Showsight August 2020


pictured top to bottom: Figure 3. Showing Various Degrees of Sloping Toplines Figure 4. Poodle Show Trim c. 1950-1960

is placed in an unnatural position, it can markedly change the dog’s presence. Consider the Spaniel tails for example. The Cock- er Spaniel standard states that the tail is “set on and carried on a line with the topline of the back or slightly higher; never straight up like a Terrier and never so low as to indicate timid- ity.” The English Cocker Spaniel standard describes the tail as “set on to conform with the topline of the back,” and the English Springer Spaniel standard says that the tail “carriage should be nearly horizontal, slightly elevated when the dog is excited. Car- ried straight up is untypical of the breed.” However, in all three breeds, it is not uncommon to see exhibitors holding up the tails and pushing them forward in an effort to make the dogs appear shorter. It is not unusual to see other breeds posed with incorrect tail positions. A discussion of trimming practices and excessive coats also must be included here. In the “Conditioning” Chapter, there is a grooming section containing general advice on trimming proce- dures. Naturally, if you have a good specimen, it is necessary to know how to trim the dog properly as one cannot compete with an animal that is incorrectly trimmed. It’s only logical to think that since there is no perfect specimen, a knowledge of proper trimming and how it helps to minimize your dog’s faults and enhance its virtues, is necessary to be successful as an exhibitor. But we do want to mention here that many serious faults can be changed by clever trimming neck contours, toplines and tail sets altered—and an exhibitor is only fooling himself by attempting to misrepresent a truly bad dog. Some of the over trimming done in the ring today is quite blatant; fortunately, once a knowledgeable judge gets his or her hands on a dog, not too much can be con- cealed, even under a fashionably trimmed coat. Since dog shows are to select the best dogs, camouflaging a really bad dog is not furthering the breed. Artful disguising does not change a poor specimen because its physical characteristics remain the same! Excessive coats have also become fads in many breeds, giving many new exhibitors the idea that “if long hair is good, longer hair must be even better.” In the 50’s and early 60’s, Poodles were shown with excessively long mane coats, huge topknots and lav- ish ear feathering (see Figure 4) but there has been a return to

Spaniels and Setters by overstretching them to appear more angu- lated (see Figure 3). To quote from the “Body” descriptions in a few breed standards: English Setter: “Back should be strong at its junction with the loin and should be straight or sloping upward very slightly to the top of the shoulder.” Irish Setter: “Topline of body from withers to tail slopes slightly downward.” Cocker Spaniel: “The back is strong and sloping evenly and slightly downward from the withers to the set of the tail.” English Cocker Spaniel: “The height of the dog at the with- ers should be greater than the height at the hip joint, providing a gradual slope between these two points.” English Springer Spaniel: “The resulting topline slopes very gently from withers to tail,” and, in the same standard, “to be penalized—topline sloping too sharply.” In all of these standards, notice the use of the words “slightly,” “gradual,” and “very gently” with reference to the topline slope. Exhibitors should know the correct tail positions for their breeds. In every breed, placement and carriage of the tail is impor- tant to the dog’s general appearance, so much so that if the tail


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