Monday, August 31, 2020

An Observation of How Top Line Types Have Evolved

The increasing global popularity of German Shepherd Dog has exposed the breed to varied risks and chances of variations and modifications. Today the world can see a huge deviation from Captain Stephanitz's core idea  and vision about his breed. The differences in thoughts, vision and expectations of look etc. have contributed hugely to the variations in anatomic built.

Ideally, there should not have been  two distinctive types (Working Line and Show Line) developed, and that wasn't the vision. Distinctive line types - Working Lines and Show Lines wasn't in the plan then. Shows then only aimed at filtering the non-breedable stock out, in order to restore the purpose  of the breed in thee breeding programs. Unflagging enthusiasm, accompanied by the change in the ways the new breeders started visualizing the breed and emphasizing fashion and look over the breed's original purpose gave rise to different types and lines.

Variation in thoughts and differences in visualizing a dog influenced the breeding programs hugely. Breeding experimentation based on look and styles consequently led to several types, and eventually different lines.

Apart from this there are a number of offshoots of the breed, all of which claim their respective recognition. Crossing between the lines and types have produced different odd colors and styles that resemble a GSD. As a matter of fact when it comes to true type GSD, there are no rare coloration and special style, and should come only with desirable characteristics and traits. Except the really rare pattern like Brindle gene, which is a pure gene, there’s no desirable color and types that can be concluded as special.

The breeders who claim to promote any special types or color of GSD are not breeding these animals keeping the GSD standard in the mind. For instance, breeders who breed Large, Big Boned or Over sized German Shepherd, and who throw out ads to promote their types are not learned breeders. Neither are they those who claim their breeding as correct and scientific for maintaining a overly compact specimens.

An understanding of different types evolved in the evolutionary process of German Shepherd Dog breed.

Let us start from 1933 - the year Odin von Stolzenfels [(Father: VA Curt von Herzog Hedan SchH )x (Mother: V Bella vom Jagdschloß Platte)] was made sieger.

1933 Sieger Odin vom Stolzenfels
Born: 07 April 1930

Odin Stolzenfels was the last sieger made by Captain Stephanitz in his three decades of breed development career, and prior to his (Stephanitz's) death. Ever since he started the breed development project, captain had always laid his focus on few points, which he thought were most significant -
(i) Improvement of proportion between withers and the back
(ii) Improvement of the top line
(iii) Angles of the bones.

Odin's types can be best judged if we consider a comparative study between him and the 1900 Sieger, Hector von Schwaben [(Father: V Horand von Grafrath (Hektor Linksrhein)) X (Mother: Mores Plieningen)] - one of the most important foundation dog in captain's breed development program.

Left - Odin Stolzenfels & Right - Hektor Schwaben

The type actually started with Odin vom Stolzenfels (1933 Sieger), as he exhibiting improved Top line compared to Hector von Schwaben (1900 Sieger)...  A type of top line that captain visualized: smooth, beginning from the back of the neck and continuing in a straight line over a nicely developed wither with a tight, strong and muscular back. However, it still wasn't the perfect type that he visualized, but close to what he desired.

Notice 1958 Sieger VA Condor vom Hohenstamm - the dog that exhibited nice type - quite improved, and was definitely getting closer to the captain's dream.

Born May 1st, 1954
Breeder & Owner - E. Franke; Lunen (Westfalen)

Condor really exhibited an improved type, with good substantial built, nice angulation, nice depth and prominent chest, good shoulder angulation. Although the stifle angulation definitely still not there, but the overall harmony in the structure of this dog gives a clean indication that his locomotion would have been really nice and balanced.

Notice 1962 Sieger, Mutz aus der Kuckstrasse - the dog was even closer to the type Captain wanted see as far as the top line was concerned.  

