Old English Sheepdog Breed Magazine - Showsight

going away I look for a straight column of support from hip to toes—not cow-hocked or barrel-hocked, nor with hocks too close together. How, through all that coat? By watching the pads of the hind feet. Toes should point straight ahead as they reach forward, and point straight back as the stride is completed. Feet may converge as speed increases. As the dog comes to me, I again look for a straight column—a leg and a foot that come straight at me, pasterns not breaking to inside or outside, the whole assembly functioning as a part of a front that does not rock or waddle. From the side: “Covering maximum ground with minimum steps” is essential, as the Standard states. I do not want to see wasted motion such as high- kicking or “bicycling” in the rear, or “running downhill” or high-lifting of the front. No “crabbing” as lack of bal- ance causes front and rear work to avoid interfering with each other, which can also be evident on the down and back. Strong extension plus equal reach and drive should provide the powerful, effortless ground-covering ability. This is the real test of balance and the sign of the match- ing, complementary front and rear angles. The Standard states “Soundness is of the greatest importance.” And is best demonstrated on the move! What about pacing? The OES must be judged at a trot. However, the OES Standard specifically says, “May amble or pace at slower speeds.” The OES is a square dog with a rising topline, so pacing comes easily and naturally. A dog that paces should not be faulted for it unless he will not or cannot trot. CO: Although the Old English Sheepdog can naturally pace or amble, in the ring we evaluate dogs at a trot; and the OES should exhibit good reach and drive; a Herding breed can cover ground and work all day. LS: As called for in the breed standard—”GAIT: When trot- ting, movement is free and powerful, seemingly effort- less, with good reach and drive, and covering maximum ground with minimum steps. Very elastic at a gallop. May amble or pace at slower speeds.” To evaluate this, they should be moved at a slow speed to see the beautiful, ground-covering gait and to see the characteristic roll due to the correct topline and pear shape. They should NEVER be raced around the ring! 7. How important is the loin of the OES? Do you check for stoutness and gentle arch? PBM: Absolutely, this is a real problem in the breed. As the standard states it is a characteristic of the breed and too many are level or fall off. The standard does not call for a gentle arch in the topline, it calls for them to be lower at the withers than the loin. I want a gentle rise. I check the topline during my exam but also after the down and back when they are standing on their own as I have found many exhibitors stretch them out too far which affects the topline. Having the dog stand on its own gives me a better assessment of their topline. MAB: The loin affects several breed specific characteristics. From the last rib of the rib cage to the start of the stifle the loin should be short—about 3 fingers. It should be short and stout or full. A short loin is also important in

aiding the correct gentle rise over the loin for the char- acteristic topline. The short loin helps keep the topline when the dog is in motion. A correct, short loin will also assist in keeping the dog nearly square. SC: Very. This is a hallmark of the breed and something many judges act like they are feeling for when in reality they are putting up a picture. EDB: One of the hallmarks of the OES is the topline the gentle rise over loin and yes, I do check for stoutness. DM: The rise in the loin is a hallmark of the breed. It is very important. It is the bridge between the front and rear. If you don’t have a good, thick, stout loin you have a weak bridge. The back should be straight on the OES and the muscle over the loin should have such a great build that it is slightly higher than the withers. EM: Very, and, yes. Earlier I referred to exhibitors evaluat- ing a judge’s understanding of a breed... short strong loin with the gentle rise is a characteristic of the OES that MUST be present in a correct exhibit. This is part of what sets the OES apart from other breeds, particularly other Herding breeds. MO: Absolutely. This is a MUST for judging the OES. One of the most important hallmarks of the breed is a topline that is “lower at the withers than at the loin” and evalua- tion of this feature must include hands-on assessment of that feature from withers to loin. It can be a gentle rise, but there must be a rise. The loin itself must be stout, strong, gently arched and never long and weak. CO: Very and absolutely. The Old English Sheepdog is to have a short loin, and also must display width at the loin and the correct topline which is a breed characteristic that is not always present. This unique shape combining the loin, topline and width was critical to the original purpose of the breed; it has been said the loin should be wide enough to rest a plate on the back end of an OES. LS: MOST IMPORTANT! The topline should be felt by running the open hand down from the withers to feel the rise over the loin and one MUST also feel the width across the loin with both hands. This topline should be held when the dog moves. 8. How do you determine the exhibit is square— remembering that square is a three dimensional object? PBM: It’s fairly easy, I just eyeball it, withers to ground, shoulder to rump. This is definitely a breed you must get your hands on to confirm what your eye sees. MAB: With the OES you must use your hands to dig into the coat and measure. I measure from the point of the shoul- der to the ischium for length, and height from the top of the withers to the ground. The height should be nearly 50/50 from the withers to the elbow and the elbow to the ground. The more OES you examine, squareness becomes easier to evaluate. You know how far your arms opened for length that you can compare to the height from the withers to the ground. SC: Square is front to back, top to bottom. The pear shape (from above) is not mentioned in our standard—

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