Interactions between the “Show lines” and “Working lines”

The possibility of selecting a subject with excellent morphological attributes (structure and form) coexisting with an equally high quality of character, is presented these days as not attainable. The dichotomy between the various (genetic) selection pressures seems to generate a more and more obvious division between the developing types in regard to selection for training and/or anatomy.

Many of the big powerful trotters in the show ring, with their ample length of stride and notable size, seem less suitable for producing strong nerves, “middle tonicity” (body firmness/dryness), unexaggerated form, and the ability to be outstanding in training. In some of these dogs, their character attributes do not sufficiently satisfy the expectations of training enthusiasts. On the other hand, rarely does a “champion of training” display the anatomical traits necessary to attract the breeders' attention.

By the way, it is opportune here to remember than the one and only prerequisite to take part in the tests of training [SchH, IPO, Agility, Herding, etc.] in Germany is the possession of a certificate of origin (pedigree statement) recognized by the FCI without another limitation. It is a concept that, certainly, does not favor the possibility to develop and expand breeding lines in a useful sense (except through the good intentions of individual breeders). An absurd case we can give could be that of a BSP Sieger that is not usable in breeding. [For the novice reader, the BSP is the German national schutzhund championship event, and the BSZS is the conformation “Sieger Show”.]

Is this an inevitable and irreversible tendency? Or is it not perhaps that in the quest for the extremes, (as much in one camp as the other), the breed degenerates into “hyper” or “hypo” types (too much or too little of specific traits) whether they be morphologic (body style) or temperament?

The Standard, the chosen instrument for the selection of the breed and its expression, if it is correctly applied, resolves a great part of the problems in such a debate.

A deep culture of canine science and clear objectives must be required of those who must apply the standards of such selection, and the great teachers have demonstrated to what level the breed can arrive if it is well managed. A brief excursion into the split during the 1960s set down in clear proof that, in the face of very demanding requests on the part of those responsible for verification (judging), the breeders and the breed know how to respond and make it happen. Medium size, solid character, pigment, variety of bloodlines were obtained and rewarded in abundance.

An analysis, although superficial, of the most recent BSP bloodlines shows how great an influence the winners of the [early] Bundessiegerhauptzuchtschau (Sieger Shows) are in the foundations of the working lines.

Note the case of Sieger Alf Nordfelsen through VA2 Mutz Pelztierfarm (much used in the Vello Sieben Faulen line), and of Nico von Haus Beck.

Vello's children 1967 Sieger Bodo Lierberg and his brother VA3 Bernd Lierberg (also in 1967) and other brothers have very positively influenced GSD breeding as a whole. In the VA (excellent select) classification, the two brothers presented the following parameters: Bodo 63 cms, 41 kgs (90lbs); Bernd was 64 cms, and 43 kgs (95 lbs). In the critique of Bernd by the judge Dr. Funk, we read: “....although I see a little defect in him: with some centimeter less he would look better”. This line notably through Erich Orschler's Boss Amalienhof, has given the gray (sable) Wanko Maaraue (VA, 1981), whose bloodline is present at the BSP of 2003.

Another Sieger, 1972’s Marko Cellerland (64 cms, 40 kgs), son of the exemplary HGH dog Kondor Golmkauer Krug, has been used amply in BSP lines, and is still present, as well as the black VA Frei Gugge (63 cms, 39 kgs/86 lbs), whose attack work in the 1969 BSZS the public applauded with a standing ovation. Both specimens came from Erwin Bork's property. Frei, “the black devil”, as he was described by Piero Alquati, has given, among many interesting participants in the BSZS, the female Freia Steinbockfelsen on whom it is possible to bestow or ascribe present-day genealogical relevance. Furthermore, a son of his, the BSP Sieger Enno Antrefftal, was also the father of Roland Wohrabrücke (1979, 63.5 cms, 34 kgs/75 lbs), and of the BSP Sieger Drigon Fuhrmannshof.

VA2 (1971) Quanto Wienerau also has generated lines utilized in BSP examples such as the 2003 BSP Sieger Attaque Adelegg.

