GSDs can no longer be stacked, says KC


GERMAN Shepherds must no longer be stacked in the ring and instead shown free standing on a loose lead only.

  This is one of the new set of rules imposed by the Kennel Club for the showing and judging of the breed.

  Yesterday it announced that it was taking strong moves to tackle the issues it believes are affecting the GSD and is to change the Standard on Monday.

  Judges are to be scrutinised and all 2018 contracts suspended until the judges involved have attended an education seminar; KC representatives are to be sent to shows to put a stop to double handling.

  It is going to establish a programme of training seminars for championship show judges of GSDs at breed, group and BIS level which will cover:

Ring procedure:

1.      Dogs must be exhibited on a loose lead only and free standing. No stacking of dogs allowed;

2.      Judges must not tolerate double handling and must enforce the escalation procedure if warnings are ignored;

3.      Dogs exhibiting clear signs of stress are to be dismissed from the ring by the judge if the handler is not prepared to withdraw their dog.


1.      Dogs must be exhibited in as natural a manner as possible without any exaggeration or manipulation to deceive;

2.      Judges must examine dogs in accordance with KC custom and practice;

3.      Judges must ask handlers to move dogs ‘out and back’ in order that front and rear assemblies can be assessed properly. Dogs are to be moved individually in this fashion, never in pairs or groups;

4.      Judges must ask exhibitors to move their dog around the ring in accordance with KC custom and practice. There is to be no fast running or use of extended leads. Movement must be on a loose lead and at a walk or trot;

5.      Judges must select placed dogs in accordance with how all other large pastoral breeds are judged. There are to be no ‘run offs’ between dogs with handlers running fast.

The KC’s ‘double handing escalation procedure is to be enforced rigorously. Regulation F(1)17h prohibits the attracting of the attention of exhibits by any method from outside the ring, and the KC says it is the duty of the judge, steward or show management to ask that it ceases.

The regulation allows a dog to be disqualified from any award whether an objection has been lodged or not if it is proved to have been attracted from outside the ring while being judged.

  To help societies police these regulations the KC says an ‘escalation procedure’ should be used. It is in three stages:

  Request: If attraction is observed, firstly the judge and/or then a senior officer of the society will make a polite request for the activity to desist;

  Warn: If the conduct is extreme, or continuing, and/or is causing disruption a senior officer of the society can enter the ring and suspend the class until it stops; 

  Suspend: If the attraction restarts exhibitors may be warned that if it continues, and a further request has to be made, then the class will be abandoned.

  If a person attracting the attention of dogs from outside the ring is an exhibitor/competitor or joint owner and is readily identified, he/she should be reported to the KC for a breach of Regulation F(1)17h.

  The KC is also going to review the GSD’s category three veterinary check.

  The KC said it had been working closely with the GSD clubs over 'a significant number of years' in an attempt to address issues surrounding the breed. 

  "However, it appears that the various initiatives designed to improve matters have had very little effect and this in turn is serving to damage the reputation of dog breeders, not just in this breed but across all breeds,” a spokesman said. 

  "Matters came to a head at Crufts this year where the exhibition of GSDs once again came under intense scrutiny, which merely served to reinforce the KC’s concerns for the breed’s future. As a result of this, a review group was established to examine the issues surrounding the GSD."

  The KC believes the culture of double handling, 'widely practised and condoned at breed club shows’, has a particularly detrimental effect on the temperament of dogs, who often show symptoms of enormous stress while being exhibited and at other times, the KC said. Erratic movement and apparently exaggerated conformation were other concerns which the review group looked at.

  "In attempting to address the worsening in the breed’s reputation the General Committee, guided by the review group, initially considered deregistering the breed and/or removing its CC status,” a KC spokesman said. "Both these measures would have had the effect of driving breeders outside the influence of the KC, doubtless causing a further decline in the breed, and eventually implementation was decided against.

  "Another measure, making it compulsory for breed club championship shows to be held in conjunction with group and general championship shows, was also discussed but has not been implemented at this stage due to the huge changes in infrastructure which would be necessary.”

In June, the General Committee expressed concern about the situation which, it said, it would not allow to deteriorate further. Included in this announcement was a list of stringent measures it was considering in relation to the breed. Today the General Committee made the following directives:

  • The GSD Breed Standard is to be changed from August 1 to include additional wording to emphasise the importance of the dogs being capable of standing comfortably and calmly, freely and unsupported in any way. The Standard will read, 'Characteristics: Versatile working dog, balanced and free from exaggeration. Must be capable of standing comfortably and calmly, freely and unsupported in any way, in structural balance, whilst both rear pasterns are vertical. Attentive, alert, resilient and tireless with keen scenting ability’. 
  • Each judge of GSDs 'must understand their role, which includes proper control of the ring and adherence to KC regulations at all times'. Judges who ignore the breed Standard and/or allow double-handling will risk having future CC appointments rejected.
  • All championship show judging contracts for 2018 and beyond are suspended with immediate effect until such time as each judge has attended a KC judges’ education seminar. The KC is to establish a programme of these seminars throughout the UK for championship show judges and expects all judges of the breed to adhere to the points made, which will emphasise that the breed is to be exhibited in the same manner as all other large pastoral breeds. 
  • KC representatives will be appointed as soon as possible to attend all championship shows where CCs are on offer for the breed. They will work with the show societies and judges to curtail double-handling and will have executive authority to put into effect the previously agreed escalation procedure for double handling if the show societies and/or judges do not do so. Shows which allow double handling will risk having their future CC status rejected.
  • There is to be a review of the category three breed veterinary check guidelines for the GSD breed to ensure that health and welfare concerns continue to be addressed.

  KC secretary Caroline Kisko said the KC had been given no option but to address the issues. 

   “The breed itself seemed to be taking far too long to address them, and this came to a head at Crufts this year,” she said. “The health and welfare of dogs is the primary objective of the KC and, where a breed experiences any issues in this respect, we have an obligation to take action where it can. The time for that action is now.

   “This situation simply cannot continue as not only is the health and welfare of the breed at risk but this is having a detrimental effect on the reputation of all breeders, pedigree dogs, dog showing and the KC. The implementation of these measures involves a considerable financial commitment on behalf of the KC, which demonstrates the level of investment that has been made to protect the future of this breed.”

• Read more: KC imposes tough measures on GSD: Standard to change' >>

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