Tuesday, 22 December 2015

GSD history buffs - can you solve this mystery?



My last post on Ch Kysarah's Pot of Gold has become the blog's most viewed post of all time with over 50k views in just 24hrs. So now I have the attention of the GSD community could anyone help solve this mystery?

The above photo was sent to me two days ago by an American called Dave Thorpe.

"This was my grandfather’s dog named Asta," says Dave. "She was one of the first three dogs to come across the ocean. Notice the horizontal back. Finding the history of Asta has been elusive. All that I know is that she was one of the first three dogs to come to America. I don’t have any info other that this story from my parents. My grandfather was Albert Hergott and all my relatives have passed. I have spent hours searching and have come up empty. I wish I had better pictures but they have been lost. Early 1900s is all I know."

A quick Google throws up this:

The Complete German Shepherd, Milo G Delinger , 1952 third Edition, page 28 

"The first recorded reference to a GSD in America was when Mira of Dalmore (never registered) Property of Dalmore Kennels of H.A. Dalrymple, of Port Allegheny, Pennsylvania, was Exhibited. She was first Open Class, at Newcastle,  and first open, Philadelphia. These awards were probably in the miscellaneous Classes at those shows, for we find the same bitch appearing and winning the miscellaneous Class at New York in 1907. entered as a Belgium ( sic. ) sheepdog. 
"The bitch's real name was Mira von Offingen and was imported in 1906 by Otto H. Gross along with two others. How she came to be shown in Dalrymple's name is not known. After finding nobody in America was interested in the breed, Gross took Mira back to Germany.  Mira of Dalmore was never registered in the American Kennel Club Stud Book. 
"In 1908 she was again exhibited in the miscellaneous Class at New York in 1908, this time entered as a German Sheepdog. In this Class she had competition, another German Sheepdog known simply as Queen being exhibited by Adolph Vogt, who won first in her class, defeating Mira. This Queen, was in all probability, in fact Queen of Switzerland(115006), of Largely Krone blood. The first GSD to be registered in the Studbook of the American Kennel Club."

Anyone?

19 comments:

  1. I don't want to be a buzzkill, but family legends tend to be exactly that.

    This photo appears to be of a dog, not a bitch.

    As someone who is frequently in public with a GSD, I hear many family legends about them. You would be AMAZED at the sheer number of American grandfathers who returned from Europe after The War with Hitler's personal dog. That one-nutted bastard lived in a populous kennel.

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    1. That is so true. If Pedigree Dogs Exposed really cared about the state of Purebred Dogs they would get involved with the dog fancy and try to make changes from within. But they don't. If the state of GSDs really mattered to them they would attempt to breed correct ones instead of pushing their personal agenda.One of my best friends dedicate her life to making changes for racing greyhounds. She tried calling attention to the problem publicly but it didn't help. So she bought a racing Greyhound and became 'one of them' She made huge strides in stopping the euthanasia of Greyhounds in her state and raising awareness among breeders. She got the state to pass laws on the behalf of racing Greyhounds and she had the support of both the public and the Greyhound owners...she was a knowledgeable dog person and the writer of this blog obviously is not.

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    2. The racing Greyhound issue was/is not the same as the GSD issue; your friend was not trying to change breeding goals.

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    3. Yes I'm sure there were enough snake oil salesmen and woman in bomb torn Germany after the war to sell an American anything.

      Mind you it seems like there still are everywhere when you read some of the nonsense on American breeder sites. One woman claimed to have a direct decendant of the Reverant Russell's Jack russel. To say nothing of its upright stump legs and large bold black and tan tricolour spots, this "shorty" came via Ireland a direct import, as sweet as a pudding. No judgment it prolly is a little tyke, as game as a fiddle but it certainly had very little of that distant "Trump" coursing through its veins.

      The problem is Americans seem to want to ultimately claim these breeds as both utterly fabulously American but genuinely European too when the fact is many get lost in perverted showing practises across the channel and end up looking like sad parodies of the original. Of course not always some do splendidly well too like the working Border Collie.

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    4. That little channel would be the Atlantic of course.

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  2. I couldn't care less about the gender or whether this legend is true or not, nor am I concerned about Hitlers's dog. All I notice is that the two GSDs I grew up with in the 1960s did not have bent spines. I currently own two large heading dogs that are other breeds, and their top lines are fine too. They are not riddled with HD. I shirked away from getting another GSD because, in my opinion, the poor breed has been ruined.

