Showsight Presents The Bouvier Des Flanders

HAIR OF THE DOG HERDING BREED COAT REQUIREMENTS

BY SUE VROOM

SHOWSIGHT magazine is deeply saddened to report the passing of AKC Executive Field Representative, Sue Vroom. We are indebted to the former professional handler for her many contributions to this publication and to the sport of dogs. Our sincere condolences are offered to her family, friends, and colleagues.

L isted below are the breeds in the Herding Group whose stan- dards contain very specific coat requirements. Coat require- ment descriptions have been taken from each standard as they are written. Australian Shepherd – “… medium texture… weather resistant and of medium length. The undercoat varies in quantity with variation in cli- mate… Non-typical coats are severe faults .” Bearded Collie – “… outer coat is flat, harsh , strong and shaggy…” Severe fault is a “…long, silky coat. Trimmed or sculpted coat.” BelgianMalinois – “… straight, hard enough to be weather resistant…” Beauceron – “… coat is… course , dense…” DQ – “Shaggy Coat.” Bouvier Des Flandres – “A tousled double coat…outer hairs are rough and harsh … Topcoat must be harsh to the touch… A flat coat, denoting lack of undercoat is a serious fault …” A “silky or woolly coat… is a fault .” Briard – “The outer coat is course, hard and dry (making a dry rasping sound between the fingers).” Canaan Dog – “Outer coat-straight, harsh , flat-lying…” Rough Collie – “The well-fitting, properly-textured coat is the crown- ing glory of the Rough variety of Collie… The outer coat is straight and harsh to the touch. A soft, open outer coat… regardless of quantity is penal- ized … The texture, quantity and the extent to which the coat “fits the dog” are important points .” German Shepherd Dog – “… double coat of medium length… hair straight, harsh and lying close to the body… Faults in coat include soft,

the Maltese coat is his defining characteristic. The white, silky hair makes him what he is. A Yorkshire Terrier is not a Yorkie without the luxurious, single-coated, dark steel blue curtain of hair. These are examples of dogs whose sole function on the planet is to look the part and be a home companion, even though the one breed was originally bred down from farm ratters; this no longer being the attraction to own one. Bouviers have the distinction of being one of the highest functioning AKC recognized breeds, anatomically designed for great diversity in their duties and responsibilities. This demands a variety of essential physical characteristics in order to perform vital tasks. An efficient, well-constructed body means the difference between a tireless farm worker and a porch pooch. Compact, short-coupled, well-boned, deep-chested, and proportionately balanced front to rear are essential for maximum functional efficiency. Coat quality and texture is one of the physical compo- nents that enable the dog to more effectively perform his outside duties in varying weather conditions and climates. In hot, dry, and humid areas, the cuticles of the hair shaft and the top coat open to allow air to flow to the skin and cool the body. (Many of us complain about our “fuzzy hair” in hot humid weather.) In cold, wet weather condi- tions, guard hair and undercoat act as a seal, and close to protect the skin from moisture and warm the body. The skin and coat are the thermal protectors that function as a sensor mechanism to shield and aid in survival in harsh conditions. Upon touch, one may expect to feel a variation and a range of texture qualities depending on the weather and the temperature. In evaluating the characteristics of hair, one must remember that it is a living organism on the body of a living thing for a specific reason… protection. It acts and feels differently in various climate conditions because it is doing its job. A fur pelt will feel the same to the touch in all conditions as it has been stripped from the body of an animal. The coat is no longer living. Why, when evalu- ating fur on a live animal, are we expecting to feel the

silky, too long outer coat, woolly, curly, and open coat.” Norwegian Buhund – “Outer coat is thick and hard …”

Old English Sheepdog – “Coat… of a good hard texture … Quality and texture of coat to be considered above mere profuseness . Softness or flat- ness of coat to be considered a fault .” Shetland Sheepdog – “… outer coat consisting of long, straight, harsh hair… Faults -…wavy, curly, soft or silky.” Swedish Vallhund – “Medium length hair, harsh … Fluffy coats… are a serious fault . The following faults are to be so severely penalized as to effectively eliminate the dog from competition: Fluffy Coat …” Hair… is it the sole defining characteristic of a Herding breed or is it one key element among other essential qualities? A defining character- istic by direct definition means that without possessing this particular type component, the breed ceases to be the breed. Most will agree that

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