As always, my report on the international German Shepherd Dog “Sieger Show”, the main event for the breed that is held annually in Germany, consists of two parts, and you might only see part of the whole “picture”, depending on what magazine or website you are reading this on. Editors sometimes must edit, you know! In my comments, I will give in parentheses the latest Zuchtwert (ZW) hip ratings as of the time of writing, as readers expect that from the author of the book on hip dysplasia. Remember, the lower numbers are best, and anything over the low 80s makes me a little nervous.
One part of this report is my abbreviated travelogue, in which I invite you to join my non-profit tour to the show, the area of Europe, and to breeders and training clubs. My expertise as an SV judge is of help to especially the newer people in the sport, but all my group can benefit by sharing costs instead of trying to “go it lone”; I also find delightful and economical hotels that most people don’t discover. For some fifteen years I have been attending this big show, and for most of those years, I have helped novices learn more about the sport and Europe while saving them money in the process. There is something for everyone, especially those who admire “the total dog”. In regions such as 2007’s Braunschweig venue, there are few show-line breeders, but we drove some distances east and west of there to visit some of them. There are more Schutzdienst (working competition) fanciers along this old Iron Curtain area than Hochtzuchtlinie (show) people.
My 2007 group promised to be the most international ever. Unfortunately, two from Trinidad, two from the USA, and one from Canada had to cancel. But we still had two from Uruguay, two from Australia, one from Argentina, and one from Egypt. I am from Alabama, which is nominally a part of the U.S., despite rumors to the contrary. At times it was rather comical in a confused way as I switched from German to Spanish to English in my job of explaining the details of the show or descriptions of dogs. And in the van, the polyglot of languages as everyone was talking, made me think that I was driving up the ramped ziggurat of the Tower of Babel instead of along the super German Autobahns. My group this year were all show-oriented, so we cancelled the training club visit I had lined up, and concentrated on breeder kennels a greater distance away.
To minimize jet lag so that it would not interfere with the first long day (Friday) of the show, we arrived on Wednesday the 29th of August and leisurely traveled from the Hannover airport to our delightful hotel in a small village less than a half-hour from the show site. I always arrange lodging in such intimate, small family hotels and “guest houses”, and this one was operated by a fleischer (butcher) who made, in the ground-floor shop, all the sausages, chops, and coldcuts that we had in abundance. The family even took us to an American-cowboy-theme barbeque at a friend’s house one night, and accompanied us on kennel visits the next day.
The show lasts three days, and the other four or five days of my annual tour include some sightseeing as well as meetings with breeders. This year we only had one day of shopping and sights, going on Monday through the town of Goslar, one of the few that was unaffected directly by the bombing of World-War-2. The reason it was spared is that it was a “hospital town” with red crosses painted on the roofs. The Allied pilots spared several such towns. Consequently, buildings and parts of medieval walls dating from as early as 1000A.D. were still standing. In America, we think that a driving distance of 250 miles is not very great but 250 years is impossibly old for a building; in Europe, a 250-year-old building might still be called “the new church” or some such descriptive term, but a 250-mile drive is extremely long.
On the first full day (Thursday) we were in-country, I took the group to visit with breeders Theo and Angelika Landers in Bad Oyenhausen; they go to American shows quite often, but skipped entering the Sieger Show this year because of the SV/FCI crackdown on size. Most of what they had to show was a centimeter or so over the recently enforced “maximum”. I may have some comments in the future about how I feel this restriction is not genetically or logically sound, but not here. Anyway, the Landers did not have much for sale this time, though there were a couple of good ones available. Several years ago, another visit to their kennel produced sales of some of their dogs to tour group members. Almost half the time, some of the breeders we visit mange to sell dogs to some in my group. This year, five or six were in the market and may have decided on purchasing by this time.
On Tuesday after the show weekend, we looked at dogs, pictures, and pedigrees in Berlin and, on the way, saw stark remnants of Soviet-occupation-era buildings and Iron Curtain guard posts. On Wednesday we drove the other direction, past Hannover again, to Bielefeld where we were treated with great hospitality by the Niedergassel family to a soup-and-sausage lunch and the pleasure of posing for photos with great dogs, notably Sirio della Real Favorita (a Sieger Zamp son out of Roma Holkämper-See), Idol (94) and Odin Holtkämper-Hof (80), the latter two being sons of the great Yak Frankengold (94) who was sired by Hoss Lärchenhain (74). Idol was not shown this year, but many of his offspring did well. Odin was VA-8 this year and is truly a superstar worthy of accolades. What a magnificent head and self-assurance! As well as other qualities, of course.
