Showsight Presents The Poodle

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General appearance is so succinctly and elegantly phrased in the standard there is little that can be written or said to further illuminate. It should be the benchmark in breeding and judging. “ Th at of a very active, intelligent and elegant-appearing dog, squarely built, well proportioned, moving soundly and carrying himself proudly. Properly clipped in the traditional fashion and carefully groomed, the poodle has about an air of distinction and dignity peculiar to himself.” Whether breeding or judging you at times will have an individual dog or bitch that may possess attributes that make it a good dog but with no resemblance to this description. It can be a good dog and not be a good Poodle. General descriptions are placed at the beginning of written standards precisely for this reason; everything that fol- lows is subjugated to this explanation of the essence of a breed. Put simply; be this first. I know this will come as a disappoint- ment to some but I will not be retelling the standard here. So what I will do is go back to my original premise that all things stem from the original purpose. Read the

standard with an eye to why… oval eyes, smallish to medium size, relatively deep set (read between the lines here… large, round, and protruding are taken out of our options by being deemed a major faults). Th e description of the skull and muzzle envision a head that is streamlined yet strong with enough room to accommodate a thought- ful capable brain. Th e ears described are large and placed in such a way as to be at or below eye level and close to the head. All of the above facilitate moving though tough marsh grasses and brush and diving in water without injury yet providing enough strength to carry a duck. Other details in this section are aesthetic. Dark eyes and chiseling may not enhance performance but the expression is more attractive as a result. Th e duck surely does not care… but I do. Th e body is squarely built with a very precise approach outlined to arrive at this square; breastbone to point of rump approximating the height from the highest point of the shoulders to the ground. Th is formula, using the exterior most points to establish length, although mathemati- cally square has the appearance of a dog

taller than long. With additional poodle specific embellishment (our trim) the e ff ect can become even further exagger- ated. Th e chest is deep, moderately wide, with well-sprung ribs allowing maximum lung capacity. Th is overall design makes for a powerful agile swimmer, facilitates moving through brush, and has the added bonus of being elegant. Th e head is the hardest thing to grasp and to teach to both novice breeders and judges. Why this is true I am not quite sure, the initial reaction is usually correct. Most people understand that one expres- sion is prettier than the other but the “why “is more di ffi cult to grasp or impart (you could spend the time allotted for a semi- nar on this topic alone). Read the standard, talk to knowledgeable people, and look at a lot of faces. Comparison in the midst of a group of dogs can be the most enlighten- ing experience when tackling this feature of the poodle. Th e legs are straight and parallel (we will avoid the round bone/ oval bone con- troversy for now). Th e amount of bone is also a di ffi cult topic and the proportional

292 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2014

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