Fri, 09/09/2022 - 11:37pm

Question of the Week

Since acquiring your first dog, has your interpretation of the key points of your breed standard changed?


Richard Miller

La Harpe, Illinois 

My breed is the Chihuahua since 1957. I feel all judges would have to respond yes to this inquiry. As breeders we know what aspects of our breed are hardest to achieve and maintain. We begin to look at our breed as a whole with this bias. For example, a front well under the dog is required per the breed standard. My eye has been fine-tuned to look for this aspect of the breed standard. I have arrived at this point simply by knowing how difficult a proper front is to breed and maintain.


Missy Wood

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

Actually, no, and I, for one, am delighted.


Dana Read

Hillsborough, North Carolina 

Regarding the essence of the breed, no. But my understanding and appreciation of different "styles," all within breed standard, have. And I continue to learn, as that is what makes this whole sport intriguing!


Lilian Barber

Sun City, California

I’ve had Italian Greyhounds for 50-plus years and neither the standard nor the way of interpreting it has changed during that time.  


Diana Smiley 

Santa Rosa, California

The problem I find is how many judges interpret differently. In the Shiba Inu, we only have two DQs. One is for teeth: overbite/underbite. That’s it, but we'll still have judges trying to count missing teeth, opening the mouth like a Rottweiler. We only have a major fault if there are more than four missing teeth. Our other DQ is height — too tall or too short. I have not seen a wicket used on a dog for many years and I have seen many dogs that are oversized, including specials, and a couple that are too small to be in the ring. We have no allowance for puppies. If they can win points, they have to be the right size — please wicket! 

I see too many judges judging on showmanship and not on type. So many dogs that are excellent type do not get chosen. Showmanship does not help in the whelping box. Correct type and conformation do! In our breed, owners do not even want to compete in the champion class anymore. Professional handlers run the dogs way too fast for a Shiba Inu and the judges cannot even see that they are moving incorrectly with a bad front!  Why don't they tell them to slow down to the correct pace? 


Johnny Shoemaker

Las Vegas, Nevada 

No, I do not believe that my interpretation of the key points of my breed, Poodles, has changed. Those points are a "very active, intelligent and elegant-appearing, squarely built, well proportioned, moving around soundly and caring himself proudly ... and with an air of distinction and dignity peculiar to himself. A straightforward trot with light springy action and strong hindquarters drive. Head and tail carried up. Sound effortless movement is essential." 

That says it all. Once you get those basics in your head, you have a good chance of recognizing a good Poodle. I have always spoken about those parts of the standard when mentoring people and breeders. I am not saying that other points of the breed standard or other parts of the Poodle are not important, but these key points will put you on the right path. Lots of judges do not recognize these points and do a bad job judging my breed.


Betty Abbott

Monterey, Tennessee

Barring the understanding of "sable merle" as a patterning of color, still considered "sable," there is NO change in our standard that I have seen.  

I do believe that some breeders aim for more correct movement/structure. 

A Herding breed will have to have correct, efficient movement, otherwise he/she would tire readily under a normal day's work. In knowing what work a Collie is bred FOR, aim for and keep that physical ability to the highest degree.

As an AKC-approved judge of Collies, plus two other herding breeds, I actually believe that most knowledgeable breeders will choose ONLY those individual dogs/bitches that have the most correct overall of the standard requirements. 

Those that are most correct would be the ones used for correction of a breeder’s own animals, or those of other breeders. 

Once the strength of any trait is known, inheritance, these would/should be used for the aim toward perfection.

Thank you for offering this opportunity to let others know what is I believe is critical.


Sandy Harris

Basking Ridge, New Jersey

Having been in the world of breeding, handling and showing dogs for more than 50 years I have seen what can be done to standards. The standards are written words with some interpretation viable. What might be "moderately wide" to one person might be viewed as "wide" by another or not wide enough by still another. In the large-entry breeds those that do not closely resemble the standard should eventually be eliminated.

The problem occurs in the low-entry breeds. With the AKC rules, all points can be acquired by never defeating another of the same sex. Once all the single points are gained, then all they need are majors. Out come the littermates. By entering four dogs and one bitch, two majors can be scored at the same time (Winners and Best of Winners). All the animals presented to a judge look alike. One (or two) of them is (are) awarded the points. Not necessarily representative of the standard, but­ the championship is eventually awarded. The dog is suddenly advertised in all the magazines. To the uninitiated, this dog represents the breed standard.

Over the years I have seen the disintegration of standards to the point that, if you read the standard and look at what is being presented, they have no relation to each other. The worst thing happens to a breed when there are so many with the same fault that it becomes the norm. Level toplines that have become so sloped that the dog can hardly stand still or move correctly without the hock joints wobbling. Slight rise over the loins now appearing forward of the loins (almost a "roach"), causing the shoulders to move forward so that the neck set becomes incorrect. Sloping shoulders that have become upright. Colors that were disqualifications suddenly being voted on and accepted – causing some strange-looking color patterns. A breed where the standard calls for "body slightly longer than tall" is now seen as square or even taller than long. How many reading this actually understand what "well let down hocks" actually are?

My interpretation of breed standards has not changed. The standards were written to enable each breed to perform the tasks that were intended. I will agree that some standards are a bit nebulous, and perhaps those must become more specific. How about trying to breed to the standard instead of changing the standard to fit what is being shown and then bred?


