From the January 2019 Issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe.
My experience with judging this group has spanned over 37 years. I have noticed many changes, some good and some not so good. I might interject here that I am a Toy Breeder, but was very involved with the Non-Sporting breeds in the Detroit area back in the 60s and 70s. Those that I knew really well were the Bulldog (Dr. Vardon), Boston Terrier (Joe Faigel and Ray Person), French Bulldog (The Wests), Poodles (Jerry Edwards and Todd Patterson), Jerry also had Lhasas, and the Dalmatian (Al & Esme Treen). I learned more from them than just about the breed. I was taught how to judge different dogs and how to be a good sport. I miss their input and their companionship at the shows.
There are 21 breeds now. In general the good changes have been in soundness. The following is what I have observed. I am giving only my opinion. For what it is worth.
American Eskimo Dog
They came into the group in the 90s and have been quite successful in their breeding programs. I would prefer not to have the 15"-19" size dog examined on the table. As many of you know I am short and I don’t appreciate having them overwhelm me by making me stare straight into their mouths! I know the Parent Club requested this when they became recognized, but can’t we judges be selective? If the dog is that tall he should be examined on the floor or table. Otherwise the breed seems to be consistent with the standard. The white color is quite consistent and I do not see a lot of biscuit cream which is permissible. They are impeccably groomed and very little tear or pee stain is visible. I see too much of that in other breeds.
I have noticed little improvement in balance and movement. Sizes are more consistent as the short leg seems to have been bred out. The topline has improved from the roach back to level topline with a slight arch over the loin. Necks are nice and long and the tail carriage has improved. Overall grooming has been outstanding but sometimes I find the body underneath lacking in substance, no chest or spring of rib. One last point: the beautiful expressive dark halo around the eyes is missing in many. Even so the elegance is returning.
This breed requires an overhaul, but lately I have noticed some improvement in the points I will be making. Early on concentration has been directed to the head and the rest of the dog ignored. Now bodies of many are too long or on another the legs are too long which ruins the square profile. Here is another breed with the level topline almost gone. The standard reads that the topline is level and the rump curves slightly to the tail. Well, the curve has moved to the middle of the back and is a roach now, which is a serious fault. Legs are really getting better, but have a long way to go as they are still crossing, both front and rear. All in all the appearance has improved in color placement and they look quite formal again.
I have seen consistent improvement in both body and legs over the years. I used to see fronts that you could drive a truck through! Well, you know what I mean. They are supposed to be widespread, but not too far. Also, the bones of the forelegs are curved and they are not supposed to be, just the development of the calf makes the curve so as to appear bowed. Rears are better now and the wheel-back is coming back so that the elevated loins give us the “roll” so characteristic of the breed. I left the head to the last because generally they are good. I was taught to place the palm of my hand on the front of the skull with my fingers touching the chin as this makes a smooth line. However, I find that the bite is being over-exaggerated. The lower jaw protrudes way too far for the animal to successfully use his bite. A new Standard issued in 2016 gives more specific information on color and more Disqualifications of colors. A side comment here: I have never seen exhibitors of a breed so supportive of each other. The entries are large, and the competition is high, and they all applaud each winner as it is chosen. This is so delightful to experience.
I find they are really improving the structure especially the topline. They were losing the high set tail and the upturned anus so important to the square profile. In very recent assignments I found some improvement there which also improves the movement when the structure is correct. They move at a trot that is well balanced with good reach and drive. I am also missing the hippopotamus nose that is critical to the breed. My only criticism is that some exhibitors have not presented clean dogs to me. When going over the body I find my hands are now dirty. This surprises me since the breed has a problem with keeping the wrinkles’ fungus clear.
I love the “lion” look as I call it, but very few exhibitors know how to frame the head when a judge approaches. There are a few dogs that do not need it, but many do. The smooth coats are more numerous now and I am getting used to them. At first it is hard to see the expression, but it is there. Again I find incorrect structure but only in the rear legs. They do not have the proper structure that enables them to have
the stilted gait which gives such impressive power in the movement. Proper structure is that the stifle joint is not angulated and the hock joint is let down so there is a straight line from hip to floor. Lately is whole action is missing and there is no stilted movement. Need to get it back. One thing to remember, always approach a chow chow from the front as their deep set eyes do not allow them to see on the sides.
