Editorials and Information
The Standard - A Tail of Two Dog Shows
I wrote this “spoof” just after I returned from Gettysburg, burdened, I must admit, with a great sense of loss. If one can find some humor to salve the distress the pill is easier to swallow, but to me it is a bitter pill indeed. A few years ago, I took exception to the suggestion that the Standard be modified to omit the part about “graceful underlines”, which was offered in all seriousness because of the fact that the modern Bull Terrier no longer had any “tuck up”. I said at the time that if the judging rewarded the animals, which were the closest to the Standard, we could return to animals which bore some resemblance to that described in the Standard. Well, not only has that not happened, the bulk entry this weekend were even further removed from the Standard than they were those few years ago and I have only somewhat jokingly undertaken to rewrite our breed Standard to accommodate the current crop.
Here are some of the modifications we might consider.
- The Standard starts with: “The Bull Terrier must be strongly built, muscular, symmetrical and active, with a keen, determined and intelligent expression, full of fire but of sweet disposition and amenable to discipline.” Rewrite to read: “The Bull Terrier must be as large as possible with a sweet expression and disposition.”
- Standard: “The HEAD should be long, strong and deep right to the muzzle, but not coarse. Full face it should be oval in outline and be filled completely up, giving the impression of fullness with a surface devoid of hollows or indentations, i.e. egg shaped. In profile it should curve gently downwards from the top of the skull to the tip of the nose. The forehead should be flat across from ear to ear. The distance from the tip of the nose to the eyes should be greater than that from the eyes to the top of the skull. The underjaw should be deep and well defined.” Rewrite to read: “The head should be long right to the muzzle. Full face it should be banana shaped. In profile it should have an exaggerated arc, or “crank” from above the eyes to the tip of the nose. The underjaw should be configured in any way so as to produce a scissors bite.”
- Standard: “The EARS should be small, strong and thin and placed close together. They should be capable of being held stiffly erect, when they should point upwards.” Rewrite to read: “The ears should hopefully be capable of standing erect, pointing in any direction.”
- Standard: “The NOSE should be black, with well-developed nostrils bent downward at the tip.” Rewrite to read: “The nose should be bent downward at the tip.”
- Standard: “The CHEST should be broad when viewed from in front, and there should be great depth from withers to brisket, so that the latter is nearer the ground than the belly. (The underline from the brisket to the belly should form a graceful upward curve).” Rewrite to read: “The chest should be broad when viewed from in front. When viewed from the side it should protrude well in front of the elbow and point of the shoulder, producing a resemblance to the breast of a turkey. The underline should be straight and parallel to the ground, in a line which can be drawn beginning several inches below the elbow straight back to the stifle.”
- Standard: “The BODY should be well rounded with a marked spring of rib.” Rewrite to read: “The body should be long, smooth and well rounded, like a sausage.”
- Standard: “The BACK should be short and strong. The back ribs deep. Slightly arched over the loin.” Rewrite to read: “The back should be long with a pronounced dip somewhere behind the withers.”
- Standard: “The SHOULDERS should be strong and muscular but without heaviness. The shoulder blades should be wide and flat and there should be a very pronounced backward slope from the bottom edge of the blade to the top edge. Behind the shoulders there should be no slackness or dip at the withers.” Rewrite to read: “The shoulders should be upright to produce the desired slackness of the back somewhere between the withers and the tail.”
- Standard: “”The LEGS should be big-boned but not to the point of coarseness; the forelegs should be of moderate length, perfectly straight, and the dog must stand firmly upon them.” Rewrite to read: “The legs should be big-boned and long to create a semblance of balance with the desired additional length of back and mass of body.”
- Standard: “The HIND LEGS should be parallel viewed from behind. The thighs very muscular with hocks well let down. Hind pasterns short and upright. The stifle joint should be well bent with a well-developed second thigh.” Rewrite to read: “The hocks of the hind legs should not actually touch each other when viewed from behind. From the side, the hocks should be placed well behind the point of the hip, so as to produce the appearance of a well-bent stifle.”
- Standard: “The Tail should be short, set low, fine and ideally should be carried horizontally. It should be thick where it joins the body, and should taper to a fine point.” Rewrite to read: “The tail should be long and form a graceful upward curve, but must, under no circumstances, actually come into contact with the back of the skull.”
- Standard: “The COAT should be short, flat, harsh to the touch and with a fine gloss. The dog’s skin should fit tightly. The COLOR is white though markings on the dog’s head are permissible. Any markings elsewhere are to be severely faulted. Skin pigmentation is not to be penalized”. (Colored Variety: “Any color other than white, or and color with white markings. Other things being equal, the preferred color is brindle. A dog which is predominantly white shall be disqualified.”) Rewrite to read: “The coat should be short and flat. Skin pigmentation and ticking are not to be penalized. (Colored Variety: Any color other than white, or any color with white markings, or white with colored spots other than on the head).”
