Interview with Gloria F. Birch of Covy-Tucker Hill German Shepherd Dogs, 2022 AKC Herding Group Honoree
The German Shepherd Dog is a breed that is adored by so many dog lovers. What is it about the breed that has sustained your interest for so long?
Gloria F Birch: German Shepherd Dogs are what I would want all people to be like. The greater part of me wants to be like them. German Shepherds are loyal, sensitive, courageous, intuitive, intelligent, wise, and very honest. They are very clear about their feelings of passion, jealousy, and love. Is it any wonder why they are so popular and loved by so many? Other than shedding, they make the perfect companion.
Breeding dogs requires the vision of an artist, the curiosity of a scientist, and the commitment of a philosopher. As breeders, do you view yourselves as artists, scientists or philosophers? Maybe you’re a combination of all three?
Gloria F Birch: I guess if you know and admire fine art, have some education in physics and genetics, with the reality that we are leaving a footprint with what we do, then yes. I love art, music, and nature. Some German Shepherds are elegant and stunning to look at; some call it “eye candy.” You will not forget the “look of eagles” in a German Shepherd. Music is all about timing, so when the structure is well balanced and sound in movement it’s like music to the ear. Then, they move with grace and ease, like watching poetry in motion with perfectly timed music. Nature is all about balance. I never forget that fact. One must always keep the vision and action coming back to the AKC
In dogs, selection is key. How do you select your sire and dam combinations? How do you select which puppies will trot around the show ring?
Gloria F Birch: Selecting a stud for my female starts by evaluating her. What are her qualities, breed type (looks like a female), temperament, soundness of structure, and excellence of movement (as angulated as possible as long as they are sound)? What are her faults? As a dear friend of mine says, “If you don’t fault, you can’t correct.” Thereafter, seek out males with similar qualities and know their faults.
After this physical exam, the second most important part about breeding is the pedigree. Make sure, if you are linebreeding, that the dog you are linebreeding on has the same qualities as the dam and sire. Know their shortcomings. It’s always nice when dogs used for breeding have credentials such as DM clear, OFA, temperament tested, championships, and performance titles. Check out the second, third, and fourth generations. “Records live, opinions die,” so “breed the best to the best and place the rest.” We look at babies at birth, proportions of 8-to-10 are easy to see when they are nursing. The angles of front and rears are well defined.
Then we evaluate them at 5 to 5-1/2 weeks and again at 4-1/2 months. At 5 weeks, if you have a good imagination, the puppies will look and move as they will at 4-1/2 and 11 months. We usually select a couple, then place the rest in loving homes.
The Breed Standard is the preservation breeder’s most essential tool. What are your thoughts on the importance of breeding to the Standard and presenting the breed in the ring accordingly?
Gloria F Birch: The German Shepherd Dog Standard is beautifully written and easily applied when breeding and judging. We must always adhere to it in all aspects of our breed.
Today’s breeders have found themselves on the defensive from public criticism and from legislative proposals that would restrict breeding practices. In your opinion, what can preservation breeders do to counter the anti-purebred rhetoric that has taken hold in this country?
Gloria F Birch: There are so many positive things about purebred dogs. There would not be rescues if all breeders took care of never letting one of their pups end up in the rescue system, and if spaying and neutering was affordable or free. We are a group of breeders dedicated to improving each breed, with the guidance from the AKC. More advertising about positive, planned purebred breeding practices is important.
Thank you to the AKC for the honor of the Herding Breeder of the Year award. And thank you for giving me this interview.
Are you looking for a German Shepherd Dog puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a German Shepherd Dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
German Shepherd Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the courageous German Shepherd Dog breed with articles and information in our German Shepherd Dog Breed Magazine.
German Shepherd Dog - Showsight