Dog breeding in GDR times part 1

In a nutshell: It wasn’t just high-quality dogs, because the breeders in the former GDR had neither the market nor the means to justify a wistful retrospect, which is justified here. Many a West German breeder or just owner of a number of so-called working dog breeds would love to have one of these dogs. And not only this one.

Part 1: The two-part German shepherd

After the separation of the two republics, the organizations of the German Shepherd Dog Clubs also separated, and not only the organizations. In the four decades that followed, the “East German Shepherd” also changed into a more compact, stronger specimen than the western one, with a darker coat color than the original grey-shaded ones than the lighter or black-brown ones in the west.

The former GDR chief breed warden for German shepherds and today’s chairman of the state group Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the SV, Werner Dalm: “They weren’t held in such high esteem in the West because they – and this is objectively the case – with the most beautiful show dogs in building, not in physique could compete. They looked more robust, like real working and utility dogs, and weren’t quite the beautiful, elegant dogs.”

The East Shepherd was not just a border guard, Dalm wrote to me. “They were bred for the most part for our members, breeders and lovers. Only everything that we could not use for breeding was offered to the police, border, etc. In this respect, they only got the dregs. However, these dogs had to bite well and be good in character, otherwise they were not taken.”

Dalm continued: “It was not the ‘Special Breeding Association (SZG)’ of the GDR that was formed paramilitary, but the ‘umbrella organization’ to which the SZG was subordinate, especially the last one, the ‘Section Service and Working Dogs (SDG)’. The SZG was just still tolerated because the ‘above’ (Stasi-controlled) had no idea about breeding, they still needed the SZG. But as the umbrella organizations had developed, the SZG was taken away one right after the other.

In the end we hardly had any rights over our own Breed is something to say, as can also be read in more detail in my book ‘The breeding of the German shepherd dog in the former GDR’ (editor’s note: available from the main office of the SV).That was the reality.But under these circumstances we have nevertheless bred good and healthy working dogs,because it was scientifically selected.”

Werner Schulz, breeder and former border soldier with dogs: “Most of these dogs were very pious. There was only a very small percentage that were really aggressive and untrained, who had bad experiences somewhere that hardly anyone got along with. But apart from that, the majority of the German-German or German shepherd dogs, the GDR shepherd dogs on the German-German border, were completely normal dogs.”

Schulz breeds under the name “vom Parchimer Land”. He writes on his websiteto find trained dogs for interested parties as the breeders will not give away any material. Most of the time, puppies from top GDR matings are referred to.”

Schulz continues: “For many it sounds strange to discuss the breeding style of the eastern blood shepherd. I don’t want to sing the praises of the Ossi here either. But if you ask yourself the question and have some breeding competence, you recognize a certain need for this breeding form to obtain.”

The separate history of German Shepherds was supposed to have ended after the collapse of East Germany, but the division ran deeper. After reunification, the mighty West Association is in charge. Press spokesman SV Reiner Voltz: “Of course there are still breeders who continue to try to breed this Eastern dog, but we don’t believe in keeping a dog like this for reasons of fashion, out of history. Ultimately, it has to be in integrate the joint breeding. There is a German shepherd and we want to continue to promote that.”

Now, even in the “new” eastern federal states, one mostly only sees western shepherd dogs. East German breeders and keepers are not happy with the “uniform dog”, which only reflects the breeding quality in the West, which has been disputed for decades: it is effeminate.

The relatively straight back, which they secretly but never officially wished back in the West – like the first dogs, which finally established the worldwide reputation as service dogs – they have now literally buttered up in the West. They only liked the color gray. As if this was a new fashion color. They didn’t want the healthy body, but they took on the color.

Quite a few Schutzhundler or service doglers in the West look after this East German Shepherd. But there is almost no breeding base anymore. Here, too, the West Shepherd Dogs have thoroughly occupied and flattened the acquisition of healthy breeding potential.

