AustraliaThe only way to understand and evaluate the nature of the dog is to be able to grasp the significance of the stages of his evolution. Such a task requires a sympathetic, dog-loving observer, who tries as far as possible to enter the innermost mind of the dog and who knows how to short-circuit, for the time, all his purely human points of view. Whoever is not prepared to do this, but can only draw conclusions from the eminence of his own particular point of view, will obtain a distorted picture: for him, many a characteristic will always remain alien, and even perhaps repugnant. To such a one, the dog, above all, can never become a friend, a comforter in times of anxiety.

Show me your dog, and I will tell you what sort of man you are.

Capt. V. Stephanitz, "The German Shepherd Dog" circa 1918.


About the Breed

In the beginning

The breed Standard

Code of Ethics

National Breed Councils

Breed Schemes

General Information

  • Whites
  •  Long Coats
  • German Shepherd Dog or Alsatian?

Breed Clubs

What's the difference between Show judging and Breed Survey? By Mr. L. Donald

Early Bloodlines of the German Shepherd (by Manuel Martin Rodriguez -Los Porches) Published 1983

In the beginning

Coming soon



The Breed Standard for the German Shepherd Dog

Australian National Kennel Council - The German Shepherd Dog

General Appearance

Slightly long in comparison to height; of powerful, well-muscled build with weather-resistant coat. Relation between height, length, position and structure of fore and hindquarters (angulation) producing far-reaching, enduring gait. Clear definition of masculinity and femininity essential, and working ability never sacrificed for mere beauty.


Versatile working dog, balanced and free from exaggeration. Attentive, alert, resilient and tireless with keen scenting ability.


Steady of nerve, loyal, self-assured, courageous and tractable. Never nervous, over-aggressive nor shy.

Head & Skull

Proportionate in size to body, never coarse, too fine or long. Clean cut; fairly broad between ears. Forehead slightly domed; little or no trace of central furrow. Cheeks forming softly rounded curve, never protruding. Skull from ears to bridge of nose tapering gradually and evenly, blending without too pronounced stop into wedge shaped powerful muzzle. Skull approximately 50% of overall length to head. Width of skull corresponding approximately to length, in males slightly greater, in females slightly less. Muzzles strong, lips firm, clean and closing tightly. Top of muzzle straight, almost parallel to forehead. Short, blunt, weak, pointed, overlong muzzle undesirable.


Medium sized, almond-shaped, never protruding. Dark brown preferred, lighter shade permissible, provided expression good and general harmony of head not destroyed. Expression lively, intelligent and self-assured.


Medium sized, firm in texture, broad at base, set high carried erect, almost parallel, never pulled inwards or tipped, tapering to a point, open at front. Never hanging. Folding back during movement permissible.


Jaws strongly developed. With a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaw. Teeth healthy and strong. Full strong. Full dentition desirable.


Fairly long, strong, with well developed muscles, free from throatiness. Carried at 45 degrees angle to horizontal, raised when excited, lowered at fast trot.


Shoulder blades long, set obliquely (45 degrees) laid flat to body. Upper arm strong, well muscled, joining shoulder blade at approximately 90 degrees. Forelegs straight from pasterns to elbows viewed from any angle, bone oval rather than round. Pasterns firm, supple and slightly angulated. Elbows neither tucked in nor turned out. Length of foreleg exceeding depth of chest.


Length measured from point of breast bone to rear edge of pelvis, exceeding height at withers. Correct ratio 10 to 9 or 8 and a half. Under sized dogs, stunted growth, high-legged dogs, those too heavy or too light in build, over-loaded fronts, too short overall appearance, any feature detracting from reach or endurance of gait, undesirable. Chest deep (45% - 48% of height at shoulder), not too broad, brisket long, well developed. Ribs well formed and long; neither barrel-shaped nor too flat; allowing free movement of elbows when gaiting. Relatively short loin. Belly firm, only slightly drawn up. Back between withers and croup, straight, strongly developed, not too long. Overall length achieved by correct angle of well laid shoulders, correct length of croup and hindquarters. Withers long, of good height and well defined, joined back in smooth line without disrupting flowing top-line, slightly sloping from front to back. Weak, soft and roach backs undesirable and should be rejected. Loin broad, strong, well muscled. Croup long, gently curving downwards to tail without disrupting flowing top-line. Short, steep or flat croups undesirable.


