Showsight Presents the Vizsla

and of course it should never be down or between the legs when in movement. We are a single tracking breed that calls for a steady “level” topline when moving. It is important to remember this a versatile breed and as a natural hunter it must look like a dog that can be expect- ed to work out in the field under various conditions for a full day. A dog lacking the “robust” nature implied in the standard and lacking in bone, depth and width of chest will no doubt have a hard time doing the job for which it was bred. 2. What faults do you find hard to overlook? BJ: I love to find a typey dog with a beautiful head and eye. However, I’ll forgive or let go of my quest for a beautiful head and eye if the dog has the desired outline, move- ment, substance, and temperament. That said, I find it difficult to forgive a round, prominent, or yellow eye and a muzzle with a severely deficient under jaw. I find it dif- ficult to forgive shyness and difficult to forgive a weedy, fine-boned dog. All other things equal, I will put up a dog that is on the verge of being coarse over a dog that is lacking in substance. WS: When judging you have a mental image of what is the correct and ideal type for each breed. As we all know the perfect dog has yet to be bred. But as judges we can only try to choose from the exhibits standing and performing before us on any given day. Obviously you must address any of the breed disqualifica- tions. These are well described in the standard includ- ing the minimum and maximum heights for each sex. The only DQ that can be subject to interpretation in the Vizsla standard is the issue of white. Each judge must make his or her own determination in each case as to when is there “too much” and act accordingly. When it comes to shortcomings and hard to overlook faults I go back to the statement you can only judge what is in front of you on any given day. There are days when you have exceptional animals to choose from and priori- ties may be applied to a variety of attributes. On these days it is an exciting challenge to sort through and find those exhibits that truly meet the mental image you have for the breed and reward them. On the other hand you have days when an entire entry may not be up to par with what you are looking for and you make choices and trade offs based on your interpretation of the standard and your personal list of priorities. On these occasions it can appear to the person outside the ring that the judge is not consistent when in reality he or she is hopefully rewarding the exhibits in the ring that are closest to what they see as important virtues in the breed. 3. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it? Do you see any trends you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated? BJ: I think the dogs today are generally prettier than they were 30 years ago and less houndy or coarse. In some cases the pendulum swings a little too far in the other

direction where we see dogs that are very fine boned and snipey headed. The muzzle should be square and deep. We’re seeing a lot of muzzles that are severely lacking in under jaw. The gait is supposed to be far reaching; yet, many Vizslas display a severe restriction in the front when moving. WS: In reality all breeds seem to go through cycles. The biggest change I have seen in the breed over the past 40 years is how the increase in popularity has had an effect on the breeders and people involved in the breed. For the majority of the 70s and 80s the breed was a lower entry breed with almost all owner handlers that were truly involved in the concept of the “Dual Purpose” dogs. Many of the breeders, owners, and exhibitors competed in both the conformation ring as well as the field. This in my opinion created great camaraderie within the breed and was a great strength. As the popularity of the breed increased and the breed become more successful in the group and Best in Show area there seemed to be a shift with people becoming more involved with the show side of things, we also saw an increase of professional handlers exhibiting them. With this shift some people went toward a dog that they felt was pretty and fancy. We started to see a trend in lighter boned dogs, High tails became more common as did dogs longer in body. This created in my humble opinion a “generic” red show dog. The crafters of the breed and the original standard called for a “versatile” dog with the ability to work in the field, the forest, as well as water. An agile and energetic com- panion that had power and endurance in the field but was also a highly tractable and affectionate companion. To my interpretation they are a “Blue Collar” dog. I com- pare them to a blue collar factory worker. They show up every day, they punch the clock they work a full day in all types of conditions. They must have the body, bone, temperament and heart and lung capacity to do the job they have. They are moderate in size but sturdy in build. And much like the average worker at the end of the day they go home where they are a much loved and appreci- ated as well as a compatible member of the family. As breeders we need to pay attention to the standard. We have too many weak toplines, high tails and specimens lacking substance and proper proportions. 4. Is there anything Vizsla handlers do you wish they would not? BJ: I can’t think of much that handlers do in the ring that I wish they wouldn’t do. It’s what they don’t do outside the ring that I would urge them to consider. Don’t show dogs that haven’t been socialized and thus won’t present as happy, engaged companions. Don’t show dogs that are not in good condition. They should look like they’re sporting dogs. Handlers don’t always have control over what shows up ringside, but they do have control over what they choose to show and how they mentor their clients. This is pretty much a “what you see is what you get” breed and so the real work happens long before the day of the show.


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