JUDGING THE BICHON FRISE
JUDGING THE Bichon Frise BY ANN D. HEARN, BREEDER/EXHIBITOR/JUDGE A s you stand in the ring with your judges book and pen in hand, and check off each armband, you find it is a bit difficult to keep your mind on the paperwork requirements without moving your eyes downward to (A version of this article appeared in the January 2019 issue of SHOWSIGHT.)
have a natural (hum, well) dark halo on the skin surrounding the eye and eye rims that have a dark unbroken rim. Sometimes, an extremely round-eyed dog will have a bit of a bulge to his eyeball. The Bichon does not—please! The roundness of the Bichon eye is not Coke-bottle round but is much softer. The skull is rounded slightly and is greater in width and depth than the muzzle. Actu- ally, the muzzle is short, and with the coat parted on the bridge of the nose, with usually some wispy hairs sticking out and up, will look even shorter. A good balance of skull to muzzle is not half as much muzzle as skull, but a bit less in length of muzzle. Or, as the Standard says, “Three parts muzzle to five parts skull.” However, your brain visualizes things, the point being made here is—it is not a 50–50 balance. There is a stop and not just a hint of a slop- ing indentation. The skull doesn’t slide down into the muzzle, and the muzzle width and depth, while not the same circumference as the skull, must match the apparent fullness of the skull and not be narrow, snipey or chinless. The nose is somewhat prominent and very, very black. The lips are also black, thus giving a pronounced contrast of black and white. With the ears placed slightly above the eyes and being very flexible, they can swing forward at atten- tion and give the most beautiful frame to the sweetest face at the dog show. Now that you have the head in your mind’s image, how do you determine if that skull is wide and rounded and the ears are not too high or too low and houndy? Yes, you can put your hand in all that coat to feel. It is incumbent of you to find and reward the proper structure. The exhibitor can and will fluff it back up before the down and back. Please allow just a few seconds for this repair. It is much easier to judge a dog that looks good than it is to have to judge a totally disheveled one. The Bichon coat is double and, therefore, an adult coat should merely shake back into place. The coat texture is certainly not like a Maltese, Havanese, Lowchen, Poodle, etc., other than, as with some of these breeds, it has a soft undercoat. It is this undercoat that helps to keep the coat off-standing and prevent it from lying flat. A puppy will have a very soft texture, with undercoat just developing, and its coat will, therefore, hang downward. Forgive this—it’s only tempo- rary. Unless you’ve been in the breed for years and know your bloodlines well, it would be impossible for you to guess whether or not the coat will become the full-bodied textured substance it should become. Remember, “On the Day.” In my opinion, just acknowledge that the puppy has predominately white hair and just accept it.
catch a glimpse of the stunning, joyous parade propelling them- selves into the ring with an exhibitor attempting to get some bit of control from their entry. It’s an instant “feel good” moment. Well, you smile to yourself, this ought to be fun! And, I promise you, it will be. You may be fairly new to this breed, as well as new to dogs with an abundance of coat, but your eyes have long been trained to see and evaluate leg movement. As you take them around the ring to the examining table, you watch to see which ones display equal distance of reach in the front and matching rear. Your experience also tells you that you can have equal front and rear leg exten- sion—and still not get anywhere. This style of dog has reach in front that never gets out from under his chin, but, Glory B, the rear has the same stretch! That means the dog is balanced, doesn’t it? There’s good balance, underbalanced, and overbalanced. A Bichon was once the circus trick dogs and as such must have a healthy reach and drive that will propel him agilely toward his goal. They want and should move right along, but not as if the devil himself is chasing them with evil intent. It is not a race of speed, but a pace to get where they need to be, efficiently—and then be ready for the next cool thing asked of them. You probably didn’t get to see the hallmark of the breed, the face and head, as they were coming in and going around. But on the examining table, you can quickly and breathlessly have your heart stolen right out of your body as you look into those sweet faces. At this point, you’re probably saying, “I have got to have one of these at home, so I can look at that face all day long!” If the correct head and face are not maintained, the breed will totally lose its individuality, appeal, and a good bit of its purpose as a companion dog. So, let’s begin a thorough study of what we should see in this cloud of white and prominent black portions arranged so pleasingly. The Bichon is not a narrow, elongated dog with refined bone. It is a sturdy dog, with sound bone and a solid body. Therefore, the head should equal the density of the body. In other words, it is a rather broad head to allow the pleasing picture of two extreme- ly bright, dark eyes to be able to look forward on a skull that is wide enough to allow the eyes to lay on the face without having to curve a bit around a too narrow skull. The eyes are totally on the front of the face—this is important. They are dark and round and
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2022 | 197
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