Overall strong, broad and well-muscled, enabling effortless forward propulsion of whole body. Upper thighbone, viewed from side, sloping to slightly longer lower thighbone. Hind angulation sufficient if imaginary line dropped from point of buttocks cuts through lower thigh just in front of hock, continuing down slightly in front of hind feet. Angulations corresponding approximately with front angulation, without over-angulation, hock strong. Any tendency towards over angulation of hindquarters reduces firmness and endurance.


Rounded toes well-closed and arched. Pads well cushioned and durable. Nails short, strong and dark in colour. Dewclaws removed from hind legs.


Bushy-haired, reached at least to the hock - ideal length reaching to middle of metatarsus. At rest tail hangs in slight sabre-like curve; when moving raised and curve increased, ideally never above level of back. Short, rolled, curled, generally carried badly or stumpy from birth, undesirable.


Sequence of steps follows diagonal pattern, moving foreleg and opposite hind leg forward simultaneously; hind foot thrust forward to midpoint of body and having equally long reach with forefeet without any noticeable change in backline.


Outer coat consisting of straight, hard, close lying hair as dense as possible; thick undercoat. Hair on head, ears front of legs, paws and toes short; on back, longer and thicker; in some males forming slight ruff. Hair longer on back of legs as far down as pasterns and stifles and forming fairly thick trousers on hindquarters. No hard and fast rule for length of hair; mole-type coats undesirable.


Black or black saddle with tan, or gold to light grey markings. All black, all grey, or grey with lighter or  brown markings referred to as Sables. Nose black. Light markings on chest or very pale colour on inside of legs permissible but undesirable, as are whitish nails, red tipped tails wishy-washy faded colors defined as lacking in pigmentation. Blues, livers, albinos, whites (i.e. almost pure white dogs with black noses and near whites) highly undesirable. Undercoat, except in all black dogs, usually grey or fawn. Colour in itself is of secondary importance having no effect on character or fitness for work. Final colour of a young dog only ascertained when outer coat has developed.


Ideal height (from withers and just touching elbows); Dogs 62.5cm (25 ins). Bitches 57.5cm (1 inch) either above or below ideal permissible.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.



Skeleton of the German Shepherd Dog



Code of Ethics

Coming soon


National Breed Councils

National Breed Councils have become an important part of the Australian dog world. Breed Councils are approved by the Australian National Kennel Council and must be formed by a minimum of three affiliated State/Territory breed clubs.

Cocker Spaniels and Dalmatians were the first to be recognised by the ANKC in 1984. It should be noted however, that the German Shepherd Council of Australia was formed in about 1965, and has no doubt set the pattern on which other breeds have attempted to base their efforts.


Too much emphasis is often placed on the conduct of National shows. This should always be regarded as a minor part of the function of a breed council.

Breed improvement should be considered under the following headings:

  • health
  • breed standard
  • extension of the breed standard
  • education of breeders, exhibitors and judges

It is certainly appropriate to test the performance of your breed council and indeed your breed club against the following criteria.

  1. Does your council/club have in place acceptable screening procedures to cover any possible hereditary diseases in the breed?
  2. Does your council/club give sufficient publicity to all health problems?
  3. Does your council/club take an active role in advising the VCA/ANKC on the breed standard most favoured by breeders and exhibitors?
  4. Does your council/club have an approved extension of the breed standard to be used as an educational tool?
  5. Has your council/club made sure that all breed enthusiasts have had the opportunity of being completely involved in 3 & 4 above?
  6. Does your council/club conduct seminars and have prepared literature of an educational nature for distribution to breeders, exhibitors and judges?
  7. Does your council/club conduct its affairs in a professional manner and in the best interest of all breed enthusiasts?


(Mr. Ern Boxhall)

Through the German Shepherd Dog Club's Breed Commission, National Council is conducting at Club level, Breed Surveys by which the animals are classified according to their breed value.

