SK: Yes, I think they are improving. There is much more consistency of type and movement is better. SS: I think the breed has improved greatly since I started judging back in the 90s. Many dogs back then were small, dysplastic, high in the rear, snipey-headed, cow hocked, etc. Now we have the hips knocked, much better size, bone, level toplines, well-balanced, etc. We still often find type hard to keep, but that’s also getting much better. DW: The dogs have improved significantly in the last 30 years. They are far more balanced and sound. Conscien- tious breeders have worked diligently to produce dogs with sound orthopedics front and rear. There is far more consistency in the dogs we see in the ring today. We used to see incorrect tail sets, kinked tails, bad bites and struc- tural issues that inhibited correct gait. Most of the dogs today embrace the Breed Standard with minimal fault. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? DD: If new judges really study our proportions, appearing square though slightly longer than tall, they will do well. We have many that are way too short of leg and with that, lose the outline of a beautiful, sound dog. We have a good standard if judges just pay attention to it. JH: I don’t feel the new judges do misunderstand our breed. The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America has had an excellent Judges Education Committee in place for years and with numerous breed mentors and now with numerous regional specialties for new judges to see a large entry. The American Kennel Club has also instituted excellent policies to educate all judges. SK: I think new non-breeder-judges put too much emphasis on markings. SS: I think new judges have a hard time with the long expla- nation of markings. They try to memorize all that and
think it is very important. I always think, ‘Build the cake first, then decorate it, if the layers are crooked or falling apart all the frosting will not make it right.’ It really helps to judge in Europe, the dogs are much darker marked. This is the home of the breed’s country of origin, so I think they know best! DW: Too many judges think color markings are the defining breed characteristic of breed type. They place too much emphasis on the white tip of the tail or the inverted Swiss cross marking on the chest. The Bernese Mountain Dog should be a strong, sturdy, balanced farm dog that can guard hearth and home, drive a small herd, pull a cart and be a trustworthy companion to his family. All breeders desire perfect markings; however, first you have to bake the cake, then you frost it. Another area that con- fuses new judges is coat. The Breed Standard states the dog is shown in natural coat and undue trimming should be discouraged. Deciding if a coat has been scissored can be challenging. This often confuses the new judge when trying to prioritize the dog’s strengths. I find that many new judges think bigger is better. The bigger the dog, the better he can pull the cart. A 25-inch dog is just as acceptable as a 27 ½ -inch dog provided the dog is strong, sturdy and balanced. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. DD: This is a wonderful, sweet breed and should be enjoyed by everyone who judges them. We have some great people involved with the breed. SK: This is a Working breed and as such, should be able to perform the job they are bred to do. They should not be clunky or awkward in their movement, they should be beautiful to look at and a joy to watch moving around the ring.
“THE BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG CLUB OF AMERICA HAS HAD AN EXCELLENT JUDGES EDUCATION COMMITTEE in place for years and wiTh nuMerous breed MenTors and now wiTh nuMerous regional specialTies for new judges To see a large enTry.”
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