PBM: Probably topline, because it seems to be such a prob- lem currently. It is important to me because it is such a huge characteristic of the breed. MAB: I want to see a square, balanced dog with a fairly long arched neck. A dog with these characteristics will have breed type when properly proportioned. That first impression is inspiration to examine the dog for the other important breed characteristics. My love for this breed is deep and long standing. When I see a correct example of the breed it fills my heart with joy! SC: Is the dog capable of herding? Is it sound (of body and mind)? EDB: TYPE and soundness as with no type there is no OES. DM: Type. Type is the picture that I create when I read the standard. It is what makes the OES an OES and not another breed. It is one thing that is created from all things described in the standard. EM: Does this OES have breed type? That is, does it look like an Old English Sheepdog that you can picture performing the work for which the breed was developed? MO: I think to myself, ‘I must make sure that I find the real dog under these coats.’ CO: The #1 thing that flashes through my mind is BREED TYPE—a combination of characteristics that make the dog an Old English Sheepdog: squareness, compact with correct head, bone, substance, topline and width, short hocks, correct coat, gait and temperament. These are all a part of breed type. Does this dog have enough breed type? LS: The OES MUST have the breed characteristics called for in the breed standard—the strong, truncated muzzle with a long powerful underjaw in front of a squarely formed backskull and strong supra orbital ridges and a level bite along with a short compact thickset body with a deep, well-sprung rib and stout gently rising loin followed by a powerful muscular rear. If the exhibit has the above, he will have breed characteristics called for and the ground- covering, effortless gait of a drovers dog. 12. Do you reward the amount of coat vs. coat texture and quality? PBM: Coat texture and quality is most important, but I like to see them presented properly and not over trimmed. MAB: “Quality and texture of coat to be considered above mere profuseness.” Quality of coat consists of good hard texture, not straight, but shaggy and free from curl. The undercoat is also important. People often groom out the undercoat but it is very important to the working dog as protection from the elements. The Standard is clear, qual- ity of coat is most important. Natural texture, not created by products, with undercoat is correct. SC: We always want the clear, crisp coat but due to better grooming techniques we keep more undercoat so the dogs look massive. The wire coats of the 60s and 70s had less undercoat, less maintenance and therefore looked “straggly” compared to the big coats today. Are today’s coats proper? How would they hold up on a misty hillside watching the sheep?
EDB: Coat texture is more important than the quantity. DM: The standard calls for a profuse coat, but not without quality and texture. All of it is important, but more is not better. There should be a balance. The coat should be weather proof, but not in excess. EM: Refer to the standard. Quality and texture more important than mere profuseness, but they need to have enough coat to be able to judge quality and texture. Less great hair is much better than a huge amount of soft incorrect coat. MO: No. Texture and quality are paramount in this double coat. The outer guard hair should be hard, crisp and free from curl but not straight and flat, and the undercoat a “waterproof pile”. This coat allowed the dog to work comfortably in the often wet, cold, inclement weather of his native Britain. It must provide the kind of protec- tion that made the sire of my first OES unhappy when he got called into the house on a Minnesota winter’s night, forced to abandon the snow bank where he preferred to sleep. Note: in the show ring, test the gray body coat for harshness and crispness, not the “whites”, which are usually softened by a very recent bath. The gray is usually bathed much less often. CO: Coat quality and texture are more important than mere profuseness. Many exhibits today lack correct coat. This again is part of the Old English Sheepdog that goes back to its original purpose of providing protection from the weather. A soft outer coat would not provide enough protection, it is difficult to wet a good coated OES to the skin. (Even though most OES today do not spend hours working outside in bad weather, correct coats are also easier to keep groomed than poor quality coats.) LS: No—coat texture is paramount. It is italicized in the breed standard for emphasis! “Quality and texture of coat to be considered above mere profuseness.” 13. What do you think of feet? Do you examine them? PBM: The foot is the foundation and it is very important to have good feet. MAB: Yes, I do examine feet. They are covered with a lot of hair and you must feel that the feet a pointing straight ahead and the feet are not flat, with the dog down in pas- tern. The feet are amazingly small for the size of the dog. They are small, round with well-arched toes. The pads must be thick and hard to manage the rough terrain that the OES worked on. EDB: Yes, I do examine feet; also, pads should be round and thick. DM: I do not examine them. The standard calls for small round feet. I think they should be proportionate to the dog. I want them tight, up on their toes with strong pas- terns. I would examine the feet if the dog seemed to have splayed feet and weak pasterns. EM: Feet are important to any working breed. Normally I can see past the hair and determine what the feet are like, you can see the pads as the dog moves away and if you look closely, you can see the front feet as the dog comes toward you. OES are not accustomed to having
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