Also, a Tattoo Scheme has been installed and is operating on a voluntary basis nation wide, these dogs can be readily identified.

Besides local news sheets in each club, a German Shepherd Dog National Review is published on a Quarterly basis and is available from your State Club.

Through National Council, Australia is also a member of the "World Union of Shepherd Dog Clubs" (W.U.S.V), to which already more than 30 countries belong.


Breed Schemes

The German Shepherd Dog Club of Victoria Inc. Promotes the dual principles of Responsible Dog Ownership & Responsible Dog Breeding.

Through the use of Breed Improvement Schemes as outlined below together with the utilisation of Breeding Stock that have the attributes of correct TYPE.

In German Shepherd Dogs (Australia) we have recognised schemes such as Breed Survey (Bscl 1. or Bscl 11), Hip Dysplasia ('A'), Haemophilia (H-neg), Elbow Dysplasia ('Z'), and a Tattoo scheme (identifying tattoo placed in the dog's right ear).

Breed Survey (introduced in 1975) is a scheme based for breed improvement. The dog is evaluated before a panel of GSD Specialist Judges that are qualified as Breed Surveyors. The dog must be at least 18 months of age, present a 5 generation pedigree, hip, elbow and Haemophilia results (males only), and have an ear tattoo which is checked for the correct tattoo number.

The Surveyors evaluate & record the weight, height, teeth, conformation and temperament of potential breeding animals based upon the Breed Standard. A gun test and crowd test are also included and information is recorded 

Information from surveys is available to members to assist in their breeding programs via a breed survey book offered for sale each year. It contains all dogs surveyed in Australia within the year and other valuable statistical data including elbow results.  

Dogs are then given a classification of Breed Survey Class 1, Breed Survey Class 11, or Not recommended for breeding.


The Hip Dysplasia scheme allows for dogs to be x-rayed at an age of 12 months for assessment. The 'A' stamp is awarded to those animals that pass the scheme, and are classified as having suitable hips for breeding purposes. To participate in this scheme animals must be 12 months of age or over. Animals must be tattooed with a German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia number. The owner then applies to the Hip Dysplasia State register for the application form and pay the prescribed fee. The veterinarian must complete and sign the form, and once the animal is x-rayed the form is sent off to one of two radiologists in Australia. In due course the owner is informed in writing of the results.


The Haemophilia scheme was introduced in 1987. It consists of a simple blood test and involves only males as they are easier to identify as potential carriers. Dogs found to be clear are given a (H-neg) classification. The owner receives a H-neg certificate to verify the dog is free from the condition.


The Elbow Dysplasia Scheme (introduced in 1993) Animals are x-rayed for the various conditions that fall into the category of Elbow Dysplasia and the x-rays are then sent to a radiologist for assessment and grading. Dogs are classified and given a 'Z' stamp if they pass, but dogs that are classified as having Un-united Anconeal Process (UAP) or Grade 3 are not classified.


The last of our Australian schemes is the tattoo scheme. Breeders may apply for their own prefix consisting of three letters. Some breeders choose random letters, while others choose the more conventional 3 letters from their kennel prefix (kennel name). Tattooing is performed by a club tattooist at approx 7 weeks of age. The tattoo is placed in the puppies right ear along with 3 digits that correlate to the number of puppies bred by the kennel. (Eg: first puppy bred =Pep 001). This becomes the puppies individual identity and is registered with the German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia making for easy identification throughout Australia.



General Information

  • Why are white coloured & Long coated dogs considered faults within the breed?

Long Coats:  This is a coat defect thought caused by a simple recessive gene. Breeding from long coated parents cannot give rise to normal coated offspring. German Shepherd Dogs have two coats, a heavy woolly undercoat and a coarse water resistant topcoat which acts as both insulation and weather protection. Long coated animals are usually, although not always, born without undercoat. Because of this, Long coats are less useful and require more attention when grooming. Reputable breeders would not deliberately breed from long-coated stock, as to do so would be purely for profit making. The normal coat is dominant to the long coat.

