Page 154 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 154

                What that means is that less than 10% of the rec- ognized breeds give judges a quick reference to areas of importance within their respective breed standards.
I would say that most fanciers understand that there are breeds that are known as “head breeds” while there are also some known for other unique traits. One example would be the Brittany. In the standard from 1977, 40% of the total was assigned to the running gear, 25% to the head and 35% to the body while the revised standard of 1990 there is no emphasis on any one part of the standard.
In some cases, breeds did not make changes to the standard requested by the AKC. Some examples of those would be the Airedale Terrier, last revised in 1959, the Border Terrier 1950, and the Cairn Terrier all the way back to 1938.
Most breed standards were revised in one way or another with some adding DQ’s and some removing them while others have had more than one revision over the last 40 years. If you read the AKC secretary’s page, it is not uncommon to see proposed standard changes on a regular basis.
You may wonder “what does all this have to with breed type?” Remember the standard is the “blue- print” for the breed and a revision is a little like an automaker coming out with a new model with some modification in style, body and parts.
When the founders of the breed wrote the original standard, they were describing their “ideal” represen- tative of what they created the breed to accomplish, you know it as “Form and Function”. One must won- der when a breed makes changes to the standard is it being done to accommodate the breeders or those movers and shakers within the breed to make the “Blueprint” more in line with what they are produc- ing and not what was intended when the original standard was written.
When the original standards were written the breeders had very significant reasons for almost all parts that make up the whole dog with areas of sig- nificant importance. Each part serves a purpose. The size and type of eyes, ears, and nose play very signifi- cant roles for many breeds. While in others the run- ning gear and depth of chest, play a very important role in that breed’s ability to do its job. Even tails are extremely important and one area most often ignored by today’s judges and breeders.
In his book The Pointer and his Predecessors An Illustrated History of the Pointing Dog from the Earli- est Times by William Arkwright, published in 1906, in the chapter on the Characteristics of the Pointer he writes; “The Tail of the pointer must be moder- ately short, with thick bone at the root, very gradually tapering to a fine point. It must be covered thickly with smooth glossy hair, and must be carried straight, on a level with the back the ‘pot-hook’ curve being very objectionable. When questing it is wantoned and lashed without ceasing, but when pointing it is held rigid, either quite straight or with a slight ‘pump- handle’ curve.
There is nothing for a Pointer more necessary than a tail of the right shape, of the right length, of the right carriage, and of the right covering. It is more convincing warranty of pure blood and high breeding than reams of written pedigree. There is a saying about the pedigree being carried on the back, but in this case, it is told by the tail. The head is invaluable for showing the character of a dog, but for a certificate of blue-blood apply the other end!”
The Arkwright book is a rare collector’s item and considered one of the best books on the history of the Pointing breeds ever written. In the above-mentioned description, while the breeders place a great emphasis on the head and other parts of the breed, they felt it was the tail that was the true sign of blue–blood pedigree. If you compare today’s standard for the breed it reads. “Tail—Heavier at the root, tapering to a fine point. Length no greater than to the hock. A tail longer than this or docked must be penalized. Carried without curl, and not more than 20 degrees above the line of the back; never carried between the legs. A little further down in the standard under Gait the tail moving from side to side rhythmically with the pace.”
Almost all Pointer breeders long for the specific “Bee Sting” tail and proper carriage and side to side motion. Yet all too often this very specific description is ignored in the ring.
This is just one example of the importance of a specific area of a standard that is often overlooked or misunderstood by judges that do not study breed type. The standard also says not carried more than 20 degrees above the line of the back.
Tails are a problem in many breeds and until judges pay attention to those that don’t adhere to the standard, breeders will continue to ignore them. In my own breed, the Vizsla, our standard reads: “Tail set just below the level of the croup, thicker at the root and docked one-third off.” Ideally, it should reach to the back of the stifle joint and when moving it should be carried at or near horizontal, not vertically or curled over the back, nor between the legs. Unfortu- nately, high tail carriage is also accepted in my breed and many others.

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