It all started in 1974 when John Bock and others formed Club Drahthaar of Canada in Ontario. A small band of hunters, predominantly German immigrants, they were determined to establish in Canada the foundation for breeding the Deutsch-Drahthaar, the German versatile hunting dog that they had known in their earlier years. They imported DDs from Germany and chose to follow the same testing and breeding regulations that had been used by the Verein Deutsch-Drahthaar e. V. (VDD), the German breed club.
Breeding kennels were established, and over the years the club membership grew. Finally in 1984 Chairman John Bock succeeded in merging the Canadian club into the VDD so that our DDs could be entered in the German registry. An agreement was also reached with the Jagdgebrauchshundverein e. V., the German versatile hunting dog testing organization we know as JGHV, to allow us to officially train judges and run tests. The Deutsch-Drahthaar was truly established in Canada.
Now known as VDD Group Canada, the club gradually expanded from Ontario into other provinces. Although we have always struggled with developing this relatively small club across such a large country, we were able to have sufficient breeding kennels, judges and testing opportunities for the DD to be viable here. It looked like clear sailing, and for many years it was. Then around 2017 we hit a roadblock.
First in Newfoundland and soon followed by other provinces, the Veterinary Associations forbade their member veterinarians from shortening the tails of dogs on penalty of losing their license. The provinces soon followed with legislation criminalizing tail shortening by members of the public. At the present time tail shortening is not allowed in seven of the ten Canadian provinces, and we have no doubt that the remaining provinces will soon follow their lead.
The problem is this: The Breed Standard for the DD specifies that this breed MUST have its tail shortened to approximately 3/5 the normal length and the Breeding Regulations require that all puppies have their tails shortened within the first 3 days of their life. While we have come to admire the look of the DD with its shortened tail, the true reason for the shortening is not cosmetic. Data has shown that hunting dogs with long tails are frequently subject to tail injuries while going through the bush, and that such injuries too often result in recurring infection and eventual amputation of the tail. This can cause significant problems for the affected dog.
In Germany, VDD and other hunting and working dog breed clubs have long had an exemption to the German ban on tail shortening because of the potential harm to the dog. In Canada we made a plea for a similar exemption but our efforts were rejected by both the Veterinary Associations and the Provinces. We then asked VDD to give us an exemption within the Deutsch-Drahthaar Breed Standard and Breeding Regulations. Again our request was rejected. It seemed that our time as a member of VDD e. V. was over. As of January 1, 2020, we could no longer be a member Group within VDD because we could not shorten the tails of our puppies as required for the Registry.
What to do? Few of us were willing to abandon this hunting breed that we love. Of course individuals could always buy dogs bred in Germany or the US as long as importing dogs with shortened tails was not forbidden, but without a breeding organization in Canada the breed lines we have developed would disappear and overall interest in the breed would decline.
Likewise, the idea of breeding our DDs independent of VDD had its own problems. The superior quality of the breed for hunting was based on the strict breed standard and breeding regulations of VDD. That is why John Bock had worked so hard to make us a part of VDD. Without the oversight of VDD the Canadian club could be open to forces that somehow wanted to change the breed in other ways.
This was a serious dilemma and things looked pretty bleak for the past couple of years. It took a while, but eventually we found a solution: to become a member of the Deutsch-Drahthaar Welterverband e. V or DD-WV. This is the path we are currently following.
So what does this mean? Known in English as the Deutsch-Drahthaar World Association, the DD-WV is a collection of breed clubs around the world that are breeding DDs but for some reason or the other do not qualify for membership in the VDD. It was formed by VDD in 1992 to bring these clubs together in a relationship with VDD. VDD’s main purpose in establishing this organization was to ensure that these clubs followed the DD Breed Standard and VDD Breeding Regulations as closely as they possibly could so that the breed did not inadvertently or even deliberately get changed as it has outside of VDD in North America with the German Wire-haired Pointer.
This organization suits our situation perfectly. While we cannot be a member of the VDD due to the provincial bans on tail shortening, we do want to continue to test and breed our dogs as DDs in every other way. The Breeding Regulations of the DD-WV state that when a litter of DDs are born in a country or state that has legislation against tail shortening then the tails are to be left long. Otherwise we will follow the VDD Breed Standard and Breeding Regulations as always.
There are some limitations to this arrangement. Long-tailed dogs are not allowed to run in VDD-sponsored tests; therefore our Canadian-bred dogs with long tails will not be eligible for a VDD-GNA test, the Armbruster or the Hegewald. They will have to run in Canadian DD-WV tests. However DDs with shortened tails from VDD Groups are eligible to run in DD WV – Canada tests.These tests will be the same VJP, HZP and VGP tests that we have always run, judged in exactly the same way. To qualify for judging in these tests, our judges will have to also be a member of a JGHV-affiliated club such as VDD Group North America or the DK club in order to maintain their standing as JGHV judges. All of our judges have done this.
This is a very workable solution. We have reconstituted VDD Group Canada as the DD-Weltverband Canada and will hold our first DD-WV test this spring in Ontario. We have worked out all of the administrative details and there is little change in procedure for the members. To a large extent we will continue working with the same German colleagues in VDD and JGHV.
It’s been a long and often challenging journey since 1974, but rest assured, the DD is alive and well in Canada. Thank you to those of you who have stuck with us through thick and thin. We will need you to step up more than ever as we make this latest transition for our beloved breed.