This being said. Long coats make wonderful companions and compete successfully in obedience, agility and many other disciplines. If you do not intend to breed or show your dog in conformation, there is no reason to avoid the long coated German Shepherd Dog.

The three types of coat are:

1.Normal coat

2.Normal coat but carries the long coat gene

3.Long coat

White Dogs: Again, the white coloured dog (very rare in Australia due to diligent breeders) is just another variation to the many colours available. Yes, white is undesirable, but it is still just another colour all the same. There is no reason why white coloured dogs would not make suitable family companions and compete successfully in the multitude of dog sports available (excluding show), just as their long coated counterparts do.

It is a long held belief that whites would be counter-productive; since in the desire to produce whites, colour would become the principal criterion for selection. Kennels concentrating on white would not be able to use the best coloured dogs and thus many features, such as type, character or even hip status, could be harmed. This would arise not because white is intrinsically defective but because selection would be limited by the desire to concentrate on colour.

Some people deliberately concentrate on producing white GSD and then seek to command high prices by claiming that these dogs are rare. Rare they may well be because for the best part of 100 years reputable breeders have been trying to reduce their incidence, but to seek higher prices for white dogs as a consequence is bordering on the fraudulent. Mr. Malcolm Willis (The German Shepherd Dog - A Genetic history of the breed)

What's the difference between a German Shepherd Dog and Alsatian?


It was human intervention that brought about it's name change.

In Britain registering a German Shepherd Dog  could prove difficult as anything 'German' was not in favour around that time, so unfortunately a detrimental decision was made to call them 'Alsatian Wolf Dogs'.

Called so from Alsace, and the Wolf dog part because they had the look of a wolf; and of course some were grey in colour! The wolf part was dropped from the name, but the damage had already been done. The British later added their correct name of German Shepherd Dog in brackets after Alsatian, but the general public's perception was that of a wolf cross and therefore a breed not to be trusted.

A referendum was held in 1975 for the breed to be called German Shepherd Dog and all were overwhelmingly in favour, but the kennel club turned it down. This is why Britain is now almost the only country in the world where German Shepherd Dogs are called Alsatians.

I have heard comments such as; the pale ones are Alsatians and the dark faced ones are GSD's! Totally incorrect.

The breed's own versatility led to it's popularity in various countries and this led to a significant increase in demands for them. The door was opened for indiscriminate breeders and breeding practices to take hold and as a result conformation and temperament suffered to satisfy these increased demands.

Any incident involving 'wolf dogs' quickly became news and a media frenzy soon followed. Even today, mistakes made by a German  Shepherd Dogs are not tolerated and quickly becomes a media headline!

If we focused on the 'positive' from this period (and there weren't many), it would have to be the fact that as a result of all the bad publicity, and the inferior specimens produced by these indiscriminate breeders, the breeds popularity dropped thus reducing its numbers.

Dedicated breeders continued their task of improving the breed and temperaments until the outbreak of the second world war in 1939. There was a call for suitable dogs and trainers by the government and as a consequence the  good work done by these dogs was soon realized which sparked a renewed popularity of the breed, and once again breed numbers began to increase.

As well as public demand, the demand for 'guard dogs' had emerged, once again paving the way for indiscriminate breeding to take place, and yet again, the breeds quality and temperament deteriorated and adverse publicity thrived.


Breed Clubs -Links to these clubs can be found on this site's links page!

Breed Clubs (Australia)

  • German Shepherd Dog Club of Victoria

  • German Shepherd Dog League Inc of New South Wales

  • GSD Association of Western Australia

  • German Shepherd Dog Club of South Australia Inc

  • German Shepherd Dog Club of Queensland

  • German Shepherd Dog Club of Newcastle and Hunter Region


What's the difference between Show judging and Breed Survey?

Breed surveying: To promote and offer guidance for the uniform development of the breed, and to improve it's inherent working qualities.

Show ring Judging: To give an opinion and judgment whereby the dogs exhibited are graded according to their individual worth in relation to their external features and their physical and mental fitness.


