Manchester, U.K. Show. Link
Normally when you see dogs as lame and as poor on their feet as these German Shepherd Dogs (GSD's), you figure the dog is ancient and "on its last legs."
Sadly, these dogs are young and considered top show prospects. This is raw footage from Pedigree Dogs Exposed, but you can see the same kind of wrecked GSD in any show ring in America or Great Britain today.
Max von Stephanitz, the “father” of the German Shepherd, feared it would come to this, and he warned breeders to eschew show ring points and focus instead on putting work and health front and center. Writing in 1929 he said:
My main “warning-cry” concerns itself with the direction of the breed, which many breeders – many novices – still subscribe to, a direction that would lead us off the beaten path, far off of our breed goal; toward breed ruin.
In all my articles, lectures, and judges reports of the last few years, I have desperately tried to point out that we must cling to the breed standard of the working dog, and I gave reasons why we must do so – as it was once laid down, as a model of the breed’s design. I have emphasized over and over again that we should not get overly engrossed in details of outward characteristics, even if they are ever so attractive, when, for the breeding value of the dog, he must be based entirely and decisively upon the totality of hard constitution, good health, endurance, authentic working structure and stable temperament.
The vision, the understanding of this standard, is thus sometimes lost. Many young fanciers have unfortunately hardly ever seen correct conformation in respect to these dogs. They become intoxicated with appearance which so often has so little in common with the working dog as he is supposed to be. In this case, the only thing that helps is trusted faith in the system, until one’s pondering leads to eventual understanding. The belief in what is well meant – the thoughtful suggestions and guiding principles – are for the welfare of the breed’s future.
As with so many breeds, sport and fad breeding led to more severe evidence of natural traits, and therefore to bad breeding situations that had nothing more in common with working ability. This may seem nice to the faddist, however, for the true lover of Nature, who doesn’t engage in matters based on eye appeal, it appears as a strange caricature.
Over-sized, massiveness, height, racing ability, straight front or tucked up racing dog body would be for the shepherd an adverse perception leading to the death of the breed. And actually, some of our dogs and especially those who receive applause among the novices resemble the racing dog type in his over-sized, narrowness, tucked up appearance and effemination. The Borzoi, who hunts the wolf on the Russian prairies does not look like this; he is still a correct, rugged fellow. He who looks around at dog shows, pages through dog magazines, will find often enough that there are still a few other breed’s destinies which are threatened, that is, they are about to step out of their breed type because they are not bred upon a breed goal, but rather upon an imaginary “beauty concept”.