Page 326 - ShowSight - November 2019
P. 326

                Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Q & A
Sharon & Jim Utych continued
ing we received and still receive. We especially like to thank Paula Ayers and Brenda Martz (Brookhaven), Linda Whitmire (Almeara), Nikki Parente (AutumnHill), Jamie and Ellen Seidman (Tassajara), Pat and Juhan Mixon (Tudorose), Lisa Carnes (Legendcrest) and of course Kathy Gentil (Sumara). They always say it takes a village and it certainly does. These people have become lifelong friends and mentors and we cannot thank them enough.
Erica: I began breeding Shelties on a limited basis in 1974. Over the years the Shelties were replaced by Cavaliers and a handful of Norfolk Terriers for comic relief. In our rather small but precise breeding program my daughter Rachel and I have produced a line of specialty winning Cavaliers. We have won the ACKCSC National Specialty four times, three times with home bred dogs. We are enor- mously hard on ourselves. We take the responsibility of breeding seriously and are determined to “first do no harm.”
What is the most important thing for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Please forgive us while we take this question and run!
Erica: In the Cavalier I am most concerned with two things; I will address each individually as both aspects are integral to correct breed type.
First, shape and balance. From a distance my imaginary dog should be easily recognized as a Cavalier. I visualize a moderate dog with ample bone in proportion to its size. Slightly longer than tall, standing over a lot of ground with a gentle transition of neck into well-angulated shoulders. Upper arm in equal proportion to the shoulder; front legs set well under the body for support and ease of movement. Solid top line, hard back and tail a gentle extension of the back.
In this breed correct make and shape are easily recognized from a distance; as a judge I like to ask the dogs to trot into the ring and move to a far corner. This initial introduction gives me a quick glimpse into each animal’s shape and balance.
Walking down the line the head should be a pleasure to look at, with large, dark, round eyes placed directly on the front of the skull. The essence of breed type in a Cavalier is reflected in the eyes; large, dark, round eyes placed directly on the front of the dog’s face mimic that of a baby animal. A Cavalier’s limpid, kind eyes should elicit a human response: the viewer’s heart melts.
Ample cushioning under the eyes helps create the desired soft, sweet expression. “Cushioning” does not mean over-done wrinkles or pendulous lips. Neither of those traits should ever be present in a correct Cavalier. Rather, “cushioning” refers to a slight amount of fat under the eyes which helps to soften the animal’s expression.
Although drop of white in the corner of an eye should not be penalized, overwhelming white surrounding rings are a jolt to the senses and an anathema in a Cavalier. In a serious breeding pro- gram puppies displaying a distracting amount of white in the eye are never bred, but rather placed as pets in loving homes. To reiter- ate: a small amount of white in the eye is acceptable. A distract- ing amount of white is not. As breeders we are all judges. We are judging breeding stock, and “white of eye” is practically impossible to eliminate from the gene pool. Therefore, as a breeder-judge I will overlook a slight drop of white which does not affect the dog’s expression. But I would never reward nor breed from an animal whose eyes exhibited a startled expression. The importance of a soft expression in this breed cannot be over-emphasized.
Rachel: Soundness is also a part of proper breed type. Every breed has a defined structure and movement that is correct for that individual breed. A dog with proper breed structure will have the correct breed outline standing and on the move. On the move the
Cavalier reaches at least to his chin and preferably further; the fur- thest extension of the front legs should be where the legs touch the ground, rather than somewhere in the air. The imagined animal tracks up equally well with a driving rear. On the move the tail is carried happily, level or just above, a natural extension of the spine. The dog tracks straight coming and going. Well-set shoulders and a properly angulated rear will give a Cavalier reach and drive, but will also contribute to the proper Cavalier outline both baiting and moving. When we view a Cavalier across the ring, we want to see the outline of a Cavalier, not an American Cocker or English Toy Spaniel.
Focusing on correct make and shape has meant that as breed- ers we occasionally place beautiful dogs in pet homes because of a structural fault that we do not want to present in the ring or intro- duce into our breeding program. But we hope that we are coming closer to producing the ideal Cavalier (that we hold in our minds’ eye) by focusing on breeding dogs that are correct as well as pretty.
The importance of coat quality should not be overlooked. Coat quality is not an “extra.” It is an essential part of breed type. More coat is not automatically better; the coat should be straight and silky with moderate undercoat and furnishings. Throughout histo- ry breeds have begun by separating dogs based upon coat. Remem- ber that if you really diverge far off the correct Cavalier coat, at some point you have altered an essential characteristic of the breed.
Erica & Rachel: Finally, we are both more than willing to per- sonally mentor anyone aspiring to judge Cavaliers or to simply hone their skills in understanding breed type. It is important that those of us who are privileged to award points understand that Cavaliers are historically a very young breed and breed type may sometimes seem elusive. But the breed has made great strides in the last twen- ty-five years. Judges, when you find a Cavalier which reflects the desired breed type its limpid, kind eyes will elicit a human response and your heart will melt. And that’s a promise.
I’ve been in dogs all my life. My parents raised Beagles and Westies when I was young and at the age of 13, I whelped my first litter solo. In 1963 I participated in my first dog show where I took a 3rd place ribbon (which I still have) and a BOB in the match later that same day.I worked for my first vet in 1974 right out of high school and owned and operated several grooming shops and a busy boarding kennel throughout the years. In 1995 I bought my first two Cavaliers and built my breeding program using the Ravenrush dogs to set my ideal Cava- lier type. I hold the Gold medallion
from AKC for BBE champions and am the breeder-owner-handler of the oldest Cavalier to earn a GCH and the oldest Cavalier to earn a Lure Coursing title—both dogs achieved this at the age of 12 1/2. My foundation, Ch Excalibur Pearl Jam has her ROM as does her grandson, Ch St Jon Live Wire CA.I live in Martin, Georgia. What do I do “outside” of dogs? Not much, but I do love to cook.
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? As far as popularity of the breed being good or bad, I think it’s a double edged sword. Those wanting to make easy money , or so they think, will become interested in breeding with profit as their motivation. It’s our job as guardians to attempt to steer these individuals in the right direction to better their breeding through education. Starting in this breed isn’t always easy. Breeding stock isn’t something easily accessible. I believe anyone wanting to break into the breed needs guidance.
  324 • ShowSight Magazine, noveMber 2019

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