Allan Reznik

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

No. The opening passage of the AKC Afghan Hound breed standard (adopted in 1948), under “General Appearance,” perfectly encapsulates the essence of our breed, its demeanor and the signature physical traits that make it unique. I happen to think it is a very good standard compared to many others. It can be adhered to by breeders, exhibitors and judges, with a minimum of interpretation needed. If a dog is missing those signature details spelled out under “General Appearance,” it is not an Afghan Hound. 


Janice Mcclary

Hacienda Heights, California

Since purchasing our first Old English Sheepdog some 50 plus years ago … we joined a local club … national club OESCA ... and all-breed club ... Decided we wanted to become judges … so it was learning about other breeds to help us understand our own.

OES is a square breed. It is also pear-shaped (narrower at front with broad, strong rear). Topline slightly rises over LOIN, not the hips. Rear should be strong, with low, well-let-down hocks. They should not be overtrimmed ... they should not look like gray/white Bichons.

I have had discussions with breeders who tell me they don't care what the standard says ... if it wins, it's perfect.

I'm seeing so many breeds with straight fronts, long bodies, short legs and over-angulated rears … in so many breeds.

These problems will never be corrected if owners don't understand the standard and breed to correct problem areas while maintaining the good points of their lines.


Judi Hartell

Smith Point, Texas

I came to breed Norwich and Norfolk Terriers from other Terrier breeds and was taught that in any Terrier breed, "Form follows function." With both form and function being described in any Terrier breed standard, we visualize breed type as defined by the function of that particular breed. One should be able to be blindfolded, go over a given breed and be able to determine what breed it is. We can groom any terrier to appear flashy, train it to show like a million dollars, but if it is not built for function it does not fit its breed standard. So in answer to the question at hand, my understanding of the breed standard for Norwich and Norfolk Terriers has not changed over the years.


Bobbie Wood

Cranford, New Jersey

Since I got my first dog, I had no idea what a breed standard was or even knew there were dog shows. I was lucky to meet a breeder who encouraged me to show a puppy from my first litter sired by her champion dog. Having shown horses as a child, after my first match I was hooked and I never looked back. I was fortunate to have great mentors, and we spent hours talking about all aspects of the breed and the standard. I volunteered to be on the breed-standard committee, and that committee worked on many projects concerning the standard. I learned the standard from the ground up so to speak, with no pre-conceived views. As I went along, I learned what was good and what was deviating from the standard. I do know I may not always have my ideal, but I am always striving to reach it.


Wyoma Clouss

Meridian, Idaho

In 1974, we found a breeder who sold us a daughter of a handsome guy on the cover of our breed magazine, Schnauzer Shorts. That he was the #1 Miniature Schnauzer, Ch. Hughcrest Hugh Hefner, being specialed by Clay Cody, didn’t mean anything to me, and later when she won a Group 1st handled by Paul Booher, we didn’t really understand the significance of that either. I read all the books, I tried to listen and learn, but it took time to absorb the breed standard and compare it to a living, breathing dog. I learned that exhibitors often repeat what they’ve heard from their own mentor, but that doesn’t always compare well to the actual breed standard.  

Applying to judge was a deep dive into the standard, a line-by-line, word-by-word analysis. Recognizing focus on different characteristics by different breeders led to style variation that is still valid breed type. 


Jay Phinizy

Acworth, New Hampshire

Have they changed? No, merely refined my opinion over time. I only appreciate the Deerhound standard more for its ability to convey the nature character of the breed. After 50 years in Deerhounds, having judged both here and in Great Britain – championship shows and the breed show in GB and our specialty here – I have a great respect for the standard as written. Raising, showing and judging Deerhounds has only confirmed my respect for the standard. In fact, the American standard is an amplification of the British standard, which is only an improvement ("The climate of the United States tends to produce the mixed coat. The ideal coat is a thick, close-lying ragged coat, harsh or crisp to the touch …”  Interestingly, the harsher and more appropriate coat, harsh and crisp, is more evident in more hostile climates, while a softer coat seems more prevalent in a more moderate climate.)

I was particularly saddened when the AKC pushed for reformatting of American standards about 25 years ago. Thankfully, not the Deerhound nor Wolfhound standard – both breeds objected to this attempt at revision, which really was essentially to benefit judges. At one point, AKC emphasized that standards eliminate references to other breeds. The net result was the dog world lost a sensible learning tool. Can you imagine if the Deerhound club or the Wolfhound club had not stood on principle, stressing that the standard is essentially the club’s property, and instead were to have eliminated any reference to the Greyhound? It would have taken pages to describe what so easily can be done in one word. From the Wolfhound standard: “… in general type, he is a rough-coated, Greyhound-like breed … any other color that appears in the Deerhound.” The Wolfhound standard lists as the premier requirement: “...List of Points in Order of Merit, 1. Typical. The Irish Wolfhound is a rough-coated Greyhound-like breed, the tallest of the coursing hounds and remarkable in combining power and swiftness …” While the Deerhound standard states simply the premier point in order of importance: “…Typical - A Deerhound should resemble a rough-coated Greyhound of larger size and bone….” 



© Dog News. This article may not be reposted, reprinted, rewritten, excerpted or otherwise duplicated in any medium without the express written permission of the publisher.

Stay Connected



YES! Send me Dog News' free newsletter!