Coton De Tulear
This is a fairly new breed in this Group and we have had few entries in the beginning to evaluate them. Then they caught on and the entries were better but the dogs were not properly groomed. I found the body coat was over groomed with a part down the middle. The body coat should be natural and cottony. It should be fluffed out (messy). There should be a slight arch over the loin and I found more level toplines or no arch at all. The Coton has a very lovely temperament. The dog should be happy and lighthearted.
This breed has had breeders working hard to get rid of faults and bad structure. One thing (actually 2 things); first the tail: My goodness they are supposed to be a coach dog that runs under the vehicle. However, with their “gay” tails carried above the back they could never do this. Second, the feet: Very few have the nice round foot with the high arched toes, or lion type. Some have flat or splayed feet. I think this has to do with the type of footing they live on. I may be wrong. Otherwise the breed is spectacular in movement and coloring and is a pleasure to watch.
There are so few being shown that it is difficult to analyze changes. I do notice that when they are in the ring they use their treeing voices. Something they are bred to do. So far they seem to adhere to their standard quite well. I like to see them moving around the ring as they can be very flashy. Lately I have only seen one showing and it is Champion/A very nice one I might add.
Now here is a breed that requires a roach back and what do I see?? Lovely level toplines! Be careful breeders, you may lose that definitive head and topline profile. Heads are still lovely reminiscent of the Wests Francine: the all- time top-winning French Bulldog, although, her record may be broken by now. Their biggest problem is the rear legs being weak and they bend as
they gait. This fault needs to be bred out. Bat ears are not correct as required. They are thin and not set high enough. Then there are those that are set too high. I like the dogs that have short strong bodies.
This is a breed that is very expressive, and they seem to be losing it. The Spectacles are fading, the faces are too dark and many are much too creamy in body color. There is not enough grey and black tipping of the hairs. Almost as if the exhibitor is trimming their coat thus eliminating the black tips.
One big problem in this breed is their standard. (Not that it has to be overly specific, but a judge needs something to refer to when judging.) Many of the statements can be attributed to any breed. Some are vague. Please help us (judges). The breed is not consistent in size, they have poor fronts and bad tail carriage. Coats are generally good, but there are some that are too silky like a Maltese coat, not hard. They are lovely to see moving around the ring.
Fairly recent addition to the group. I find very little to critique as they seem to be still improving. The lion cut with the flowing mane is impressive with the compact body. There are areas in the country where I have none to judge.
Very new and no way to evaluate improvement or lack of improvement. The only fascinating feature is the front legs. They have elastic shoulders that allow the legs to extend out to the side. The Lundehunds function in life is to climb the cliffs to find the caves of the Puffin Birds and retrieve them. The Lundehund also has an elastic neck that allows the head to bend back to touch the spine to see better in the caves. Add to this are at least 6 toes on each foot for climbing. I saw one many years ago when a breeder of another breed brought one only to show us how they move. He admonished us not to try it as they are wary of strangers. He said let the owner show you.
Movement, or should I say reach and drive, is spectacular in all 3 sizes as well. They now have lovely square profiles, good tail sets on a majority of the dogs. However, some lack the fine chiseling on the face. This is a finite point but can spoil a good head looking straight on. Then I find variations in angulation to be lacking in the rear legs to balance the front legs in motion. This needs to be corrected on some. Splayed feet are another point I find will spoil the profle.
This is a nice little dog with great stamina. Size has been a problem not wholly corrected. They are getting larger than the 13" suggested and along with it are the heavy bone and coarseness. Movement seems according to type, only a few exhibits bounce around the ring. The bounce results from improper front and rear assembly. The standout ruff is lacking in many brought into the ring. This changes the unique profile of a slope from shoulders to croup. They have a wonderful attitude in the ring.
There have been times when entries of the Shiba Inu were large, but not lately. So it is difficult to say whether they are changed or not. Their popularity has diminished and as with other breeds will probably bounce right back later.
They have become increasingly popular and accordingly they are improved. Bowed legs are gone and the bad mouth has been corrected. Not many are being shown except at Nationals.
Hardly any change to note, but they are generally close to the standard. Except that the exhibitors are allowing the lovely coat to reach to the floor and the standard says no! An area of light is seen under the dog.
Really new here, but I have been privileged to judge them in other countries. They come in 3 sizes no separation. What I see here now are those being brought into the United States and are of great quality. I hope they continue to breed this quality here. I love their attitude aloof and calm.
As I said in the beginning, all the above is strictly my opinion, take it for what it is worth. Others may disagree, but isn’t that the name of the game? If we all thought alike there would be no need for dog shows!