CORRECTLY JUDGING TO THE STANDARD
By William Usherwood
I have waited several months for someone to address the New Yorkshire Terrier standard and so far no one has. I wanted to reply as to my thoughts and not sound like an ogre, but I have waited long enough so her goes.
As many of you know my profession is that of a hairdresser and I am one of the nation’s top colorist belonging to many of our fields top ranking color associations so when I say that I know color I come with over 45 years of knowledge about color. That said, my first Congress of Colorist meeting in New York in 1969 I was told color is color. If you say red then it will be the same for hair, paint, fabric, plastic, etc. and so on. Now of course there are many shades and hues, and depths of each color so one must be fairly explicit. If you say white or black it is that ---no shades, hues, etc. If you say blue then of course you may clarify, robin’s egg blue, steel, sky blue, sea blue, pewter blue and then you can also add depth or lightness of color such as dark steel blue, silver blue etc. I am now sure that you can see where I am going.
I have judged Yorkies for over 30 years and have loved doing so. The Gordon sisters, and many others mentored me so that I felt I had a good handle on the breed and apparently most exhibitors felt that way as my entries have always been abundant when I have been on a panel. I have been honored to judge many specialties in this country and overseas and all were thrilling to do.
Several months ago I read the new Standard of the Yorkshire Terrier that the AKC had approved. I was stunned! I could not believe what the Yorkie club had proposed and called and asked several of my Yorkie friends, who I respect, to ask why. I understand why most were concerned by the parti-colors and others that were appearing, but for the life of me could not understand why they would be concerned as the old Standard addressed color very specifically and would have done away with any of these atrocities. Nevertheless, as a judge I would have to judge by this new Standard as that is what the club now wants.
Most exhibitors have seen me excuse Yorkies over the years for obvious color enhancements. Some have been quite exciting the prettiest purples that I have ever seen, and silver blues that would make any grey haired person envious but they were not real and out they went. The old Standard gave me a choice as to what I wanted to do, now there is no choice. If the body color is not a dark steel blue and the headfall is not a deep rich tan and legs bright rich tan fading to light ends then they are to be disqualified. There is no choice and there is no allowance.
The matter of color break is not addressed in the new Standard so on the day the are 12 months and 1 day old they are considered mature and an adult and must not have any black, bronze, or fawn hair. I have never seen a 12 month old Yorkie that was a solid dark steel blue under 18 months of age and most are still carrying black ends when they are two years old from their puppy coat. What do we do? You must disqualify them as I read this new Standard until they are all the same shade of blue. Do I want to do this of course not, but I must do my job and that is to follow the current Standard. As a judge I can not pick and chose which sentences in the Standard I will use, I must enforce the entire Standard.
Now everyone in Yorkies has tried to tell me that I am to ignore this disqualification and judge like I used to. They have also described dark steel blue as everything from almost white to black, my answer to that is go to your local paint store---Sherman Williams no longer has a dark steel blue paint chip but they will mix you a trial sample of that color. Look in the color encyclopedia for dark steel blue and you will finally understand what it is. This is what the Yorkie Standard calls for, anything else disqualifies. Have I seen this color--yes--often not much and that is why I was so horrified that it was not given a major fault status not a disqualification. I would say without Roux steel blue almost 70% of what is in the ring today is disqualifying. Maybe this is exactly what the powers that be want and it will have to happen now if the judges do their job. Rich golden tans are almost in the same box, most are off white or pale blonde and hardly rich golden tan.
Why have I written this, I was honored to judge in Arizona several weeks after this new Standard went into effect. I asked the AKC Executive Field Rep to be at my ring as I had already noticed some of the Yorkies walking around and they were not dark steel blue. I was even approached by a lovely lady judge who was at the show on Saturday and once again wanted to tell me what deep rich tan and dark steel blue were. She of course had bred many Yorkies and wanted me to understand their new Standard. I said it is not hard to misunderstand dark steel blue and deep rich tan, very seldom seen in the ring nowadays.
On Sunday I disqualified the robins egg blue Yorkies with white to off white falls. My name was vilified from coast to coast on the Yorkie list within 1 day.
Surprisingly most of the exhibitors at this show had not known about the
new Standard. I had brought extra copies of the new Standard with me. My Yorkie friends told me that I was being called and accused of almost anything that they could think of and it only stopped when Barbra Bizzel (name may be misspelled) said on the Yorkie list that I have excused made up colors in the past and I was only judging to the Standard which the club had imposed on Yorkie exhibitors. She knows because some of her Yorkies where ones that I have excused, but being the courageous person she is, she defended my decisions. The other was a man who was a lawyer and told the list that if I got hold of what they were saying I could sue them. Well I do have all of it, but I hardly am going to pursue any lawsuits. I judge to the Standard and I hope that all other judges who do this breed, or any other breed, do so as well.