BREED STANDARDS ARE REQUIRED TO KEEP ON TRACK
By Pat Gilbert
We need Breed Standards to define the key features in each breed. Those who came before us and drafted the Standards around the world in most cases gave very good word pictures. How and what they look like and move like are outlined in many of the individual Breed Standards. No two breeds are the same even though they may serve the same general purpose. Since all breeds are different, although some are only slightly different, you should expect them to look, move and act differently.
Some of the showring trots do show function in breeds (Miniature Pinscher is a fancy trotting dog) but in the case of Sighthounds the trot only shows the possibility of a functional hound. We can only judge phenotype not genotype. Genotype is the breeder's job. What I can judge is important breed features and CONDITION. Condition includes a healthy looking animal with clean teeth, properly conditioned coat for its breed, proper color if required, and correct muscle tone and mass for the breed. Then take the whole package and trot it. We trot dogs by tradition because livestock was/is judged at the walk and trot. Since we are physically unable to show many breeds at their functional and working gaits, we use the trot.
Yet, we almost go to fisticuffs when it might be suggested that the show ring is artificial and the show ring trot has nothing to do with function of the breed?
We can and should look for the correct trot of a dog who functions at a double suspension gallop over rough terrain if that is the purpose. We should look for maximum bending of joints to achieve the unique suspended trot in the German Shepherd Dog. We should look for the correct smoothly efficient trot of the Siberian Husky. Each breed's trot is unique and is contingent on his basic original purpose.
I can also judge behavior or temperament but what I see in the ring will not tell me hunting ability. If someone has ever seen the "King of Dogs" look and arrogance, then they understand correct behavior and temperament of the Afghan Hound.
If someone has ever seen the true and correct Golden Retriever's kindly expression, its eagerness and self confidence, they have seen a wonderful gentleman's gun dog as outlined in the Standard. He is friendly, reliable and trustworthy. He is not quarrelsome, timid, or hostile with people and other animals. That is what he should be and a good one always is. Those wonderful features do not tell me if he is gun shy. Only the field work will tell.
So, we go to dog shows and run around the ring. It is fun. Many dogs really enjoy it. How many of our dogs still work their basic original purpose? Few by society, environment and geography. While it might be nice to try, many of us don't have the wherewithal to do it.
That does not mean we should not remember and keep the proper image based on the breed's basic original purpose when we show our dogs, judge our dogs and most of all breed our dogs.