Jaquenetta German Shepherd Dogs
From Wolf Dog To Shepherd
There were only a few Alsatians in the UK before 1914. They were not recognised by the Kennel Club and were classified as “Foreign Dogs”.
During the First World War my father, Lieut. Colonel James Y Baldwin, (then Major Baldwin) saw what he thought was a wolf peering at him from a bush. He investigated and found it was a dog. He bought it and took it everywhere in France with him. When the war ended, he went travelling and bought about a dozen and sent them over to the UK and into quarantine.
Back in England, my father and Lieut. Col. Moore Brabazon (later Lord Brabazon) decided to form the first club. Because the word “German” was so unpopular, it was decided to call it “Alsatian Wolf Dog”, although, of course, the dog was not related to wolves.
Alsatians became wildly popular – they boomed and on May 7th 1919 Colonels Moore Brabazon and Baldwin made a deputation of two to the Kennel Club. On August 6th the title “The Alsatian Wolf Dog Club” was granted and the breed was registered under that name.
In 1923 the Alsatian, Sheep, Police and Army Dog Society (ASPADS) was formed and in 1924 the Alsatian League of GB was founded. In 1925 the Club and the League amalgamated into the Alsatian League and Club of GB.
Soon after came a British Alsatian Association, which got going in quite a big way, but later faded out. Before they did, decided to stage a show on the same day as the League – and in the same town, Manchester. The Kennel Club refused that, so they moved it to Birmingham. The League had 800 entries and the BAA had 500 – 1300 entries at two shows on the same day.
Too many people had big kennels. One had 150 brood bitches, which was bad for the breed.
Then Frank Riego started the Birmingham Alsatian Association, later the Midland AA, then the British AAS and now the British Association for GSDs or BAGSD. Mr Riego always believed “If the novice cannot get to the big society, the big society must go to the novice”. With so many branches, the Association has done just that.
In 1919 54 Alsatians were registered with the Kennel Club. In 1920 the Alsatian Wolf Dog Club held its first show in conjunction with the Kennel Club Show at Crystal Palace. In 1921 it held its first specialist open show in Westminster and the breed was given classes at most of the shows.
In 1920 the first two CCs were awarded by Mr G Horowitz at the Kensington championship show to Captain Whittaker’s home bred dog Southwold Wisdom and to Major Ewing’s Marie of Nisbet, bred by Mr J Robbins.
Thereafter the CCs went at Ranelagh to Wisdom and Mr Robbin’s Fearless of Mattesdon; at Manchester to Felix of Fairway and Fearless; and at Cheltenham to Wisdom who became the first English champion of the breed. Fearless also got her third and so became the first champion bitch.
The next year brought the first foreign judge, M Maquin from France, who awarded the top prizes to Nero du Gotterton and Marie of Nisbet. At Guildford Marie got her title and Felix got his fourth CC. Then at Edinburgh the CC bitches went to Lady Flora belonging to my father and Major Badd. She was the first import to win a CC and got her title in 1921 becoming the first imported champion.
Ch Gray Shadow, bred by my father and owned by Mrs Amsden, was shown three times and won the CC each time.
In 1922 Major Forsyth-Major brought out Allahson of If and made him a champion. This dog had a great influence on the breed in England. Six others became champions. In 1924 four champion were made up.
In 1924 Francis Pickett brought out Caro of Welham, a dog with a spectacular gait, to win the CC at Crufts. In 1925 Caro won nine CCs without being beaten and in fact by 1926 he had won 18 in three years.
Also in 1926 Mr Pickett owned a dog in Germany called Donar v Overstolzen and won grand champion with him. In 1927 the Americans set up a world championship and Donar was sent over and won that. Finally he was brought to England in September 1927 to the KC Show. My father judged and said that Donar celebrated his release from quarantine and never settled down. He was beaten by Caro.
In 1931 Caro was shown at the age of 11 and won another CC, I was told that the class lasted a long time and the old dog gradually loosened and showed his superb movement.
In 1927 Dr Werner Funk judged at Crufts, which created great excitement Our own Ch’s Janitor and Jacose of Picardy got the CC and fourth in open, while Ch Jade (all from the same litter) took reserve CC to Ch Atalanta Cothurn.
When the Second World War came my father started what is now the RAF Police Dog School and trained the USAF with dogs as well. He also had the idea of the rescue dogs in the blitz and although the authorities would not agree to use them for a long time, they still saved the lives of many people who were buried deeply in bomb blasts. The Army also worked dogs.
It was because of the war work and also work with the Guide Dogs that our breed boomed in popularity later on. In 1946 11,045 Alsatians were registered. From then until 1952 records were set. Ch Fidala of Cranville (a bitch) won 19 CCs, Ch Bromholm Beda of Croftholme won eight consecutive CCs in 1951/2.
In 1950 the KC decided that from January 1st 1955 CCs would be awarded in obedience. This affected our breed because almost all the big winners were Alsatians.
In 1949 Harry Colburn’s Rockswall Bello Romano became the first post-war WT champion. One special WT champion was Mr Hudson’s Sigurd of Jotenheim, made up in 1951. For sheer style and brilliant work, I think I shall always remember that dog.
By Margaret Ann Baldwin
Originally printed in Dog World July 8th 1983
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