Another Quanto W. son, Ali Katzenbuckel, has given good specimens used in training, and through the daughter Otti Trienzbachtal, he has characterized the products of Leopold Bucher's breeding program.

Kennels such as Busecker Schloss of Alfred Hahn, and Kirschental of Karl Fuller, still active, have demonstrated how it is possible to combine working abilities and morphologic (beauty) traits on a high level. [Fred’s added note: Hahn is no longer. The kennel name is owned by someone who bought the business.]

Busecker Schloss, several times winner of Sieger Show Kennel Groups and having several in the VA group, has influenced many lines with both factors, overall through the descendants of the brothers 1966 JHKL Sieger Sirk and VA Seffe Busecker Schloss, both having sired litters of 12 pups. Sirk and Seffe were sons of VA Bernd Lierberg.

Kirschental, well-known for the 1988 BSZS Sieger Eiko Kirschental (63.5 cms, 31 kgs/68 lbs) through the years has attained the highest prestige from such offspring as: 1967 VA2 Senta, 1967 VA3 Perle, 1974 VA Xanta, 1976 VA Nanni, and 1981 VA Xitta HGH.

Memorable is the N-litter Kirschental of 11 pups of Asslan Klämmle x Isa Kirschental, a daughter of Eros Busecker-Schloss (Mike Bungalow x Seffe Busecker-Schloss), where in addition to the above-cited VA Nanni, there were five other VA dogs, such as Nimi, mother of Lasso di val Sole, from the VA Xitta who was, in turn, mother of the Sieger Uran Wildsteiger Land son, Sieger Eiko Kirschental.

Another brother, Negus Kirschental has sired numerous notable progeny, among which is the famous producer Zello Blue Iris, born of the mother of the Adeloga line x Freia Steinbockenfelsen (Frei Gugge daughter). 1979 JHKL Sieger Zello, (V5 in 1980) is a fusion of the prestigious Canto-Quanto line and bearer of the maternal lines of Busecker Schloss, Kirschental, and Frei Gugge.

Naturally, many other breeders have successfully persisted in such a fusion of show and working lines. The 1976 VA Herzog Adeloga (63.5 cms, 33.5 kgs/74 lbs) joined the line of Sieger Dick Adeloga with a maternal line based on Mike Stahlhammer (another nursery with successes in both fields) and Valet Busecker Schloss, accomplishing a quality cross, next transmitted to the Arminius (Fedor) line through Fee Weiherturchen. [You can see Fred pictured with Herzog in the book “The Total GSD” — ]

The stupendous 1980 Sieger Axel von Hainsterbach (63.5 cms, 31 kgs), an example of class, type, movement, was born of Lasso di Val Sole x Paet Blue Iris (a Bodo Lierberg daughter descended from Frei Gugge through the above-cited Freia Steinbockfelsen). Axel, who arrived at the title unexpectedly when almost 4 years of age and likewise disappeared very quickly, left at least one offspring of great worth in the daughter VA Ica Wienerau, who descends along her maternal line from Mutz, Lido, Jalk, Fello, Mutz, Sirk Busecker Schloss, and Bernd Lierberg.

Ica is Sieger Zamb Wienerau's mother. Her pedigree is an authentic work of art, combining lines carrying heterogeneous quality percolating through the generations until resulting in a specimen of great effect, materialized in Zamb as the final result; this shows that not only through the males is it possible to progress, to conduct positive action of far-reaching effect.

One of the mother-lines sustaining the modern bloodlines in the breed is Wilma Kisselschlucht. She was mother of Xando and Xaver Arminius, and of Yanka and Flora Koeingsbruch, arising in paternal line from Bodo Lierberg and in maternal line from Valet Busecker Schloss. The [incomparable] Q-litter Arminius is along the same bloodlines as Wilma. The return to the line Wilma made through Natz Hasenborn – Dax Wienerau (Jupp Haller Farm from the lines of Mutz and Bodo Lierberg) through Flora (Canto x Wilma) has produced, with Quana Arminius, the great producer Cello Romerau, a good transmitter of valuable characteristics. [FL note: there is more to Cello from the Q-litter and less (if any at all) from what the pedigree shows as his sire.]

