Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Time to paws-part deux

Now on to something completely different. The new Cardigan Bulletin hit the mailbox and Garrett emailed me to say--Read it! So I trouped out there and got the mail. Tell you what, it's a great read this time-Bonnie you out did yourself. There are some great articles, wonderful tributes to the late Helen Jones and the ads are worth skimming.

Now I will openly admit that I was disappointed in not getting a more indepth critque on the individual classes at the National Specialty. I much prefer that over a general two page overview but I also understand with the number of dogs reviewed, unless you take detailed notes and get right to the review of them, an overview highlighting it is best.

I would also like to point out that yes, that is Eddie mentioned as the dog with the questionable coat in the Am Bred class. And yes he did place 4th. But take a step back and read what else she had to say-"This dog had a great many qualities that overrode the obvious poor coat". There it is in print. Yes he does have a long and soft coat-well not really any more. He's shed out and what's grown back is still long but it's hard and getting tighter every day.

To digress a little in reflection of the previous blog post, let's look at what the rule book says and let's discuss other aspects of our breed. Leah mentioned just a few and after this weekend, I think there are a few people who should go back to the AKC standard, then to the illustrated for review.

One mention was bites. We all know of a recent incident of ribbons being withheld due to bad bites. Our standard says:
-Teeth stong and regular. Scissor bite preferred; i.e. innter side of upper incisors fitting closely over the outer side of the lower incisors. Overshot, undershot or wry bite are serious faults. Now my question is why don't more judges or better yet, breeders consider this?? Many just do a courtesy glance and move on. A dog must eat and with out a correct bite, it can't and won't live long.

Randy, dear Randy, and I had a talk long ago about the three most important aspects of a dog-bite(not head), feet as in movement and structure. Coat and color are the least of the worries. He said a dog must walk and talk, or eat in this case. With out those three items, it isn't able to function and live.

So bites--Leah mentions this- we are getting better at understanding that head qualities including underjaw and bite must come into play for a correct cardigan head.

Next: OMG, the topic of fronts will set just about anyone off the deep end. It's such a hot topic in our breed and always will be. What is actually correct, and how does the structure of the shoulder play into this along with the rib and keel. Oh Sherilyn, I can't but help giggle at "the boat" picture in my brain. Anyway, let's also mention that Leah openly addressed at the Annual Dinner, that we do need to concentrate on the fronts, but we also must not forget that we follow up with a substantial rear. If we concentrate on one part too much, we will loose other portions. So going back to Randy's comments-feet, ie movement, means two parts with a front and a rear.

Fronts-I've seen a wide range of them in the last couple of shows I've been at. Yes, hands on is an important part of it all, but we also need to stress more on watching the coming and going of a dog. The actual movement indicates more of the correctness then a still shot. I'm looking for a fiddle front picture but can't find one. Anyway, from the illustrated standard -pages 19 and 20, http://www.cardigancorgis.com/ISshow.asp?19 and http://www.cardigancorgis.com/ISshow.asp?20 I have been horrified by what some breeders are considering correct.

I'm going to step out and say a few things. My friends all know my opinion on this. I as a rule, single out cosmetic problems in my puppies first-I don't usually have room for just a breeding dog that can't be shown. I have a fluff carriers in my line. It's not in my best interest to keep a fluff puppy, knowing that if I breed it to one of my girls it will be a litter of mostly fluffs. Luck has it, with Eddie being blue and the fluff gene being a recessive(though we have not sent in the test to confirm his status), it would be at least one breeding or two away and that I can breed him to a fluff noncarrier, and viola! it's gone. SOOOO---same with excessive white. Yes my dogs do have a lot of white on them. Nothing that isn't acceptable but I have produced at least 3 mismarks over the years that are disqualifying mismarks. White is a little more fickle to deal with, so in the best interest of what I am breeding, I choose not to to go that route. Which is a damn shame as there is a gorgeous dog out right now that I would love to breed too, but I just can't justify the risk at this time.

With that being said, I will take a cosmetic fault over a serious structural fault any day. Structure is much harder to correct then a specifically a fluff coat, glamour coat. A nice shoulder lay back with a tight top doesn't do you any good it the topline is weak, the rear is high and the angles in the pelvis/hip and stiffle are off. And let us talk about faults. No one wants to be a fault judge, but in the end with a group of significantly similar individuals, you do have to take the dog must correct to standard and then look at the faults of the others. The problem with most all breed judges is that they don't know how to weight the faults against each other. Or in many cases, coming from a distinctly different breed, can't or won't learn about the differences in a cardigan to better evaluate them. Heck a judge with a background in collies, where the breed is judged 60% on it's head properties, will over look a weak topline, lack of correctness in a rear or a straight front, because the dog in front of them has perfect plains, overall correctness of the head and what every one thinks is best, the biggest ears of the group. I'm hear to tell you that it might fly with that judge, but in all honesty, are you doing justice to the breed and the breeder by winning with those qualities?

So faults-our breed has five disqualifing ones--can you name them? Don't peak yet...

