HERDING GROUP Q&A
I found that taking dogs when they’re younger to agility classes can help them later to work with better response and results in herding.
But I have faith that the breed will endure in the world as it has for centuries, actually. Is there a market for “pet quality” puppies in my breed? Cer- tainly this is true. The majority of people buy a Briard this way. Who were my mentors? I was mostly self-taught. I made my very first breeding decision on my own and it remained that way always. I studied by going to shows and watching, and this included several trips to Europe, and watching generations of dogs, and talking to people at shows about breed evaluation. As in Europe when I began and it still goes on, there are judges whose particular work is in just the one breed, and their training takes five years. So there I discov- ered it was more possible to learn about the dogs. This environment was educational as people were all interested in speaking about the breed for the sake of the breed, and not focused on wanting to win a dog show. What the majority wanted was the achievement of breed- ing very proper dogs in all aspects. Even second generation breeders there stopped and accepted the critique well from any expert being shown their dog. There was no hostility, but respect for their views. I found avoiding cliques of people beneficial as well. I read books and articles where I could and I also studied horse breeding, actu- ally. That gave me creative and new ways to look at dog breeding, and things that might be important that were not being discussed by dog breeders. As horses mean a lot more money, I figured at the time, they are studying things that really matter about their breed, because of all the money involved they only get one baby from an effort. All this was privately thought about by myself during this time and pursued by myself as a form of breeding study. I, of course, tried to select people to get input from whose dogs mattered to me the most. I avoided discussions and people who were primarily interested in showing agendas over concerns about the breed. What is it about my breed that has sustained my interest and encouraged my involvement in the sport? This is to me a gorgeous, ancient breed whose history is big and impressive. It is such an intel- ligent dog and so devoted to its people. A Briard is a dog that will always prefer the company of a person over another dog. It has been my honor to love and attempt to keep the breed as good as I can in my own small effort, as I was never a big breeder. I sometimes worry that the future of big, purebred dogs is growing thinner. I didn’t know. I have found it an honor to support this breed. I feel sorry for those who may come later and never be able to know what a Briard dog is, or to own one. Generally, but specifically, my role
conformation that has been off for the breed, especially in size, not correct really to the standard for herding work, but also I have heard often their temperaments are not easy to train for that work. I do think there are many who no longer try to herd due to not being near a facility or having sheep of their own. People compete more often in Rally and Obedience work and, perhaps, Carting. Some owners are avid about doing Agility. I found that taking dogs when they’re younger to agility classes can help them later to work with better response and results in herding. Can I define the key essentials of “type” in my breed? The “cor- rect” type to my mind remains any dog whose conformation is clearly adhered to as defined by the standard. Older books (some written in other languages) go into more depth about these quali- ties than others. A very good dog is not only excellent to the stan- dard, [but] goes beyond the three or four key points about the breed that are necessary to say it is a Briard. Within the breed, as it is an ancient breed, there are and have been breeders throughout the world developing their own lines for a long time. Many breeders traditionally, and in the early days here in the USA by request of people in the breed, made a point of asking that our breeders not overbreed, but work to maintain the special aspects so unique to the Briard. Overseas, access to different dogs and pedigrees that go far back in history allowed for variations in what is type due to a very long and expansive EU breeding history in this breed. For me, the various types can be interesting and, in reality, we breeders have the choice to have preferences for what we feel is best and most appeal- ing as a “type.” For myself, I have always preferred what I would call, and others have called, a “rustic” type. After all, it is not a breed created for fluffy dog shows, but a hard-working, endurance breed. It is not a breed like, say, the Cocker Spaniel, where every hair should be in a particular place; but in each and any of these types, the need to comply with the standard. That is the same for all types. So the standard is the bottom line and how accurately in all details one accomplishes this has mattered to me. This includes the char- acter. A knowledgeable judge is accustomed to different types and knows how to distinguish what is great in a dog of a particular type compared to a dog of a different type in the ring at the same time, and from that decide which is more excellent to the type he is, and then, of course, if both are actually quite equal in their excellence, the judge chooses which type he or she likes best or it is decided by performance. Most judges, if the room is available, let the gavel fall on the comparison of the dogs’ movement and the endurance of the dogs moving properly. Often the time to evaluate deeply is too short for any judge to really know. Let’s face it, any dog can be made to look good for three minutes around a ring. Am I pleased with my breed’s current overall quality and popu- larity? I believe there is good breeding effort being made. How challenging has it been for exhibitors to find “majors?” It is challenging. There are few younger people coming into the breed- ing world in the Briard—which was never huge to begin with—and the older breeders, such as myself, are stopping or slowing down.
as a breeder I have seen as one of a caretaker for the breed. There were great people who bred hard and true before me and I hope what I leave behind supports their future. Here is a book I wrote some time ago with views of breeders on the breed other than myself. It is available from me directly, signed, or via Amazon. >
174 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JULY 2020
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