Showsight August 2020


pictured top to bottom: Figure 1. Ch. Crown Crest Mr. Universe With Topknot Figure 2. Afghan Hound with Hair Parted

around the ring with a Peke to “prove how sound it is,” it would be impossible to show a slight rolling gait. In many other breeds, particularly the Newfoundland, where the standard states, “when he moves a slight roll is perceptible”; the Great Pyrenees, whose standard states, “in the rolling, ambling gait, it shows unmistak- ably the purpose for which it has been bred”; or the Old English Sheepdog, where the standard states, “in walking or trotting, he has a characteristic ambling or pacing movement”; movement is best measured at a moderate speed. To list a few other examples of how trends become estab- lished, consider the Afghan (see Figure 1). In the description of the head, the breed standard states that “the head is surmounted by a topknot of long silky hair,” and under—“Faults” in the same section, it reads, “head not surmounted with topknot.” A top- knot is usually defined as a tuft of longer hair on the top of the head and, if you will check into books on the Afghan’s history with photographs of the great dogs of yesterday, you will find that until the last 15 years (note: this book was published in 1980) or so, it would seem that Afghans were shown with topknots. In the photographs of Ch. Taejon of Crown Crest and Am. & Can. Ch. Crown Crest Mr. Universe found in the last chapter of this book, notice that each dog does have a topknot. Both of these great dogs were shown in the middle and late l 950’s by Kay Finch, one of the breed’s outstanding authorities. Today’s practice of part- ing the hair in the center of the head and letting the long hair fall to either side (see Figure 2) was undoubtedly a fad that was imitated so often that it became an established practice. Lately, another trend seems to be starting in Afghans and that is setting them up with sloping toplines like Sporting Dogs, done in most cases to make the Afghan appear more angulated when the breed standard calls for “the back line to appear practically level from the shoulder.” To continue the subject of sloping toplines, many exhibi- tors are guilty of creating steeply sloping toplines on some of the

sought out at the proper moment at a dog show (and remember, this means when they have free time and are not busy preparing dogs for the ring) are more than willing to help new exhibitors. Although we recommend watching experts in your breed, under no circumstances should you copy any of their gestures, especially if you don’t know why you are doing them! Too many exhibitors with good dogs have been influenced by watching improper presentation and, in their own methods of handling, are posing or moving in ways which do not show their dogs to best advantage. Never mimic what you see a professional do; for the professional, each gesture will be a subtle movement but, if you do that same gesture without knowing why, it will seem like a characterization. You will develop your own handling style soon enough without having to copy. Later on, when you have more confidence and experience, gestures to get the extra bit of showmanship from your dog will come naturally. This discussion of mimicking and fads has a more serious side— the fact that when done by many, what should be passing fancies develop into accepted practices, despite what is called for in many breed standards. For instance, generally, the majority of dogs are gaited much too fast because there seems to be a tendency today to confuse speed with soundness—to think that fast is necessarily sound or correct. Novices who observe exhibitors and handlers doing this feel that it’s the only way to win, so a trend is evolving today to move all dogs, including Toys, at a run. This should be discouraged and exhibitors must learn to move their dogs at a speed that is correct for each particular dog and in a manner as described in the breed’s standard. Earlier in this chapter, it was mentioned that a knowledge of your breed’s history and standard will enable you to show off certain qualities in a more expert manner. For example, the Pekingese standard calls for a “slight roll” when the breed gaits and, if an inexperienced exhibitor runs


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