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  3. I don't care about the gender nor Hitler. The 2 GSDs I grew up with in the early 1960s did not have backs like the horrors we see struggling in the show ring these days. I look at those poor souls and wonder how they could possibly herd anything? I currently own two large herding dogs of different breeds with straight backs and the ability to enjoy life, rather than struggle with the misery of HD. I am appalled by what has been done to German Shepherds.

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  4. Oops, yes, that does appear to be a male, else an unusual trick of the light. Either way, what a fine animal with a beautiful, functional structure.

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    1. I think the sex mystery could simply be fur rubbed up the wrong way on precisely the area of what appears to be her groin, or more precisely the stifle. She looks like a she.....even though she isn't a show bred travesty maybe terrierperson could help out here? He has a knack with the canine sexual thing (:

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  5. I'm glad your last post made such a splash, although I'm still baffled as to what's so controversial. Isn't it obvious that breeding dogs to look like hyenas is messed up?

    That historical photo above really illustrates how GSDs once looked like other Northern European stock dogs. Breeders really should be ashamed of themselves for ruining a healthy dog just so it permanently looks like it's standing atop a rock like Rin Tin Tin. Again, this should be a no-brainer: let dogs be dogs!

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    1. American Lion, you are the first I've known of to believe as I do that German shepherd breeders ruined the breed simply so it looks like Rin Tin Tin standing with elevated front feet in every promotional poster. Too bad these people couldn't just bring their props into the show ring rather than ruin an entire breed of dogs.

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    2. Yes, it always looked sadly like a permanent pose, and I recently read on another forum that the inspiration for this pose was, not surprisingly, the famous Rin Tin Tin. He was a great dog, of course, but to breed other dogs to look like they're in a permanent dramatic pose is beyond stupid. Imagine if we bred every lion to look like Mufasa or Simba from the Lion King at the exact moment they're surveying their domain atop Pride Rock? It would be absurd. And yet, that's exactly what so-called professional breeders are doing with German shepherds. It almost sounds like the premise of a comedy sketch, only it's ruining the health of countless dogs, and should be regarded as an embarrassment to animal husbandry.

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  6. While I agree that the current show stack (both NA & European) derive in part from attempts to allude to a "dog of action, coming across a rise to save the day", I don't think the runaway, exaggerated stacks of today date specifically to Rin Tin Tin. In fact the pose itself, of the hero dog coming over the rise, dates from an even earlier time in the breed's history; for instance, "Strongheart" (Etzel von Oeringen) who predated Rinty by a few years and (unlike Rinty) was actually a working dog before being imported to the USA to become a movie star, was also often filmed and shown in this pose. In older film versions of other "hero" dogs you see the same action shots (dog coming up out of nowhere to save someone or something).

    More likely, I think, the current GSD stack originated with attempt to portray movement in a stationary animal, and has become a runaway fad. In many old shots of GSDs from the early 20th century, it's obvious that the dog has taken a half-step forward and stopped with one hind foot slightly ahead of the other; that does keep the dog from looking too "square". James Moses, a very well-known American GSD handler, breeder & judge, has said that he may be partly responsible for the beginning of the exaggerated stack we see in ASL sheps, when, as a young handler, he initiated a method of getting the dog to walk forward, look up at him, then he (Jim) took a step toward the dog so that it had to take a half-step back while looking up, which emphasized its rear angulation. It was a flashy pose, and Jim sure handled a lot of top-winning GSDs using his pose (I have used that method myself, in fact, though I never had a dog in the ribbons). He was a bit rueful when he mentioned this, because one of his own bitches (years later; I think during the late 1990s) was left out of the ribbons in an all-breed show because (the judge told him later), though she was structurally gorgeous, her stance wasn't exaggerated enough; the all-breed judge thought GSDs were supposed to stack "that" way - one hock nearly fully extended & the other on the ground.

    The exaggerated stacking really took off during the mid-to-late 1960s & 1970s, and has continued to become more extreme to this day. So we have judges who judge for that stack and breeders who breed for the judges who reward it, and the circle goes round and round.