- Standard: MOVEMENT – “The dog shall move smoothly, covering the ground with free, easy strides, fore and hind legs should move parallel to each other when viewed from in front or behind. The forelegs reaching out well and the hind legs moving smoothly at the hip and flexing well at the stifle and hock. The dog should move compactly and in one piece but with a typical jaunty air that suggests agility and power.” Rewrite to read: “The dog shall move as rapidly as possible: the front movement should resemble the motion of a sewing machine, hind legs should be, but are not required to be, synchronized with the front. Up and down movement of the dip behind the withers is not to be penalized.””
Add: SIZE: “For bitches the minimum weight shall be 65 pounds; the minimum height 21 inches at the withers. For dogs the minimum weight shall be 75 pounds; the minimum height 22 inches at the withers. Dogs shall be weighed by a certified AKC representative at the minimum age of 18 months and carry a permanent height and weight card.”
Standard: FAULTS – “Any departure from the foregoing points shall be considered a fault, and the seriousness of the fault shall be in exact proportion to its degree, i.e., a very crooked front is a very bad fault, a rather crooked front is a rather bad fault, and a slightly bad front is a slight fault.” Rewrite to read: “Any departure from the foregoing points shall be considered creative breeding and may be rewarded in the judging ring. The seriousness of any fault is easily dismissed if it is shared by the majority of the current specimens of the breed.”
This exercise is only slightly tongue-in-cheek. If Bull Terriers are ever to head back toward the Standard, the time to put on the turn signal is NOW. We have been carried away by the dogs that the breeders in other countries have been producing. We have encouraged American breeders to copy those examples. They are beautiful dogs but they are a far cry from the Bull Terrier described in our Standard. It is difficult for judges to judge “to the Standard” if the vast majority of our dogs are off-type. As breeders, we must try to regain the short-backed, cobby, muscular, agile, shapely dogs that are so specifically described in the Standard. It will be a challenge, but I think we can do it if we want to. If not, well, …here is the framework for your new Standard!
A Tail of Two Dog Shows
A few weeks ago, with some trepidation, Kristin and I set out for Waynesburg, Pa. with two youngsters, planning to get a maximum amount of ring exposure in a short amount of time. With Sweepstakes classes at two Specialties, Friday night and Saturday morning, plus the regular classes, we were not disappointed, and our mission was successful - the puppies got less distracted and more settled and attentive as the classes progressed. This was a pleasant surprise, but not nearly as pleasant as the much larger joy which I shall elaborate upon right here and now.
The Golden Triangle Club had produced a wonderful, old-fashioned, welcoming and friendly Specialty weekend. The ingredients were simple and straightforward.
- The venue, a building at the Greene County fairgrounds, was both exhibitor and dog-friendly. Close-by parking, room inside for crates, chairs for spectators, and ample fans for keeping the air moving both in the ring and the crate area provided the physical comforts which are appreciated by both seasoned and novice exhibitors.
- Many host-club members were present, and pleasant. Things ran smoothly, no-one appeared to be upset or out of sorts, and the aura of pleasant anticipation was infectious./li>
- There were multiple entries in the EARLY classes: Puppies 6-9. 9-12, 12-18, Novice, Bred by Exhibitor... The support for the young entry and from member-exhibitors was evident. It was a broad based effort by a group of nice people enjoying their dogs.
- A profusion of prizes were on offer. All the sweepstakes entrants came out of the ring with squeaky toys, for instance. Our puppies didn't win any points, but they went home with "stuff". Their owners were delighted!
- People were helping each other, and not just their close associates! Novice exhibitors received spontaneous offers of help in grooming their dogs for the ring, tips on handling, encouragement and praise for a successful journey through the judging ordeal. I feel sure they will be back.
- We were only there for the Friday evening and Saturday shows, but the Club provided snacks and sandwiches on Friday evening, and an impressive lunch was laid out on Saturday; apparently a team effort, with members all contributing a special dish. We felt welcome and appreciated!
I'll end with a story which could just as well have been put at the beginning.
In 1967 I took Kashdowd Bounce to her first point show in Philadelphia. She had been bathed, but other than the leash and the dog I had no equipment - no scissors, no chalk, no crate, no nuthin'! Before the classes, a pleasant man and his wife approached me - I'm sure my ignorance was in painful evidence - and admired Bounce and tactfully invited us to his grooming table where Bounce was trimmed and chalked, and my armband fetched and affixed. Her subsequent win was cheered by my new friends as though she were their own, and even though she was placed over their very nice white bitch. My saviors were Cecil and Irene Mann, and the friendship that grew out of that act of kindness endures to this day.
The Golden Triangle Club put on a show weekend which harked back to the days when a club show brought people together and encouraged them to learn, to share, to participate and to enjoy the dogs... even those of the "competition"!
Let's Do It !!!!!!! - Winkie Mackay-Smith