Page 40 - ShowSight Express, June 8, 2020
P. 40

Form Follows
In this issue, I will continue with Hayes Blake Hoyt’s definitions of type, soundness, style and quality, which appeared in Frank Sabella’s book, “The Art of Handling Show Dogs” and is repeated here with his kind permission. As a breeder of top- winning Poodles in the 1930s-1950s, Mrs. Hoyt was also a top-winning owner-handler, capturing the top award at both Westminster and Morris and Essex. All material from the book is in italics. My comments are in regular type.
This definition of soundness should give every reader pause for thought–deep thought!
The breeder as well as the dog judge is frequently asked which he prefers: “type” or “soundness.” In fact I, as well as other judges, often receive a questionnaire from different breed clubs in which question number one is usually, “Which would you place first, the sound dog or the typey dog?” It might seem to the novice breeder that these two qualities are opposed, as well as being of equal value, and that, therefore, one has to choose between them!
Now this is a common confusion among dog people where there should be none. For “type” and “soundness” are never opposed, nor are they equal in importance to the judge. The breeder will, and should, have a different value concerning them as we shall see at the end of this article; nevertheless, to both breeder and judge, type and soundness are separately important to a purebred dog.
They are not equal in importance to the judge, because a breed to be distinctive from other breeds must have type; if a dog lacks type one may not even know what kind of dog it is! For example, a mongrel may be gloriously sound, but as it lacks type, we do not know what particular breed it represents; we may even not be able to evaluate its soundness. Therefore, in a pure- bred dog, type is of paramount importance. However, no matter how typical it may be, if it is unsound, it should not win in the show ring.
In dog parlance, what, exactly, does the word “sound” mean? It means an ani- mal with all its proper physical parts in place and functioning as nature intended.
It means that a dog can move properly and vigorously; can see, hear and scent; can breed; a dog which wants to do all these things, whose disposition is alert, poised and cooperative.
A dog with one leg deformed or gone, with an eye blind or even with entropy, with a tes- ticle missing is unsound; a dog of such nervous or bad temperament that it cannot behave in a reasonable or controllable manner is unsound. On the other hand, a dog may be only “tempo- rarily” unsound. For instance, a dog could be lame and recover (example: a pulled muscle causing lameness); a dog could have a fit, be uncontrollable during this period, yet be normal in every respect after this temporary unsoundness was over.
To further illustrate the difference between “soundness” and “type” in our breed: A Poodle could have very short, narrow, high-set ears, definitely wrong in “type,” but because such ears do not impede its ability to hear, and because both ears are there, it is a “sound” Poodle. On the other hand, should there be only one ear, due to some accident, the dog is unsound, because a dog should have two ears.
To further illustrate: An undershot bite is not unsound–such a bite is perfectly feasible for a dog’s use–but it is untypical. Such a dog is scored against for lacking “type.” Flat feet, provided pads are thick and toes strong are not unsound, but they are untypical; so is a squir- rel tail sound because it is a perfectly normal physical tail, although it is not a “typey” one.
A blind dog is unsound, but a dog with round, light eyes is not; in fact, light eyes often possess keener vision. In our breed, however, they are not typical and are, therefore, scored against in the show ring.

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