Does your breed’s standard need to be changed?

From the November Issue of ShowSight. Thank you to everyone who offered opinions on this month’s topic! Click to subscribe!


Does your breed’s standard need  to be changed? If so, how?

The following is a selection of the responses. Want to voice your opinion to the fancy? Follow ShowSight’s Facebook page for the monthly question prompt!

Doberman—yes. Emphasize temperament. Should be neither overtly aggressive nor overtly shy. Allow for natural dogs to be shown without fault. —Anonymous

Whippet—nope. Looks good. —Anonymous

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of America took advantage of the time back in 1989 when the AKC was “standardizing” the Standards. We worked long and hard to fill in the blanks yet not change the original intent. I think it’s a pretty good Standard. —Betty-Anne Stenmark

The Doberman Standard does not need to be changed, it needs to be followed. —Anonymous

Yes , yes it would, the Shiba Standard was first put (more like thrown) by just a few dog people. After a lot of work we were able to get it revised in 1997, still lots of new dog people with input.Someone added a preferred size to the Standard that was over looked by breeders. It needs to be removed as shibas are in some cases to small bred and shown because they are afraid of size. However the Standard clearly says no preference to size. So it is oximonam to have it then say preferred size in mid size rangeOnce upon a time the Cream color was frowned upon. Now the Japanese breed them so we who import also get them. Some of them are the best in the litter, yet we have to sell it as a pet. I truly believe this hurts the breed over all.Our Standard says more than 5 missing teeth a fault. Yet we have judges penalizing dogs with one missing tooth which is common. I have judged and bred this breed for over 35 years, I have never seen one with five missing teeth. Yet we have judges cranking open the mouths of the shiba babies and in some cases have running them for shows. I am sure there is more, this is just off the top of my head and truly just my opinion. —Laura Perkinson

Actually, our breed standard is fine. Judges need to judge by our standard instead of continuing to put up dogs that don’t meet our standard. —Jeri K Conklin

Not so much change but a reality check. The Yorkshire Terrier has more product enhancers, including color which disguise the true identity that the Standard is suppose to reflect. Color and Texture come together to create a darker steel blue silk coat. In truth there is a range of color that exist and over time they can lighten as that is one of the genetic properties in their makeup. Less enhancement and a more honest presentation should be rewarded.

The dark steel blue should come down a notch to steel blue or a term that tolerates a wider range of steel blue. Match the genetic potential rather than a narrow spectrum and put more emphasis on the compact outline and smooth gait that is not exaggerated. —Anonymous

Not at this time as we recently revised it for AKC so 
we could move into miscellaneous class. (Bracco Italiano) 

Min Pins: I believe we need to accept natural eared dogs when the ears do not stand erect. So few do, that it is ridiculous to continue to allow judges who interrupt this as “lack of merit” when in fact it is simply a fault under the current standard. Instead of “must” stand erect, how about if cropped must stand erect, natural ears erect or dropped.

Many fine specimens are petted out due to poor crops or lack of a vet willing to do it! Many vet’s are no longer electing to do this procedure. I am by no means suggesting to take away the choic to crop, but I would like a choice not too! 

No just needs to be read by judges each time before they judge the breed. —Anonymous

Acutally no, in Pembrokes, our breed standard is fine, however, handlers are creating generic breeds with exaggerated qualities, and judges are rewarding them, which encourages some, who place wins over the standard, to breed for the exaggerated type seen in the ring today, which is why the correct dogs shown by breeders are absent. 
—Micah Richards

More Judges Education and reading of current standard. BTs have only three acceptable colors as described in the Standard. Cream, lavender, red, brown, gray are not acceptable just bc they may have “brindle” in the color. 

Yes, I think the Bernese standard needs to be changed to include a height DQ. Dogs are getting too big! They shouldn’t be tri-colored Newfs! —Anonymous

Would like to see the option of docking/not docking. Australian Terriers are a rare breed and the gene pool is small. Dogs are being imported (and exported) and having the option to dock/leave natural would make it so much easier for many breeders—and those showing their natural tailed dogs. Being able to show undocked/natural imported dogs to an AKC championship would make it nice for those importing dogs who wanted to show their dogs here and finish them—and undocked/natural dogs would be able to compete out of the US while they are very limited in that now. 
—Ruthann McCaulley

I have Miniature Pinscher. Yes, I believe we should change it to allow the blue color. The color became a disqualification because of the health and skin issues associated with the color. We needed have improved the breed and color so that there are few of any health and skin issues.

