All Illustrations by Linda Shaw Copyright 2003
Working Lines Vs Show Lines
The dog above shows correct proportions of 10:8.75; slightly longer than tall.  Standing in show pose, then natural pose.

Below is "Justice".  Almost perfect proportions.   I have posed him with both hind feet back to show you the most dramatic back angle.  Still
well within the correct parameters.

l" is a Justice son.  Both pass along correct conformation and good health!
The roach back seems to be coming from  German show lines.  The idea is they have better
support over the length of their body.  This is true to a point but it interferes with stride.  
The Dog C above could win in an American Specialty show ring.  The dog is seen in a
show pose and a natural stance.  The over-angulated back provides an extreme gait at
the trot.  Something that the judges are looking for.  Why is beyond me.
The dog above is a compilation of 2
German working line imports.
This dog is an amalgamation of a US
Grand Victor and Best In Show winner.
So now you know some of the differences between working line dogs and show
line dogs.  In truth, I believe the dogs that they are showing in conformation now
should be classified as "American Shepherds".  In my opinion, they do not hold
any resemblance to the ORIGINAL German Shepherd.

German Shepherds the way they used to be!
Sound, strong & brave, not over-angulated, shy and weak!

GUARDIAN ANGEL SHEPHERDS are true German Shepherds
A quote from the CKC Breed Standard - "Secondary sex characteristics should be strongly marked, and every animal should give a definite
impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex. Dogs should be definitely masculine in appearance and deportment; bitches,
unmistakably feminine, without weakness of structure or apparent softness of temperament."
At GUARDIAN ANGEL SHEPHERDS you can tell the girls from the boys!  You can see for yourself in the pictures below.
The over angulated back is coming from American show lines.
Is there a down-side to owning a working-line German Shepherd?

There can be.  These dogs have to have quality temperaments.  They need to be able to be around children,
small animals and new environments without any fear or aggressiveness.  If these dogs are raised with
children and small animals, there is never a problem.  There could be a problem if you want to  get into
raising rabbits or chickens, after the dog has matured.  These dogs have something called Prey Drive.  That
is the innate instinct to chase things.  If they are raised with small animals and taught that these animals are
part of the "pack" , then all is well.  If they are introduced later in life, there will most likely be a problem.    If
you plan on having small animals, the time to introduce them to the dog is when he is a young puppy.  If the
pup grows up with the animal, he will protect it like one of his own.  So yes, there can be a down-side to
owning a working-line German Shepherd, but only if you plan on raising critters, years after you get your

What kind of training is required of working-line German Shepherds?  

Today's trend in dog training is motivational.  That's a good thing!  But ONLY motivational training is a bad
thing.  Working-line German Shepherds need rules.  Definite black & white guidelines.  "I can do this, but
not that."  They need to know that there are consequences to bad behaviour.  Now I am by no means telling
you to strike your dog or abuse him in any way!!  I am saying that there has to be consequences and the
consequences need to be thought of negatively from the dog's perspective.    Softer dogs may need only a
stern word.  These are the pups that come from the lower end of the hierarchy within the litter.  On the
other end, are the dogs who may need to have the occasional leash correction and verbally told in no
uncertain terms that they have done wrong.  These would be the pups on the upper end of the litter
hierarchy.  The ones who are used to getting their way by bullying the lower status pups.  

All of my dogs at GUARDIAN ANGEL SHEPHERDS have been picked for their trainability, social aptitudes,
loyalty, guarding ability, conformation and solid nerves.  I feel that they are all equally important.   How can
you have a good dog if even one of those things are missing.  

Why do you pick my puppy for me?  I have picked great dogs before, why can't I pick
my own?

The fact is, I don't pick the puppy for you.  I make sure YOU don't pick the wrong puppy!  

I have been a trainer for over 30 years.  I train my own dogs, I train other people's dogs and I train owners
to train their own dogs.  In all the years I've been training, there is one problem that keeps coming up over
and over and over again.  
The owners are not suited for the dog they have!