Blue eyes or partially blue eyes in any coat color other then blue merle.
Drop ears
Nose other then solid black except in blue merles.
Any color other then specified(and what are the colors? red, sable, any shade of brindle, blue merle with tan or brindle tips, and black and white with either tan or brindle tips)
Body color predominatly white

Now the serious faults
Lack of overall balance, oversized and undersized(that's for another post!)
Small and or pointed ears
Overshot, undershot or wry bites
High tail set
Knuckling over, straight front and fiddle fronts
distinctly long and fluffy coat

Now of those serious faults, which are cosmetic? Amazes me that that the majority of judges will more seriously fault a cosmetic one over a structural one. And unfortunately, this is again a topic for another post, but our breed is one that is not taken seriously by judges wanting their license and as much as our judges education committee works, we can't seem to make enough of a difference. That leaves it up to us as breeders and exhibitors to do better, bring out to them the best and to be more critical of our own dogs. Time to step up is now, and not get high and mighty, shit don't stink and yes I am being blunt here. Get off your high horse and have the best interest of the breed in mind, not our own personal egos.

I have so much more, I'm on a roll, but I think I'll leave it here for the day with a quote from the great Helen Bole Jones:

" If we are not but caretakers of the breed now, it will have not future"

Well said Helen, well said.

Later gators.....


Traci said...

This is probably going to show just now much of a newbie I still am, but I am still at a loss as to why it's a disqualifying fault to have a blue eye in anything other than a blue merle. They don't herd on their eyes, nor does it change the way the dog is built. I'm sure this will also lead to the whole color argument which I'm not trying to argue (I'm a member, and therefore abide by the COE's). The color argument is for another time and place, but I don't get the blue fleck in a black dogs eye being a disqualification. I DO get the fluff coat (doesn't hold up against the weather when working as well), and find it odd that it's listed as a "serious fault" and not a disqualification. I would think THAT would be bigger deal than a blue fleck in a black dogs eye. I could go on and on, but thanks for posting this... I enjoy a good read about our standard :) I also enjoy learning from others :)

Cindy said...

Actually that is a good point on the eye color and I am going to look into it. It could be something recessive to the blue merle gene? Don't know but will find out.

As far as the fluff, yes many of what I call "super fluffs" do have coats that inhibit the natural herding tendencies, but look at rough collies and shelties. Very similar coats in dogs that do very similar jobs. I think my stance is due to the various modifiers that can happen in a long or fluff coat, you have to weigh each dog's coat different, which I think would be the clubs decision on the serious vs disqualifying part.

Now, here's the fun part with judges. As I stated so many go on looks alone, I think where we fail is that many of our dogs with outstanding structure are pushed to the side because their coat is a little longer or even too short. It's much harder to correct structure then coat.

Thanks for the question and yes, that leads to another post.....

Traci said...

I would have to agree, re: the coat statement... I think that even my own dog, Chance, is over looked often times due to his lack of beautiful coat... he's got a proper coat... harsh, dense, double coated, but it's not foofy and pretty like what typically wins in the show ring. he moves like a dream - sailing around the ring, but he has a different look than many dogs out here, and lacks coat... Oh well.
I think the overall balance thing is something else we, the future of this breed, need to consider... is a 50 lb (but overall balanced) Cardigan ok? I'm thinking not. I'm thinking that my 38-39 lb "overall balanced" Cardigan is about as big as I'd like to see...
The bite, the ears.... I can see why those are a problem... (should be more than a "serious fault" in my book, but hey! ;-)) but it seems that the disqualifications are mostly superficial things and not functional things... if that makes sense. (with the exception of the ears).
Thanks for writing about this and having a great response Cindy... I look forward to seeing what you come up with on the blue eyes and fleck thing... I've known a few black dogs with a blue fleck, and it's a damned shame, because otherwise, they're BEAUTIFUL representatives of the breed!

dreameyce said...

I agree that blue eyes in non-merled dogs shouldn't be a huge deal. Mentioned in the standard as not being sought after, but if blue eyed merles can herd, why can't blue eyes in other colors function also?

To me, it's not logical to be so harsh on pure cosmetics, when it's allowed in one pattern. Personal opinion from a newbie though (And I personally don't care for blue eyes in dogs most times)

I also agree that 40lbs is tops I want to see in the breed. I fell for Cardis because they are a 'moderate' breed, and easy to lift, carry, and travel with. Too many Cardigans are tanks, and it really does seem the trend is going towards over sized, 'tank' dogs.

Thanks so much for your informative post Cindy! I too am a newbie in the breed, so love to soak up any, and all info that people are willing to share, and love hearing all opinions on the breed. I'm glad some breeders are willing to share info. Too many breeds seem to be becoming excessively secretive about their breeding opinions, and methods.

manymuddypaws said...

great series of posts Cindy! lots to think about that is for sure!

Anonymous said...

Geez the Helen quote made me cry... thanks. Joking. It's funny you mention front... HOLY CRAP is Leah ever right. I have seen the most attrocious fronts lately its god awful. Let's face it our standard leaves a little room for personal interpreation.... and that's why we have the illustrated standard to clear up any false misconseptions! Thank god for it. The answers are right there in black and white.
Even though it is there for us the sad truth is many are too ignorant to read it and breed to try to achieve what are in those gorgeous illustrations. Fronts are becoming a big problem but usually only amongst the unread and under educated. If your dogs front is one resembling a bulldogs and you try to set it up better on the table but it keeps popping back out because it's hinged to the dogs body incorrectly they need to start from scratch. (I won't mention any names!) ;)