Old English Sheepdog Breed Magazine - Showsight


I was just starting out. The Quentin Laham and Racheal Page Elliot seminars we attended together gave me knowledge of structure and movement. This provided a great building block. Incorporating the knowledge of “type” for the OES came a little slower. I think I am a good student and have learned that type and soundness in equal parts are needed to make a great OES. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned from a veteran breeder came from Caj Haakanson of Bahlambs OES. He taught me not to fault judge. It was during an early encounter exhibiting my first show OES, Caj was judging. I asked him about my dog after judging and he told me the things he liked and never spoke a negative word. Through the years I got to know Caj better and this was not his type of dog and yet he kept it positive. This has become a valuable lesson. AL: My mentor was Cass Moulton Arble. Cass taught me the importance of preserving the health of the breed. She stressed the need to complete a health profile for each breeding animal along with an analysis of a 12-genera- tion pedigree for each breeding partner. As we selected breeding pairs, her guidance was invaluable. Even today, Cass continues to serve as a fountain of knowledge and a steadfast sounding board. JM: Yes, there are two mentors in my life that I am most grateful to for the knowledge that they have shared with me. Caj Haakansson, Bahlambs Farms OES. He taught me what a true OES should be as far as temperament, structure, movement and most of all type. Also, Gerardo Paulucci, from Buenos Aires, taught me concepts of grooming and relating the OES to other breeds. M&KM: In the beginning we had several mentors who taught us to listen and learn; over the years we have applied that concept and are still learning today. DM: Vinita Smith of Warwyck kennels was my mentor. Most valuable lesson was to learn about and recognize cor- rect fronts and understand what the standard meant by, “Soundness is of the utmost importance.” Soundness is front and rear legs converging, balanced angles allow- ing the dogs to cover ground equally front and rear and mentally not being shy or aggressive. Judges and breeders need to be able to recognize this in a coated breed. It’s not the biggest and hairiest dog with one amazing attri- bute that should be rewarded. Consider it, but reward the soundest dogs with the best attributes. JW: I never had a mentor back in the 1960s. I went to shows to learn—that was my classroom, along with the standard. 3. What is the number one thing that flashes through your mind when you evaluate the breed? DA: When judging any breed, I find it invaluable to have in mind a simple catch phrase that describes the essence of the breed. For OES, I use the catch phrase, “A pear and a square.” With that simple descriptive phrase in mind, specific breed characteristics should then be assessed with a hands-on evaluation. Remembering that the OES

should be thick-set, pear-shaped and square, look for a big black nose on a truncated muzzle. This does not mean a short muzzle, but a truncated strong muzzle. If the incisors in the lower jaw are straight across, that usu- ally results in a proper muzzle. The eyes are dark and set wide apart to give an intelligent expression. There should be a slight stop but the expression is largely determined by correct eyes and noticeable eyebrows. It is also vital with low hocks and a rise over the loin which flows into a wide, rounded and muscular croup. Finally, the coat is double with a harsh topcoat. When you rub the outer coat between your fingers you should feel the harshness. CD: Top line! This is important because it is the hallmark of our breed. They use it to be able to pivot quickly when they are used for what they are bred for. LF: When I evaluate a dog, there are two things I look for: type and soundness. Does the dog look like an OES— square, free from legginess or an overly long back, substantial in bone and body and an arched neck with a pretty expression? And also, I’ll never have an OES that isn’t sound. I want true and balanced movement in all directions as well as being even tempered—aggressive or shy dogs should not be bred. CG: The key points of the General Appearance in the stan- dard; compact, thick-set, muscular and sound. It’s not a good OES without this, however it is important to get your hands on the dog to confirm this is what is under all that hair and not just a created picture. AL: Balance and function (is that two?). A Herding dog requires correct structure and stamina to perform their function. JM: Going over the dog correctly. Too many people don’t know how to effectively go over an OES in order to feel what is expected of our breed according to our standard. You can’t just look at an OES and know if it is correct or not; if it has a rise over the loin for a good topline, a cor- rect head, good spring of ribs or if the hindquarters are built correctly. M&KM: We feel that the overall balance and structure of the dog is very important. If the dog is not balanced they can- not do the job they were bred for. “DOES THE DOG LOOK LIKE AN OES— SQUARE, FREE FROM LEGGINESS OR AN OVERLY LONG BACK, SUBSTANTIAL IN BONE AND BODY AND AN ARCHED NECK WITH A PRETTY EXPRESSION?”


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