If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Leave well enough alone.

Say something like this to a German and be prepared to be confronted with a cross-eyed, glazed over stare.

Germans are known world-wide for their excellent standards and steady journey to perfectionism as seen in the manufacturing of autos and many other industries, including pure-breed German shepherds. Compromise and settling is not an option. Therefore only the best will do. This mindset is consistent in their breeding and training of quality German shepherd dogs.


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What is the SV?

The Verein für deutsche Schäferhunde (SV) which translates to the Society for German Shepherd Dogs was founded by Max von Stephanitz and his colleague, Arthur Meyer, in 1899. The German shepherd dog club set forward the standards and ratings of the German shepherd dog breed. These German shepherd dog standards are followed by numerous breeders across the world.

After the foundation of the SV and this disciplined system of breeding was established, the German shepherd dog was bred with the ultimate goal of creating a working dog inclined to high achievements. This description refers to the physical constitution, as well as the traits and characteristics of the shepherd.1

Take a look at the German Shepherd Dog breed standards detailed by the United Schutzhund Clubs of America.

The German Shepherd Dog SV Ratings Explained

It’s all Greek to me! When searching for a quality, pure-bred German shepherd dog, many may take a look at the long sequence of letters before and after the dog’s name and get quite overwhelmed. To fully understand the SV ‘rating’ system associated with the German shepherd, a little bit of background on how the judge comes to his/her decisions is needed. These ratings can change depending on the age and qualifications of the dog, and are received both on the local level, as well as the national level (Sieger Show). Awards for beauty are listed before the dog’s official name.  Awards for working titles are listed after the dog’s official name.

SV Ratings

Puppies up to 12 months:

Very promising (VP): The highest rating available to dogs under 1 year of age when shown at a show.

Promising (P)

Less Promising (LP)

Youth or Young dogs from 12 to 24 months:

Sehr Gut or Very Good (SG): Very good structure.  It is the highest rating a dog can get in a show until it has met all the requirements listed to receive a V rating.

Gut or Good (G): This is the lowest rating a shepherd can have and still be allowed to breed in Germany.

Ausreichend or Sufficient (A)

Mangelhaft or Faulty (M)

Ungenugend or Unsatisfactory (U)

24 months or older:

Note: Dogs must have a Schutzhund title or other recognized working degree

Vorzuglich or Excellent (V)

Vorzuglich-Auslese or Excellent Select (VA): The Excellent Select rating is only awarded at the annual National Sieger Show.

How are the SV Ratings Chosen?

The letters shown in parentheses are the abbreviations used for each rating in North America. In the puppy ratings, the letters are based on the English words whereas the ratings for dogs older than 12 months are based on German terms.

At the end of judging and prior to providing the individual critiques, the judge will often begin the commentary with the number in each rating category. For example, in a class of 8 entries, the judge may award 4 times V, 3 times SG and 1 G.

To mark the catalogue in this example, the first 4 shepherds would be awarded V1, V2, V3 and V4 whereas the fifth, sixth and seventh shepherds would be marked with SG1, SG2 and SG3.2

Still have questions? Comment below.

  1. United Schutzhund Clubs of America. http://www.germanshepherddog.com/about/german-shepherd-dogs/breed-standards/
  2. German Shepherd Shutzhund Club of Canada. http://www.gsscc.ca/the-german-shepherd/sv-show-placings.aspx