There are several breeders that breed the blue color and would show them here in America(it is a color allowed in Canada and Mexico) if this color were allowed. 
—Kathy Hawkins

Portuguese Podengo—Yes matter of fact we have approved the preliminary changes and are submitting for a member vote. Yes it will help clarify parts of the standard that judges have asked about. When you are a newer breed we use the opportunities in showing our dogs to listen to what judges feel might be better wording or a better description. While the changes are subtle, anything that provides clarity is good.—Diana McCarty

No! Our breed standard should follow what the founders of the breed club set as the Standard of the Breed. To change the standard would change our breed resulting in a breed not able to do its job. —Anonymous

The Chow Chow breed standard as it is right now is quite adequate with the exception of the need to remove the disqualification for self-colored noses in cream colored Chows. This has been an ongoing issue within our parent club membership. —Vicki DeGruy

No. It needs to be followed, enforced. Eyes to be tight, not droopy. Upper lips to be tight, not droopy. Shoulders to be laid back and upper arms of same length as shoulder blade. Rears to be moderately angulated: (Not extreme, walking on hocks) Bodies cobby, rather than long. The standard requirements make for good movement, good swimming, and not stressful for one mile freight haul. —Anonymous

Yes—the Australian Silky Terrier is a true Blue and Tan colour—purebreds are being mixed with non-purebreds and have either too much white in them or are far too pale to be true Australian Silky Terriers. I have watched too many dog show judging where these non-purebred mixes are being judged as the best of the breed—both in Tasmania and Adelaide—that I am aware of it is making it not worth my time to show my Australian Silky Terriers who are all true colours. It is a disgrace to my chosen breed—I do not care about winning or anything—I am only in it for the enjoyment. 

Yes. Cream Chow Chows have great pigment but noses go pink after a year of age. Standard allows slate noses on blue dogs but black noses on cream.

How would this benefit your breed? It would allow cream to compete in conformation past the age of one. Also will erase the abuse of backyard breeders charging more for the “rare” cream Chows which are prevalent in rescue. 

It is too long and confusing. It should not have the disqualifications it has, they are unimportant and divert the focus of what judges should be looking for. Labrador Retriever. 
—Kendall Herr

No. The Dalmatian Standard is quite succinct. Judges need to study and apply it by awarding exhibits with correct breed characteristics. —Diana L Skibinski MS

No! People need to breed better dogs, not change the standard to fit the huge gloppy, sloppy, mechanically unsound dogs being bred. A Basset is a field dog! —Anonymous

The Border Terrier Standard needs to be enlarged. Currently the breed is noted to be 1 to 1 1/2 inches taller at the withers than from the withers to the tail. Nowhere is it noted that it can be a significant number of inches from the withers to the point of the chest. A propertly constructed Border Terrier, with good layback of shoulder, can add 4-5 inches in this respect.

Our breed is currently becoming a generic, square dog. This needs to be addressed. —Ardith Dahlstrom

Norwich Terrier: a natural tail allowance would broaden breeders’ options to import European and Australian dogs. A misguided argument that one can import a dog without having to show him undermines the very essence of dog shows as places where we evaluate breeding stock. It is truly a reason why breeders hesitate to import. Furthermore, exporting a dog to a country where docking is not practiced requires an American breeder to either make a determination which dog gets exported at day three of life, and dock only the remaining littermates, or forces us to leave a natural tail on the entire litter. That in turn means a struggle when showing those dogs. In essence, a lack of natural tail allowance and description in the breed standard is resulting in narrowing our gene pools into an American “pocket”. —Magda Chiarella

The breed standard for the cavalier King Charles spaniel is fine. The conformation judges need to read it and understand that it means what it says. —Rod Russell

Yes—I think the Bloodhound Breed Standard should consider a needed modification. How—Height/Weight—Both Height and Weight have loosey goosey language (underlined below) that needs to be more straight forward and less left for personal interpretation.

CURRENT HEIGHT LANGUAGE: The mean average height of adult dogs is 26 inches, and of adult bitches 24 inches. Dogs usually vary from 25 inches to 27 inches, and bitches from 23 inches to 25 inches; but, in either case, the greater height is to be preferred, provided that character and quality are also combined.

CURRENT WEIGHT LANGUAGE: The mean average weight of adult dogs, in fair condition, is 90 pounds, and of adult bitches 80 pounds. Dogs attain the weight of 110 pounds, bitches 100 pounds. The greater weights are to be preferred, provided (as in the case of height) that quality and proportion are also combined.