I've seen young families with Alpha Border Collies (dogs are biting the children)  I've seen seniors with
Bulmastiffs (owners don't have the ability to physically control the dog).  I've seen quiet, mild mannered
owners with Rottweillers (the dog needs a strong leader) Every single course I teach, there is at least 3 or 4
mismatched dogs and owners!  

The first part of the process of adopting a GUARDIAN ANGEL SHEPHERD is to fill out my questionnaire.  This
is where I hope to find out if you are suited to owning a German Shepherd.  Maybe you'd be better off
owning a Labrador.  Not all people who fill out the questions can have a GUARDIAN ANGEL SHEPHERD.  Not
because I don't want them to have one, but simply because they wouldn't be happy.  I want every dog that
leaves here to go to a "forever home".  I can usually tell from the answers whether you are suited to a
German Shepherd or not.

Next, I look at whether or not there are children, how much time will be spent with the dog, whether the dog
will be meeting strangers on a constant basis, what the daily routine of the dog will be.  This helps me
decide in what range your puppy should be in as far as status.

When the pups are 6 - 7 weeks old, they are given a Puppy Aptitude Test.  The tester is a complete stranger
and the test takes place in an area unfamiliar to the puppies.  This provides me with the best idea of the
true nature of the pup.  Are they bold?  Are they social?  Do they want to please?  Will they fight back, or
give in? Or both!  Once the numbers are tallied, I have a very good idea which puppy would be best suited
to each person or family.

I match the feisty, go getter types with the young couple who plan on having kids in the future.  One that
isn't too touch sensitive but touch sensitive enough that they will be easy to train.  I match the quiet, lower
status pup to Grandpa Jenkins who doesn't have small children but is expecting Grandchildren to visit
often.  He walks with a cane so he can't give the dog a lot of exercise.  I give the family with the teenagers
one of the tougher dogs who can handle some big rough housing and long hikes for hours on end.  

So you can see why it is so important that you don't choose the wrong puppy.  If Grandpa Jenkins was to
pick a high status puppy, it wouldn't be long before the dog was taking over the household, destroying
everything in his path!  It  wouldn't be because the dog he got was a "bad" dog, it would be because the
dog had so much energy and no way to burn it!  He would stop listening to Grandpa Jenkins at the age of 9
months because he would find out that he was stronger than his owner and he could do whatever he
pleased. I want you to
enjoy the dog your puppy will become.  

      I want you to have a Canine Partner for Life.  
OFA (Orhtopedic Foundation for Animals) answers What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip Dysplasia is a terrible genetic disease because of the various degrees of arthritis (also called
degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis) it can eventually produce, leading to pain and

The very first step in the development of arthritis is articular cartilage (the type of cartilage lining the joint)
damage due to the inherited bad biomechanics of an abnormally developed hip joint. Traumatic articular
fracture through the joint surface is another way cartilage is damaged. With cartilage damage, lots of
degradative enzymes are released into the joint. These enzymes degrade and decrease the synthesis of
important constituent molecules that form hyaline cartilage called proteoglycans. This causes the cartilage to
lose its thickness and elasticity, which are important in absorbing mechanical loads placed across the joint
during movement. Eventually, more debris and enzymes spill into the joint fluid and destroy molecules called
glycosaminoglycan and hyaluronate which are important precursors that form the cartilage proteoglycans.
The joint's lubrication and ability to block inflammatory cells are lost and the debris-tainted joint fluid loses its
ability to properly nourish the cartilage through impairment of nutrient-waste exchange across the joint
cartilage cells. The damage then spreads to the synovial membrane lining the joint capsule and more
degradative enzymes and inflammatory cells stream into the joint. Full thickness loss of cartilage allows the
synovial fluid to contact nerve endings in the subchondral bone, resulting in pain. In an attempt to stabilize
the joint to decrease the pain, the animal's body produces new bone at the edges of the joint surface, joint
capsule, ligament and muscle attachments (bone spurs). The joint capsule also eventually thickens and the
joint's range of motion decreases.