The combining of Zamb and Cello in the lines is last of these examples, but still today it validates the alchemy of breeding practiced by Walter Martin; this formula was also repeated by Erich Orschler in producing Verena Batu, mother of Sieger Ursus.

Among the best kennels, Martin Göbl (WilsteigerLand) considered it necessary to introduce at a certain moment of his work, a female of alternative lines, capable of contributing benefits in structure and character: Gina Finkenschlag.

To Gina was born Dando Nordrheinland (a strong, well-pigmented, very vigorous relative of Dingo Haus Gero, carrying very similar bloodlines as that of Bodo and Bernd Lierberg), by a female linebred on Marko Cellerland with Dolf Lierberg blood. The excellent result of this included the great producer Marit and the VA Xena Wildsteiger Land.

This subject cannot be exhausted in a brief article that can, at the most, merely approach the revelation of some very interesting genealogical sketches. A complete genealogical investigation is complex and also of difficult interpretation, by the relevance that sometimes we desire to give consideration to "the reproducer", a dog that is presumed to be equipped with the metaphysical power to make princes out of toads.

Reality is difficult and very complex, and only careful studies and attentive validations can try to shed light on the value of planned crosses and on variables that have proven to be successful.

We must pay homage to those who have made possible the evaluation and quality of the breed to a high level. I think about those who have bred and judged; they have been underestimated and opposed. The name of Dr. Rummel certainly must be included with those who, with this task, have conferred splendor and energy to the breed. Many bear in mind the work of his successor Walter Martin on behalf of the German Shepherd. Perhaps Peter Messler has been less understood, but his work followed the furrow plowed by Rummel — a tradition of a quest for subjects that show all of the possible variables of the many-faceted abilities of the breed. Among his “alternative views”, it is possible to cite the 2001 Vice-Sieger sable Timo Berrekasten, son of Wanko Lippischen Norden (Enzo Burg Aliso by a maternal line going back to Dax Wienerau, Dax Kesmarker Tranke, BSP Sieger Racker Itzal, and Rocco and Seffe Busecker Schloss) to whom only the hostile environment of certain breeders has denied the maximum laurel of the Sieger title.

As well as the VA Quartz dei Templari, who still arises from secondary show lines, by means of repeated uses of the line of Wilma, Herzog, Mutz, and Vello, he represents an ideal type of the modern German Shepherd of splendid anatomy and optimum character. Concluding with Frei Gugge, he is behind several show dogs such as Ghandi Arlett, whose complex linebreeding illustrates much of what I have exposed in this article.

Joining Timo, Quartz and Ghandi? It is possible and has good promise of success. Type, pigment, dynamic energy, nerves, and reaction should emerge in the descendants. Certain types are not exclusively in the past; on the contrary, current selection has permitted us to fine-tune and enrich the quality of the dogs. Surely it is not a matter of a kind of “fad” or “political” combination, but in my search I have not found these definitions of connection in the Breed Standard.

..........And right now I have accomplished the union.

Notes from Fred Lanting on the content of Alarico’s article:

I was happy to translate Señor Sgroi’s thoughts from Spanish into English, because he touches on several things that I have been “preaching” about for years, such as genetic diversity, the desirability of blending working-line and show-line GSDs, and what some Americans have called “the golden middle” of the breed — that is, a dog that looks great and performs great as well. We can’t all have a Sieger or a 298-scoring dog, but we can all improve in both anatomy and character in the constant quest for the ideal dog that von Stephanitz tried to create.

It is true that the matter of proportions has been neglected in recent years, as has the firmness of the hocks. It is nearly impossible to find a hochzuchtlinie dog anymore that single-tracks in the rear without wobbling at the hocks. And an increasing number of show winners are found to be a bit too long in the body with corresponding relative shortness of the legs. Oddly, this low-station look is frequently accompanied by a stifle that is a bit longer than is desirable. We need to see the more-compact dog being rewarded in the show rings more often. The ability to turn quickly during pursuit of a criminal or a “bad guy” in a schutzhund trial, is enhanced by rear angulation that is not too extreme. At the same time, the Leistungs sports fans need to concentrate more on better front angulation, firmer backs, and (in much of the most popular working line) on better heads in the males. By the way, I was not aware that in Germany, a dog had to have a purebred pedigree to get a training (IPO, SchH, etc.) title. In the USA, mongrels can earn such titles.

