little, 1957). I do not believe that such dogs could be regarded as being true tricolours from the breeding point of view, but conformation judges well might interpret them as such.

One would expect that a tricoloured GSP would have markings similar to those of, for example, a tricoloured spaniel. These consist of the basic liver or black colouring plus tan markings in such locations as eyebrows, cheeks, legs and underside of tail. Buchwald (1945), quoted by Burns (1952) designated the "bicolor" markings found (only rarely) in the "Short-haired Bird Dog" as being "a la Dachshund." In the same chapter (Burns, 1952), an investigation of the colouration of GSPs listed in the Danish Studbooks (Volumes 55 to 67), included the description of Hesthaven’s Rap 31845, as follows: "brown-speckled with brown spots. Tricoloured head. Hound markings." Rap was the sire of the famous stud, Bob (Koge) 35447. Also, a brother of Rap was described as: "Tricoloured. Hound markings on cheeks and ear." I have never seen a GSP with such colouration, but I have seen a liver and white German Wirehair with similar tan markings to those mentioned above.

Most people prefer dark liver to light, but provided the eye and/or nose colours are not also unduly light, light liver is still liver and is therefore correct.

WEIGHT AND SIZE

Germany (F.C.I.): "Measured at the withers:

Dogs: 62 to 66cm. (24 ½ to 26 inches).

Bitches: 58 to 63 cm. (22 ½ to 24 ¾ inches).

DEFECTS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "GOOD":

Deviations greater than 2 cm (3/4 in.) from the size-standard limits.

DEVIATIONS PRECLUDING A HIGHER CONFORMATION RATING THAN "VERY GOOD": Deviations of up to 2 cm from the size-standard limits."

U.S.A.: "Weight
Dogs: 55 to 70 pounds (25 to 31.8 kg)
Bitches: 45 to 60 pounds (20.4 to 27.2 kg)
Size: (measured at the withers)
Dogs: 23 to 25 inches (58.4 to 63.5 cm)
Bitches: 21 to 23 inches (53.3 to 58.4 cm)

SERIOUS FAULTS: Deviations of one inch (2.5 cm) above or below the described heights are to be severely penalised."

Britain: "Dogs: minimum height 58 cm (23 inches) at withers, maximum height 64 cm (25 inches) at withers.

Bitches: Minimum height 53 cm (21 inches) at withers, maximum height 59 cm (23 inches) at withers."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: As can be seen from the above, a German dog of maximum approved height should be severely penalised in the U.S.A., and regarded as seriously faulty in Britain, for both dogs and bitches are expected to be an inch or more taller in the country of origin than in the English-speaking countries.

Size is one of the most contentious issues to be aired in GSP circles. However, in reality, most top show-winning GSP males in the U.S.A., Britain, Australia and New Zealand are within or only slightly over the allowable limits, although most top-winning bitches are oversize (for their Standards). The Dutch dogs I have encountered seem, if anything, to be slightly smaller, and although the German dogs I have seen seem to be somewhat larger in general, this is in keeping with the German Standard.

I believe that the optimal size for a GSP dog or bitch is not far short of the maximum height allowed in the US and British Standards, i.e. 25 inches for dogs and 23 inches for bitches. I have found that the difference in height between littermates of different sexes is, on average, less than 2 inches, so that a breeder who aims for 22 inch bitches will tend to breed undersized dogs, and one who aims at 25 inch dogs will tend to produce oversized bitches. In the show ring there is a tendency for oversize in bitches to be penalised less often than oversize in dogs.

Small GSPs (which do not, in addition, look excessively fine and weedy) are usually too short in leg. Undersize in an all-purpose gundog such as the GSP is more limiting than oversize, provided that the oversize is not extreme (see Chapter Three).

Germany (F.C.I.): "Thin delicate bones are not desirable for a dog which should have the strength to work all types of cover. The quality of the bones, however, is more important than their size. Dogs with a coarse bone structure lack mobility and speed."

BONE

U.S.A.: "Thin and fine bones are by no means desirable in a dog which must possess strength and be able to work over any and every country. The main importance is not laid so much on the size of the bones, but rather on their being in proper proportion to the body.

FAULTS: Bone structure too heavy or too light. Dogs with coarse bones are handicapped in agility of movement and speed."

Britain: (from "Body") "Bones solid and strong."

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: Quality of bone is difficult to assess, but simply the look of the dog is usually an accurate indication of the appropriateness of its bone structure. One would expect a male to have a slightly heavier bone structure than would a female, in keeping with his greater size, strength and masculinity. In general, it is probably safer, from the point of view of soundness, to err slightly on the side of fineness rather than that of coarseness (see "Forequarters, pasterns"). As with so many aspects of the breed’s conformation, moderation is what seems most appropriate.

FAULTS, NOTES, DISQUALIFICATIONS

Germany (F.C.I.): "Dogs which have not been docked and dogs with wolf toes and claws (rear dewclaws) will not be assessed as they do not conform to the Standard.

EXCLUSIONS FROM BREEDING: (See above Standard)."

U.S.A.: Faults and disqualifications, see above Standard.

Britain: FAULTS: "Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

Note: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum."

AUTHOR’S NOTE: In Australian show rings, dogs over 12 months of age with one or both testicles missing, must be reported by the Judge, disqualified from the show ring, and be de-registered.
 

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