HEIGHT/WEIGHT MORE: Others may wish to consider changing the Height/Weight references or to establish a maximum and/or a fault for dogs/bitches exceeding the same. This is not likely to be something the breed club members would ever agree on, but height/weight is an on-going topic with many strong opinions in the breed, which are often shared with judges. Again it stems from the loosey goosey language currently in the height/weight area of the standard.

BENEFIT: By having more straight forward language regarding height/weight judges will not misinterpret the intention of the standard; and further more appropriate sized bloodhounds may be given stronger consideration thereby avoiding the bigger is better style of judging and breeding.

ANOTHER AREA WHICH PERHAPS IS OVERLOOKED IS GAIT: The standard could also benefit from language mentioning not only Gait, but that the Bloodhound, as a working/hunting/trailing dog, should be able to sustain working for many hours and/or miles. Though hopefully it is well understood by all who judge the Bloodhound breed.

CURRENT GAIT LANGUAGE: The gait is elastic, swinging and free, the stern being carried high, but not too much curled over the back. —Marlene Groves

Yes, I believe the ECS standard should be changed to match the FCI standard with the size limit and it should be observed. Some dogs are looking too huge and coarse, and both breeder judges and judges are awarding not typical dogs! —Sylvia Knowlton

No, the breed standard for West Highland White Terriers does not need to be changed. It would be helpful if the judges understood what is correct is size. —Anonymous

Black gene GSP’s need to be allowed in the show ring. Currently a disqualification for show events.

If purebred “black” gene GSP’s were allowed in the show ring more GSP’s owners would participate in AKC events as well as increase the registration of the purebred black GSP’s. —Anonymous

Definitely no! Borzoi today have too much length to body, the standard calls for moderation, not exaggeration! 
Rise slight over loin! The standard should remain as it is! Breeders should breed to it, not away from it! —Anonymous

No, it would not be of value to the PWD breed to have the written standard changed. A very good illustrated standard was put together to assist judges. —Anonymous

Does your breed’s standard need to be changed? If so, how? A resounding no. How would this benefit your breed? It would not benefit the Doberman, the Standard should not be opened for any changes. —Leslie Hall

The Cavalier breed standard is virtually identical in the U.K., where the breed originated, to the breed standard of The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA (CKCSC, USA), the club that started the breed in the USA 60 years ago, to the AKC breed standard. None of these breed standards need to be changed. What needs to be changed is the education of judges so that they grasp a better appreciation of the breed standard and judge to it. They need to learn correct Cavalier head type and remember that this is a Toy breed and as such large specimens of the breed should not be rewarded—unless there is nothing else of any quality. The wording in the AKC breed standard is emphatic about trimming yet we still see sculpted dogs win at Specialties as well as important annual events. —C. Anne Eckersley

The standard does not need to be changed but the judges need to judge by the standard not the current “trend” in the breed. I am a group judge and breeder judge of bloodhounds and they are getting much larger than the standard!

How would this benefit your breed? It would keep the breed true to the standard. —Stephen Harper

The Bouvier des Flandres needs to include ears and tails. The ABdFC said that it could show but that It was not desirable. How would this benefit your breed? Yes we could then show all Bouvier in the United States. —Anonymous

The standard for the Samoyed is fine the way it is. For perfect clarity, “cream with biscuit” could be added to the description of coat color. The description of coat quality is right on. I believe a single tracking front and rear are adequately covered. —Anonymous

Shetland Sheepdog. Our breed should not be body trimmed or scissored. Heavy trimming or dogs who have been body trimmed should be penalized

How would this benefit your breed? Years ago we would only trim the feet, pads, ears, and head (mainly taking off distracting long hairs that would stick out) Now you watch some handlers body trim a neck, scissor the entire body to give it shape. Changing the way it looks. Sheltie hair doesn’t grow perfect. —Jane Hammett Bright

I believe that the German Shepherd Dog needs to return to the breed standard of years ago. In the early 70s when I first obtained my German Shepherd Dog the Breed was a strong, noble breed. Today the breeds angulation is so extreme that they look crippled. In the past, a major fault for this breed was when the rear hocks touched. Sadly, the New York City police K-9 unit no longer obtains their dogs from USA breeders. They have to go overseas to find dogs that can endure the rigid work load that is required.