1962 Sieger, Mutz aus der Kuckstrasse
Born: 19 April, 1958; Breeder - F. Hesse (Hannover); Owner - Erich Franke

After 29 years of Odin being declared Sieger, and 26 years after captain's death, Mutz aus der Kuckstrasse (sired by Condor vom Hohenstamm)  was made Sieger in the year 1962. The top line was even improved and even closer to what probably Captain Stephanitz had been dreaming of. However, although he became the Sieger, Mutz exhibited less angulation of shoulder blade and stifle. I must say Mutz's father certainly had better shoulder positioning, but the stifle seems to be slightly better in the son (Mutz).

My guess: I think Max Stephanitiz would have loved to see Mutz's spine slightly more raised. It was very close to what Stephanitiz had standardized, but not there yet.

Now with a big leap of 10 long years, we get Marko vom Cellerland as the 1972 Sieger - A dog that exhibited very nice top line, almost exactly what Stephanitiz had visualized. Marko was titled VA4 two times - in 1971 for the first time and 1974, second time (the year for Dick von Adeloga to be VA1, another dog that created a magnificent buzz).


1972 Sieger, Marko vom Cellerland
Born: 3 May, 1968

This slightly long-bodied beautiful dog, in this picture itself, giving a very strong indication of very good hips, the best top line among all the Siegers shown above, very good angulations. Marko, in this picture, has displayed a strong back and good whithers and top line, that gave him a balanced structure.

With such an elegance in his built, I tried delving deeper into his Marko pedigree line, and found (5-5 linebreeding of V2 Hein vom Richterbach, a dog that had very similar back and top line. However, in terms of built and proportion, Marko seemed to be a quite superior dog than his father Kondor vom Golmkauer Krug    

However, just 2 years later we noticed another nice dog with great top line and back. 

Notice 1974 Sieger, Dick von Adeloga - a dog bearing a close resemblance with 1972 Sieger Marko vom Cellerland, described above.

1973-74 Sieger, Dick von Adeloga (2x VA1)
Born: March 1, 1971

Dick Adeloga in this picture, seems to have had the back slightly more raised than Marko, that delivered a very subtle, smooth slope towards the back, with very well formed croup, and a nice balance between the high whither and the back... much superior to his father VA2 Quanto von der Wienerau - also a well known specimen. Dick had a nice and very firm built - very typical to what Max Stephanitz envisioned overall. However, Dick Adeloga sired many mind blowing progenitors,  of which VA1 Herzog von Adeloga is worth mentioning.

1977 VA1 Herzog von Adeloga
Born: December 1, 1973

VA1 Herzog von Adeloga  exhibited a very strong medium sized structure, with a good overall anatomic built. Herzog's stack gives a clear indication of a very strong and firm hind and back. Herzog bore a great resemblance with his father Dick von Adeloga, except the croup region which is slight little more sloped towards the back compared to dad Dick. At that point of time the sloping croup was not in the Standard.

For me, however, VA1 Dick von Adeloga still exhibited a better anatomic built than his son VA1 Herzog von Adeloga

However, it is important at this phase of the article to state something very interesting! The year 1976 marked a significant change in the GSD SV Standard. The standard was slightly, yet significantly altered to bring in a very specific description and interrelation of the back and the withers. Until 1976 the reference of withers and the back in the standard was: "back straight, between withers and croup not too long". Surprisingly, it was really as simple as this! 
Please Note: The word "Straight" was NOT used to mean "Level", contrary to the popular belief - then and even now. Straight back was used and is still used to indicate  a spine that doesn't give an egg shaped back that tend to give a lowered hip position and impacts the top line and its slope.
The back, withers and croup in the amended German Shepherd Standard of 1976 described as this: "back including the loin straight and strongly developed, not too long between the withers and croup. The withers must be long and high enough to be well indicated against the back into which it must gently flow without disrupting the backline which should be slightly sloping front to rear.

So, why I mentioned about the change in the Standard in the middle of this article, could now be better understood with the next dog that I would like to discuss about. 

VA1 Canto von Arminius - the 1978 Sieger, a dog that marked a significant and noticeable evolutionary modification of the back. VA1 Canto Arminius (sired by V1 Canto von der Wienerau) exhibited a sharp deviation from the old description of straight back that was mentioned in the standard prior to 1976.


