On Judging the Skye Terrier
The Standard of Perfection of any breed is a subjective interpretation. It is how one person pictures a breed’s written ideal. As a breeder of Skye Terriers for fifty years, I will attempt to keep this article objective. In general terms, this is how I view Skye Terriers.
Anna Katherine Nicholas is a good friend of Skye Terriers and the author of two fine books about the breed. She feels the key words in judging are type, balance, style, soundness, and condition.
“The ability to understand, recognize, and evaluate these qualities is essential to judge,” she says, and I agree with her completely.
Type is breed character. It is the combination of distinguishing features which add up and make the individuality of a breed. Skye Terriers are long and low and their breed type can be abused by fanciers. Type should not be a matter of personal preference, but an adherence to desired breed characteristics as stated in the Standard. There are variations in size or bone, but substantially, type should remain constant. Those Skyes that adhere closely to the written word are obviously nearer to correct type.
Balance, perhaps, is easier to understand, since there are clear dimensions involved. A correct Skye is well proportioned—length of head to length of neck to length of back and tail and height. A Skye with correct proportions can look short-backed. A Skye that may be lower with a shorter neck and head, but the same length of back as the latter dog, is unbalanced. Skyes can be too long as well as too short. Usually, a properly proportioned dog stands out because of correct balance.
Style becomes the next ingredient. It comes from that proper balance combined with showmanship and personality. A dog of lesser quality but with showmanship tends to conceal many of his faults.
Soundness is more difficult to describe. In dog show parlance, soundness refers to proper action or movement. The Standard is quite specific as to shoulder placement and front assembly as well as the rear quarters. It tells us what to expect as the dog moves towards you or away from you or as you view it in profile. To me, a proper-moving Skye is not only sound but typey. In other words, a correct Skye is a sound Skye. Skyes should drive from behind. If the front seems unable to keep up, it means that the front assembly is not completely correct. Often, the questionable movement of the topline is the five-away of labored action. Equally unpleasant is a lack of drive from the quarters. This is every bit as unsound and is not typey.
Condition of a Skye is not just length of the coat. It includes flesh tone, firmness of muscle, cleanliness of the teeth, and a clear and bright eye. Length of coat is always a plus, but it should also include fullness and cleanliness. A healthy coat is not a broken one, no matter what length. Nails should be properly clipped and hair between the pads scissored. All of this is part of a well-conditioned Skye.
I have not gone into specifics as to color of eye, placement of ears, teeth, shoulders, elbows, feet, neck, topline, etc. All of these are contained in our Standard. These are all parts of the whole which make up type and balance. This, then, becomes the judge’s task: to sort out these parts and find as perfect a complete Skye—one she or he feels fits our Standard of Perfection. It is a personal assessment, and we would hope those who judge the breed would take every opportunity to become well-acquainted with the breed, including the viewing of our breed video, obtainable from the AKC, and the seminars offered by our parent and regional clubs.
On Judging the Skye Terrier
Walter passed away on October 6, 2013 just as the Skye Terrier specials entered the show ring for the club’s 100th National Specialty Show celebration at the Montgomery County Kennel Club
SHOWSIGHT is grateful to the Skye Terrier Club of America for providing Mr. Goodman’s article and for allowing it to be republished here for the benefit of new and longtime readers.
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