GSDs in China a report of two specialties April,

Revised December 2011.

It was a long time in coming, but I finally was able to get to mainland China to judge. I was originally scheduled to judge China’s first Sieger Show a few years earlier, but at that time, political tempers on both sides of the Taiwan Straits flared, as they do all too often. That included dog shows, and with a greatly reduced entry expected, the show was called off. I was to be rescheduled for a later date, but by the time it was set, it was one that I already had booked in another country. For those of you too young to remember the civil war in China (actually a power struggle between two very strong leaders who had learned their crafts fighting the Japanese during WW-2), let me give you the briefest of backgrounds on our sport there. Dog shows are still relatively new. That show was postponed due to a political spat between the mainland People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan), and since most of the entries that year were going to come from Taiwan, the mainland communist government, all-controlling as usual, forced the cancellation of the show. They severely restricted movement between the two Chinas. Since then, dog shows—whether specialties for GSDs or all-breed shows—have grown tremendously in popularity and greatly in number. Still, for now many are only the size of a typical UKC show or mega-match.

After the war (WW2), the struggle for control of China was lost mainly because of Chiang Kai-shek’s battlefield and strategic blunders, and Mao Tse-Tung (various spellings) became the ‘top dog’. Chiang fled to the island of Formosa, which had originally been independent and inhabited by native Polynesian peoples, then occupied by a series of foreign influences, including Spanish and Portuguese for short periods, Chinese for a longer time, and most recently Japan. After Japan’s defeat by the U.S. and its allies, Formosa (Taiwan) was declared an independent country again. China never accepted that, and continues to refer to the island as a territory. Taiwan, however, is an anti-communist country whose leaders carefully call independent except when talking to the mainland’s rulers. Threats of invasion keep coming up every time some politician in Taiwan says anything that sounds like independence.

The late Mao is still ubiquitous, on coins, paper money, pins, and portraits, all over the country. If you think the news in the U.S. is managed, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! The Party (Communist Central Committee) continues to rule with an iron hand, as witness the brutal repression of the Falun Gong religious sect, the repression of the SARS danger until they could no longer lie with a straight face to the free world’s media inquirers, and the cover-up of the massacre Mao managed in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The young people have no idea of what happened, and the few older people who saw it with their own eyes are afraid to speak up, the others never having seen the films made and smuggled out of the country. When I stood and sat down in the Square, as those unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators did over a couple decades ago, I could almost see the blood at my feet and hear the screams of students being shot or crushed beneath tanks.

Fred in China

We hope China is finally changing, but as long as the news is managed and manufactured by a government that fears political competition as much as the original Marxist-Leninist regime hated capitalist competition, it will be a slow process. As long as criticism is met with execution or prison, it will be a long wait. There are signs of light on the horizon, though, and one is the growing accessibility of e-mail and the Internet. Shine some light, and the cockroaches will scurry for darker hiding places. We hope!

Another sign is the exploding interest in dogs. Years ago, even before the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, both of which were actually giant leaps backwards, dogs were signs of decadent and unnecessary western pollution, and most in China were either outlawed by government or eaten by starving peasants. Now, there are huge dog markets in some of the cities, with streets lined with pet shops, offering all sorts of breeds, and with enough puppies and adults to make Westminster look like an advertisement for Three-Dog Night. Capitalism, once a dirty word, is alive and thriving in China, and both legitimate and mafia-type businessmen (perhaps more of the latter among the richer ones) have money to spend. Many of the growing middle class also have room and funds now for a cute cuddly puppy, or even a competitive show dog. Communism now is simply the way for the totalitarian dictators to control capital, not to abolish it as Marx and Engels had proposed.

My assignment followed my being in California at the beginning of April for the United Schutzhund Clubs of America (USA or UScA) Sieger Show, so it was a relatively easy flight, with only one stop in Tokyo and then a couple days in the Hong Kong – Shenzhen area of southern China to recuperate before we took the 3.5-hour flight to Beijing in the north for the first event. Only about 24 hours traveling (without sleep) between leaving and getting into Hong Kong! The first big shows were more than an hour northwest of the capital, Beijing, in the Great Wall of Badaling area. This is a ruggedly beautiful but arid region, with sharp mountains splashed with flowering trees that I took to be members of the cherry family, and of course, China’s main attraction, the Ming-dynasty wall itself. I also was able to see parts of the packed-mud wall portion that was built some 2300 years ago, some of which ran through the equestrian center and hotel-housing development where the shows were held. This arena is an enormous facility, and the central government obviously expects many people to locate there away from the 13-million population of downtown Beijing.

The first day I was busy judging two groups at one of the two all-breed shows running concurrently in two parts of the arena. I chose an American Cocker for Gundog Group, with a Golden as Reserve, and a Miniature Schnauzer for the Terrier Group. The next day, I was to choose between that Cocker and a superb 10-month-old Dobe, which two had earlier won their respective shows under judges from Malaysia and Hong Kong. I went with the self-assuredness and maturity of the Cocker, who bore a slight resemblance to one I had managed in the late 1940s.