1978 Sieger, VA1 Canto von Arminius
Born: August 18, 1972

With a close resemblance with the description of the back and withers in amended Standard of 1976, Canto Arminius displayed a back that is not too long between the withers and croup. Canto's withers were high enough to be indicated against the back that flowed with no disruptions in the backline, that gently slopped front to rear. 

However, for several years since 1978, there wasn't any significant changes noticed; therefore no dog is worth mentioning while describing the German Shepherd top line evolutionary process. I would still love to talk about a very stable and a balanced specimen - the 1983 Sieger - VA1 Dingo vom Haus Gero

1983 Sieger, VA1 Dingo vom Haus Gero
Born: September 16, 1978
Breeder:  R. Jansen; Berg. Gladbach

Dingo Haus Gero was a medium sized, strongly built and very typical to the kind of dog that Stephanitz probably dreamt of. Dingo's structure indicated high wither, with good top line, appropriate length - not too compact. good croup situation. Dingo's top line was much close to that of Canto von Arminius. Dingo was an exemplary specimen, close to the amended standard of 1976 that indicated a change, specifically in the description of back and its relationship with the withers and croup. The back nicely sloped between the front to the rear, till the croup. The very structure was so balanced that the locomotion of this dog had to be seamlessly effortless, rhythmic and with adequately good force.

Dingo sired many progenies, of which I would like to mention two of his sons - VA1(I) V8 Natan vom Bergischen Tal (Born - March 3, 1982) and V Amor vom Kellerbug (Born - April 16, 1982). Both these dogs were medium in size, powerful and substantial, dry and firm. High withers, very nice top line, good location and length of the croup.

What we are noticing in both these dogs (Amor and Natan) displayed nice top lines starting from the well defined withers over the back with a very subtle and slight slope towards the back, without any disruption in the backline. This marked a new top line type, keeping a good parity with the 1976 amendment of the standard of the GSD back. 

 2X VA1 Uran vom Wildsteiger Land
1984 + 1985 Sieger,
Born: March 12, 1981
Breeder: Martin Göbl and Maria Göbl

Uran vom Wildsteiger Land is certainly another pillar of the modern German Shepherds. High at the withers, Uran exhibited a strongly developed back, flowing straight towards the croup, not too long between the withers and croup. The top line is a deviation from what we have been seeing so far till Dingo Haus Gero, but has a resemblance with Digo's son Natan vom Bergischen Tal. A very slight and mild rise of the thoracic vertebrae, slopping subtly towards the rear had become little more prominent with Uran compared to Natan vom Bergischen Tal. This wasn't there in any of the dog before Uran; although was too mild in Natan Bergischen Tal. 

Moving forward till 1992 we could notice almost similar top line.

2X VA1 Quando von Arminius 1986 + 1987 Sieger
 2X VA1 Quando von Arminius
1986 + 1987 Sieger
Born: November 28, 1981

VA1 Eiko vom Kirschental
1988 Sieger
Born: December 26, 1983

VA1 Iso vom Bergmannshof
1989 Sieger
Born: February 23, 1985

2X VA1 Fanto vom Hirschel
1990 + 1991 Sieger
Born: March 13, 1986

VA1 Zamb von der Wienerau
1992 Sieger
Born: March 7, 1987

The 1993 Sieger - VA1 Jeck vom Noricum comes in as a new rend setter of top line. However in the year 1991 the FCI breed standard once again underwent an amendment - related to the withers and it's correlation with the back of the dog. 

