Challenges in Judging the CIRNECO DELL’ETNA submitted by CdeCa, JudgesEd@cirneco.org
T here are many factors within conformation that enhance or hamper func- tion. The function of the Cirneco dell’Etna is hunting of small mammals, primarily rabbit, and fowl. The terrain upon which the Cirneco survived by virtue of its hunting prow- ess is not that of open land for as far as the eye can see. Rocky slopes and small agricultural plots do not reward a canine that is large or built for speed with sustenance for survival. Size is crucial to the Cirneco’s ability to enter and work within tight areas— thickets and rocky crevices. For this rea- son the breed standard has well defined boundaries for size which include dis- qualifications. Disqualifications in size, while not common, are not a novelty for breeds where function is affected. The Whippet is the well known breed within our same Hound Group with a size maximum and minimum. For the Cirneco the disqualifications arise for dogs outside the range of 17 ½ - 20 ½ inches and for bitches outside the range of 16-19 ½ inches. This is easy to apply if the time is taken to evaluate the exemplars individually rather than seeking uniformity, or lack thereof, within the whole of the exhibitors. Unfortunately, this breed suffers more than most from often having the least uniform exemplar in the ring be the most compliant to the breed standard. Then comes the atypical portion of the evaluation of size necessary if we are truly to protect function: The breed standard has a “tolerance.” The actual breed standard allows for dogs to mea- sure 18-19 ½ inches and bitches must fall within the range of 16 ½ -18 inches. There is only an inch and a half range for a Cirneco to be IN STANDARD. When the standard was presented for approval to the Kennel Club (Great Britain) it contained the standard, toler- ances and disqualifications. What was approved for implementation by the Kennel Club had been stripped of the
tolerances. Since the tolerances are not within “the standard,” they were not accepted as a buffer to disqualification. We are hopeful that our AKC judges can understand and apply the nuances properly and not elevate exemplars out of standard above those that are more standard compliant in all respects. The Cirneco Breed standard con- tains a hierarchy of tools for evalu- ation: “Disqualifications,” “Severely Penalized,” “Undesirable” and “Less Desirable” The only trait with the label of “undesirable” (not “disqualifica- tion” or “severely penalized”) is “Gait: Tendency to throw feet sideways or hackney action.”
Obviously movement is important but what is the movement? In our cul- ture of “reach, drive and extension” this breed would not exist. “Springy trot” is the expression used to describe the action imposed by a short forearm necessary for sure-footed climbing and working on rocky slopes. Hackney action or throwing of feet sideways is not the most efficient of actions and, for this reason, “undesirable” but it also is not a characteristic which impedes function as would size. Size impedes the ability to access prey, eat and survive. New breed, new frontier. We are here to help traverse it.
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