Sirio (78), rumored to be a centimeter too tall for the judge, was not as ruggedly masculine, but still a beautiful animal with a nice pedigree, especially on his dam’s side. Judges are under much greater pressure these days to penalize withers height than they have been since the days of Vello Sieben-Faulen (one of the greatest producing sires of all time). I have a nice female pup sired by Nick Moorbeck (69) and out of Sirio’s sister Stella (78); every day I look at her and marvel at the same rich red pigment that Zamp and (especially) Nero give.
That evening, the Aussies and the man from Argentina had to leave, and the Egypt-based Indian lady already had been put on a train to the airport because of pressing business at home, so by late that night there were only three of us left. The Australians had remembered me from when I judged and lectured in their country and New Zealand in 1991. The Uruguayans knew me from a couple of Sieger Show judging assignments in Montevideo (I had given their dog BOB on one of those occasions). The other two were new friends whom I hope to see again. My reports on the Sieger Shows each year bring me possible additional tour members. If you would like to be guided by an SV breed judge who has trained many dogs to Schutzhund titles and is familiar with most of Germany and some adjoining countries, and if you’d like to experience the cultural and natural attractions as well as the show, let me know as soon as you can. I can also put together Sieger Show tours in Italy, Argentina, and other countries if I have enough people to spread out my costs among. In 2008, the German show will be in Aachen, along the Holland and Belgium borders, and I already have some breeders lined up to visit. People save money by going with me rather than doing a trip alone, and I do not charge a fee, only a prorated share of expenses. E-mail me about it, and look for my articles via Google or similar search engines, or on the siriusdog.com website.
In my earlier e-mails to my 2007 group and a few others, I correctly predicted all eight of this year’s VA (excellent-select) males. I had suggested that perhaps one more might make that elite status but he ended up a highly respectable V-17. Yet more proof of my mortality and fallibility, right? Also remember that my observations are based on having had GSDs since 1947, and while they are matters of fact to me, I am quite willing for my readers to consider them merely opinions if they can come close to my background in the subject. If you disagree strongly and often, one of us probably lives on a different planet.
Let’s consider the VA males first. Interestingly, the first four VA dogs this year are all non-German owned! Make of that what you will. With Zamp out of the running, Pakros (ZW: 81) was the obvious successor to the throne. This year he was in the best condition ever, and his slightly steep croup even seemed to have improved (though we could still see that minor problem in his progeny). This is “an Italian dog” in the sense that his kennel name (d’Ulmental) and owner are Italian, though he is a Bax Luisenstrasse son out of Karma Ochsentor. The numbers of Italian competitors and spectators this year were far greater than any year I can remember, and it almost made me feel I was in Naples or another city there, except for the unusually very cold weather. Pakros has good color, proportions, powerful gait, and smooth body contours. He performed, every centimeter, as the epitome of a Sieger.
In second place was Quenn Löher Weg (80), an Uran Moorbeck son with (I am told) a very good progeny class this year. The reason I say it that way is because I was in the middle of the progeny class handling one of his sons, and was paying to much attention to my job during those moments. The owners of Quenn, more non-Germans, are Uday and Nina Jani of the UK. Quenn is a handsome male of good size and quite uniform progeny. I would have liked to see better determination in the bitework of some of this family, but then I am more demanding in this area than most of my fellow judges and show fanciers.
Third was Dux de Cuatro Flores (83), a Spanish-owned son of Hill Farbenspiel and Lina Arminius. His progeny did very well in Friday’s courage tests, for the most part, which I expect from the Hill line. It was an exception when his promising Italian son Robuk failed to retain the grip on Friday and was rated nicht genugend (not enough, or not O.K.). Fourth VA, Vegas du Haut Mansard (93), is the French son of Pakros that won his youth class a couple years earlier over a better-moving Ando son (Sony) who should have had the owners. Here is a case of the Biblical observation holding true, about the sins of the fathers being visited upon the sons, as a whopping percentage of the offspring had the same or worse faulty front action that was hard for me to swallow. Still, Vegas is a nicely colored dog who makes a lovely picture from the side. So we see that the top four VA dogs are owned by people with residence addresses in countries other than Germany. This year, there is a significant increase in this situation.
Fifth VA was Orbit Huhnegrab (85), a Sgr. Yasko son out of a VA2 Timo Berrekasten (88) daughter. He is a well-pigmented, substantial male with a strong though not perfect overline, is very good coming and going, and had a good normal progeny class. Last year none of his progeny were over two years’ age, which probably would have held him back if that were also the case this year. In my opinion, the dam line improves on Yasko’s minor shortcomings.
