Impressions of the WAWSO show, 2000
by Fred Lanting
It was a double delight for me to judge the second annual world show for the White Shepherd, a breed that has recently been separately recognized by FCI in a few European countries and has been recognized by the United Kennel Club in America. I was flattered by the fact that WAWSO, the World Association of White Shepherd Organizations knew something of my background and invited me to be one of the judges. I had judged the breed under the name of White German Shepherd Dog many times in the U.S., including at two of their national specialty shows, and when UKC gave them recognition, I frequently judged them under the name of White Shepherd. I believe another reason I was chosen was the fact that I am an SV judge of GSDs and an international all-breed judge. Still, it was a great honor to share the duties with FCI judge Anton Es of Slovenia. The international flavor of the show was enhanced by the BIS winner being from Germany, the Best Female from Austria, my secretary-assistant (noted breeder Ronda Beaupre) from America, and dogs from several countries. The Best short-coat female in show was from the U.S. This show was a “joint venture”, as the local host was the Holland club known as V.W.H., Vrienden van de Witte Herder.
The friendly atmosphere for both judges, the sufficiently large rings, the efficient secretary and steward work, and the sportsmanship of the exhibitors were much appreciated. One of the things that I was very happy about was that a true working dog earned an “Excellent” rating in the special class for non-breeding animals: “Iris” is a guide dog for the blind secretary of VWH, Lotte Bloemendaal; it always warms my heart to discover that a dog I give a high award to is schutzhund-titled, a lure-coursing champion, a working gun-dog, or otherwise proven in some utilitarian occupation. When I judged in Pakistan early in 2000, 3 of the top 4 German Shepherd Dogs were active service dogs owned by the country’s Air Force, and that revelation was quite a thrill for me.
Altered class (Iris on the left)
Hospitality was provided by Anneke Swart, wife of WAWSO president Rob Swart of Exloo, and I don’t think any country or family has ever done more to make me feel “at home”. The word “home” meant something special, because my mother was born in Groningen province and my father was from Friesland. They took me to visit my great-grandparents’ graves as well as many other places in Holland, and fed me royally.
I was asked to summarize my impressions of the dogs for a magazine article, even though I gave a detailed critique of each entrant to the clubs (copies were made available to owners). I found the dogs generally to be of good temperament, with no more character faults (shyness) than found anywhere else, and perhaps a little firmer than at some stateside shows. Size was within normal limits, and overall outline and proportions were quite good. Some dogs would look better if the handlers were to be instructed in presentation, and I offered to give a handling seminar if I were ever in the region when another such show were to be held. Structurally, many of the dogs would have benefited from better front angulation and slightly longer upper arms. Otherwise beautiful dogs who somewhat lacked these features did not move as smoothly as the winners; in a herding breed, it is important to cover much ground with very little effort and few steps.
Best Female was from the Long-coat (Teven Langstockhaar) 18-24-month age class, “Peachy-Queen of White Condor, owned by W. Haas of Austria. She is an extremely pretty and expressive bitch with good coat and color, very fluid movement, good medium size, and excellent character.
Best Male, (also BIS/BOB) was also a long-coat, but from the Open (over 24 months) class: Apoll-Prinz vom Durbuscher Forst, owned by R. Schmudde of Germany, is a masculine, well-coated dog with strong ligaments and excellent ground-covering gait. Both of the top winners had excellent nose pigment, which is important in this breed. Both had very strong backs and looked like they could work long hours herding sheep or doing other things that the breed is suited for.
The breed is in pretty good shape in Europe, but there is a definite danger because the number of “bloodlines” is so low. For example, there were far too many with “gay” tails… carried far too high and over the back, when the proper carriage is not above the horizontal line of the back at all. I found that all of the dogs with “problem tails” were descendants from one breeder’s lines. If such signs are visible, there must be unseen problems as well, that call for infusion of different lines. I recommended to the clubs that they do all possible to exchange dogs with North America and anywhere else that the white Shepherd dog can be found.
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