A Guide to the GSDCA Futurity/Maturity System


Are you new to the GSDCA, or a member/breeder with a new litter?  Consider participating in the GSDCA Futurity/Maturity System!  Established more than fifty years ago, the Futurity/Maturity System was designed to provide a "look into the future"; a method for breeders to showcase their litters and a way for others to compare, contrast, and learn from their efforts.  Today, despite all the changes in the world of dogs, the purpose remains the same.  Breeders and members are provided a way to showcase, share and learn.  The Futurity/Maturity System is comprised of several parts: litter nominations, regional shows, National Specialty finals, and Red Book tabulations.   


Litter Nominations:

The country is divided into Futurity/Maturity regions, and litter nominations are grouped into these regions. The breeder or co-breeder must be a parent club member, and the litter must be nominated in the region in which the breeder resides.  Basic info is needed for the nomination form such as name and AKC numbers of the sire and dam, name of breeder(s), and date of birth. The fee is minimal if you nominate before the litter is born and up to 30 days after birth and increases with time until the published cutoff date. The litter nomination year runs from September 1st through August 31st.  Puppies born during that time frame are eligible to be shown in the Futurity shows the following year. 


Regional Futurity/Maturity Shows:

The AKC requires that puppies must be at least 6 months of age to compete in Futurities.  Thus, with a litter nomination year that ends on August 31st, the Futurity show season begins on March 1st and runs through Labor Day of the following year.


Puppies from a nominated litter are eligible to be shown in the regional Futurity shows following their litter nomination year. The owner does not need to be a GSDCA member for the puppy to compete in a regional Futurity. Competition is similar to a conformation event and the class to enter is dependent on the date of birth.  Dates for the year’s futurity classes are found in the premium list.  Class dates for present and future years may also be found on the GSDCA website.


The year following its Futurity, a dog is eligible for Maturity classes at the regional shows.  The owner does not need to be a GSDCA member for the dog to compete in a regional Maturity. If the litter was nominated, but the dog was not entered in a Futurity the prior year, an additional fee is required above and beyond the fee to show in a Maturity class. The time frame and class to enter is dependent on the date of birth. 

Dates for the year’s Maturity classes are found in the premium list.  Dates for present and future years may be found on the GSDCA website.


The winners of all Futurity male classes compete for Best Futurity Dog.  After he is chosen the second-place winner in his class competes with the remaining first place winners for Reserve Futurity Dog.  The same process is done with females, after which a Best In Futurity and Best Opposite Sex to Best In Futurity is chosen from the male and female winners.  The same process is followed for the Maturity classes, resulting in a Best in Maturity, Best Opposite Sex to Best In Maturity, and Reserve winners for both sexes. 


National Specialty Finals

Best, Best Opposite and Reserve winners from each region are automatically entered in the GSDCA National Futurity/Maturity Finals held at the National Specialty if at least one of the owners is a GSDCA member.  If a Best, Best Opposite or Reserve winner in a region is owned by a non-member, an owner must apply for GSDCA membership by September 15th in order for that dog to be eligible for the National finals.  At the National finals, the winner of the male classes is awarded the title of Futurity Victor or Maturity Victor.  The winner of the female classes is awarded the title of Futurity Victrix or Maturity Victrix.  Finally, a run-off is held between the male and female winners, for Best In Futurity and Best Opposite Sex to Best in Futurity, and also Best in Maturity and Best Opposite Sex to Best in Maturity.  


Red Book Tabulations

The sires and dams of the dogs shown in the regional shows are given points for the number of dogs defeated by their progeny.  The points for all regions are combined and the top twenty sires and dams for each year are calculated.  The top ten in each list are eligible for the Stud Dog/Brood Bitch presentation class at the National Specialty.  This is a presentation of the sires and dams with their winning progeny rather than a competitive class.


The Futurity System is an important program offered by the GSDCA and is part of the glue that holds this national club together.  Just as members look forward to the National Specialty in the fall, they look forward to Futurity weekends in the spring and summer.  Organized by club members for club members, they are a wonderful time to share, learn, connect with old friends, and make new ones.  We hope you will join us! 


For questions about the Futurity System, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 



~ Cyndi Flautt

   National Futurity Chairman

Loose Leash Temperament Evaluation Procedure

  1. The loose leash examination must be the first physical contact made with each dog.
  2. Double handling must be discouraged during the temperament exam.
  3. There should be a predetermined place in the ring where the handler takes the dog and stops. The dog should not be posed, stacked or given any command. The dog may walk around or stand naturally by the handler. Although the leash is loose, the handler is to remain in control of the dog.
  4. Without staring, the judge should approach the dog from six to ten feet, and speak in a friendly manner.
  5. It is the judge's responsibility to decide if a dog may be safely approached. If in the opinion of the judge, the dog is menacing or threatening upon approach, he should stop and excuse the dog.
  6. After the loose leash evaluation is completed, the judge may have the handler present or pose the dog.
  7. The judge must be consistent, treating all dogs equally. He should continue to evaluate the temperament of each entry the entire time it is in the ring.
  8. Dogs can be aloof but never fearful. Unsound, shy dogs must be penalized. Awards must only go to dogs that are completely sound.

