russell terrier Q&A WITH CONNIE CLARK, GAY DUNLAP, ANN D. HEARN
GD: I don’t know that “exaggerated” is quite the right word to describe what some breeders and judges fear about the breed today. First of all, there is a disconnect between what the standard requires and what we often see in the ring. Whereas puppies generally meet the “50%” criteria (depth of body equal to distance from elbow to ground), once the dog “bodies up” we see depth of chest drop to below the elbow. When we add this factor to a tendency for shorter leg length, the correct outline is lost. Cer- tainly the battle with Mother Nature to hold onto longer length of leg is a common one in many breeds today. AH: Not a tall dog and unfortunately I’m seeing some Parson-type leg length. I don’t like that. The heads have pretty much maintained the fullness and fill required, but every now and then I get a snippy head and lack of underjaw. You have to cut the girls some slack. 8. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? CC: While there are now more exhibits in the ring, the quality is inconsistent compared to when I first started judging this breed. GD: When I first started judging, this was not a recognized breed. If you mean to ask if I think they are better since first allowed to complete in 2010, I do feel a greater effort is being made to meet the standard with regard to body depth and leg length. The same holds true with the effort to produce a darker eye. AH: The first big winning dog that I saw was the male that Allison Sunderman showed. He was such a fine representative of the new breed and gave an entirely different view of what the Standard was actually saying. I’m sure he left his breeding mark and bettered it. It has taken some time since then for the breed to settle down into a set pattern and I believe it has, or is close to it. No, they’re not cookie cutters (Heaven forbid!), and there’s still room for each breeder’s artistic talents and view, and still stay within the Standard. The breeders seem to be sincere and cautious, but yet determined. That’s a good thing! 9. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? CC: The importance of flexibility as determined by physical examination, spanning. Too many breeder/exhibitors mention how few judges know to span this breed. GD: Because there is a preponderance of Russells failing to meet the 50% ratio, this is often assumed to be correct. I feel there is a tendency to consider it a low-legged Parson Russell. It compounds the confusion when we see Par- sons that have lost length of leg. AH: The proportions! I don’t know if they keep seeing the Jack/Parson in their memory, or if they just haven’t stamped the unique balance of this delightful dog in yet. They’ll get it, just give them a little more time and they’ll come to love it like I do. S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , N OVEMBER 2018 • 335
smooth or broken (a little of both); majorly white; and a bit of a happy-go-lucky attitude.
4. What are the three elements to be assessed from the spanning process? CC: Size (small), shape (oval) and compressibility. GD: That the chest be of a size commensurate with fitting into a critter’s den, thus it must fit within an average- sized man’s hands and must also prove to be compress- ible and flexible. AH: Spanning seemingly has become a forgotten art and purpose. Just about every weekend I see judges forget to span the necessary breeds. The body of the Russell must be flexible enough to run, make a quick twist, turn and run some more. Or it may need to go down in a hole to catch the rat. Therefore, your hands behind the front legs, wrapped around the ribs can show you the ‘give’ when you press lightly. You can also tell if the big, old wirey coat is hiding a spindly body or an overly deep chest. This is a supple breed—it’s important. 5. Describe the horizontal and vertical proportions for the Russell Terrier. CC: Slightly longer from withers to root of tail than from withers to ground. GD: The Russell Terrier is longer that tall. If it is slightly longer than tall measuring from withers to root of tail, then it follows that when the front assembly with its dis- cernible sternum and amount of dog beyond the tail are added to the equation, we see a well-defined rectangular dog. Of prime importance is that the chest be no more or less than 50% of the height. AH: I literally hate the word “slightly”—what that means to me could be one thing, and to you something else. This is sort of a rectangle shaped breed. They are longer than tall (definitely NOT Dachshund proportions), without having any dwarfishness or crooked legs. They give a picture of a smooth outline—tail up, head to match and jaunty, cock-of-the-walk attitude. The chest to the ground and back up to the level topline is equal and 50/50. Again, we’re talking a pleasingly balanced dog. 6. Describe the general build of the Russell Terrier. CC: Lightly built, yet balanced with smooth muscle transi- tions, able to traverse narrow tunnels underground. GD: Small, sturdy, athletic, workmanlike, lithe. AH: This breed is of a length to allow for expansion in the loins so that he may get the job done. He is not so long as to be all body, but a pleasing leg length to length of rib and loin. They are a sturdy breed—rather a surprising heft when you pick up an adult, but they also offer grace and stylishness. Strong and medium bones provide the propulsion required to work. 7. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? CC: The size and shape of the chest, not oval and below the elbow, unspannable and coarseness of bone.
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