Interview with a Toy Group Judge Terri Lyddon
Our family began breeding and showing AKC registered Basenjis in 1967. In 1969, we joined the Columbia Missouri Kennel Club. But our success turned out to be in Chihuahuas, which we started showing in 1970. My first Chihuahua was a Long Coat, and she came to me via Santa Claus. My parents wanted to get a dog specifically for me and would ask at shows which breed I liked most. This had my parents frustrated, I am sure, because I picked out a Yorkshire Terrier and a Bernese Mountain Dog. My mother quickly nixed the Berner because of size. She asked me again about a pet of my own and I told her it was between a Yorkie and a white bunny rabbit with a pink nose. I giggle about their sense of humor when what I got for Christmas was a cream Chihuahua with a pink nose.
Our family showed in AKC conformation, and my brother and I also showed in Junior Showmanship. I trained and showed a Long Coat Chihuahua and a Smooth Fox Terrier to their AKC Companion Dog titles. I was also a member of 4-H for 10 years, participating in the Dog Care program.
I became a full-time handler in 1988 and a member of the Professional Handlers Association. I finished a dog in most of the Toy Breeds and some of the Non-Sporting Breeds. I finished well over 100 championship titles on Chihuahuas and 70 Shih Tzu champions. I traveled with fellow handlers who showed breeds other than I did. I believe that being exposed to many other breeds gave me a balanced education in dogs.
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Terri Lyddon: Currently, I live in Rocheport, Missouri. It is a very small town west of Columbia, Missouri, by 12 miles. I have been involved with dogs for 55 years now. Granted, some of those were when I was a child. Breeding, training, and showing the dogs was a family activity. Belonging to a 4-H club and FFA, I had my dogs as a club project for both.
At the end of 1999, I applied to judge. I was approved by AKC to judge in the spring of 2000. During my 22 years of judging, I have traveled all over the United States and to four foreign countries.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Terri Lyddon: Currently, I breed Miniature Dachshunds (Long and Smooth). I have had Dachshunds since January 1, 2005, and my kennel name is Kurzbeinig Kennels (although they are all in my house).
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?
Terri Lyddon: My highest honors were with two Smooth Coat Chihuahuas. One was winning the National with Ch. Dartan’s Pirate Blackbeard, and the other was winning the National the following year with his son, Ch. Jo-El’s Drummer Boy. I also won several all-breed Bests in Show with “Drummer.”
What are some of the qualities I most admire in the Toy Breeds?
Terri Lyddon: I love the Toys because of the diversity of the breeds. There is something for everyone within the Toy Group. There are smooth-coated breeds for those who don’t want all the grooming. There are very long-coated breeds for those who enjoy the cathartic brushing activity, and there are breeds in between. There are active breeds and some not so active. And the Toys can be scooped up to take along anywhere you want. Toys don’t take a lot of space, unless you have many, and when you show them you do not have to get on your hands and knees for most of them. They are always tabled for exams—also an advantage. Really, there is so much to love in the Toy Group.
Have I judged any Toy Breed Specialties?
Terri Lyddon: I have judged Nationals for Chihuahuas, Japanese Chins, Papillons, Pekingese, and Yorkshire Terriers.
Can I offer any advice to exhibitors regarding the presentation of these “table” breeds? Preparation is key for presenting a Toy breed on the table. Judges do not enjoy chasing the dog around while going over them on the table. And while some breeds do not require a lot of hands-on for the table examination, such as the Min Pin, others need to be examined thoroughly. The Pekingese and the Shih Tzu first come to mind for a thorough examination.
Some longtime exhibitors have “downsized” to Toys. In my opinion, has this had an impact on quality?
Terri Lyddon: Having exhibitors downsize from larger breeds to a Toy Breed may bring a different perspective to a breeding program. For example, if the exhibitor comes from breeds for which movement is important, they may expect that of their Toy Breed as well. I like this because soundness and movement are important to quality of life.
Toy Breeds can require special care. Do I have any advice to offer breeders, exhibitors, and judges?
Terri Lyddon: I feel that some Toy Breeds are pushing to be too large. Cavaliers and Cresteds are two that I think are getting too large. Cavaliers are just getting too large. Crested are getting too coarse. The very first line of the Crested standard reads, “General Appearance: A toy dog, fine-boned, elegant and graceful.” Food for thought.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Toy Dogs of the past?
Terri Lyddon: I have seen some very nice Chihuahuas in the past few years. All breeds kind of go through peaks and valleys in their overall quality. Chihuahuas are currently on a peak, while Papillons and Havanese are somewhere in the middle. I can find something in each breed that reflects proper breed type. The big ears, and where they are set, are important for breed type in the Papillon. The correct topline for Havanese is hard to find. I am using this directly from the standard: “The straight topline rises slightly from the withers to the croup.” I see a lot of level toplines and a lot of drop-off just before the tail. Again, quoting from the standard: “The tail is high-set and arches forward up over the back.” These are just a few of my observations in the Toy Breeds.
All breeds kind of go through peaks and valleys in their overall quality.
Why do I think Toy Dogs can become outstanding Show Dogs?
Terri Lyddon: Toy Breeds can and do become outstanding Show Dogs. You can train them almost anywhere. You can take them with you almost anywhere. And many of the breeds take hours of grooming each week, which allows for a lot of human interaction daily.
If I could share my life with only one Toy Breed, which would it be and why?
Terri Lyddon: If I had to choose only one Toy breed, that would be difficult. It would be a Chihuahua or a Shih Tzu—but it would have to be a pretty one!