EXCUSE: dog is menacing or threatening
DISQUALIFY: dog attempts to bite the judge
EXCUSE: dog attacks another dog in the ring
DISQUALIFY: dog attacks the judge or another person in the ring

Objectives of the Futurity System

The objectives of the Futurity System, created by the Futurity Re-Evaluation Committee, headed by Connie Beckhardt in 1984, are the same today as they were then:

  • To bring together each year as many young animals as possible from different bloodline combinations so that the fancy can share and learn by the accomplishments of each other.
  • To provide all club members, large breeders or single puppy owners alike, the opportunity to compete year after year under conditions equally favorable to all.
  • To provide an incentive to improve Shepherd bloodlines and add to the excellence of the breed as a whole. The Futurities provide the breeder with the opportunity to nominate his/her litter as a statement of faith in his/her breeding program.
  • To provide a means of early identification to breeders of the strength and weaknesses of current stud dogs.
  • To provide a Judging environment that will promote the highest level of sportsmanship, thereby eliminating direct perceptions of unfairness.

What is a Futurity?

by Gail Sprock

From the 1972 Red Book

Fifty-four years ago the Shepherd Club of America sponsored a sweepstakes that was the forerunner of our present Futurity system.

The planning for today’s multi-regional Futurity organization began in 1926 when the first Breeders’ Futurity Sweepstakes was held in conjunction with the National Specialty. Only members could enter dogs. There were two classes – Junior and Senior, and sexes were not separated. Fees were high for 1926 – $10 nomination for each dog entered and two later payments of $5 each. The first three placings in each class took home a share of the purse. There were 18 young German Shepherds entered at that first show. Sixteen competed.

In 1927 the sexes were divided and forty-three animals out of the seventy initially nominated were shown. According to old Shepherd Reviews (The Shepherd Dog), it actually took years for members to understand Futurity rules. They didn’t nominate brood bitches in time, forgot to keep puppies eligible etc.

Breeders of other kinds of animals found Futurities to be an important tool in their plans, too.

Some cattle “specialty” clubs have had Futurities in the past that were similar to those early Shepherd Futurities. The only cattle organization still sponsoring a major Futurity is the American Angus Association. That show is in its 26th year. There are seventeen classes in the two-day show, around 500 entries and over $25,000 in prize money. The “Supreme Champion” of the Futurity takes home more than $5000. Seventy-five percent of the entrants win some money – 30th place in a class may get $40. Contestants appear in the catalogue and in their classes in order by age.

Futurities are more important in horses today than they are in cattle. John M. Kays, writing in a book simply called The Horse, talks about Futurities:

“The term Futurity in the case of draft and saddle horse shows, as well as in the case of racing events for speed horses, involves the nomination of in-foal mares whose colts, when dropped, will be kept eligible by the payment of entry fees to compete on show day or race day, as yearlings, two-year-olds, or three-year-olds, depending on the specific rules of each futurity competition.

“Futurity events at the shows and on the race track have catered to the needs of horse breeders in the following ways: First, they have emphasized in the minds of breeders the necessity of mating their mares to the best stallions available. Futurity shows have done much to help identify the best sires. Futurity colts, to win, must be both well bred and well fed. The breeder who wishes to win on show day must mate his mare with discrimination and then grow the colt.

“Second, futurity shows have taught breeders how to fit their colts. The underfitted, half-starved entries which appeared in number at the first futurity shows now appear infrequently. Exhibitors have learned that colts whose fitness is mute testimony of neglect have a tough row to hoe on futurity day. The have also learned the penalty of overfitting…

“Third, – futurity shows bring colts together in numbers where prospective buyers may see them at a minimum expenditure of time and money. A great many yearlings have participated in futurity shows which have changed hands before the week is over…

“Fourth, the futurity show makes a strong appeal to the small breeder who may have only one colt to show, for the futurity classes afford him a splendid opportunity to advertise his offering.”

But even in horses, Futurities have lost some of their importance. The reason is thought to be because there are objective ways of testing inheritability of the traits considered most important in horses and cattle. It doesn’t have to be subjectively judged. A track record is an objective measurement. Weight gain tests are scientifically measured. At a bull testing station X number of progeny of each herd bull are raised and run through a myriad of identical, measurable tests while they’re growing up.

German Shepherd Dog breeders have no scientific, objective means of evaluating their dogs. They may think they’re objective – but that’s a subjective opinion. Consequently, Shepherd Futurities have developed instead of losing importance.

Other breeds of dogs too have nationally organized Futurities. The Collie Club of America has either a Futurity or a Sweepstakes with its National Specialty each year. Bitches are nominated before they whelp. The Shepherd club, though, is the only one whose national Futurity has spread all over the country. In the late 40’s there were only two regions – the East and the West. By 1952 there was talk of four regions and 20 years later there are the ten we have today – including Hawaii.

What lies ahead for German Shepherds and the people who breed them is only conjecture, but the continuing expansion of the breeders’ Futurity and the development of an undertaking like this stud dog/brood bitch compilation makes it obvious that the Futurity will play a major role in shaping tomorrow’s German Shepherd Dog.

Futurity/Maturity States per Region

REGION #1 NORTHEASTERN: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut

REGION #2 MID-ATLANTIC: New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia

REGION #3 SOUTHEASTERN: North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Puerto Rico

REGION #4 GREAT LAKES: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

REGION #5 MIDWESTERN: Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota

REGION #6 SOUTHWESTERN: Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico

REGION #7 SOUTHERN PACIFIC: Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, Southern California (all counties south of San Luis Obispo, Kern and San Bernardino), Hawaii

REGION #8 MID-PACIFIC: Nevada (except Las Vegas), Utah, Northern California (all counties north of San Luis Obispo, Kern and San Bernardino)

REGION #9 NORTHWESTERN - Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota, Alaska, ALL OF CANADA