In sixth place was the Yello St.Michaelsberg son, Nando Gollerweiher, a dark and well-pigmented dog of pleasing outline and proportions. I did not get a chance to see him do his bitework this year, as I had some business to take care of at the SV tent when he was being presented on Friday. Only 3.5 years old this year, he will probably be at his peak next year in Aachen. The VA-7 dog was Ingodds Agassi (88) who, as you can deduce from his name, was born in Norway and is owned by Berliners Frank Goldlust and Susannah Reiman. We visited Frank’s house the following week, but Agassi was living with someone else, and Herr Goldlust did not show us any other dogs. It was a long ride to just look at photos. Agassi did good bitework on Friday and looked very good in gaiting, appearing somewhat drier than his sire Ghandi Arlett. I suspect he takes more after his dam, whom I’ve never seen. He is four years old, and almost surely will compete again next year unless sold to China or another country.
In last VA place was the outstandingly handsome, masculine, completely impressive male Odin Holtkaemper-Hof (80). This male closely resembles his famous sire Yak Frankengold who is in China until he retires from stud service there. Yak’s sire Hoss, you may remember, dropped out of favor some years back when DNA testing showed that his advertised parentage was not correct, and uncovered less-famous, somewhat unproven ancestry. This did not sit well with those who believed that nothing good could come out of dogs not carrying the favorite bloodlines, a similar shortsightedness that caused so much prejudice against the great Timo despite his linebreeding on the famous Q-litter Arminius. The fact that Hoss brought so much vitality and excellence of character and anatomy was ignored, but his quality would not go away. This is an important sire line that contributes not only genetic diversity but great individual characteristics as well. Odin (and to a good extent his half-siblings) can offer us a great deal. I hope that he continues to dispel the bias against Hoss’ descent line, and represents Yak well, as almost all in this family have done so far. We were almost knocked out of our socks by the presence and power of this magnificent animal. As he is only four years old, he should contribute much in the next two years.
V-1 was Yimmy v Contra (114), who is a nice-looking dog but whose high placing was undoubtedly influenced by the fact that his sire is Sgr. Larus Batu and his owner is the former chief Sieger Show judge Erich Orschler. Certainly this dark male is very handsome and powerful, but this year’s judge, Reinhardt Meyer, when broadcasting his comments, made a point of that high ZW number, indicating that it is a warning flag for breeders who want to avoid or minimize HD. He let it be known that he would not consider the dog for VA, no matter how good he looked on the surface. This was a bit different from when Rikkor Bad-Boll (102) was named Sieger several years ago with similarly high ZW, and to my mind this year’s move was a good one. Reinhardt was my final supervisor when I became an SV breed judge, and I also judged at the Indian Sieger Show weekend some years later when he did the work one day and I did the next. He typically makes wise decisions.
As I said, I was away from the courage tests for a short while on the first day of the show, so I missed a few dogs who may have performed very well, but I’d like to comment on some that I watched carefully. It comes as no surprise that a few of the working-lines dogs did well, but the biggest applause Friday was given to the absolutely perfect work of a male owned by Michaele Knoche: Javir v Talka Marda (72), sire, Dago Schwarzen Pegasus; dam, Quaste Arkenrutt. To watch this dog’s fabulous and faultless bark-and-hold, fast attacks, immediate outs, and unwavering focus, was indeed thrilling to everyone. It was a shame that he was not in the breed ring on Sunday.
The dog who got the second-greatest applause in the protection/courage evaluation Friday also got the greatest applause in the breed ring Sunday. That was the Timo Berrekasten son V-28 Arex Herbramer-Wald (91), owned by Gerd Dexel. He is an excellent, happy worker in both arenas, and in the breed ring he showed the same characteristics as his sire: great front reach, ground-covering powerful gait off-leash while leaving others in the dust, a tremendously handsome masculine head, nice overall anatomy, and a marvelous personality. He was moved forward considerably in the large group a couple of times (each time to great applause), but nowhere near where the crowd felt he deserved. One of my fellow judges guessed that it was because this 5-year-old didn’t have much in the way of winning progeny, but agreed that this was because of the persistent anti-sable (grey) prejudice. For character and shoulder improvement, this dog should be used on low-ZW (or low-BVA-score) bitches before he becomes no longer available. Two of my tour group who were looking for good bitches to buy expressed desire to have them mated to Arex. They are advised to get a bitch with a very low ZW number.