1991 amendment stated: "the upper line runs without any visible break from the set on of the neck over the well defined withers and over the back very slightly sloping to the horizontal line into the gradually sloping croup"

From the picture it seems like Jeck displayed a top line with a slightly deviation from 1991 amended standard of back.
1993 Sieger, VA1 Jeck vom Noricum
VA1 Jeck vom Noricum
1993 Sieger
Born: August 4, 1987

The first picture of Jeck  Noricum seems like the top line hugely deviated from 1991 standard that stated: "the upper line runs without any visible break from the set on of the neck over the well defined withers and over the back very slightly sloping to the horizontal line into the gradually sloping croup". The first pic show a prominent disruption in his in the thoracic vertebral region ( the region compose the middle segment of the vertebral column). There was an abrupt downward slope noticed in that picture and the croup too had an abrupt slope. A Bad Photoshop Work ineed

 However, in one of the videos that I came across of Jeck, I realized that the disruption was still noticeable, but not as prominent and abrupt as the first picture. Although this disruption was not desirable at all, but the new top line type was very much noticeable, where the top line ran smoothly from the start of the neck over the dog's withers, flowing through the back with a very slight and subtle slope to the horizontal line, and gradually flowing through the subtly slopping croup. This was the top line type (as was described in 1991 amendment) that the serious breeders of that time, who were not intending to promote a special/specific type and who were breeding with the GSD standard in mind started focusing on the top line of this type. This type was very clearly seen with further improvisation than Jeck  Noricum, in top dogs like, VA1 Ulk von Arlett (1995 Sieger), VA1 Ursus von Batu (2000 Sieger), VA Larus von Batu (2004 - 2005 Seiger)      

However, a very new and distinctive trend in the top line was noticed with introduction of a very nice dog in the scene... Nero vom Hirschel (VA5 in the year 1994), who was line bred on VA2 Quanto von der Wienerau 5th generation (Sire) - 3rd + 5th generation (Dam). 

Nero vom Hirschel (VA5  1994)

Nero vom Hirschel
1994 VA5
Born: September 20, 1990 

So, regarding Nero Hirschel, I have mentioned "a very new and distinctive trend in the top line", because of the prominent rise of the spinal cord in the back's lumber area. This rise of the lumber region of the back gave the dog a very different anatomic changes - especially related to top line. Nero sired many progenies, and most of them exhibited same top line type. 

Nero's Sons Reflecting same Top line Type:

V Visum vom Nassauer Berg, Gero vom Finkenschlag, Wasko vom Mons Tabor, Arno de Montedeva, V Fax de bi Lagun, V Neros vom Hasenborn, V Vax vom Nassauer Berg, SG Utz von Arminius, SG Idefix zum Ida-See

Nero's Daughters Reflecting same Top line Type:

V Chanell von Adelplatz, Quisa von Haus Dexel, V Wasna von Mons Tabor, V Linda Hartis, Ydette von der Wienerau, VA2(USA) Carina von der Wienerau

However, when it comes to Nero's son, it reminds me Odin vom Hirschel (VA4 in the year 1998) - A very nice and a strong specimen with high wither, firm back and good croup, exhibiting the same top line style as his father Nero vom Hirschel. Interestingly Odin vom Hirschel seems to have strongly contributed to his father's top line type and definitely set a trend of  rise of the spinal cord in the back's lumber area 

1998 VA4 Odin von Hirschell 
2003 VA1 Bax von Luisenstrasse 
2007 VA1 Pakros d’Ulmental 
2008 & 2009 VA1 Vegas du Haut Mansard

Odin von Hirschell
1998 VA4
Born: March 8, 1995

VA1 Bax von Luisenstrasse
2003 Sieger
Born: April 19, 1999

VA1 Pakros d'Ulmental
2007 Sieger
Born: April 4, 2002

2X VA1 Vegas du Haut Mansard
2008 + 2009 Sieger
Born: March 16, 2004

However, After VA1 Bax von Luisenstrasse (2003 Sieger), there came into the scene other fantastic specimens as Sieger that definitely showed entirely different top line type. And the worth mentioning was Xamp vom Thermodos. I cannot help talking about the legendary VA1 Zamp Vom Thermodos (2006 Sieger), who exhibited a top line type, very different from what was shown by the siegers who are continuous direct line sons of Nero vom Hirschel. 