I believe the breeders should aim to breed dogs more in line to the dogs of the past, such as “Troll Von Richterbach”. —Anonymous

A separate class for black standard schnauzers should be offered. this would be the first step for allowing blacks to be judges at the class level as a separate variety, then to compete with pepper and salt for best of winners or best of breed. This would mirror European judging the standard needs to be rewritten to allow dog with tails and natural ears benefit to breed: there are some nice examples of the breed who are excluded from judging because they have a tail. I will continue to dock and crop until I can no longer do so, because I prefer the look, but I acknowledge there are others out there who prefer the natural look. —Anonymous

The BTCA has been discussing standard changes for the Boston Terrier. Mostly, the attempt to clarify acceptable coat colors/patterns and what is not.

Pretty difficult to educate the public and judges on this using just words. Boston breeders have been diligent in breeding for the correct dog and eliminating hereditary conditions such as juvenile cataracts and deafness. As it is thought there is a connection between some of these genetic problems and excess white or dilute coat colors, the standard attempts to describe “desirable” colors and markings. Still, there is confusion and dogs have been put up in the show ring that do not meet the intent of the current standard. —Anonymous

Yes, the Papillon breed standard needs to change to include the differences found in the headpiece/earset of the phalene. The phalene, foundation of the breed, is fleetingly mentioned in the standard leaving much room for confusion and interpretation by breeders as well as judges.

Clarifying the description of the phalene headpiece would clear up much confusion between breeders as well as judges. It would benefit the breed by giving the breeders clearly defined goals. It would benefit judges by clarifying the definition making them more confident in their decisions. Too many judges shy away from phalenes as they don’t have clearly defined expectations of what to look for in the phalene head. Boosting everyone’s confidence in breeding as well as judging would only further the cause of the phalene. 
—Cheryl Conley-Maass

Yes. There needs to be less emphasis on exaggeration—“chest decidedly deep”; the head “readily distinguishable from that of all other retriever breeds”, etc. The upper end of the size standard is too tall for a working Retriever, there is too much emphasis on tiny details such as the shape of the head and eyes, or the size and shape of the curls rather than their texture. I’d also like to see “wickedly smart” corrected to wicked smart and the shoulder angle be 45 degrees in sync with other Retriever standards.

I say all of this as a member of the committee that wrote the current standard. I really couldn’t foretell where it would take the breed in the show ring.

How would this benefit your breed? Hopefully it would bring the breed back to a multi purpose working dog instead of the exaggerated unsound ones that are all too common in the show ring. This is a working Retriever, and as such soundness of mind and body should be far more important than minor details of type. Majors, championships and group placements should never be awarded to a Curly that doesn’t move freely and with strength, no matter how beautiful the head and coat. —Kathy Kail

I think the Affenpinscher’s nose length needs to be longer. The breed would benefit from better breathing plus a lowered risk of neck problems and dental issues.

Formerly there was a big difference between the Affenpinscher and the Brussels but cute seems to take precedence over functional.

The breed would also benefit to going back to no grooming allowed as the dogs being exposed to all the hair products used today do not benefit from that health wise. 

The Whippet standard was reworked throughly and believe it is an excellent breed standard at this point in time. —Lori Nelson

In my opinion the Boston Terrier Standard does not need to be changed but further clarified. In attending multiple breed seminars over the years I have heard many comments to that effect. If confusion is not addressed with clarification then new judges going into the breed will continue to have doubts as to what is correct and be more apt to award inferior specimens. —Suzanne Maxine Uzoff

We (the Alaskan Malamute Club of America) modified our standard a few years ago, with minor updates to emphasize such things as regarding all approved colors equally in judging; and to clarify a bit of vagueness in a few places.

In the last five years, we developed, as a supporting document, a pictorial guide to the standard, which further educates and clarifies the appearance of all recognized colors. This was an important project for our Parent Club.

