Form Follows FUNCTION
BY STEPHANIE HEDGEPATH
I n previous issues I have been quoting an article by Hayes Blake Hoyt from 1966, which was included in Frank Sabella’s book The Art of Handling Show Dogs, printed in 1980. In this issue, I am finishing out the chapter “Know Your Breed” which followed the article by Mrs. Hoyt. The remainder of the chapter was written by Mr. Sabella and his words still ring true today. Again, my thanks to him for allowing me to share this with you all. My few comments appear in parentheses.
Balance in dogs, just as in other instances, means harmonious or proper proportion. The Glossary in The Complete AKC Dog Book defines “Balanced” as “a consistent whole; symmetrical, typically proportioned as a whole or as regards its separate parts, i.e., bal- ance of head, balance of body or balance of head and body.” A bal- anced dog presents a well-proportioned appearance. One feature is never so outstanding that it overshadows another; in other words, every part of the dog is in harmonious relationship, each one fitting together properly as described in the breed standard. As Mrs. Hoyt previously stated, “A dog most typical of its breed is not exaggerat- ed; he is so much in perfect balance that at first glance he appears far from extraordinary... True type, because it is functional, is always completely balanced.” It is also important to know what is fashionable in your breed today. In dog show language, fashion refers to the kind of dog cur- rently being exhibited. If you want to be a successful exhibitor, it is very important that you understand your breed’s current require- ments, for no breed ever remains status quo! To prove this state- ment, you need only to look through books on your breed’s history and examine photographs of dogs of the past. Regardless of the breed, while these great dogs of yesterday are typical of their breed, you will note that they are subtly different from the dogs that are being bred and shown today. Because of the top winning that certain dogs have done in any specific breed, there may be the start of a trend or fad that is not always necessarily correct. Unfortunately, this occasionally does happen and it can be perplexing to an exhibitor, especially one that is sincere about learning and trying to perfect what he or she feels is proper for the breed. If you know your breed standard and are not just showing to win and, in particular, do not want to contribute to
changing your breed because of certain fads, don’t be discouraged if you feel that your dog corresponds correctly to its standard. It is always difficult for a new exhibitor to understand what makes a certain dog win consistently, but almost every novice experiences this same problem. In the dog fancy, self-education has its limitations and we cannot stress too strongly that if you feel insecure about the information you have gathered, you should not only watch people you admire in the ring, but also seek out their advice to gain additional knowledge on your breed. Not enough can be said learning from watching. Spend as much time as you can observing knowledgeable people in your breed, particularly if you like their styles of presentation and the dogs that they are show- ing. Keep your eyes and mind open every time you attend a dog show and you will come away with a little more education. Don’t be afraid to talk to the experts in your breed. Most professionals, when “In dog show language, fashion refers to the kind of dog currently being exhibited. If you want to be a successful exhibitor, it is very important that you understand your breed’s current requirements, for no breed ever remains status quo!”
66 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2020
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