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Are all German Shepherds pacers?

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  • Are all German Shepherds pacers?

    Pardon the stupid question, but I figured there were some GSD owners on here who could set me straight.

    Last week, we became the unexpected owners of a purebred German Shepherd. He showed up at the barn, half starved and half bald and he needed a place to land. He seems to have convinced us that he is staying permanently .

    I noticed when walking him that his gait is a pace, not a trot. Do all GSD's move like this? I tried YouTube for reference, but Shutzhund attacking and AKC agility aren't the best way to see a GSD "gaiting out".

    Anyhow, I'm kind of obsessed with learning all about the breed now. If this guy is a typical example, I see why they are so beloved!

  • #2
    No, Shepherds trot. Here's the AKC standard:


    They may pace a stride or two while moving from the walk to the trot.


    • Original Poster

      Hmm, maybe we have a defective model. That's OK, he's not going to any AKC shows anytime soon.

      Given his hair issues, he more closely resembles a Chinese Crested than a GSD at the moment anyhow.

      Or maybe I haven't gotten him moving fast enough to get him trotting.


      • #4
        The next time he is at the vets, you might want to have them take a peak at his hips. Dogs with hind end issues frequently pace. If he does have issues with his hips, the sooner you know, the more options you will have dealing with it. Good luck. GSD's are on of the all time great breeds.


        • #5
          Nope. Dogs pace from fatigue, weakness, or pain.

          He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


          • Original Poster

            Ah, good to know. I suspect weakness or hip dysplasia at this point.

            He couldn't even sit evenly when he first arrived, and he still can't hop in the back of my station wagon without help.

            Part of the problem, I think, is that he was tied up for a long time (he had nails like dragon talons), not fed well, and his rear end muscles have atropied He seems to walk better every day, and he certainly can go longer without limping.

            The vet is more worried about getting his hypothyroidism under control and putting some weight on him. I figure I'll give him another week of good food and nice steady walks and see where we're at.


            • #7
              Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
              Nope. Dogs pace from fatigue, weakness, or pain.

              Not always true. My mutt dog likes to pace rather than do a fast walk or a trot and the vet has never found any problems with his body, he can race about faster than you can imagine (even at 11 yrs old!), but he's lazy!!

              It can be due to those reasons but it certainly isn't always.


              • #8
                Well, it certainly sounds like it *could* be dysplasia (or atrophy or injury). But dogs in the show ring often pace v. trot because they are not going the right speed. I would think that a dog with a very large trot (e.g. GSD) might need to be moving a a faster pace than a normal person's walk to require it to trot. It might fall into a pace simply to keep from going too fast. If you ever watch a dog show, you know that GSD handlers have to sprint to get their dogs to gait fully; the stride is that long.

                But, it is worth checking out if you never see him trot on his own either....if you can watch him off leash you might see him trot more.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ElisLove View Post
                  Not always true. My mutt dog likes to pace rather than do a fast walk or a trot and the vet has never found any problems with his body, he can race about faster than you can imagine (even at 11 yrs old!), but he's lazy!!

                  It can be due to those reasons but it certainly isn't always.
                  Of course there are exceptions, but the OP was asking as a general rule whether GSDs paced.

                  He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                  • #10
                    Pacing is generally considered a fatigue gait in most dogs. A dog that is half starved, has lived tied up and is just not healthy yet may very well not have any muscle to trot correctly. When he has had exercise and is healthy you will see more powerful movement and probably a trot.
                    GSDs have a lot of angulation front and rear and if they are unbalanced they will fall into a pace easier than an animal that is better balanced.
                    Having his hips checked is a good idea, but I would bet on weakness as the root cause.
                    Nina's Story
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                    • #11
                      they are also very prone to wobblers which will cause hind end weakiness. GSDs unfortunately have lots of soundness issues. I think the OP has a good plan of getting the dog in overall better conditions and then getting down to more specifics as far as soundness.