The second day I was busy with the GSD specialty. In the adult class, there were two outstanding males and a third that came pretty close. First was the German import, Huppy Arlett, still in great condition with the powerful ground-covering drive that earned him the VA-8 in 1999. He had lost two incisors due to an accident, and the black of his saddle was no longer as deep and definite, but he still was a great-looking dog. He was just a tiny bit looser in muscle tone than I remembered him at the 100th anniversary show in Karlsruhe. After failing the courage test in 2000, he left Germany. Very close was the reserve, Waiko Billburg, an Ursus Batu son who had been SG-2 in the 12-18-month class in 2000 at Bremen. He has very good reach and drive, good topline, and is true coming and going. Third in males was a Hobby Gletschertopf grandson who looked more like a Rikkor Bad-Boll type in his front angles and especially his nice pigment. Pasterns normal, croup could be longer, but he has good drive.
The females were not as impressive, and because of a lack of gunsureness or courage testing, a bitch went first that I wish had not. She was owned by the same man who had Huppy and the biggest progeny group, and great anatomy, but when we were preparing for the win photo, someone (a rival owner, possibly) set off a very loud firecracker not far away, and she went to pieces. The camera flashes were also unsettling to her, and I wish the firecracker had gone off before I had made the award. She was, I found out later, the dam of several spooky youngsters in the show, another good reason for stopping her breeding future.

Temperaments were much better at my next show the following weekend in Foshan, the south-eastern city where SARS was first discovered. There, the BOB/BISS awards were multiple, as one in each sex was for the best import, and another for the best local-bred. My choice for best male was the imported Wacker Piste-Trophe, an Ursus son who had been SG-10 in the 18-24-month class at Bremen 2000. He has matured nicely, with very good pigment, proportions, and gait, making him a valuable addition to the gene pool in this part of the world. His grandfather is famous for producing robust, masculine dogs. Best Local-bred dog (by which I took it to mean locally-born rather than bred) is a son of one of my favorites, Pitt v. Tronje, and Toxi Haus Schmittmann. He appeared to have the same strong character as his sire. Excellent pigment; a little lower on leg than the import.

The Best Local-bred bitch, Anna of Thunderberg, and some other entries were sired by Frank Yeung’s local-bred dog, “Lord Of Cherry-Land” who was the #1 stud in the country (Progeny Group winner) under Peter Messler at a China-SV Sieger Show. The Best Bitch, an import daughter of Zello Steinhagerquelle and Chess Dan Alhedy’s Hoeve, was Pumie Dan Alhedy’s Hoeve, from the Holland kennel that produced the Sieger Kimon several years ago. She had flawless movement with good, somewhat stretched proportions, and medium pigment.

The GSD fanciers in China, like those in many parts of the world, do not compete in the all-breed portion of shows for a number of reasons: one is the size of the typical ring, which is too small to show off the qualities of suspension that they want to emphasize; another is that the most important thing is the breed, not so much the showmanship, and the latter is what group and BIS competition is all about. We hope that the dogs in the multi-breed competition have already proved their superiority in the breed classes. After finishing the GSD specialty on grass, with a large ring, I moved over to the pavement to judge several groups where Matgow Law, a noted expert on the Shar-Pei had just officiated over that specialty and other breeds and groups. My choice for BIS was a magnificent Pekingese, and for the two Reserves, I chose a Miniature Schnauzer and a Sheltie. The Peke, named Tank, was a 4-year-old whose parents were imported from Australia, and whose father-line is from England. Interesting that this winner came such a long way back to the land of his ancestry.

There were several breeds with excellent representatives, such as Min. Schnauzers, Siberian Huskies, Golden Retrievers, Pekes, Boxers, and Dobes, but the largest population of any breed was in the German Shepherd Dog. Judging from the imports and the good work in breeding, I thought at the time China would someday have a good reputation in the breed. By the time I rewote this article in late 2011, the Chinese (now wealthier than almost all other capitalist dog fanciers in the rest of the world) were buying up great numbers of Germany’s best GSDs.

Beijing GSD specialty.jpg

Foshan 1st 12-18 Fe.jpg

Foshan 3rd Open Fe.jpg

Beijing GSD specialtyBeijing GSD specialty

Foshan 1st 12-18 FeFoshan 1st 12-18 Fe

Foshan 3rd Open FeFoshan 3rd Open Fe

Foshan Best import Fe Pumie.jpg

Foshan Best Local bred GSD Apr 03.jpg

Foshan Best Local bred male GSD Dotter Apr 03.jpg

Foshan Best import Fe PumieFoshan Best import Fe Pumie

Foshan Best Local bred GSD Apr 03Foshan Best Local bred GSD Apr 03

Foshan Best Local bred male GSD Dotter Apr 03Foshan Best Local bred male GSD Dotter Apr 03

Foshan Best LocalBred Fe.jpg

Foshan BOB GSD Apr 03.jpg

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Foshan Best LocalBred FeFoshan Best LocalBred Fe

Foshan BOB GSD Apr 03Foshan BOB GSD Apr 03

group at Great Wallgroup at Great Wall

Huppy Arlett Beijing Apr 03.jpg

Wacker Piste Trophe in 2000.jpg

Waiko Billberg 2nd OpenMale Beijing.jpg

Huppy Arlett Beijing Apr 03Huppy Arlett Beijing Apr 03

Wacker Piste Trophe in 2000Wacker Piste Trophe in 2000

Waiko Billberg 2nd OpenMale BeijingWaiko Billberg 2nd OpenMale Beijing

Fred Lanting

Fred Lanting is an internationally respected show judge, approved by many registries as an all-breed judge, has judged numerous countries’ Sieger Shows and Landesgruppen events, and has many years experience as one of only two SV breed judges in the US. He presents seminars and consults worldwide on such topics as Gait-&-Structure, HD and Other Orthopedic Disorders, and The GSD. He conducts annual non-profit sightseeing tours of Europe, centered on the Sieger Show (biggest breed show in the world) and BSP.

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