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    1. Good to know, thank you. Nevertheless, it's ludicrous to breed animals for a particular stack or pose. Domestic animals are still so closely related to their wild cousins - now generally considered the same species - that they should still resemble them to a significant degree in order to remain healthy. Horses - big or small - should still largely resemble the takhi and tarpan. Cattle - north and south - should still look like aurochs. House cats should still look like wildcats, and dogs should still look and move rather like wolves. If they don't, they suffer because they are structurally compromised. If the elbows aren't tucked in (as in many molossers), they are more likely to develop arthritis. If the ears are too long, they are prone to infections. We've already talked about the problems of flat faces. And if the hind quarters as sloped, the dog's hips and locomotion are damaged.

      By ignoring the anatomy of the wolf (especially the Euraian southern types, which are probably most closely related to domestic wolves), breeders are basically promoting birth defects. The GSD and its Old German Herding Dog ancestors were already wolf-like. However, there are no canids - wolf or otherwise - that naturally stand the way today's show bred GSDs stand, with the back sloping and the hocks low. This stance has elements of hyaenids, felids, and ursids, all of which are adapted to move differently from canids. This means that judges and breeders are intentionally breeding dogs to look and move like non-dogs, a totally unacceptable and dysfunctional policy. In a word, these people don't even understand what dogs really are, and their ignorance is ruinous to dogs.

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  7. Oh yes, A. Lion, I certainly agree with you there. The more you deviate from the anatomy of the wild canid (in this case the wolf), the less structurally sound the dog. I HATE the semi-plantigrade ASL German shepherds who wobble and flap their way to "stardom", and equally abhor the hinge-backed hyena-shaped WGSL dogs whose hindquarters look two or three sizes too small for the dog & who scuttle around the field like furry cockroaches.

    I don't hate the DOGS, mind you. I hate what is being done to the dogs in the name of fashion. Because fashion is all that it is.

    I'd love to see GSD studbooks open to a register-on-merit system, bringing in some more normally-moving animals whether they are actually purebred but unregistered GSDs, or some of the older European and specifically German landrace herding dogs. I'd like to see conformation showing eliminated altogether; the elitism and exaggeration it fosters lie at the root of the problems through which GSDs and many other breeds suffer - but that is never going to happen.

    A little common sense is sorely needed in the dog show world. Just ... a step taken back, a good long look at the dogs themselves, at what they are doing to the dogs. Less elitism, more compassion for these animals who have to LIVE within their structurally compromised bodies. A look at the dogs as individuals and not just as chassis on which to build "their line".

    But most of the almost religiously fanatic show people don't even see the problem. and those who do recognize problems within "their" breeds mainly keep mum in order to prevent being blackballed. And the show goes on.

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    1. Well said again, Kittenz. Dog shows have to be judged, which means they are based solely on the subjective judgment of biased people who are fond of certain traits, which often have nothing to do with good animal husbandry, and are often very detrimental to the health of dogs.

      It's true that we face an uphill battle, but the first dog show was in 1877, which was only 138 years ago. Not so long ago, considering we've had dogs for over 30,000 years. I have to believe that there will come a time again in the not-too-distant future when it is the dog show culture itself that collapses, and not the poor dogs featured in it.

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  8. Are we ignoring the dip in this dog's (not bitch's) topline and the very obvious high rear or...?

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    1. Yes I guess "we" are as it's a perfectly functional top line. Nothing extreme going on here at all. Why yes it might look strangely abnormal to you compared to a banana toad dog but in fact it's quite normal. The croup is not in the picture of course but it doesn't look like it s higher than anything and if it is it will be extremely slightly higher which won't affect the dog at all. But it's not of course as you can see it beginning to decend bellow the shoulder. No sign of a dipped back either I'm afraid.

      She certainly had the potential to be very athletic and sound judging from this picture at least. I'm sure she could with less than a stride between leap across a wall, over a ditch, up a bank and up into and through an open window four feet up utter ease. This dog I would also not be willing to try and out run it looks far too nicely on the leg.

      Compared to the stiff wooden fronted monument and collapsed hind end of "Crock of Patrick" this dog is already a legend in my minds view.

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  9. Posts aren't getting onto GSD winner "The worst I've ever seen". Though I am getting notifications still that people are sending posts???

    Anon showed a German Sheperd in Australia awarded "excellent" at a National show. It's a truly horrific freak dog. The angles of the hock look ok but the angle of the pelvis and drop of the back is so extreme it looks like it has been hit by a speeding train.

    I'm afraid this is an international disaster. I'm not sure what it will take to get this to change. The show GSD easily makes the top ten qualzucht breeds.

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