TOY BREED EXAMINATION
By Patricia H. Gilbert
The description of what I do for a Toy exam takes much longer to read than it takes me to accomplish the exam. I get in and out as quickly as possible and don't fuss with them. I don't care if the stack is perfect. I just need to be able to check key and important features.
Generally Toys resent being fussed with in a table exam. Often times I can examine a mouth much quicker than many handlers can show me the mouth. It is a judge's call and it is difficult for me because I am so aware of the canine flu going from coast to coast. I have tried both with the handler showing me the mouth and me doing it. I find it goes more smoothly if I go in and keep my hands very clean.
Your hands must be quick and light. When I approach a Toy dog of any breed, I walk up to the table, bring up my right hand at the chest to make initial contact and slide it up the underside of the neck until the little face is resting in my cupped hand. I then take my left hand and rest it on the side of the head to "frame" the face with both hands. I slide my right hand around to finish the frame on the left side of the head. I can easily see and feel round, flat, square, rectangular, etc. BTW this is a great way to check ear set too. All you have to do is slide your index fingers to the back of the ear to get an appreciation of set and shape. I run my thumb up the inside of the ear to check thickness and shape and if the ear is natural or helped. I use my thumbs to feel across the topskull. Those breeds which have their topknots done up need to have the topskull and shape of head and eye shape checked too. I slip my index fingers in front of the ears and from the side under the bands and into the topknot. You can get a true appreciation of head shape without disturbing the grooming. I usually have the rest of my fingers tickling each side of the head at the back of the cheeks as my fingers slip under the topknot. I can use my index fingers to move the topknot slightly forward to see if the bands are holding up ears or changing eye shape.
It is at this point I check bite and dentition. I use both index fingers from the bottom up to gently lift the upper lip and my thumbs to lower the bottom lip at the same time to see the bite and dentition as required. Some muzzle shapes require me to use my thumbs rather than my index fingers from the bottom up to lift the upper lip. I slide my index fingers as needed for dentition viewing. Very few Toys resent this look at their mouths for two reasons. You don't have a hand clamped over their muzzle and their eyes are not covered so they can see you. The brachycephalic breeds (snort nosed) don't resent this treatment at all because it does not interfere with their ability to breath. I look at front and both sides of the muzzle to see whatever the breed standards require. You can easily see a "pout" without having to open a mouth again.
To check neck and fronts, legs, feet, etc. I lightly rest my right hand just behind the head so the dog stills feels contact. This also helps if a dog wants to back up. They won't be so inclined if your hand is there. I use my left hand and open my fingers to run down the outside of the right front leg, across the foot for shape, up the inside, across the bottom of the chest and down the inside of the left front leg, across the left front foot and up the outside of the same leg.
My left hand goes up to meet my right hand. Both hands slide over the topline, down both sides of the ribcage, sternum bone and back up slightly to check strength and length of loin. I use both hands at the waist, run my thumbs across the hip bones and step to the back with my hands on each side of the dog. I then run my hands down the both sides of the rear with my thumbs on the inside and the rest of my hand on the outside. I slip my right hand across underneath to check testicles with my index and third fingers only. You don't have to go mining for gold. If there is a question in that department, ask the handler to move the dog and put it back up on the table. That generally settles the little guy down to show you what needs to be seen and felt.
When I am finished with my examination at the rear, I slip my hand under the ribcage, to the chest and up the neck to frame the face again before I ask the handler to move the dog on its individual pattern.
This is where I check weight ratio if need be. The Pekingese and Shih-Tzus are perfect examples. I "slightly" lift the front end off the table. That means no more than an inch.
If I need to lift a breed without so dramatic a weight distribution, I make sure it is a slight lift and that both front and rear are supported by one hand between its front legs and one hand between the hinds legs. Again not more than an inch. Then if I am not sure, I call a weight.
You many wonder why I bothered with the exam if the dog might not weigh in standard. Simply put, coat can be very deceiving. Bone and substance can be faked with grooming. I let my hands and not my eyes alone tell me what information I need.
While it is impressive if a dog is cocky and confident on the table, that is not where they are judged. They are only examined on the table. Attitude, carriage, movement, and much more are judged on the ground.
Remember, above all that gentleness and calmness is required. I prefer to not talk to the dogs. Make sure you keep contact with the Toy at all times. Be prepared to help a handler if the dog backs up, leans or flips. If you have one hand on the dog in a good place at all times, there will be little damage, startling and grabbing necessary.
Please judges, watch your jewelry. That applies to both women and men. I check my ring settings to make sure they don't catch hair or have sharp edges.
Enjoy judging them. They are a whole big wonderful world in a diminutive package.