Judging the Toy Breeds

Judging the Toy Breeds

Walking into a ring full of Toy breeds can be compared to a child walking into a Toys “R” Us store! If it is the Group ring, you are confronted with a variety of breeds; different colors, different shapes, different heads, different tails! Just like a child in a toy store searching for the perfect toy, you, as a judge when judging the Toy breeds are also searching for the perfect Toy!

The only thing the breeds have in common is their size. They are all small.

The Toy Group is the only Group of the AKC’s seven Groups where every breed is basically the same size. Every breed in the Toy Group is judged on the table.

Some Toy breeds only come in one color or color pattern. Others may come in a variety of colors, and several have more than one coat variety. In breeds that come in a variety of colors, for example, Pomeranians, Havanese, and Chinese Crested Powderpuffs, try to keep your color preferences (if you have them) to yourself, and judge all colors equally!

In breeds where the varieties are judged together, for example, Brussels Griffons and Chinese Cresteds, judge both varieties equally! Lucky Chihuahuas; their two varieties are judged separately.

There are a variety of head shapes in the Toy Group. Some standards are very specific as to how the head should look. Other standards give a little more leeway… or
judges’ interpretation!

Just like a child in a toy store searching for the perfect toy, you, as a judge, are also searching for the perfect Toy! The only thing the breeds have in common is their size. They are all small.

The Toy Group has more breeds that only require a “thumb exam” than any other Group. They are the Pekingese, the Pug, the Japanese Chin, the English Toy Spaniel, and the Brussels Griffon. I always wonder why the Shih Tzu isn’t included in this grouping?

Only three breeds require full dentition. They are the Manchester Terrier, the Toy Fox Terrier, and the Chinese Crested Powderpuff. The Havanese standard is unique in that it requires full incisors. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel standard states that a complete scissors bite is preferred. While most judges do not seem to have a problem checking the full bite on the Manchester Terrier and the Toy Fox Terrier, this is unfortunately not true in Chinese Cresteds! We see judge after judge in the ring only checking the front bite of the Powderpuff. Please check the entire bite on the Powderpuff, as they are to be faulted for missing teeth.

Several Toy breeds allow for the hair on the top of the head to be tied up. The Toy Poodle may have a topknot tied with elastic bands. The Biewer Terrier requires the hair on the top of the head to be tied in a ponytail and a bow may be used for adornment. The Shih Tzu standard requires the hair to be tied up on the top of the head. The Yorkshire Terrier standard allows one or two bows. Havanese may have their hair loose on the top of the head or may have two small braids tied with small elastic bands.

Toys may be square or slightly longer than tall (SLTT) in proportion. Some standards actually call for a rectangular proportion. The square breeds are the Pug, the English Toy Spaniel, the Yorkshire Terrier, the Brussels Griffon, the Toy Fox Terrier, the Miniature Pincher, the Pomeranian, the Poodle, the Affenpinscher, and the Biewer Terrier.

The SLTT breeds are the Chihuahua, the Manchester Terrier, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the Maltese, and the Papillion. The Havanese standard states in one place that the breed is slightly longer than tall, yet in another section of the standard it states that they have a rectangular outline—confusing.

The Chinese Crested standard specifically calls for a rectangular proportion. PLEASE remember this when judging.

The only Toy breed that does not specifically address proportions is the Italian Greyhound.

Different Toy breeds require different tail carriages. Several require that the tail be on or over the back (or hip). These are the Pug, the Shih Tzu, the Japanese Chin, the Pomeranian, the Papillion, the Havanese, the Maltese, the Pekingese, and the Biewer Terrier.

The following breeds do not require the tail on or over the back: the Affenpinscher, the Brussels Griffon, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the Chinese Crested, the Italian Greyhound, the Toy Manchester Terrier, the Miniature Pincher, the Toy Poodle, the Silky Terrier, the Toy Fox Terrier, and the Yorkshire Terrier.

The Chihuahua is unique, as its standard allows different tail carriages. It may be carried sickle either up or out, or in a loop over the back.

Please keep the differences between the Toy breeds in mind when you are judging them. And have fun in the Toy Store!

Be sure that you know the correct tail carriage for the Toy breed you are judging.

While some Toy breed standards state that the tail is or may be docked, we are seeing more and more of these breeds in the ring with natural tails! If the parent club has not addressed this issue, it is up to the judge in the ring to determine how they will handle this.

Every Toy breed, except two, requires a level topline. The Miniature Pinscher standard allows for a level or slightly sloping topline. The Havanese standard calls for a topline to rise from the withers to the croup.

The Brussels Griffon and the Chinese Crested both have two coat varieties that are judged together. The Chihuahua has two coat varieties, but they are judged separately. In addition, the Toy Poodle and the Havanese may be shown corded.

Many long-coated Toy breeds are parted down the middle of the back! The Havanese standard, however, states that this is not done in the breed. On the other hand, Chinese Crested Powderpuffs may be shown with or without a part.

Please keep the differences between the Toy breeds in mind when you are judging them. And have fun in the Toy Store!

Judging the Toy Breeds | Featured image from AKC.

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  • Shelley Hennessy is currently approved by the AKC to judge four Groups, plus numerous breeds in the other three Groups, Rally, and Lure Coursing. She is a breeder-judge of Chinese Cresteds, Whippets, and Afghan Hounds. She has participated in Conformation, Obedience, Rally, Agility, Lure Coursing, Scent Work, and Barn Hunt

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