maybe a stupid, pointless question--why do so many GSD enthusiasts try to brush over how sloped and bad their backs are? so many people try to say it's "just the way they stack" and that it doesn't effect health or movement, yet you can see in videos of them at play that their back is low the whole time, and that it's surely unhealthy and uncomfortable?
Make yourself a cup of tea and take a seat.
So I wrote previously about the health of the German Shepherd, really just skimming over some of the most common issues because there are so many associated with the breed.
Then I made a post comparing a German Shepherd from the 1920s to a recent show champion who happened to display morphological features that have drawn significant criticism lately, namely the hunched back and hocks that touch the ground. And in the interest of fairness, I had picked a historical dog well known in the public eye, and as typical an example as I could find.
Many people will say “Look, I love the dogs but I can’t deny they’re a mess right now.” Other people will make comments like these:
And my personal ‘favourite’…
The simple truth is that in clinical practice I have never seen a German Shepherd dog who has been ‘healthy’ and not afflicted by something regrettable by the time it’s 6. I would call that not good enough. So lets look at these claims.
- I did not pick extremes. I picked typical examples, and that should concern you if you care about this breed.
- Don’t blame the Back Yard Breeders when it has been the show scene pushing for this extreme conformation and inbreeding. BYBs get their stock originally from ‘ethical’ breeders so the ‘ethical’ breeders can’t be without blame. There are also a whole bunch of breeders who are doing health screening but breeding their dogs regardless of their result to ‘preserve the lines’.
- On random shapshot in time doesn’t represent the breed? I’m really sorry but I can’t post images of every single modern shepherd on a tumblr post. However, the evidence is freely available if anyone cares to look. Also, that was the question I was answering.
- Breed type continues to change, as we try to change it. There’s not a way dog breeds are ‘supposed to be’, we as humans decided to make one. How about, just for something new, we try to change it with the health of the animal in mind, not to fit an arbitrary shape.
- Notice how the last one tries to imply that I’m some kind of ‘rogue’ with my opinions and that they are just opinions, not backed up with a vet degree or years of experience or anything.
- I don’t ‘expect people devoted to the breed to constantly bemoan its list of potential problems’, but gee, it would be nice if they actively tried to reduce those problems in their breeding plans. After all, aren’t ethical breeders supposed to be doing so to ‘improve’ the breed?
- And while I certainly wont cry a river for a GSD fanatic, I have shed plenty of tears over these dogs.
The outright denial that the breed has a problem has features in common with nationalists (”Ours is the best because it is ours and how dare you question it” vs “I am proud of this thing but acknowledge its flaws and seek to improve it”) and climate change deniers (discrediting evidence, never enough evidence, discrediting the person voicing an opposing view etc). That’s a pretty difficult mix to have a discussion with.
It’s been fairly common since Pedigree Dogs Exposed. As soon as vets started speaking out about the health problems of any given breed, the response would be “But this is what they’re supposed to be” and “What would vets know”
Because, you know, what would vets know about the animals they’re treating every day? If your go-to defense is trying to claim that veterinarians, the profession entirely focused on the scientific improvement of animal health, doesn’t actually know anything about animal health, you have a weak argument.
- From your resident, Pitiful, vet.