The dog has
three basic types of movement; walk, trot and the gallop.
The amble can take place during the walk and trot. Although
ambling enhances stamina, it is not a true type movement.
In proportion our dog will walk less than it will trot.
The fastest type of movement, the gallop will with
free living wild dogs play a less important role. The
closest ancestors of our dogs namely the jackal, hyena
and the kojote manage the large distances with stamina
and not with speed. For them the trot is most important
type of movement. It is not that easy for a wo1f size-hunting
animal to find adequate food in a few square kilometers
and therefore it has to frequently cover distances of
100 km in one night.
The German Shepherd Dog has, up to now retained the
most genuine construction of its ancestors, the trotter
construction, which has been in many respects further
perfected through systematic breeding.,and is the beautiful
shape of a construction aimed at economy, even more
so when think of its multi purpose utilization.
The breed standard for instance calls for the construction
of a non-tiring tritter which, with the least amount
of effort delivers the highest degree of performance.
Stephantiz describes this concept: ”as the economy
Now I would like to mention some important factors,
which enhance the stamina of the German Shepherd Dog
and for simplicity, they are in the sequence of judging.
First 1y, in general, some remarks regarding the locomotive
mechanism of the dog.
The passive locomotion mechanism, which comprises the
bones and the joint ligaments. It supports the organism
and creates its shape. The active locomotion mechanism,which
consists of muscles of the skeleton and its tendons.
It makes the deliberate body movement possible. On the
one hand, the muscles are designed for quick, instant
action and on the other hand, they are also equipped
to cope with enduring work resulting in overall balanced
and supple movement which should save energy.
It is therefore necessary that the skeleton provides
for the correct position of the 1imbs as well as the
movement of joints and that it incorporates large levers
in order to save muscles energy. For example, the longer
the levers whilst within the breed standard, to which
the muscles are attached and the better the angulations
of these limbs, the higher one should rate(in theory)
the working ability of the dog.
In the same way as the passive and active locomotive
mechanism compliment each other, the overall picture
of our dog should be balanced e.g., each body part should
be in the proportion to the total body complex. When
all individual parts and also the support columns (legs)
fit together in an evenly manner one can say, ”a
thoughtful and purposeful constructed body on the basis
of harmony and symmetry guarantees the best development
of power and stamina”.
Exercise and work require a determined measure of size
With an increased height the body weight increases
considerably and requires more from the muscles to the
detriment of muscle power available for movement. The
body height therefore has a negative effect on the performance.
Dogs that are too large and too heavy carry too much
dead weight . they stop, climb and jump poorly. In addition,
they are often less keen to work as they tire too soon.
The performance will be even more effected when the
additional height is caused by “ upright movement”
as a result of poor front and hind angulations ,the
forereach will be binding and the length of stride will
be restricted. With an incorrect chest construction
there is too little space for the internal organs and
under stamina the performance will visibly suffer. A
dog, which is too small, even when it is well proportioned,
lacks strength. Although fast and agile, it is too light
in construction and possesses too little stamina. When
such animals additionally have legs that are too short,
the chest will be very deep, and their movement will
cover too little ground.
Only the German Shepherd dog of a good medium size
63 cm for males and 58 cm for bitches measured at the
withers can count on agility, speed and especially stamina.
The correct size working dog requires the correct strength
in the bones and muscles. The outer shape of our dog
depends more on the positioning, size and shape of the
bones , than anything else. They are extremely well
equipped to pass on the forwards thurst during movement.
The elasticity of the bone tissue constitutes 85%
of that of iron, and yet the weight of bones, is only
onethird of the weight of iron.
The surface of the bones may be smooth and even or
be uneven and shows pronounced grooves , which serve
to anchor muscles, ligaments and tendons. The bones
should be dry and not be coarse or spongy and certainly
not too fine.
Bones that are too large reduce stamina as the dog
carries too much dead weight.
According to “Klatt”, muscles constitute
53% of the total weight and this, amongst others, creates
his working ability and his overall appearance.
The muscles, of which the length and width are determined
by the anchor point position on the bones, should be
dry and firm and so should be the tendons and ligaments
which keep the skeleton parts together, especially those
at the joints. As our dog is not a heavy duty animal,
the lever lift power of the muscle reduces at the height
of leverage , that is the length to which the muscle
shortens is greater than the lever arch, which in turn
is also dependant on the length of the muscle strands.
As a result of muscle contraction, the various connected
skeleton parts make movements which can be compared
with levers and in general skeleton movements are based
on the principles of the leverage.
We can therefore state “Not the thick, but the
long muscles are favorable for stamina”.
When we refer to the proportion of the dog, we refer
to the ratio of height to length. With the correct height
to length ratio all parts are in natural balance, Which
is maintained in stance and in movement and requires
no undue muscle action.
The optimal proportioned German Shepherd Dog, possess
a slightly stretched trotter’s construction of
which the length exceeds the height at the withers.
According to “Stroße” is the ratio
of 10:9 is the best for balance and stability as well
as movement and therefore stamina.
The head best expresses the type of breed, sex characteristics
and character of a dog. Ear carriage, the expression
in the eyes, condition of the coat and pigmentation
further provides clues to the health, condition and
temperament. The manner, in which the dog moves and
behaves, should indicate that there is a healthy mind
in a healthy body. All these factors are links in a
chain and are the physical and mental conditions required
for lasting stamina. And now let us expands on those
three body components that determine the degree of power:
namely the hind thrust, the transfer over the back and
The back has the role to transfer the power generated
by the hindquarter action. Only a firm back can form
an effective bridge type connection between the hind
and forequarters. It comprises the withers, the true
back and the loin. The withers are at the front part
of the back. The back and shoulder muscles are connected
to first dorsal vertebrae, therefore high and long withers
do not only enhance the development of strong muscles
which create firm shoulder joints, but also provide
broad and an angulated coupling for the shoulders, a
good reach stamina.
The thrust generated by the hindquarters is wasted
in an upward or downward direction with a raised or
hollow back. Therefore, only the foregoing referred
to type back can enhance stamina. Whilst we require
length of withers, the loin part (7 vertebrae) should
not be too long, but strong and wide. A short and stiff
loin is beneficial for stamina. The pelvic bone, together
with the muscles and the cost, form the croup. It is
an essential part of the hindquarters and is extremely
important for stamina.
The pelvic bone should, like the shoulder blade, be
long and diagonally placed. A steep, or a too short
pelvic bone, reduces the stride as the back legs will
be too far under the body and the thrust generated by
the hindquarters will be wasted in an upward direction.
When the pelvic bone is placed (+/-450 to the horizontal)
the croup will be long and slightly sloping. It commences
almost straight and then slopes into a slight arch (+/-230)
downwards. In this way there will also be sufficient
space for long and strong muscles, a pre-requisite for
powerful and especially enduring hindquarter action.
With a flat croup the tail set will be high and the
tail is also frequently badly carried. Poor tail carriage
disturbs the top line and handicaps the dog during forward
and sideward movements because it serves as a rudder
and, when required, as a brake. Even this incorrectness
effects stamina. A strong dog should therefore have
a powerful, well muscled in all directions, slightly
flexible tail which ends approximately at the point
At the beginning I have already mentioned that, in
a symmetrically constructed German Shepherd dog, all
parts including the (legs) fit together is such manner
that. The highest performance can be achieved. Therefore
powerful hindquarters should have matching well-constructed
forequarters, which can absorb the moving mass and complete
the movement cycle which started at the back. The firm
connection between the legs and body is provided by
the shoulder blade. Connected to it are very powerful
muscles that can move it and the upper arm.