No one can predict when or even if a dysplastic dog will start showing clinical signs of lameness due to pain.
There are multiple environmental factors such as caloric intake, level of exercise, and weather that can
affect the severity of clinical signs and phenotypic expression (radiographic changes). There is no rhyme or
reason to the severity of radiographic changes correlated with the clinical findings. There are a number of
dysplastic dogs with severe arthritis that run, jump, and play as if nothing is wrong and some dogs with
barely any arthritic radiographic changes that are severely lame.

No I can't.  Nobody can.    The following is an excerpt from Dr. Tom Phillips D.V.M., MS,  PhD.

Both heredity and environmental factors are important in the development of CHD. CHD has an estimated
inheritability that ranges from 0.2 to 0.6, with 0.0 being non-inherited condition and 1.0 meaning that a
condition is completely under genetic control. Thus, demonstrating that CHD is a condition where both the
environment and the genetics of the dog play a role in the development of this disease. However, even dogs
that are not genetically predisposed to develop CHD can contract the disease if they are pushed too hard
when young by hyper-nutrition and excessive exercise.

Both environmental factors and genetics determine whether an individual dog will develop CHD. Genetics
alone is not the only cause of CHD. Therefore we will never be able to completely eliminate CHD from the
breed by selective breeding. However, we can realistically reduce the incidence of CHD through appropriately
selecting the correct dogs to breed. Obviously a dysplastic dog should not be bred even if there is reason to
rear end when the dog was young. In such an animal, it is impossible to determine the exact role genetics
played in CHD development, and it is far too easy to make excuses for breeding a dysplastic animal once one
played in CHD development, and it is far too easy to make excuses for breeding a dysplastic animal once one
starts down this road. Thus, only breed animals that do not have CHD and all should be fine - right?
Unfortunately this is not the case. The polygenetic control of the hip joint structure greatly complicates the
situation. It is entirely possible for a dog with an OFA rating of excellent to produce puppies that develop CHD.
How can this occur?

Without going too deeply into the genetics, some basic genetic background is needed to explain how an OFA
certified animal can produce off-spring that develop CHD. The following is a gross over simplification of the
genetics of the CHD; but does provide a framework for understanding a problem with multiple gene control
over a single trait. Dogs have two copies of each gene that controls CHD (the total number of genes that
control or contribute to the development of CHD is unknown; but it is believed that many are involved). They
get one gene from their mother and the other from their father. Some of the "good genes" can mask the
presence of a "bad gene". In other words some of the "good genes" are dominant over the recessive "bad
genes". Thus, the physical expression of the "good genes" will be result in good hips, even though the animal
is carrying a number of hidden (recessive) "bad genes". When the sperm or egg is formed the two copies of
each gene are separated so that sperm and the egg end up with only one copy of each gene. In a case where
an animal had a copy of one good gene and one copy of the bad gene, 50% of the eggs or sperm would get the
"good gene" and 50% will get the "bad gene". Now recall that many genes are involved in the development of
CHD, so this separation occurs for each of the genes that control hip joint development. Thus, a very few of
the eggs and sperm will get all of the "good genes" and a very few will get all of the "bad genes" but most will
get a mixture of both "good" and "bad" genes that control CHD. The outcome of a particular mating will be
determined by the match up between the genetic make -up of the parents. If the bad recessive genes line up
incorrectly then more of the puppies could have hip dysplasia. However, if the good dominate genes line up
well then many of the pups will have good hips, but may still carry the hidden bad genes. Complicating the
situation even further is that some genes may be good when combined with one set of genes and bad when
combined with different set of genes. It is also possible for some genes to have a greater or lesser influence
on CHD than others, adding to the complexity of the problem. Thus, one can see that the genetics of CHD is
very complicated.
What CAN you do in regards to CHD?

What I can do is guarantee the dogs for 2 years.  If your dog should be found with crippling CHD in that time
period, your dog will be replaced with another dog of equal value or the value may be placed as a credit
towards a more expensive pup.  You do NOT have to return your original puppy!  However, if you want to
return him/her, I will gladly take him back.

Yes.  One.  But not yet.  The owners have opted to keep the dog until the quality of life  for their original dog
is no longer good.  It is at that time, that they would like a replacement dog.
Drawings courtesy of the artist,
Linda J Shaw MBA,