Page 156 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 156

                Many people say, “Tails are not that big of an issue.” Wrong! Fram- ers of the breed have reasons for each description. Think of it as the headlights or taillight on your car. If they were aimed at the sky would you be able to see the road? Would the person following you be able to see that you were in front of them when you were coming to a stop?
It is the same with each part of a standard. Proportions are another area of confusion for many judges and breeders. Do you know what is Square? Rectangular? Slightly longer than tall? Ten is to nine and so on?
How about length of back and length of loin? Do you know where the back ends and where the loin begins? Or length of leg and depth of body? Size is another area that varies greatly from breed to breed. In those breeds that have a disqualification for size or weight judges need to pay attention. Too often a good dog is put at the end of the line or ignored because a judge thought it too big or small in a breed with a DQ. If the judge thinks this is a deserving dog, he or she must mea- sure it and if it is within standard place it accordingly or disqualify it from the ring. A 13" outstanding Shetland Sheepdog is just as deserv- ing as the one just under 16" both specimens deserve equal consid- eration as long as both fit within the parameters set by the standard.
Toplines in every breed serve a specific purpose and, in most cases, they are referenced as level, or a slight slope, while others are unique to their breed. The gentle “S” curve of the Whippet or the Ameri- can Foxhound which calls for, “loins broad and slightly arched with defects being very long or swayed or roached back or flat or narrow loins.” The Borzoi is another example with “the back rising a little at the loin in a graceful curve.” There are many breeds with unique toplines called for in the standard. It is very important for judges and breeders to pay attention to the details.
Many breeds are specific about heads and in many cases, they are the “hallmark” of the breed. For example, the “one-piece head of the Flat—Coated Retriever”, the blunt wedge and expression of the Shet- land Sheepdog, the massive short faced head of the Bulldog which also under proportions is stated, “the circumference of the skull in front of the ears should measure at least the height of the dog at the shoulders.” The different heads, ears and expression of the Corgis. The brick–on–brick description of the Setters. Again, these are just a few of the examples that distinguish breeds from one another.
While we are on heads, we should mention the bite. There are 68 breeds that call for full dentition which requires the judges to examine the fronts and side of the bite. There are another eleven breeds that require the judge to open the mouth completely to check dentition. Five breeds just require a thumb examination while two breeds, the Chinese Crested and the Xoloitzcuintli, have a different requirement for the hairless and coated varieties
All breeds have some type of description of the coat and again this is extremely important in the form and function for many breeds. There is a reason for a single coat, a dou- ble coat, a wire coat, the length and shape of coats and how much grooming and trimming is permitted under the stan- dard. Today in the show ring many exhibits are bathed and groomed so often the true texture or natural fall of the coat is hard to evaluate, but that does not change the need for the coat as called for in the standard and it should come into the decision making especially in those breeds that have very spe- cific definitions in their standards.
When learning about the various breeds some of the breeds’ educational materials will offer an acronym to help judges remember certain things. Examples would be the Sus- sex Spaniel, the four L’s; Long, Low, Level and Liver. Or the Neapolitan Mastiff with the W.H.A.M. method; Wrinkles, Head and Mass. The Dogue De Bordeaux uses H.E.A.R.T; Head, Expression, Athletic, Wrinkles, Trots like a lion. Lab- rador Retriever; Head, Coat and Tail.
Different breeds have very specific grooming requirements regarding coats and trims and the judges and exhibitors need to pay attention to these. There are many exhibitors that take grooming to extremes way beyond what is called for and permitted in the standard. I am not aware of any standard that call for “pretty” and says it should win because it is just groomed to look so pretty.
As you can see there is a great deal of material in every breed standard that is very specific and in others very vague. First and foremost, it is the responsibility of the breeders to pay attention to the standard and try to breed according to the standard and not toward a current “fad”. Many of the Parent Clubs have put together illustrated standards to assist judges in identifying breed type and breed specific traits. Many of these are excellent reference guides for judges and I know on a personal note I review those in my possession regularly. On occasion a judge and an exhibitor may have a conversation on the exhibitor’s breed. I have often been surprised when in a discussion I have pulled out the illustrated standard that I had with me only to have the exhibitor say that they had never seen one on their breed. This is just one example of why breeders must learn to talk to each other and to mentor and discuss the breed with newcomers so they can understand the importance of breed specific traits as called for in the standard.
When it comes to gait remember all breeds have a pur- pose and a specific gait for that breed. Learn what they are. Bulldogs don’t move like German Shepherds and Fox Terriers don’t move like Pointers, while a Borzoi won’t move like Min- iature Pinschers or Labrador Retrievers. Be sure to apply the proper gait to the breed being judged.
A message to some of the parent clubs would be to try to expand some of the points in their standards to clarify those areas that are particularly lacking in specificity.
In closing, breed type matters. If you are a judge, breeder, or exhibitor you should be able to recognize each breed and its unique qualities. To do any less is to continue to reward a “pretty or showy” specimen that is “Generic” and will eventu- ally look like an “All-American” breed.
Just my opinion.

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