newfoundland Q&A WITH LINDA BERBERICH, BETTY MCDONNELL AND JOAN ZIELINKSKI
1. Describe the breed in three words. LB: Sweet expression, clean moment and well balanced. BM: 1) Fabulous temperament: sweet, smart and biddable, 2) large size with considerable substance and 3) balanced athlete. JZ: Massive, benevolent and sweet natured. 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? LB: Muzzles with equal depth and length are very hard to find, but I have—also, sweet expression and dignity. BM: Must have traits in the breed: 1) typical sweet and confi- dent temperament that brings many to the breed. 2) Sound of body—natural athletes capable of water res- cue and draft work. (Not all Newfs are instinctive natural swimmers, but most can be taught with patience.) 3) Balanced, well angulated dogs with strong toplines. JZ: A beautiful expression, heavy bone, sound and able to perform his historic tasks as a water rescue dog. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? LB: Head pieces that are not as standard states, lack of sweet expression, bug eyes and exaggerated crown. BM: I prefer the moderate ideal head type described in the standard. There is a tendency to breed for an exaggerated Saint Bernard-like head with more than a moderate stop and the depth of muzzle greater than the length. (But I certainly do not want a longer-muzzled, Setter-like head- piece.) There has been an exaggeration in rear angulation that is not always in balance with front angulation. These dogs are often raced around the show rings with exaggerated, inefficient movement. Although unintended, many specimens are straight shouldered and narrow through the chest. JZ: Yes, over angulated rears not matching the fronts result- ing in sickle hocks. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? LB: Absolutely, I see more breed type that I didn’t see when I first began and I do enjoy really having to dig through my entries until I find my ideal. BM: The dogs of today are far better in consistent type than they were when I got started in the breed over 50 years ago. Although movement today is not as good as it was 15 years ago, it certainly is better than the unsound dogs of the early 50s and 60s. Dedication in health examina- tions among breeders has definitely improved soundness. When OFA began registering hip clearances, it was a rare champion that could x-ray normal. Newfs of an earlier time were often long in body, short of leg and many toed in and were out at the elbow. Unfortunately tempera- ments are not always sterling. I’ve known some dog-to- dog aggression as well as unstable dogs afraid of environ- mental situations. These dogs should never be rewarded or bred—no matter how beautiful. JZ: Yes, I do. Why or why not? I believe there are more qual- ity dogs on average in the ring than when we first began.
It’s a pleasure to be able to choose from amongst a group of quality dogs.
5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? LB: They are a breed that was meant to work and save humans, they must have the strength an ability to swim and rescue people and have a sweet disposition; as they are for saving people, they love their humans. BM: I would like judges to not emphasize speed or flashiness. Instead, look for the correct structure and functional movement. Look for the correct, benevolent expression in the eyes that says, ‘I am confident and sweet natured.’ A correct coat should never be color enhanced, but coat should be healthy, clean and tidied up to reveal the cor- rect structure of the dog. Dogs must be felt for structure; underneath the fluffed-out coat must be heavy bone, proper substance and strong toplines. Remember that although Newfoundlands are known for their great size, they should not be judged by the pound. The giant dog is not always the best dog. Judge the total dog, looking for excellence—not just the gorgeous head or the fasted dog in the ring. JZ: Bigger does not make for a better Newfoundland. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? LB: I so love this breed, I’m not a judge who wants to judge a hundred or so breeds, I feel I educate myself every time I walk into the ring. I love seeing a breed develop and talk- ing with exhibitors about their beloved breed. This breed is so exceptional, with dignity, but in the same account would sit on your lap if given the opportunity—which I wouldn’t mind in a minute. I’m the type of judge who loves all dogs, and if naughty, even better! JZ: I do not see bad-tempered Newfoundlands. I never have, though there must be some. I see some that are mischie- vous and more difficult to train than others, but never mean nor nasty. I admire that about the breed. 7. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? LB: Well, many years back when I was a handler, I went to move a dog around the ring and my shoe came flying off, slid under the ring into the next ring and stopped right in front of the judge. I was mortified, and everyone had a good laugh, when I made it back to my place and my shoe was handed back to me, from the other judge and steward! It turned out well though, I went WD and we all had a good laugh. JZ: Regarding Newfoundlands, I watched a female breeder a very long time ago walking her Newfie from the bench- ing area toward the ring. I was behind her. She had black hair, was wearing an all black outfit, sweater, shoes and pants and she was quite substantial in build. Next to her on a lead was her very large, black male Newfoundland. Both were walking in the same manner, swaying from side to side like large black bears. I thought to myself, ‘Here we have the perfect example of a person who matches her dog.’
290 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A UGUST 2018
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