                      • #12
                        Mine does not pace, but his movement is unlike other dogs.

                        As an aside...if he's 1/2 bald, make sure to test him for mange. Sometimes the skin scrapings come back negative, so if he's itchy at all I'd be concerned even with a negative result. I had a dog that had a balding issue, scrapings came back negative, so we treated for all sorts of other (expensive) things,, antibiotics & steriods...thinking it was a skin issue or allergies. In the end..it was mange all along. Ivermectin is cheap, easy & effective.
                        "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville


                        • Original Poster

                          His skin scrapings were negative for mange, but positive for yeast. So far he's been on anti-fungals, antibiotics, and a short course of steroids. Also anti-fungal shampoo 2x/week. It seems to be working, the smell is better, and his skin is softer and less "elephant-skin" looking.

                          Vet suspected that the baldness could be also due to hormone issues and ran a blood test. That came back with low thyroid hormone, so now he's on thyroid replacement. That's going to take a few weeks to work, so if we don't see hair re-growth by then, we'll have to investigate further.

                          Poor guy. Thankfully he's all about pill pockets (well, any kind of food or food-like item, really), so giving meds is super easy.


                          • #14
                            I suspect you'll see a better gait when he regains some strength. Regardless, what a lucky dog to have found you! Sometimes these things are meant to be.

                            I've owned German Shepherds for years, and yes, they can have soundness issues, but no more so than any large breed.



                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ElisLove View Post
                              Not always true. My mutt dog likes to pace rather than do a fast walk or a trot and the vet has never found any problems with his body, he can race about faster than you can imagine (even at 11 yrs old!), but he's lazy!!

                              It can be due to those reasons but it certainly isn't always.
                              And there are some dogs that DO pace or amble--perhaps your mutt traces to one of those.

                              GSDs, however, are not supposed to pace.


                              • #16
                                After watching many dogs in different disciplines, I would say many trot and pace and trot again and pace some more.

                                I am not sure pure gaits are "normal" for dogs, other than in certain breeds, like the "hackney gait" of the minpins.

                                I have seen standard poodles pacing away at big shows and still win.
                                GSD, what they do is a bit harder to say, but many today don't move quite right behind anyway, so it is not so easy to see what they are doing.

                                Good for you to take on such a challenge.
                                Once the yeast problems are addressed and the thyroid is normal, if he is still having skin issues, check for demodex mites, as it is an immune problem and he seems to have had enough troubles to have taxed his immune system big time.

                                I am sure your vet is on the ball there, no need to second guess.


                                • #17
                                  I might misinterpret things...plus it's been a lifetime ago....

                                  My uncle had a GSD bitch that would pace - or maybe it was trot - like a wolf. It was her preferred gait.
                                  She was a breeder reject...she supposedly didn't take.
                                  One of her pups - that I know off had severe HD. Nothing on 2 others - that I know of of course.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thanks for all of the input - this is very informative!

                                    I tried picking up the pace on our walk this evening, and lo and behold, if I jog, Heinz (that's his name now) will actually trot! So it was a lack of speed on my part.


                                    • #19
                                      My current dog(a mini australian shepherd) paces. I have had two standard size aussies and neither of them paced. My pup does not seem to have any pain or weakness ( and actually had a mini chiro session from vet when my mare was being done-no mention of problems)and it actually seems like a very efficient gait for her. I checked with the breeder and she said that both of her parents paced as well.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Sunsets View Post
                                        Thanks for all of the input - this is very informative!

                                        I tried picking up the pace on our walk this evening, and lo and behold, if I jog, Heinz (that's his name now) will actually trot! So it was a lack of speed on my part.

                                        Given his background, I think trotting would be really good for building muscle and strength. But just like a horse, go slow and easy while he builds up those muscles. I trot my dog on the recommendation of his chiropractor because he gallops in the field so hard his muscles are somewhat unbalanced. (His "trot" muscles don't get used as much).

                                        Have fun!