It can be assumed that many other breed clubs from the former GDR felt the same way after reunification. There was little united in the dog breeding sector, but it was announced with great enthusiasm, a good ten years ago. In the meantime, no dog barks for it anymore.

However, I would like to point out one thing: If you look at the photos of the males rated excellent 1 in the post-war period up to 1960, we find the straight back that we wanted to have back. However, in the late 80s, the DDR dogs had exactly the same sloping back as the West DSH.

I hope that some valiant East German DSH friends will not be tempted to throw this “waste”, which is not only fatal in terms of building technology, like in the whole West, including the USA (except for those specialists who are looking for and have the old GDR type!) into the to incorporate the East German line, but to consistently promote the straight-backed DSH with East German characteristics.

A “data sheet” for professionals from a hopeful guy:

Iwo vom Parchimer Land
  • “LGA Quali! 96/90/96, last SchH III 100/100/100, Schutzhund III (98,96,98)
  • IPO III (100,90,98)
  • Hip a’normal
  • purely GDR
  • ZW 74
  • for the time being only KKl II
  • DNA checked
  • Mother: Bine vom Felsenschloss
  • Father: Cliff vom Geraufer
  • Description: Iwo is an extremely willing to work and resilient, typical Eastern dog, who has a good medium size. He impresses with his basic speed, drive resistance and his excellent grip behavior in protection work. Iwo is one of the last offspring from very good Eastern blood lines. Iwo has a good chance of getting into the licensing class I!”

The ideal score of 300 at the last SCH III is also noteworthy for non-protection handlers.

The future of the healthy, productive German shepherd depends on the backbone of its breeders. And of the healthy dogs of this type, there are still some in East Germany. If you butter them up, the DSH continues to descend. Then you can look at the straight-backed competitor from Belgium (Malinois) in the mirror. Only his mental health is also in decline.

Comment from a shepherd dog friend and connoisseur living in the USA who has a DDR-DSH type and is happy about it: “And what about requirements for herding dogs: New Zealand and Australia have more requirements than a German shepherd can imagine in a dream . Why didn’t anyone come up with the lopsided idea?” Yes, no other breed of dog, no working dogs such as herding dogs of all kinds has this unnaturally sloping back, no hunting dogs, no matter what division, no sled racing dogs, no hunting dogs and also none of the other so-called “working dog breeds”.

In “open” Schutzhund trials, which are not held in closed DSH society, the Malinois outperform “despite” their straight back. The “professionals” in this field are already craving Dutch shepherd dogs instead of the Malinois. But just not after the DSH. What is still left as an argument for this messing up of the sloping topline? Nothing. Why is nobody still thinking about the most bred dog breed in the world?

Quo vadis German shepherd? His future lies in the east, if the breeders don’t mess up there.

Part 2

Table for: Dog breeding in GDR times


Statistics from the book “The Breeding of the German Shepherd Dog in the Former GDR”. The figures come from the HD examinations by Prof. Dr. Schlaaf, Humboldt University Berlin.

DDR Hip Production By Year

Excerpt of Werner Dalm’s comment on the slight deterioration in the last two years:

“Our ‘Westblood fanatics’ (we were all admirers of the beautiful West German dogs according to the pictures in the SV newspapers) increasingly strived for West German stud dogs for their bitches. And since they were not allowed to travel to West Germany, which was reserved for a few pensioners, invalids or somehow privileged, these breeders used West German males that were in Czechoslovakia or in Poland. The HD results of the Federal Republic in the respective year of comparison, as can be read in the annual reports of the SV, were not yet the same as ours. Moreover, in the SV, the dogs with a slight HD are still being bred today.

Thus, the Czech and Polish males of West German breeding, certainly not the best were sold there, certainly contributed to the worsening of the HD result. Finally, when looking for the causes, there is one more thought. Since the deterioration from 1988 to 1989, the year of German reunification, was quite significant, it can be assumed that in the last quarter of 1989, when freedom to travel was now at hand, an onslaught on West German males began. Did that also contribute to the deterioration?

Credit: Hundezeitung

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