A few short comments on other dogs may be of interest. The V3 Negus Holtkamper-See (78) should be stronger in character, which observation might be expected if one looks at the sire line (Sgr Zamp  – Quantum Arminius  – Dux della Valcuvia ), as there is a slight weakness in character there (see my previous “Impressions” articles). Brother Naxos (76) was V27. This year’s V4 Quantum Fiemereck (73) did very good work; he is a Rocky Haus Tepferd (75) son (and therefore half-brother to a male I have who also has excellent hips). V5 Uran Wilhelmswarte (79) showed the good bitework of so many other sons of Dux Cuatro Flores. The Quando Sofienwald (99) son, V6 Bazi Urbecke (84) did excellent protection work, as did the very good-looking V7 Yerom Haus Salihin (86) owned by Budiman Salihin. The latter is a son of Mark Schwalmbergtal (82) who was killed by envious enemies in Indonesia last year, a great loss to all of us in this sport. For V8, Reinhardt chose the Maffay Arminius (76) son, Djenges Kahn v Sante’s Home (73), bred in Holland and owned by Norbert Schleuter who produced he great Ando Altenbergerland. Djenges demonstrated the combination of excellent work and good looks, though he has a slightly short, slightly steep croup, and he needs more training in off-leash fast-gaiting.
The Nero Nöbachtal (73) son, Solo Team Fiemereck (92), who failed the courage test last year, did OK work this year and earned a V-11 place in the breed ring. There is a little weakness in many Nero offspring regarding the desirable trait of self-confidence, and this needs to be watched by breeders who want Nero’s other, better qualities. A dog who deserves a better placing, and hopefully will get it next year is the 4-year-old Hill Farbenspiel (96) son, Andrjuscha van Noort (87), owned by American Walter Monroe. This V13 male, bred by Edzard Müller, is beautiful in anatomy and brave in character, with good bites and good outs (releases). The Bax/Hill “blood” is proving to be quite valuable in both construction and character.
Some more generalized observations on adult males: Vegas tends to reproduce his faulty front. Dux Cuatro Flores gives good workers with good anatomy, with few exceptions such as Robuk Monti della Laga, who looked handsome but did not maintain the bite. Yak grandsons and sons, such as V9 Ilbo Holtkämper-See (80), did very well in both arenas. Several of Quenn Löher Weg’s offspring were disappointing in the courage tests. Most E-litter van Noort sons did good protection work, as did Flipp Arlett sons as a rule. One of the latter was not yet Schutzhund titled when I judged with Erich Bösl in Estonia earlier in the year, or he would have won that show — this is the Swedish dog V35 Mischaland’s Joaqin (93) who did very good protection work and had very pleasing gait; Anders and Susanne Eriksson are justifiably proud of this nice young stud dog. There were a large number of Zeppo Klebinger-Schloss (86) sons, but no progeny class for him. I was told that Zeppo is too tall for today’s “wicket-crazy” breed wardens, and produces many weak ears. Karat’s Ulk did an excellent courage test, but got some excuse, upon request, so he was not seen in the breed ring. Some dogs do not show up for breed competition following the courage demonstration (usually after some indication by the judge during the individual and preliminary judgments). Perhaps the owner doesn’t want the embarrassment of being behind dogs he considers inferior. In any case, such absentee dogs are prohibited from being exhibited for several months. But this is even less than a slap on the wrist — a meaningless “punishment” — because there are no shows after the Sieger Show, anyway, until the following spring.
On the distaff side of the fields, I felt that the VA4 Yasmin Nieuwlandshof (88) was definitely the best bitch. She was bred in Holland, owned by a German, and out of an Italian dam named Yelena Fossombrone (90). I could not disagree with Bernhard Norda’s choices for VA2 and VA3, although the former began to tire at one point and stab the ground a little in front; she is an Italian daughter of Zamp named Pania d Alto Pino (85). The latter, Häsel v Streek (91) is a Whisky Bierstadter-Hof daughter out of a Dutch dam. VA-1 and Siegerin is Gina Aquamarin (82) owned by Gerde Dexel; I would have penalized her a little for lifting too much in front at all speeds, although she presents a beautiful picture from the side while in stance. I trust this Fedor Gelingenstrasse – Hanka Türkenkopf daughter will be bred successfully and wisely. The Dexel family has bred and owned many superb dogs over the years — the first that I remember was the 1963 Sieger Ajax Haus Dexel who gave great hips, character, and shoulder angles; I had a nice litter once that was linebred on Ajax, with great temperament and beauty, and was surprised to find a blue-and-tan in the nest, though I suspect it came from the “American” sides of the family. Much water has passed under the bridge since then, and it’s good to see that Richard’s son Gerd is continuing the fine tradition today.
