Promoting responsible German Shepherd Dog ownership
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I really want to have an honest discussion about this but it is honestly a huge can of worms. So first thing is first I realize that byb breeders/scammers use it as a marketing gimmick, and most people talk about this when referring to stacked vs. unstacked. However I want to talk about it in terms of the actual back, when stacked or not.
The breed standard calls for a straight back that smoothly runs into a sloped croup. Since the breed is evaluated in a stack it seems even more important that the back be straight (not level) when properly stacked. I hate when people say it's all in how they're stacked and post photos of dogs in horrible unnatural stacks to try to prove that. Because obviously the dogs physical structure is going to affect how it looks when stacked or there would be zero reason to evaluate dogs in stacks if it only had to do with the stack.
I've noticed a lot of dogs with roached backs lately and more extreme curvature in the spine of dogs that are apparently working lines, and I cannot get access to the article anymore as it says it's password protected but Louis Donald had a neat article about the downward curvature in the lumbar of WGSLs and people acting like the croup starts in the middle of the back. I've found some dogs that I'm really interested in their structure and finding out how they move which is proving hard to find, but they seem like random outliers in WGSL that end up with a straight versus curved lumbar. Along with more moderate WGSLs which for some reason are harder to find pictures of. I did notice they tended to have steeper croups and didn't necessarily reproduce themselves though.
Right now I'm not saying anything is bad or good but I want to have an honest conversation not just people getting worked up and feeling like they have to defend their dogs.
Not really sure what you are specifically looking for but to add to the topic, one thing I noticed that when a dog has a straight back from the beginning, it tends to morph into a swayback as the dog hits middle to late years. Think of an old horse. That is one of the reasons I like to see a slight roach. Can't say for sure due to the timeline of the popularity of the roach back, but I can only speculate that it in turn will level off a bit with age.
Agh!!! I took too long to reply and my message disappeared!
The dog we had as a roach it got much worse and pronounced as he aged. He had something similar to DM though but I think the progression was too slow to be DM.
I don’t mean straight back as in a level topline or butt high which is where I’ve noticed more of a sway back developing, like a horse. I mean that in the standard it calls for a straight back, but since the dog is evaluated in a stack shouldn’t it be straight when the dog is stacked? Like the line of the back itself.
This dog you can see the upward curve.
Over the dog having a straighter back here
Particularly with the WGSLs and some working lines the dogs are curved when stacked but may have a straighter topline when standing otherwise. Or those with a more severe roach roach have a break in their topline mid back and it angles sharply down when stacked.
Mostly I just want to learn more and have a discussion about it. But it’s such a hot topic it often turns into a fight with personal attacks and the post gets shut down. I do know of one dog who had a horrible roach when younger. It’s a lot better now that’s he’s two, would’ve been interesting to be able to see how that changed as he got old.
No fights here. We probably all agree an extreme roach is not good, nor is a straight back where the back hocks are practically on the ground. While Luise has a definite upper back curve, that is not a roach. I think if a roach back as similar to a human hunchback. These are two examples of the worst in a straight back and a roach back. The roach is higher than the croup in the second photo.
The original GSD has either a straight back or even a light sway to its back. The point of having a lower hock was to absorb shock when the dog landed after a jump and to promote a smooth, even gait. When dogs were produced for show rather than working, extremes gradually became the norm.
If you are looking at showlines and want us to evaluate a breeder’s dogs, we will do that for you. You can always ask us privately. A WGSL should have a slightly more pronounced slope toward the tail, and a WL is less so, but still has some slope. Look at Sol’s pictures if there are any side views because she takes so many more than I do. An ASL will have a straight back. Those lines have the shock absorbers, for lack of a better term, in the hock rather than the back. A well bred ASL has lovely lines, but different than what I am used to, but the poorly bred ones have the dogs walking down on their back hocks.
I've been watching videos of ASLs and I cannot stand quite a few of the ones I've seen. There was one breeder I was interested in until I saw videos of her dogs. Dogs that when they aren't actively trotting they look like they're walking drunk or tripping over their own hind ends. I don't know how that impacts the lay of the back vs. instability of the hind legs and hocks. It's what got me thinking more of structure and wanting to see more videos of these dogs in action.
I agree those are severe examples of roach. I wasn't trying to give an example of a dog with a roach with Luise, just an idea of what I was seeing with dogs having a curved back/downward curve of the lumbar. Where the overall structure of the dog's back when stacked forms an arc.
If we're talking more roach look pause this at 52-ish seconds. Others made the argument she's driving at the leash but plenty of other dogs can drive against the leash without looking like that. This is more what I would mean by a sharp angle down.
Not the best photo but another where the dog drops abruptly down
Can see it again in this guy where mid back it breaks the topline and angles down
Versus this guy
Actually Zamp is a very well respected dog, or was. His lines are Ok. Also, they are stacked. Personally, I like to see a dog when it’s standing up rather than stacked.
52 seconds has an extreme looking topline. That is an excuse, not the reason for the extreme slope. I think the best way to evaluate parents is to meet them in person if you can, watch them walk and run and see them stacked. Are you leaning towards a WGSL?
Oh yes! I like the black and white picture at the bottom. I don’t care for either of the top two dogs. Editing to add, Mirkos has both the straight back we now see in an ASL and the curve above the back hocks more common to WGSL. In fact, you can actually see how the two lines have taken a very good structure and each emphasized one part of it to extremes