2006 Sieger, VA1 Zamp vom Thermodos

VA1 Zamp Vom Thermodos
2006 Sieger
Born: January 27, 2002

For the first time since 1991, there came a dog with the back closest to the 1991 amendment of the GSD standard (amendment was made specifically regarding the back - described above). I would rather unhesitatingly say that Zamp Thermodos was little exaggeratedly angulated, yet the most influential dog of his time, and was a great mover. He was a great example of a specimen with high wither. Zamp Thermodos probably was the first fine specimen to have hugely deviated from the 1976 amendment of the GSD standard related to the back. As the 1976 standard amendment of the back clearly stated: "strongly developed, not too long between the withers and croup. The withers must be long and high enough to be well indicated against the back...", Zamp was remarkably a long bodied specimen - long enough between the "high" withers and the "long" croup so as to give the dog a very different look overall, with high wither, top line very prominently (not slightly) sloping, yet very strong back, long croup and overly angulated hind compared to the other Siegers so far. 

Zamp vom Thermodos - presented at Crufts Show 2008 in Birmingham, England

Zamp probably genetically possessed these traits from his legendary dad - VA2 Quantum von Arminius. Zamp passed on this elongated built with exaggerated rear angulation to many of his progenies - the worth mentioning of which are:

V Alex Alexander the Great 

(Arak did not have such an overly angulated hind as Alex Alexander) 

and so on...

The top line type of VA2 Quantum von Arminius line is different from the top line type produced by Odin vom Hirschel line  

Top line Type of Odin vom Hirschel Line

A rise of the spinal cord in the back's lumber area is noticed

Top line Type of Quantum von Arminius Line

No rise of the spinal cord in the back's lumber area is noticed. "The upper line runs without any visible break from the set on of the neck over the well defined withers and over the back very slightly sloping to the horizontal line into the gradually sloping croup"

Important Note

Quantum Arminius >> Zamp Thermodos line, however, exaggerated sloping top line. Some of the Zamp Thermodos' progenies have shown over angulated hind - close to the ground, with metatarsus of hind legs,  being placed nearly flat on the ground. This tend to compromise strides and reach. 

While on the other hand, the Nero vom Hirschel >> Odin von Hirschell line exhibited the rise in the lumber area but did not showed any exaggeration in slope of top line. Most dog of this line did not come up with overly angulated hinds and not close to the ground. Most dogs in this line exhibited better strides while trotting. 

According to the documentation of FCI standard [23.12.2010/EN (FCI-Standard N° 166)] of German Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd Dog is a trotter. The limbs must be coordinated in length and angulations so that the dog can shift the hindquarters towards the trunk without any essential change of the top line and can reach just as far with the forelimbs. Any tendency towards over-angulation of the hindquarters reduces the stability and the stamina, and thereby the working ability. 


The standard did not depict the exact requirement of the top line in that document. However has given a very clear indication that the top line should not be impacted  while gaiting. We see many dogs in the rings of many prestigious shows, lacking balance as they tend to lift their fronts up rather than proceeding forward. There are, however, many specimens seen with nicely sloped top line and croup with balanced built. 

Instead of following a trend it is important to understand the correlation between wither, top line, back and croup and plan the breeding program like wise.


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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Mitochondrial Myopathy in German Shepherd Dogs

Before we directly drop down to Mitochondrial Myopathy in German Shepherd Dog, let us talk a bit about what is "Mitochondria" and what is "Myopathy" separably.

Mitochondria is the cellular structures in an organism in which energy is produced by oxidation of fuels such as glucose and fat in the form of heat and mechanism i.e. working. Researchers have discovered some of the biochemical defects in the mitochondria. Some of the known mitochondrial diseases in dogs and other organisms occurs due to abnormalities in the mitochondrial DNA.

Myopathy is a neuromuscular disorders which make the muscle fibers dysfunction due to one or more reasons. This consequently results in weakening of muscles, leading to cramping and stiffness of muscles and muscular spasms. Myopathy can be of different types like mitochondrial myopathies, congenital myopathies, muscular dystrophies etc.

