Page 152 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 152

                IS BREED TYPE BECOMING
EXTAINCT? BY WALTER J. SOMMERFELT lmost all long-time active participants in the sport of pure-
bred dogs will tell you that it is “Type” that distinguish- es one breed from another and makes it unique. While observing a dog in the stack it should be apparent that a
dog has correct type for that breed and in movement it should also display those character- istics that make it unique from other breeds.
Long time judges that went through the extensive process of adding breeds at a much slower pace than many of today’s judges will tell you that learning and developing the understanding of each breed’s unique type and qualities were essential in the learning pro- cess of acquiring additional breeds.
Most of our highly respected judges from the past and in the present always tell you to find type first in your exhibits and then prioritize each animals’ virtues and place them accordingly. It was a common statement that a good moving dog can be found at any local shelter or roaming the streets, but a truly great dog exhibits extreme type first and if built correctly it should move properly.
Today the common words heard are that judging today is either too generic or too politi- cal. Why is that? Is it a lack of knowledge on both the judges and the breeders in recognizing correct type or does it go even deeper?
As someone who has been involved in our sport for many years, I would just like to share my own observations and opinions of what is happening in our sport regarding breed specific type.
According to the Golden anniversary edition of the The Complete AKC Dog Book pub- lished in 1979, there were 133 recognized breeds and varieties spread across the six Groups. Twenty-six Sporting, 23 Hounds, 32 Working, 23 Terrier, 17 Toy and 12 Non-Sporting, later the largest of these the Working Group would be split to create todays Herding Group.
Here in 2020, a little over 40 years later, I calculate 198 recognized breeds and varieties with 32 Sporting, 32 Hounds, 31 Working, 31 Terriers, 21 Toys, 21 Non-Sporting, and 30 Herding. We also have 11 breeds in the Miscellaneous Class and an additional 68 recog- nized FSS breeds. That brings the AKC recognized total to 277 breeds while the FCI has well over 300 breeds being recognized.
Obviously being able to not only distinguish the different breeds and to identify the correct breed type is a difficult task for any judge.
At some point during the 1980’s the American Kennel Club requested that all of the parent clubs review and reformat their breed standards into a more uniform style. Prior to this request many of the standards went back many years and some were very specific and unique while some were rather short and open to greater interpretation.
No less than 1/3 of all breed standards in 1979 assigned a point scale to various parts of their standards. In some cases, the point scale was a simple guide breaking down a rating of importance to specific areas of the breed and in others it was very specific assigning points to various parts such as eyes, ears, muzzle, topline and so on. These point scales served a pur- pose in alerting breeders and judges to the areas the framers of the breed standard felt were most important in distinguishing them one from another. In fact, two of the Hound breeds, the Irish Wolfhound and the Scottish Deerhound, have an “order of importance” written right into their standard. When reviewing the standards today you will find that only 17 breeds assign a point value of importance in their standards along with the Wolfhound and Deerhound breeds that kept the order of importance.

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