HAIR OF THE DOG
same thing in all weather conditions? It would not be function- ing properly if the texture was the same in tepid humidity as opposed to a dry, 50-degree climatized air conditioning. The ratio of guard hair to undercoat is an important consid- eration in evaluation. In humans, each hair follicle yields one strand of hair. In canines, one hair follicle is possessed of both properties—undercoat and guard hair. The density of the coat is of crucial consideration. If the coat is comprised of silky or woolly texture and quality, it will not have the ability to provide protection, no matter what the conditions are. Poor quality coat can be a genetic trait, or it may be indicative of a nutritional defi- ciency or a coat that has not been cared for properly; essentially, poor condition. In both cases, this would be a consideration for evaluation in a show ring by a judge. Given the variables of coat quality and the external condi- tions that affect it, should undue emphasis be placed on it to the exclusion of other physical characteristics in the show ring? Why does it seem that many discussions with a judge in regards to the evaluation of a Bouvier START with only the coat; its texture and trim without mere mention of any structural components? Bouviers are not the only Herding breed with a very specific coat texture requirement as specified in its breed standard (see stan- dards listed previously), yet very seldom do we hear judges say that the reason for not awarding an otherwise quality Briard a ribbon was because the hair failed a make a dry rasping sound
when rubbed between the fingers, and was not hard and dry. There is no question that this feature of the Briard is inherently impor- tant, but it is not the first thing one typically remarks on. It would appear that the Bouvier seems to be the only herder whose primary consideration is a fur pelt held up by four legs and a spine to the sacrifice of other functioning aspects. If ribbons are to be awarded based solely on this, then a study of what a correct Bouvier coat is made up of (and the properties that make it so and in which climate conditions) is necessary. Bouviers are not hard-coated Terriers. On exam, the initial visual assessment of the dog should give one an impression as to whether the coat’s density would have the capability to protect the body in a variety weather conditions. A hands-on inspection should confirm texture and the ratio of under- coat to guard hair. As far as the outline of the body in regards to the trim, on stepping back several feet, one should be able to notice the tips or ends of the guard hair rather than a uniformly blunt-cut hair shaft that is more typical of a Bichon or a Poodle… breeds that do not require a harsh, tousled coat. Do not mistake a “tousled” coat with an “open” coat. An open coat lacks the sufficient under- coat to provide protection. This does not mean that the hair cannot be stripped, mucked-out, and trimmed to create the pleasing body outline of a show ring finish. Learning how to correctly evaluate an all-weather coat—and becoming familiar with the properties that make it so—is the key to the appreciation of the Herding breeds.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, SUE VROOM My relationship with the Bouvier des Flandres started in the early 1970’s as the owner of a large boarding and training facility in southern California. My trainer-in-residence, Dan La Master, did protection training and police work, specializing in the Bouvier. This is when my admiration and attraction to the breed began. I obtained my AKC Professional Handler’s license in 1976 and joined the Professional Handlers’ Association shortly thereafter. I was also a charter member of the AKC Registered Handler Program. After my marriage to Corky in 1981, we were fortunate to have campaigned a number of Bouviers; nine ranked #1 in the nation. Some career highlights for Corky and I include being awarded the last Best in Show on a Bouvier from the Working Group in December 1983, before the formation of the Herding Group, with Ch. Galbraith’s Faire La Roux. A few years later came the Top Dog All-Breeds award for Ch. Galbraith’s Iron Eyes with 101 Bests in Show, making him the top- winning Bouvier in breed history, a record that stands to date. We handled both Iron Eyes and his son, Ch. Ariste’s Hematite Dragon, to Herding Group Ones at the Westminster KC, then a first for the breed at the Garden. Bouviers have played a huge role in my life—191 all-breed Bests in Show and four National Specialty wins. I have enjoyed close relationships with many of the top breeders of the breed. It is due to their dedication that Bouviers have been beloved family members for 40+ years. I served as show chairman for the Southern California Bouvier des Flandres Club for eight years, American Bouvier des Flandres Club JEC from 2009 until 2013, and have been a member of the SCBdFC and the ABdFC since 1993. Having bred 100+ champions of several other breeds, I am currently a member of AKC’s Breeder of Merit program. Since my retirement as an all-breed handler in February 2005, I have been employed by the American Kennel Club as an Executive Field Representative.
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