I could not watch as many females in the courage tests as I have in some years, but a few stood out for me. Helmut Buss’ Boogie again did excellent work but unfortunately was pulled before breed-ring competition. I saw an Esko Danischen Hof daughter named Sara Schlicher-Hof (74) do very good work and considered her anatomy superior to her V66 placing. The VA8 Delma Trompetersprung (92) did very admirable work and V3 Lyra Radhaus (81) showed she could work as beautifully as she could trot. This Pakros daughter inherited his tendency to fall off a bit in the croup, but all else was remarkable. One that I had expected to make VA was V4 Chanel degli Achei (89), an Italian-bred Zamp daughter with wonderful stride and reach and very good protection work. The V5 Hill Farbenspiel daughter Andra Wattenscheid (90) could have placed a little higher in the breed ring, based on her movement, in my estimation. A Dux C-F daughter named Elfi Wildsteiger Landhaus (84) from the kennel of Maria and Martin Göbl’s son Marcus did very good outs and obedience, as did most of her sire’s other offspring. Another group I led in recent years had seen this litter when we visited WildsteigerLand in Bavaria. One of the best performances I saw was that of a Karat’s Ulk daughter, Dassy v Contra (98) — the bites, hold-and-bark, and obedience were excellent. Too bad she also was pulled before we had a chance to see her trotting in the breed ring. In general, bitches by Hill, Ulk, Orbit Huhnegrab, and Dux Cuatro Flores worked very well on Friday, and several of these made good placings the next couple of days.
In the dogs under 24 months, there were several stand-outs. One with a very promising future is Uday and Nina Jani’s home-bred Godalis Tino (73) whose anatomy and hip rating will be a valuable addition to the gene pool in the UK and elsewhere. Watch for this super youngster who won the 18-24-mo. class under judge Henning Setzer. His dam is an Orbit Tronje (75) daughter and his sire is VA2 Quenn (80). Another Quenn son, Tyson Köttersbusch (79) was SG3 in the same class. The Dux C-F son Sony Heinrichplatz (72) was SG2, is owned by Budiman Salihin, and was bred by Pia Gellesun of Berlin, whose kennel we visited this year. SG4 was the handsome Taureg Bad-Boll (72), who could have been in 3rd place for my money; his hock action was better, for one thing. Another from this class that impressed me was Fargo Lärchenhain (80), by Zamp out of the excellent Boogie Ochsentor (79). This really super-looking dog only got SG33 for some unfathomed reasons and it might be worth making a bid on him. SG7 was Arak Ferme Malgre L’eau (84) who, a few months earlier, had placed 1st in front of Tino at a regional show in Hemer under the same judge. Some consider this an upset or a surprise, but dogs have their days when they do better or worse than on other days.
The 12-18-mo. males (Jugendklasse) were led by a Quantum Arminius son, Panjo Kirschental (92). It was nice talking briefly with Mrs. Fuller who was getting around better with the aid of crutches and obviously enjoying her win; husband Karl is doing well, too, she said. Second place in the same class was awarded to Furbo degli Achei (ZW:? but littermates are in the high 80s) from Italy, a Quenn son who appeared a bit too heavy-bodied for this age, and his croup fell off a bit too much for my tastes. Much better in my eyes was the SG3 Gio Frankengold, an Agassi son with very nice anatomy. SG4 was Xaro ben Harten (93), a Peruvian son of Zamp and VA Anta. Many in this age group have not yet had their hip radiographs rated.
An Esko Danischen-Hof daughter named Ronja Haus Burow (94), managed by Rudiger Mai, took the 18-24-mo. female Junghund class, while another Esko daughter was SG6. In 12-18-mo. bitches, SG-1 was the outstanding Paula Gut Lethe, a daughter of Negus, and who has a very promising future if shown again before settling down to make babies. The Vegas daughter SG2 Birdy Domaine du Parc steps too high and wide in front, and another Vegas daughter SG3 Ussi Pallas Athene also was typically wide in front. Not my cup of tea. Unfortunately, SG4 was yet another Vegas daughter, Jana Plassenburg. A quite nice Idol daughter, Zenzi Zellergrund was in 5th place, breaking the Vegas chain. A very nice Quenn daughter was SG9. I felt that Pakros and Odin produced much better quality in this class than Vegas did.
I invite you to join me next year and have fun watching great dogs, eating delicious food, seeing sights you don’t have in your back yard, and enjoying the company of other dog lovers.
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