JUDGING THE ENGLISH COCKER SPANIEL Th e Breed Education Committee for the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America selected the following well-known, respected, Breeder/Judges to answer several questions and share their thoughts and insight on judging the breed: David Flanagan, Decorum (NY) exhibiting/breeding for 50+ years, judging since 1998. Bonnie Threlfall, Edgewood, Reg. (NC) exhibiting 50+ and breeding 40+ years, judging since 2000. Virginia Lyne, Ranzfel, Reg. (Canada) exhibiting/breeding for 53 years, judging since 1969. Andrew Jones, Shenmore (UK), exhibiting/breeding since 1985, judging since 1991. Doug McFarlane, Merimac (WA) exhibiting/breeding since the early 1970s, judging since 1998. P lease explain what you are looking for in your first impres - sion of a class of English Cockers as a whole? dramatic toplines and rears extending way out behind them. I want to see the entire dog as a package without my eye being drawn to one or more exaggerated features. Th e correctly-made dogs will appear rounded all over, with no sharp angles or lines. the backline level; do the angles front and rear match; is the dog square; and are there any extremes or exaggerated parts, like a long back leg or long loin?’ Th ese all make up the characteristics that help me form that first impression. Bad vs. good dog silhouettes.
D.F. Th e idea of examining and judging a dog, comparing it to the ideal and plac- ing it accordingly with the other dogs in the class can seem daunting when you first judge, and the tick-tock of the “two-min- ute-per-dog” clock can be overwhelming. Th e more experience one has, the more of a routine you develop. When a class lines up in the ring, I look for animals that have proper balance with regard to size and proportion. I then move from the front of the line to the back of the line getting my first impression of head and expression. Next, I move from the back of the line forward looking down over the animals to see the shape of the dog with regards to neck set, roundness of rib, length of loin and roundness of rear. Finally, I send the class around to observe ease and fluidity of movement, balance and topline. B.T. From across the ring I am look- ing for compact, one piece dogs with balanced angulation at both ends. I am already mentally eliminating the long dogs that appear shelly and narrow, with
V.L. My first impression is always a check for balance and overall proportions. I am looking for an alert, moderate dog with nothing exaggerated and showing a confi- dent, merry temperament. Generally my first impression comes when the dogs are doing their initial move around the ring. A.J. First impressions are the chance for the dogs to grab my attention. As I walk down the line I’ll be drawn to those that have shortness, balance and most importantly, angulation. As I send them once round the ring those with character and drive on the move will demand atten- tion. In a large class after first impres- sions I should have a handful in my mind who will be the contenders and maybe even one that already stands out as the likely winner. D.M. When I am first looking at a whole class I look at each dog to determine proper breed type and assess their overall balance and conformation. I ask myself, ‘Does the head match the rest of the dog; does the neck flow smoothly into the shoulders; is
What are absolute necessities for correct breed type? D.F. Th e absolute necessities with regard to breed type are balance and pro- portion, proper bone and feet, roundness of rib and rear, a short, hard back and a properly balanced head with a sweet, melt- ing expression, and a tail with never stops wagging, all on a sound animal. B.T. Th ere are five necessities to correct cocker body type, which enable the dog to do the job for which he was bred, that being pushing through thick, very dense cover most often higher than the dog. Th ey are of equal importance, so in no par- ticular order: 1) A protective forechest for pushing into cover. Th e forechest will only be present if the dog has the correct fore- hand assembly, the shoulder being well laid back with equal length and return of upper arm, placing the front legs well under the dog. 2) Th ick bone. Th e amount of bone should almost seem too much for height of the dog, but is necessary to support the correctly made body. I have yet to see an
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