"Breeding worth and exhibition worth are two fundamentally different things which need not have anything to do with each other, and further, that an exhibition success must never be taken as a judgment of breeding value, but only as an opinion that a dog might be suitable for breeding." (Max von Stephanitz. 1918)


The business of preparing and executing Breed Surveys as nothing whatsoever to do with showmanship, sport, nor competition. It is the serious business of finding out which animals are really suitable for breeding and on doing so promote those animals in order that the breed standard on an ongoing basis may be raised as a whole.

It is the business of methodically selecting the best and most suitable dogs for breeding purposes.

In order that the best possible judgment may be made, the Breed Surveyor must assess the dog's physical, mental and genetic make-up. The latter point is of course the main missing link in show ring judging and it is basically here that we have the difference. To advise on breeding worth we must have access to the dog's pedigree. An observation of the dog alone is insufficient to enable us to establish the dog's inherent value. It is only by having access to the dog's name and breeding that we assess it's progeny, the real indicator of breeding worth.

The Show Ring Judge is assessing the animal in front of him on:

  1. Comparison to the Kennel Club Standard.

  2. Comparison to the other dogs in the ring on that day.

The Breed Surveyor  is assessing the animal in front of him on:

  1. Comparison to the Kennel Club Standard

  2. Comparison with the other dogs in Australia at that time

  3. The individual genetic make-up in relation to its own physical and mental state. Assessing also its genetic value or otherwise to the breed as a whole.

In Breed Surveying we must also consider the great value obtained by documenting precisely all important data. It is important from a historical point of view as well as giving detailed information to breeders who may not be fortunate enough to be able to travel great distances for stud services, or may be novices needing advice.

The Show Ring is the Shop Window. The marketing place for our wonderful and unique German Shepherd Dog. It is here that the general public are exposed to our breed. It is here, at the exhibitions, that our new breeders, handlers and enthusiasts are born. The majority of owners of the German Shepherd Dog get satisfaction and motivation by attending shows, competing and hopefully winning. Here is the sport. The show ring gives the opportunity to owners to show off their charges with pride, satisfy their ego, and above achievements, to criticise, praise, speculate and hopefully enjoy. Here is the opportunity above all to be able to get an authoritative, unbiased opinion of your dog. This is what creates the motivation to breed better dogs, and in turn helps raise the standard of our German Shepherd Dogs.

The Survey alleviates to some extent the need for great numbers of shows. However, Survey has nothing to do with showmanship nor sport, and in this regard is quite different to the show ring. It is the serious side of our involvement. At these events we can determine to a very great extent the future of our breed. For it is only at Breed Surveys that we have the time and information to be able to compile the necessary material that will determine the breeds future. The 'Breed Survey  Book" provides data that is essential for both historic and educational reasons. Because of our geographical problems here in Australia, Breed Survey, and most importantly its vehicle, the "Breed Survey Book" are vital.


Early Bloodlines of the German  Shepherd

Origins of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd Club of Germany (SV) was founded on 3rd April, 1899. The real father of the breed was the Cavalry Captain Max v Stephanitz, who, together with his friend, Arthur Meyer, devoted his life to perfecting the German Shepherd. He was the president of the SV until his death.

Our breed has then a short history, and is the result of two crosses between three varieties of shepherd dogs in Germany. The northern shepherds, suitable for the plains of Westfalia, were good runners, of a small size, strong and muscular, and gifted with extraordinary agility. On the other hand, the southern shepherds had adapted their anatomy to the mountainous territory of the Black Forest and were bigger, stronger and heavier. In central Germany another dog emerged; a mixture of the two types but with long hair.

The colours of the three types ranged from black to cream. Up till now it has to be accepted that the genes, from time to time, cause some pups with long hair to be born; the same occurs with the colour variations that still exist in the German Shepherd.

Stephanitz' difficult mission was to find the basic type which had the best of each variety, and from this base develop a type of dog which was useful, strong and intelligent, which should be the most important characteristics of the German Shepherd.