Alarico mentions the influence of Alfred Hahn and his Busecker-Schloss dogs. I had the pleasure of being a guest at his house several years before he died, and I told him how much I admired the character and ability of his historic showdogs. He was closely identified with the famous Lierberg dogs. My very good friend Erich Renner bought Sieger Bodo, and I once owned a marvelous daughter of his full brother, Gin Lierberg. Both Bodo and my bitch had the hard-as-iron character that is almost never seen anymore. Those were the days when the breed’s two wings were both close to the center. Impeccable character and great looks were possible in the same dog, then, to a greater extent than now. It was a pleasure to learn from Martin Göbl, when I was at his home recently, that he is experimenting with blending working and show lines again.

Señor Sgroi hints at the effect of the Martin dynasty — those years when Hermann and Walter Martin gave the breed so many great animals and direction. But there were some drawbacks, too. The emphasis on drive in the gaiting, combined with breeders’ neglect of topline, produced generations of banana-backed dogs that von Stephanitz had called “hyena dogs”. So influential was this rapid change in the appearance of the GSD, at a time when England and Australia were beginning to replace their old-style “Alsatians” with German imports, that the effect had much longer duration there. Quarantine meant that few of their citizens could import dogs with normal toplines (if they were lucky enough to find any). They were stuck with the boomerang back of the “modern” dog, and are still suffering from the consequences to this day. It is to Peter Messler’s great credit that he started a reversal of that unfortunate and long-lasting trend.

Alarico’s statistics are amazing in some respects, such as Sieger Bodo’s height of a mere 63 cm. His sire Vello was removed from Körklasse approval because of his great size, yet in more recent years we have seen Siegers who have had the “rubber meter stick” applied to them for their Kkl-1. Today, the FCI is applying pressure to keep the measurements correct, and deny breeding rights to oversize dogs. However, I know from experience and a knowledge of genetics that this is a bad idea. Dogs’ traits “tend toward the norm”, and many an oversize dog produces almost all normal-size offspring, even some undersize. A good dog should not be penalized for being larger than the Standard, and the “disqualification” should be winked at in such cases. This would be for the best interests of the breed.

It was very interesting to see that I was not the only one in the world who noticed that Messler buckled under the pressure in 2001 to deny the Sieger title to Timo (linebred on Q-Arminius). Powerful men in the GSD society in Germany were poised to have him removed if he did what is reported he wanted to do. He probably should have made Timo Sieger in spite of the threats, because he did not last very long as SV president and chief judge after that year, anyway. The anti-sable (grau) prejudice was only part of the more complex politics then.

I’m glad Alarico brought up the names he did, because it brought back fond memories. I had a beautiful Uran daughter for a while, and I also had a litter sired by Rocco BuseckerSchloss. I competed in shows against a handsome Frei Gugge son, helped train a Quartz Templari son, and had intimate contact with many others he named. I put five SchH titles on my Timo daughter by the time she was 22 months old, and found her to be the fastest-learning of the hundreds of dogs I’ve had. I taught her the “go-out” (Voraus!) in 15 minutes! It’s been a wonderful life in dogs, when I reflect on some of these great animals.

Not to purposely end on a sour note, but I feel that I must caution Alarico about lauding Ghandi too highly. For a dog that failed the simple courage test a couple years ago, and has sired some dogs of less-than-ideal character, he should be used with caution. Pedigrees are not everything. Timo had a few soft temperaments in his descendants — not as high a percentage as the beautiful Esko, but something to keep in mind. For that reason, I would be very hesitant about combining Timo and Ghandi unless the specific breeding partners excelled in the prüfung.

The thrust of the article is right on the mark. We need to blend bloodlines, and compromise on combinations that will move us away from the extremes of either camp.

The translation and added notes © Fred Lanting, 2005. or

Fred leads a tour group every year to the Sieger Show, including kennel and club visits. IPO trial tours also available: Europe, South America, etc.

Alarico is owner of Kennel Fossombrone.

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