Standards: Reading, Interpreting and Understanding the Blueprint
Nannette Newbury, judges education coordinator for United States Australian Shepherd Association, breaks down breed standards.
Newbury’s presentation will help you understand: What are the parts of the standard, what’s a good and bad breed standard, what’s open to interpretation and what isn’t.
Breeders use the standard one way, judges have to use it another way, Newbury noted.
“That judge had to weigh a lot more than soundness,” Newbury said. “What good is it if a dog looks like a coyote and it’s sound. Judges can only go by what’s in the breed standard.”
How to apply the breed standard
Understanding the essence of the breed has to be a priority for judge or breeder, Newbury observed.
When dog shows began, folks had to come up with a way to compare and contrast dogs. The breed standard has to distinguish one breed from another.
“Our breeds came first and then we wrote standards,” Newbury said. “In order to read, interpret and apply a breed standard, you have to have a knowledge of canine anatomy, physiology, structure. It takes time to learn.”
Flaws, faults, implied faults
The breed standard is not a list of negative aspects, Newbury opined, rather it describes ideal.
Hallmarks of a breed are what make it distinct from all others and should be part of a good breed standard.
“If all dogs were perfect, judging would be easy. In the real world, deciding which quality or fault is more or less important and awarding accordingly is the quintessential job of the judge,” Newbury said. “As breeders, you pick your poison. Markings or fronts or whatever, you pick your poison. Judges do the same thing.”
Anything that deviates from the standard is a fault, Newbury noted, while the degree of deviation determines the severity of the fault.
“Go through (your breed) standard and list virtues and ideals. If the virtue affects original function of the dog, consider those more important,” Newbury said.
“Anybody can find a fault. The hardest thing to do when evaluating a dog is to look at a dog, even one that is of poor quality, and find something good to say about it. It is a gift to be able to find the virtues in a dog.”
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