All the German Shepherds today descend from the first specimen recorded by SV, Hektor Linksrhein, bought by von Stephanitz who renamed it Horand v.d. Grafrath, the name by which it is officially known. From the two successive crosses and above all, through the bitch Freya v. Grafrath, came new sires which moulded today's shepherd. Despite the efforts that have been made, and which are still being made, it has still not been possible to absolutely fix the type of hair, pups with long hair being born much too frequently. The same occurs with the coat colour which still has too big a range.

It was from 1903, with the birth of Roland von Starkenburg, that the basic type, with different variants, started to develop into what we have today.

Roland was the son of Heinz v Starkenburg and of Bella v Starkenburg, grandson of Horand through the most important of his sons, Hektor v Schwaben, father of Beowulf and Pilot 111. These three dogs, Hektor, Beowulf and Pilot 111 mated many bitches and are the base of our present generations of Shepherds. Roland v Starkenburg was Sieger in 1906 and 1907.

The best of Roland's sons, Hettel v Uckermark, was proclaimed Sieger in 1909. One of his sons was Alex v Westfalenheim, father in turn of the outstanding specimen Erich v Grafenwerth, Sieger in 1920. From this male there followed many good producers. Erich was a strong dog with good structure, but he had inherited from Alex, his father, an unsure temperament. He also had hair which was a little curly - the name "Erich hair" comes from him, and given his character of a dominant sire, he showed in his descendants both defects. Erich was declared by the SV unsuitable for breeding, although a little late.

In 1920 the first serious survey by the SV of what had been achieved was made, and the conclusion was reached that the best specimens were too tall, long legged and heavy, not too stable and with serious dentition problems. Due to this not too heartening experience, the test of conformation and selection was introduced in Germany, which survives in one way or another today.

Max V. Stephanitz, president of the SV, called a meeting of breeders on the eve of the Siegershau of Frankfurt in 1925, to tell them of his uncertainties, listen to their opinions, and discuss the necessity of a change of course in the breeding, if they were going to correct the defects which threatened to end the young breed of the German  Shepherd.

When this long awaited exhibition occurred in 1925, Captain V Stephanitz started rigorous individual judging, testing temperament and quickly eliminating any dogs that had this type of defect. In the collective test he watched the stamina, strength and stance, and finally, a virtually unknown dog was proclaimed Sieger. He was of a greyish pigmentation, short back, medium size, excellent stance and very good temperament. This dog was Klodo v Boxberg.

Klodo had a great influence on the breed. He was the son of Erich, but had a much better temperament than his father. He was one of the last sons of Erich in Germany - and evidently the best - before Erich was sold to the United States. The type of shepherd embodied by Klodo was totally different to its predecessors, and marked the era of the new German Shepherd. Klodo's most important son was Utz v Haus Schutting, Sieger in 1929, whose breeder, Werner Funk, was a successor to von Stephanitz as president of the SV when the latter died. Utz was of medium size, and of an uncertain character, but with an outstanding movement; he was totally different whenever he entered the show ring. Utz like his father, Klodo, and his grandfather, Erich, was sold to the U.S.

Up till 1927 it was permitted to use dogs which were Bilateral Cryptorchid in Germany. Utz's mother, Donna z. Reuerer was a sister of Drusus z Reuerer a bilateral cryptorchid dog, and therefore through Utz, the cryptorchidism was passed down. The other important defect was his tendency to give pale colours.

From Utz v Haus Schutting we tie up with Rolf Osnabruckerland, which was the trunk from which came the actual lines of Quanto v.d. Wienerau and Canto v.d. Wienerau. Rolf proceeds in a direct line from Utz, through the latter's son, Baron v Deutschen Werken, and of the respective successive sons of Wiegand v Blasienberg; Gockel v Bern; Ingo v Piastendamm; Trutz a.d. Schwanestadt and the dog which was to be Rolf's father, Lex v Preussenblut. All of these were magnificent dogs, and they contributed very effectively to minimizing the defects transmitted by Utz. Through Rolf came good temperament and very good heads, good forward stance and correct depth of chest was achieved. On the other hand, the rear angulation and correct position of the croup were lacking, and the colour was still somewhat pale.

(by Manuel Martin Rodriguez -Los Porches) Published 1983



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Revised: 02/21/06



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