NON-SPORTING GROUP Q&A
My best advice is to strive to breed to your Breed Standard, not necessarily to the dog that’s winning.
SUE GOLDBERG We live in New Jersey in the warm months and Florida as soon as the weather gets chilly. I am an executive recruiter, filling senior level positions for Fortune 500 companies. My breed is Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers; I’ve been involved with the breed since 1968. Under our Shandalee banner, we’ve bred 82 champions and count- ing, a BIS winner, multiple top-ranked Wheatens, Specialty and Group winners and placers, performance and therapy dogs, and three of the Top Producers in the breed. Wheatens are my original breed, not counting a well-bred Mini Poodle that was our very first pet. I have never handled profession- ally, but handled almost all our dogs myself, proudly finishing them primarily from the Bred-By class. I was approved for Bichons and Poodles in 2008, and completed the Group in 2015. Are there specific challenges presented to judges by the diversity within this Group? Because the Group is so diverse, each breed has to be carefully studied individually, rather than, say, the Sporting dogs where there are similarities between the subsets like the span- iels, the pointing breeds, the setters, the retrievers, etc. Does a Non-Sporting breed’s historic purpose play a role in my selection process? Every breed’s historic purpose is important in order to determine whether this dog can do what it was bred to do. How important is breed-specific presentation and conditioning among the Non-Sporting breeds? Presentation and, in particular, conditioning, play a role. After all, it is a dog show. Miss America wouldn’t walk down the runway with a tattered gown and knots in her hair, and this translates to the conformation ring as well. Presentation and handling are more cosmetic than structural, and a judge should make some allowance for the newbie owner-handler whose grooming and/or handling skills are not yet refined. With the breed Standard as the blueprint, judges should be evaluating breed- ing stock, not grooming ability, although in breeds like Poodles, grooming definitely plays an important part. Muscle tone, healthy coat, proper weight, clean teeth, and breed-specific temperament all factor into conditioning and are determining factors as to whether the dog could do its job. Have I noticed any trends that cause concern or have impressed? Several trends of concern come to mind. In Bulldogs and Bichons, oversize is still an issue. Variation in type in Frenchies still persists. Overall quality in Mini Poodles is on the rise and feet are nota- bly more correct than in the past. However, many Toys are down in pastern with flat feet that need to be improved. Tibetan Ter- riers often lack the large, snowshoe foot the breed requires. Con- versely, Tibetan Spaniels are more consistent in breed type than in prior years and temperaments are steadier. Chows are tending more toward square, although the desired stilted gait is a rarity. I see more quality and consistency in Shar-Pei as the years go by. In Standard Poodles, there are a number of quality exhibits being shown, and specifically, underjaw and feet have improved as befitting a Sport- ing dog in the field. There have been some lovely standard Xolos being shown and the smaller sizes are improving. Boston Terriers still need improvement in heads and toplines, but more and more exhibits are correctly square in outline. What are my thoughts about revising breed standards to address health issues, coat colors and patterns? Opening up a breed Standard, can be like opening Pandora’s box, and should be evalu-
ated for each breed on a risk/reward basis. Health issues—other than such obvious concerns as entropion, ectropion—are really not the purview of the judge and best left to the veterinary profession- als. Color and pattern criteria should be clearly addressed in the Standard and may need to be revisited to keep the breed true to its type and purpose. Which Non-Sporting breeds have made the greatest strides in overall quality or still need work? Almost every breed can use better fronts, and the Non-Sporting breeds are no exception. Overall, I have seen no sharp downturn in any Non-Sporting breed, and the breeders collectively deserve credit for continuing to strive for the betterment of their individual breeds. Does it seem that entries are rising or declining among the Non- Sporting breeds? With perhaps Standard Poodles and Frenchies being the exception, entries are down in this Group as in so many others. What advice would I give to breeders and exhibitors of Non- Sporting dogs? My best advice is to strive to breed to your Breed Standard, not necessarily to the dog that’s winning. No dog throws his blue ribbons in with his sperm and fads in a breed come and go. It’s up to each breeder/ exhibitor to have a clear vision of what the Standard requires, and steer his/her breeding program to align with that vision. Know what the state of the breed is now, where it’s headed and then selectively breed those dogs that will keep to that type and that vision. Study pedigrees and find a mentor, preferably one with a history in the breed, to guide you. Would I encourage exhibitors to compete in companion and performance events? Absolutely! Dogs that are well made will excel in performance and companion events, attesting to the dog’s mental and physical ability to function as more than just a showing machine. What advice would I offer to aspiring Non-Sporting Group judges? Study the Standards, know the history of these diverse breeds and what they were bred to do, find several mentors, and ask lots of questions. Appreciate the diversity of this terrific Group of dogs! ELAINE LESSIG Elaine J. Lessig, of Clinton,
New Jersey, did not realize how much her life would change when she acquired her first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in 1987. She has since produced champi- ons in all four colors and both sexes. She has also put Obedi- ence, Canine Good Citizen and CKCSC/USA titles on her dogs. Among her proudest achieve- ments are two Group winners, two Best in Show Specialty win- ners, Best of Opposite Sex at the
American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club National Specialty, at the Westminster Kennel Club and a Best of Opposite Sex and Best Bred-by-Exhibitor at the AKC/Eukanuba National Champi- onship on bitches she bred and owns.
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2020 | 161
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