Showsight Presents The Poodle

Thoughts on Judging Poodles continued...

tremendous value for us to examine and compare the dogs of 30 or 40 years ago with those we see today. In those photo- graphs, we knew that those Poodles actually had feet. In many classes we judge today and in violation of the Breed Standard which declares “the entire shaven foot is visible”, we have to determine if the dog actually has toes and toenails because the “puffs” extend right down to the floor or the tabletop. Our stan- dard is very specific regarding “paper or splay feet” which are a major fault. Therefore, it is no surprise when one examines a dog whose puffs are totally obscuring the feet, to lift the hair and to find that the feet are so flat they appear to have been ironed or the toes so elongated that they would be better suited to a chicken. Over the years our Breed Standard (1984) has not changed markedly although it was reformatted in June of 2001. Some of the really old pictures indicate a slightly rectangular shape rather than square and others depict an overall square dog with a greater depth of body in comparison to leg length. Unfortu- nately, our Standard does not indicate the proportion of leg length to body depth. One often hears the term “high on leg” enthusiastically endorsed. Trimming the hair off the front legs up to a point where the naked elbow is exposed does not, in our evaluation, produce an elegant appearance. And if that dog has prominent elbows, even if they stick out only slightly, has all of the charm and beauty of a knock-kneed woman in a miniskirt. A correctly and squarely built Poodle may well be “high on leg” in appearance depending on his grooming and pre- sentation. Each and every Poodle must be closely evaluated. Every trim must be suited to the individual dog. We empha- size beautifully curved lines and avoid flat straight lines which might well give the appearance of length to a dog which is actually square. And then comes the wonderful moment when a dog’s show career has been completed and he may then retire, hopefully, to a fun-filled and relaxed existence, appreciated by his family for his brains and his beauty. From a personal point of view, we have done that which can still be done today if we are sufficiently invested in our dogs and in our sport. First of all, we must realize when we acquire a purebred dog (whatever it’s breed might be) it must fit with our current existence be it a matter of occupation, income, housing, free time and the family needs. We were very fortunate that our past dog experience was sufficiently extensive and that the acquisition of a different breed was a positive challenge. It was the beginning of a won- derful adventure. We became close friends with an individual who was to become our mentor and to whom we cannot give sufficient credit for her contributions to our breed knowledge and successes. This individual was the late Mrs. Rebecca Mason of Bel Tor Kennels in Branford, Connecticut. She bred Poo- dles in all three varieties and many outstanding examples of the breed. Today we live with a black Standard Poodle whose tal- ents surpass any dog we have ever owned or lived with in the past. Many people do not believe our descriptions of him and what he is able to do. And, we can only wish and hope that more people would have the enjoyment of living with a Poodle with his abilities. However, at times it has the explo- sive and unpredictable experiences of living with Einstein in a fur coat!

response is if it is a good coat with correct texture you will not “mess it up” by a correct and thorough examination. We also at this time examine the spring of rib followed by a check of the length and depth of loin. The Poodles topline is described as, “level, neither sloping nor roached, from the highest point of the shoulder blade to the base of the tail, with the exception of a slight hollow just behind the shoulder”. This “slight hollow” has been called “a swimmers dip” referring to the use of this breed as a skilled water retriever. We check the base of the tail which gives a quick testimony to the width and strength of the vertebra in the dog’s spine. The hindquarters are examined by both appearance and touch in order to gauge the muscle. We do not want over angu- lation with the hocks placed far out behind. The hind toes should only be slightly behind the point of the rump. A Poodle’s movement often betrays the beautiful picture we have seen standing still. It is well described in the Breed Stan- dard and calls for “light springy action and strong hind quarter drive” in addition to “sound effortless movement is essential”. We gauge movement not just by how fast a dog might travel around the ring, but by how many strides it takes him to do so. It is also the proof of balance between a beautifully angu- lated front assembly and a well muscled set of hindquarters. “a poodle’s MOVEMENT ofTen beTrays The beauTIful pIcTure we have seen sTandIng sTIll.” Dogs which move at an angle (side winding) coming and going often have more drive from their hindquarters then the front assembly is able to absorb. Skillful handlers are tuned in to the speed at which his Poodle looks the best. Unfortunately, some of these dogs also carry huge bubble coats which roll from side to side as they move and further adds to the illustration of the problem. A skilled groomer is able to hide a myriad of faults. A skilled groomer also knows where to exaggerate the amount of hair or to direct the judge’s eye away from something which should be well hidden. An experienced judge has learned to look through hair and to see the dog beneath it as if it were clipped down to the skin. It is unfortunate that exhibitors, in many cases, believe that the more hair the better and who frequently are rewarded by judges. We often observe Poodles that appear to have been attired for a fancy dress ball rather than a serious sporting event. We do not find attractive the Poodle that waltzes into the ring wearing what appears to be Marie Antoinette’s hoop skirt and the bejewled towering wig carefully balanced on its head. We hope that judges will truly judge what is under the hair and to find those Poodles which are correctly built both front and rear and to reward them for being a credit to their breed.

256 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ULY 2015

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