By L. C. Donald, President GSDCA, ANKC & SV Judge Bratara GSD Kennels
In the February 1986 issue of the RASKC Journal (and the KCC magazine in March 1986) an article was printed written by the well known All Breeds judge Dr. H Spira.
The article entitled `German Shepherd Dogs - A Question of Type' was primarily centred around the controversy that exists in Australia between the Specialist judges and the All Breed judges on what is `correct type'. Mr. Donald, as President of the German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia, responded to Dr. Spira's article via the April issue of the All Breed magazine `National Dog'. He then decided that it was best to have two articles written and printed, one in National Dog, one in the GSDCA National Review. In very broad terms they are the same, but in specific terms they are not.
One was written to suit a predominantly All Breed readership, and was quite heavily edited due to space limitation, the other, the one you read now, is unedited and has additional material more suited to Specialist consumption
Time has also allowed Mr. Donald to make some minor corrections.
I commence my response by stating that I am genuinely a great admirer of Dr Spira. I feel he has been largely responsible for giving the Australian dog world an enviable level of professionalism and tone that is missing in many other countries. My admiration of him is furthered by his article. Dr Spira has, once again, put his money where his mouth is for which he is to be commended. I only wish there were more people in positions of authority particularly within the All Breed arena who would do likewise.
As an unashamedly dyed in the wool GSD enthusiast and judge, or as some may call it, a GSD Specialist I was naturally drawn to his article. To abstain from replying would have been contrary to my nature. Furthermore, I suggest it would be selling Dr. Spira's efforts short.
We Specialists tend to be self righteous, self opinionated, and one eyed about ourselves and our breed. As such an All Rounder's opinions should be encouraged as they can sometimes give us a different perspective, an opportunity perhaps to see the forest instead of the trees. Outside opinion, be it praise or critisicism, that is based on a genuine interest in the breed is healthy, particularly so when it is made openly. I suggest Dr Spira's efforts were motivated by these positive factors.
In very broad terms I wish to say that I feel his observations and opinions are reasonably plausible. Nevertheless, we do differ considerably on a number of fundamental points.
(i) We differ on the point that whilst his comments may be reasonable relative to the sketches he provided, they are not reasonable relative to a number of those dogs as they exist in the flesh.
(ii) We differ with regard to his presumption that if a photo of a dog appears in a Specialist magazine then that dog should be taken as the Specialist's example of "correct type".
(iii) I have some disagreement on not all, but certainly some of his opinions relative to the structure and inferred quality of the Australian G.S.D. during the 50 year prohibition period.
(iv) We differ strongly on his summation of the G.S.D. controversy as it exists in this country.
But before venturing forth into detail, I must say that what really appeals to me about Dr. Spira's article is that whilst these are his personal views they seem to me to mirror the sentiments of the great majority of All Rounders in this country. Undoubtedly they also mirror the views of a small number of breeders of the GSD both very new and very old who stand on the fringe.
I welcome the fact that a few individuals may say that Dr Spira's views are not similar to those of most All Rounders in Australia, but it is unquestionable in my mind that they are. Whilst Dr. Spira has put his personal opinions on paper just as I have, they may be taken much further. I suggest they may be taken as the opinions of the majority of both the All Rounders and the G.S.D. Specialists in this country. As such it gives both articles much more depth, meaning, and importance. It is, in fact, the primary incentive for me now taking pen to paper.
There is only one type