In my 13 short years or so of showing dogs, I have been very lucky to have travelled all over the world thanks to this wonderful hobby of mine. Along with seeing parts of the world, I have also seen many dogs. No matter the show I’m attending, no matter the country I am in, you will always find me at the Japanese Chin ring. Whether I am showing, judging or just sitting, analyzing, and taking everything in—that’s where I’ll be.
Seeing my beloved breed in other countries has really helped to educate and train my eye, both as a Japanese Chin aficionado and as a judge. I believe there is no better way to educate oneself than to travel to other countries and learn from others. While watching your breed and speaking with other Japanese Chin breeders, owners, and handlers, one can learn a great deal of valuable knowledge and, let’s face it, no one can—or will—know it all. We never stop learning; it is part of what makes life so exciting and interesting after all.
The greatest difference that I’ve notice while on my travels is the great variance in type among the Japanese Chin in each country. Having had the great honor of judging the breed in three countries thus far, I have experienced this hands-on and not just from ringside observation.
Type, like people, differs from country to country (not that this is a bad thing). How bored would we be to see the same type over and over again? The excitement of coming across a dog that oozes the type you believe in, the type of dog you hope to breed, own, show or incorporate into your breeding program, is what keeps us going, pushing us forward and striving for “perfection” in our minds. That excitement, for me, is what keeps me interested and keeps my passion for this enchanting breed burning bright. Wherever I am in the world, I always find at least one dog that gives me goosebumps.
Why So Different?
I feel the various, different types that I see are a result of the different standards used by each kennel club/organization around the world. Personally, I find that some standards describe the “perfect/ideal” Japanese Chin specimen more clearly than others; although, I feel no standard has it perfected. Some standards provide more detail than others when it comes to anatomy and breed characteristics. You judge to the standard of the country you are judging in. (This goes without question.) But I ask you, do you breed to the standard of the country in which you live?
I believe the power to change a breed resides with two groups of people—the judges and the breeders. Judges decided which dogs become champions, promoting representatives of the breed by sending them into Group rings for a wider audience to view. As a judge, by awarding a dog, you are saying it is a good representative of the breed. (If you didn’t think so and just had nothing else on the day, then you shouldn’t make the award.) You are giving it your stamp of approval.
How often have you looked upon another breed and thought to yourself, “I know nothing about this breed, but Judge XYZ put it up, and I respect his or her opinion, so it must be a good representative?” I know I have. As for breeders changing a breed, not much explanation is needed. When you breed, you create. Make sure you create something you believe in and not just something that you think will win or is a current trend. What you breed is the next generation for the next generation to take in the ring and carry the breed further.
Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
What is correct to you may not be correct for me. As they say, what is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly. We all have our opinions of how Japanese Chin should appear.
What is important is that we must respect others’ ideas and opinions of correct type, especially if they are judging at a show we entered—and paid for that opinion.
My dream is that one day every kennel club/organization around the world will use the same breed standard, so that we can all “sing from the same hymn sheet.” Of course, it would have to be written by the most respected, experienced, and qualified Japanese Chin authorities from around the world to make sure that it includes everything that one would wish to learn and know about what a Japanese Chin should be.
When I read a standard of any breed, I always ask this question of myself, “If I handed the standard to an artist who has never seen this breed in his/her life, could he/she draw the ideal dog from the descriptions given in the standard alone?”