Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Let The Standard Be Your Guide

This comment was posted to my blog about a week ago and I thought it would be a perfect topic.

About there being "high" tails in the breed...what about low set tails? We showed a bitch a few months ago and she took reserve. The judge commented that he liked her spotting best and he felt her temperament was "remarkable" but he said her tail was too low. We'd never been told this before so I asked him what he meant and he said the back should go straight across to the tail, whereas our bitch's rounds off a bit at the rear. Her rear end looks almost identical  to the the dog named (name removed). So I am confused. I see nothing wrong with my dog's tail, but according to the judge, when their rear "slopes" like that it is a major fault. What do you say about that?

What I would say is that everyone needs to read and understand the AKC standard for their breed.  It amazes me how many exhibitors haven't a clue what our standard calls for.  The standard is our "blueprint" to what our breed should look like.  It helps us plan our breedings to improve or enhance the various characteristics of our dogs and to select the right pups as show potential.  Judges are also supposed to know and understand the standard for every breed they are approved to judge.   Also, we are talking about two separate features here, the croup and the tail.  Although bad tails generally go with bad croups, they are two separate entities.  The standard says -

The back is level and strong. The loin is short, muscular and slightly arched. The flanks narrow through the loin. The croup is nearly level with the back. The tail is a natural extension of the topline. It is not inserted too low down.  It is strong at the insertion and tapers to the tip, which reaches to the hock. It is never docked. The tail is carried with a slight upward curve but should never curl over the back.

Poor croups are very common in the breed, and generally go with bad tail carriage, and are judged based on how serious the problem is.  It is not a major fault, but affects the basic structure of the dog.  A dog with a steep croup can not extend it's rear legs properly which shortens up the stride.  There is a reason for all the structural features called for in our standard.  Our goal is a dog that can trot effortlessly for long periods of time.

The dog she questions does indeed share that same fault.  If I could change one just thing about her to make her a better Dalmatian, that is precisely what I would change, but judges are judging the whole dog, not just it's individual parts.  If a dog is faulty in one area but particularly good in many other areas, it will most likely win in the ring.  No dogs are perfect, and all judges have some faults that bother them more than others.  You have to look at the whole dog, how it is presented, what condition it is in, how it moves and what kind of temperament it displays in the ring.  Although a steep croup is a fault, as is a high tail carriage, they are only part of the picture described by the breed standard.

Hope that helps.

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