Showsight Presents The Bouvier Des Flanders

Balance, being square I will forgive a little on side move- ment when a dog is square. 4. Which movement fault is the most serious? Sickle and cow-hocks. 5. What 4 to 6 essential characteristics must a Bouvier have, that you look for when you judge? Temperament, compact, substance, head in proportion to body, balanced movement and good topline. JEANETTE NIEDER

handler move the dog on a loose lead letting the head go slightly down and forward to allow a level firm topline with the foot striking under the nose when moving. 3. What do handlers do in presentation that you wish they would not ? I want handlers to show me the dog they want me to see. It’s my job to find the real dog. If a dog can be shown on a loose lead without cranking up the head, you have my attention! String them up and race them around without reach or drive and I’m thinking, ‘All show and no go!’ 4. Cropped or uncropped ears? Do undocked tails affect judging? Not in the show ring. Our standard states IF cropped: “… They are to be a triangular contour and in PROPORTION to the size of the head.” I focus on the placement of the ear whether cropped or uncropped. As for the tail, again I quote the standard, “Tail is to be docked, leaving 2 or 3 vertebrae” and “Any deviation from this (standard) is to be penalized to the extent of the deviation”. I honor the breed’s traditions. 5. What traits do you see popping up these days that are going in the wrong direction? What’s better? In my opinion, work on keeping good scissor bites in the breed. Over the years the bites had improved dramati- cally but we need to keep them. Head proportions have improved. The most common head fault is the 50/50 head that many may consider to be impressive in scale. The back skull will be broader with a shorter, plushier muzzle. Remember the old timers described it as a “Bel- gian brick” (not a cobble stone). Watch out for stuffy necks that might be a result of steep shoulders. A dog with straight shoulders and rear can appear to be balanced standing but you will see the proof in the movement. As a breeder you can work on improve- ment incrementally. As a judge you have to work with the dogs presented to you on the day and remember Mrs. Clark’s advice to choose the soundest of the typiest dogs and then be a little bit forgiving. 6. Has your Bouvier competed in any performance events? Did that experience affect judging deci- sions? Can today’s show Bouvier still perform the functions for which he was bred? I believe the standard is a job description for breeds with form following function. I have tried obedience, herd- ing, tracking, carting, barn hunt and agility (though not competitively) over the years and they have served as therapy dogs. I am an advocate for giving the Bouvier opportunities to work. The key is really the owner’s time and wherewithal to commit to the performance events. I have bred dogs that have multiple titles (thank you Robbie Avery) and can do it all—thanks to their owners’ understanding of the breed and commitment to the ver- satility of the Bouvier. And, yes I do ask myself as I judge, ‘Could this dog herd? Cart? Do they have the alert, bold expression to be watchful?’

1. In order, name the five most important traits you look for in the ring. During my first look, I want to see a compact Bouvier with balanced and harmonious propor- tions including head to body with a slightly

arched neck and balance of dry, harsh top coat to undercoat. On the go around, I look for a free, proud, balanced gait with equal reach to drive. Hands on, I want a well-muscled dog with the substance being in the bone and muscle not in the weight of the dog. Skull to muzzle proportion 3:2 with parallel planes, correct set ears and a U-shaped lower jaw permitting strong white teeth in a scissors bite. 2. What, if anything, do you feel non-breeder judges get wrong about the breed? I think non-breeder judges get more right than wrong when they judge the breed. No one can go wrong if they judge dogs and judge by the standard. If fellow judges ask my opinion, I caution them not to get caught up with size and discount a well-made dog with great breed type that may appear too small or too large compared to the com- petition. That could be the only dog within the standard with the others being over or under the size range. Our standard permits one to choose the best dog within the size ranges. Don’t be drawn to a tail that is carried straight up at all time. If you follow your hands down the hind leg you will probably find a straight stifle leading to a straight hock. Though set high, the tail is aligned naturally with the spine and carried upright in motion. Get your hands into the coat. Though I love to hold a beautiful Bouvier head in my hands, I don’t consider the Bouvier to be a head breed. The head—though impres- sive—is in proportion to the body. Often it is the mus- tache and beard that shapes the head making it appear larger. The Bouvier is a trotting breed. I prefer to see the

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