[ SHOWGSD-L ] Speed Kills...

  • From: acara1997@xxxxxxx
  • To: Showgsd-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 02 Nov 2009 18:21:20 -0500

There has been much recent discussion and debate regarding the correct 
speed of the gait with many differing viewpoints.  While I would agree 
that many dogs are shown at unflattering speeds, there are several 
other relevant points to consider.

It is apparent that there seems to be a growing number of, what I would 
describe as, “constant contact” gaiters that are typically shown very 
fast, on a tight lead, and never achieve the “flying trot”, much less, 
any period of suspension.  In many cases, this is not a product of the 
speed in which they are shown, but a defect in structure thereby 
necessitating this manner of presentation.  However, the experienced 
eye can easily recognize dogs possessing these faults of gait and/or 
the handler’s objective to produce an acceptable image given the 
shortcomings in structure.

Conversely, there are also many dogs that are shown at one speed, and 
its very SLOWWWWWWW, with a lipity, lopity (non-rhythmic) style of 
gait.  And why do they go slow?  Because any attempt to go faster, they 
lose coordination and begin appearing discombobulated and thus, come 
apart before your very eyes!  This defect in structure is no more, or 
less faulty than the “fast runner” and tends to reveal itself most 
often in large rings (i.e. national) when they are pressed to keep a 
faster pace with others.

While describing the gait, Von Stephanitz noted the following three (3) 
different speeds: “The gait should be tested at a walk, a trot, and 
when running free.  The quicker the gait and the more the dog extends 
himself, the more easily he brings his center of gravity nearer the 
ground”.  He goes on to further explain “running free” as viewing the 
full trot on a loose lead: “so that the uninterfered-with, natural gait 
may be observed”.  Moreover, the GSD Standard also references three (3) 
speeds when referencing gait: “at a walk, at a trot, at full trot”.  
I’m sure that we all can find a suitable understanding and put to good 
use Captain Max's insightful words, coupled with the Breed Standard, 
and your own personal/practical knowledge.  However, I would offer the 
following:  a “walk” is certainly self explanatory, a “trot” being a 
slow gait or natural working/trotting speed, and “running free or full 
trot” is gaiting at full trotting speed on a loose lead with purpose, 
power and utilizing its’ full extension capabilities.

Therefore, the gait can be viewed at many varying speeds and will most 
assuredly, determine the shortcomings or virtues of the dog’s 
structure.  Most importantly, a well-built dog does not require any 
particular speed and/or handling method to look its best, as they will 
produce a steady, powerful, coordinated, and balanced motion, 
regardless the speed!

With best regards,
Randy Darnell
Acara GSD

PS. It is good to see these relevant issues/topics regarding our breed 
openly discussed, as it will provide a much-needed educational resource 
for many that are eager to gain more knowledge.



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