So at present, I feel that our Standard is accurate and properly reflects the Alaskan Malamute in a way that is educational and understandable to judges, fanciers, companion owners, and the general public. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in your survey. —Phyllis I. Hamilton

Blue Tick Coonhound. Option: Use of ramp in Ring Present Blue Ticks are also UKC Trained in bench showing. 
—James A Zarifis

Yes we need to address natural tails. I prefer breeder option to allow docking or leaving it natural. Australian Terrier. —Anonymous

Dalmatian—No, the standard is accurate. It’s the judges that don’t adhere to it. The # 1 dog in the country is too long and is continually put up. What happens? Not just with this breed. Everyone wants to breed from #1, regardless of obvious non-conformities. —Anonymous

No. While there are some fine points that might need restructuring, opening the standard for revision would result in changes that would not benefit the breed. We tried to develop this a few years ago with a committee of seven people and no agreement could be reached on any of the changes proposed. Chinese Cresteds. —Anonymous

Even though our standard (English Setters) could clarify certain issues—sloping croup/gay/high tail set. I hesitate to open up the standard as AKC plays a role in the process and yikes what would they do to us! —Anonymous

Yes. Bouvier des Flandres. They need to allow for natural tails. There is no longer a need to dock them. Especially in the show ring. —Anonymous

No! How would this harm your breed? The earliest, old breeds would be stylized to the whims and fancy of modern day breeders. We have seen a push to standardize breed standards on the pretense of clarification. However, having attended numerous, various breed Judges Education Programs over many years and interacting with other Judge attendees I certainly believe that there is a segment of the judges population that, despite “dumbing down” and conforming breed standards, still will not understand bodily structure nor appreciate or respect the uniqueness of characteristics of that individual breed. —Lisa Dubé Forman

In my opinion, the Lakeland Terrier Standard needs a few changes which will serve to protect, preserve and improve the breed by clarifying the purpose for which the breed was developed, by restoring essential key words and phrases which were eliminated when the breed Standard was changed in 1991 and, by specifying key physical traits essential to job performance.The changes will be meant to emphasize the concept of “form follows function” so that breeders, exhibitors, judges, handlers, can help to preserve, protect and improve the breed by having a clearer understanding of what constitutes a correct Lakeland Terrier that is built to do the job for which the breed was developed. And by the way, when the original 1963 AKC standard was changed in 1991, Frank Jones, the famous UK (the breed’s country of origin) terrier expert, blasted the changes in his Dog World column, saying in so many words that the Americans couldn’t breed to the standard so they changed the standard. Of course, that has happened in several breeds through the years.

It is very depressing for me to observe the predominance of poor quality Lakelands over the past 10 or more years. And I hear that Lakelands in the UK are even worse. Obviously, many of the people breeding, exhibiting, handling and/or judging the breed have no/little/the wrong concept of what a correct Lakeland should be. And this can be directly related to the wording of the current standard which states that the breed was developed in the Lake District of England to kill vermin. This is definitely misleading. Foxes are not vermin. The breed was developed to kill the large, vicious mountain foxes which were killing the Farmers’ sheep and poultry. Furthermore, the breed standard fails to elaborate on the uniqueness of the breed’s job. Contrary to the incorrect statement which is in the official USLTC Lakeland Terrier Illustrated Discussion, the Lakelands were/are not put in saddle bags. Hunting is all on foot—the huntsman, hounds and 1-2 Lakelands. The uniqueness and hazardous, demanding nature of the Lakeland’s job is quite stunning and sadly underplayed in the AKC standard. Form follows funtion. Function: Few too many people realize that when hunting the large (oftentimes 20+ lbs.) mountain fox the Lakeland traveled on foot with a pack of hounds traversing oftentimes 30-40 miles in the course of a day over rugged, rocky territory in severe weather conditions. When the fox took refuge in a rocky den it was the job of the Lakeland to follow the fox into the den and kill it. Form: One should liken a Lakeland to a combination of a cross country runner and a Green Beret—a rather slim but well-muscled but lithe, flexible, well-coordinated, agile body with great running gear/great reach and drive and leaping ability,deep chest (heart/lung) capacity affording superior endurance, a dense weather resistant coat, a strong jaw and intense terrier gameness coupled with exceptional,intelligence enabling the Lakeland to “out fox the fox”.

In my opinion, when the day comes that the majority of the people involved with breeding, exhibiting, handling, judging Lakelands really understand the breed, quality will improve. Breeders must alway remember the following: know the breed because“If you don’t know where you’re going, you are liable to end up somewhere else!” And, breeders must constantly avoid breeding poor quality Lakelands because “You can’t make ice cream out of horse manure”. It is equally important for handlers and judges to give breed correctness the highest priority over showmanship.

P.S. The efforts of the USLTC Standard Review Committee, composed of three members whose combined experience in breeding and exhibiting Lakelands is well over 100 years, have been tabled by the current USLTC board so there appears to be no possibility of positive standard changes/revisions/clarifications in the foreseeable future. 
—Jean L. Heath

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