Portuguese Water Dog Breed Magazine - Showsight


in 1989 and completed both a “UD” obedience title and a breed championship—one of the first to do so. I started judging obedience in 2001 and became a breed judge five years later.


1. Describe the breed in three words. Impressive, spirited and marine.

2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? Slightly off-square; robust; well-knit; substantial in bone and muscle, yet medium in build; thickly-based and powerful tail; distinctively large head; alert and spirited; resistant to fatigue.

3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? Yes—the coat! Exaggerated grooming that

6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? A good Portuguese Water Dog has the traits listed

attempts to construct a picture of essential breed type does not alter the need for the essential traits listed above. Creative grooming to indicate breadth of top skull or a well-defined stop no more indicates correct form and function than wearing an NFL jersey makes you a good quarterback. In this breed, the profile will fool the casual observer who doesn’t put their hands on and into that coat.

above—all for good reason. A good one is pleasing to the eye and presents a body of an athlete and a will to get in the game. What distinguishes a good one from a great one comes from inside—the spirited disposition that is evidenced by confidence, stamina and that expression, which is uniquely the Portuguese Water Dog.

7. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show?

4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you fi rst started judging? Why or why not?

I showed my Breed Champion and Utility Dog “Tanner” to Michelle Billings at the 1993 National. At the time, he was one of only a few Portuguese Water Dogs to have completed all obedience titles available. After provid- ing comic relief in the obedience rings, we made our way to the breed ring, competing against 60 or so of the great dogs of the time and many professional handlers. During our examination, Tanner decided to pace on the down and back. Mrs. Billings looked over the dog carefully and requested, “Do it again.” On the second attempt, Tanner decided to jump up and down and grab the lead, creating laughter with his antics. Thinking I was done, Mrs. Billings raised her hand, walked around the dog and requested yet another attempt. On this go, Tanner was magnificent and received a nice round of applause (cynical crowd). Judge Billings approved as well, grabbed me by the arm and said, “Honey, this is a nice dog. Perhaps you would benefit from some obedience work.” VIRGINIA MURRAY 1. What are the two most important traits you look for when judging the Portuguese Water Dog? Are you usually fi nding them or not? Number one is always the head. I want my hand to have to stretch to cover their top skulls! And their muzzle should be strong and on the squarer side—not long and snipey! I also want good substance and bone. The breed

I clearly believe that Portuguese Water Dogs are healthier now, thanks to a fabulous commitment by our parent club and breeders. My concern otherwise is that too many exhibits are losing some of the essential breed characteristics that allow this dog to function. Our breed standard essentially calls for a robust, rug- gedly built dog of substantial bone and muscle—all in a medium build. We are seeing too many exhibits that simply grow hair and craft it in such a manner to create this profile. A Portuguese Water Dog should present an indelible impression of strength, spirit and soundness. Coat can’t do that! Fortunately, we have many strong lines among the breeding program that continue to produce dogs that satisfy both ideal genotype and phenotype. When you see a correct one—and especially if you can see it work— you understand why these traits are important and must be preserved.

5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed?

Here I go again, but you can’t judge this breed very well from the sideline and that includes staring at the dog in profile. New (and experienced) judges can be fooled by the various coat types and presentations. Look beyond the coat! Another thing—while they are swimmers, they are not fish! They are a wonderful breed of multiple util- ity. They must be agile, very discerning and very confi- dent. No shy dogs in the ring, please!

298 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2018

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