American Cocker. Because of his round- ness and considerable width, this breed cannot single track. V.L. On the table I am looking for soft roundness—in the rib, the skull, the firm width of thigh and strong hindquarter. Th is is never a breed of sharp angles. I want to find forechest and depth of body at least to the elbow. I want to feel qual- ity of bone that is proportionate to size. I expect to see a soft expression from a dark, slightly oval eye that looks straight at me. Th e head will have a moderate stop and good width over the muzzle with a soft curve of lip without excess flews. I also assess coat quality—never excessive and of correct protective texture, not barbered severely. Th ere is meant to be a jacket with protective hair and some undercoat. I want to find a thick, tight foot for this sporting Spaniel. On the move, I expect to see a firm, hard topline, reach in front matched by a rear that steps under and pushes back to provide balanced reach and drive. I look for correct carriage of tail that is carried o ff the end of the croup without being pegged up like a Terrier. Hocks are short. I want my dog to hold the same shape on the ground moving that I saw on the table during the examination. I place a consid- erable emphasis on the side movement as I feel it is at this point that balance and correct proportions are confirmed. A.J. On the table is the chance to go ‘hands-on’ and assess real quality. I hope to find a melting eye and expression (looking into the eyes of a top rate Cock- er should be like looking into heaven— kind, warm eyes looking straight back at you, saying, ‘Love me’); with that I want strong bone, straight legs, most important good width of front; layback of shoulder and deep well sprung ribs, short loin, strong and wide back end, well-angulated and finally a good, well-presented coat. On the move, confidence, merry charac- ter, sound and driving movement, happy ever wagging tail. In short, “all Cocker”. D.M. On the table I’m looking at the finer points: eye shape, eye color, bone, feet, coat condition, depth of undercoat, muscle mass and condition, ribs well sprung and back, with a short loin, and correct set on of
high rears, dips and rises and pegged tails are challenging to judge. Narrow fronts and the resulting bad front movement are challenging to judge. Keep coming back to look for the moderate, balanced, firm topline and happy temperament Spaniel that could do the job it was bred to do. Understand the di ff erences between the Cocker, the English Springer and the English Cock- er. You will have a much better apprecia- tion of the three breeds if you are clear on their di ff erences as well as their com- mon heritage. A.J. For many these days, seeing past the hairdressing is the biggest challenge. On both sides of the Atlantic showing this proud historic gundog breed is turning into a grooming contest, so to be a good judge you will need to use your head and your hands to see past the sometimes stunning coi ff ure. Trust your hands and your eye for balance and you’ll find the good ones! D.M. I am not sure the challenges are that much di ff erent from most breeds, at least the Sporting breeds. Th ere is a lot of variation of type. Sorting through a class of dogs where none look similar can be quite a challenge. I also find with our breed that they can look wonderful while stacked, and you see a dog that fits your mind’s eye for what you like and then they move. Toplines go o ff , the tail is down and the attitude may be less than “merry”. Th is breed is very intelligent and can decide not to show o ff their merits on any given day. When that happens, my advice is to choose the best “Cocker” not necessarily the fanciest mov- er. When you get both, that’s a good day! And finally, from Anne Rogers Clark, second generation ECS breeder and ECSCA Past President... A.C. In any breed, the whole dog is hung on its front end. How the neck is set, how its topline is, all go to the front. Must have forechest out in front. We’re getting a lot of English Cockers whose fronts drop straight down, a so-called Terrier front where they’re laid back in shoulder, are short in forearm and their fronts are way out in front of them with no forechest—it’s totally incorrect for a Cocker. Got to have some forechest!
the tail. I’m hoping to confirm the impres- sion I formed as the dog moved in the class. When the dog is moving again I want to see how all the parts fit together. I watch the down and back for soundness, again to confirm what I feel on the detail table examination. When I send the dog around I want to see nice balanced extension front and rear. Th e gait should indicate power and look e ff ortless, no pounding or choppy front movement. I hope to see the dog float- ing across the ground with head slightly forward, exhibiting the proper topline and outline, and all at a moderate speed. :KDt Go you IinG tKe most challenging about the breed when you judge? D.F. We have some really beautiful dogs in our breed, but I wish there were more. I suppose the biggest challenge is trying to stay focused when faced with a mediocre entry. B.T. I really find nothing challenging about judging the breed. If you under- stand the function of the breed and learn what constitutes correct “Cocker” type vs. incorrect “Setter” type, you will reward the right dogs. V.L. Without focusing too much on negatives I think that there are some com- mon faults I see in the English Cocker in the ring today. Lack of a Cockery shape— too often we see the long necked, longer bodied, narrow, fine-boned dog with an over-angulated rear that races at great speed. Th is is not a Cocker. Too many of our dogs do not have the bone and rib- spring the standard calls for. Dogs that are not in hard muscle and athletic form are challenging to judge. Dogs that are emulating the drag of the breed, the Field Spaniel with a longer body and di ff erent proportions are challenging to judge. Dogs with incorrect toplines,
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