Inherited disorders of carnitine metabolism in dogs are amongst the most important causes for mitochondrial myopathy in German Shepherd Dogs and other dog breeds. The mitochondrial disorders in German Shepherds occur due to gene mutations - either nuclear genomes or mutation in mitochondrial DNA. The mutations in mitochondrial DNA in dogs get transmitted by maternal inheritance. Putting this in simple, Mitochondrial myopathies in GSD and in any other canine breeds are caused by genetic mutations, which directly affects the functioning of the electron transport chain (ETC).

Although not in very large numbers, yet a few cases of Mitochondrial Myopathy have been found in canines. The histochemical and ultrastructural findings in case of mitochondrial myopathy in German Shepherd Dog breed have been reported quite infrequently by vets.

Case History: Mitochondrial Myopathy in a German Shepherd Dog

A male German Shepherd Dog of around 36 weeks old had been referred to the Department of Veterinary Clinical Science – Surgery Section, University of Naples for a systematic evaluation of progressive exercise tolerance. The dog had a history of intolerance to exercise, reluctance to move, and spontaneous pain. The symptoms had started showing just a month before the dog was referred to the clinic. The condition had been progressively increasing, showing signs of systemic muscle atrophy, mainly in limb and truncal muscles, accompanied with muscular pain, stiffness in gait, thoracolumbar kyphosis (spinal deformity). The German Shepherd with such a clinical symptoms was exhibiting bunny hopping in hind legs while trying to move fast.

Since the orthopedic and neurologic examinations of the German Shepherd turned out to be unremarkable, his blood samples were collected for hematologic and serologic examination. The report of hematologic examination did not show any abnormalities, while on the other hand the biochemistry revealed an increase in the level of creatine kinase at 37 C (181 U/liter), lactate dehydrogenase (510 U/liter), and aspartate aminotransferase (123.6 U/liter). Moreover, radiographs of stifle region and coxofemoral had been taken. However, no abnormalities could be found in the rediograph report. Muscle biopsies were also taken from the femoral biceps muscle for histopathologic examination.

Organs that get affected by Mitochondrial Myopathy in Dogs

In mitochondrial disorders in dogs, the worst affected organs are the ones that mainly depends on oxidative metabolism (chemical reactions involving oxygen). However, these organs includes brain, skeleton, and heart muscles, sensory organs and kidney. The existence of mildest degree of mitochondrial myopathy in GSD, like any other canine breed will cause mild weakness of muscles, which would be mostly noticed in the arms. There will also be exercise intolerance.

Signs of Mitochondrial Myopathy in canine

German Shepherd Dog - like any other dogs affected with mitochondrial myopathies have severe exercise intolerance that can be consistently demonstrated with even mild exercise. They have stiff, stilted gait, bunny-hopping in the pelvic limbs, reluctance to move, and spontaneous pain. Laboratory tests reveal exercise-induced metabolic acidosis.

Diagnosis of Canine Mitochondrial Myopathy

Diagnosis of mitochondrial myopathies in dog often involves a multifaceted approaches. It requires demonstration of post-exercise plasma lactate and pyruvate concentrations. Light and electron microscopic evaluation of mitochondria of the dog within muscle biopsy sections are also used to diagnose mitochondrial myopathies in canine breeds. Precise characterization is dependent on specialized biochemical tests and molecular studies.

Treatments of Mitochondrial Myopathy in GSD or other canine breeds

Treatments of Mitochondrial Myopathy in GSD or other canine breeds range from treating the symptoms to very specific cause-targeting treatments. The common treatments include administration of antioxidants - especially vitamin E, alternative energy sources - creatine monohydrate, lactate reduction - dichloroacetate and most importantly - exercise training. Exposing the patients to correct type and level of exercise is a particularly very important modality in treating canine Mitochondrial Myopathy.


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All you need to know about German Shepherd Dogs. Read out what I have to share with you regarding the amazing German Shepherd Dog breed. Are Alsatian dogs and German Shepherd Dogs same? Who was Max Von Stephanitz and What is SV? Also learn a bit more in depth on German Shepherd Dog training tips, German Shepherd puppy care tips, German Shepherd Dog behavior, German Shepherd instinct, German Shepherd Dog standard and history of German Shepherds.

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