INTERPRETING THE RUSSELL TERRIER BREED STANDARD
BY CANDACE S. LUNDIN, DVM, MS PART 2: USING CONCEPTS TO CREATE A TEMPLATE
B reeder-judge Percy Roberts wrote, “A breed standard is the blueprint. The breeder is the builder, and the judge is the building inspector.” The problem with this statement is that blueprints are precise, engineered diagrams whereas breed standards require subjective interpretation. Adverbs such as “slightly” or “moderately” never appear on a blueprint, yet they commonly appear in breed standards. Many descriptions in breed standards are open to interpretation, sometimes with a wide degree of latitude. The official standard is more like a conceptualization of the ideal dog for that breed. It is meant to give the reader an impression of the breed, an essence of the breed. With the Russell Terrier being a relatively new breed with the AKC, its variability is great. As purebred dog expert, Richard G. Beauchamp, explained in his book, Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type: “In the early stages of a breed’s development, it only makes sense to be more tolerant of undesirable characteristics than we are later in the breed’s progress.” The Russell Terrier, as a breed, is still in these early stages of its development and, thus, has more diversity than is ideal. Breeders need to work on “fix- ing” (i.e., establishing) breed type. We need the support of judges to help push forward correct breed type for the Russell Terrier and not reward divergences. We need to stay on course, and not allow glamour or crowd appeal to push us toward fads that are out of character for the breed. The Russell Terrier is not a small Parson; it is not as elegant as a Lakeland; it is not as heavy as a Sealyham. It is its own breed, and it must have a recognizable type. Mr. Beauchamp explained how easy it can be to veer off course, especially today, when we have fewer people devoted to breed development and “far more people exhibiting dogs simply because they enjoy the competitive aspects of the dog game.” So, those breeders who are devoted to the development of the breed as a whole—and not just produc- ing their next winning dog—have a lot of work to do to stay the course. This is Part Two of a three-part series evaluating and interpreting the breed standard for the Russell Terrier. Part One discussed substance, proportions, and size, as well as the importance of the silhouette to breed type. It emphasized how every breed has its own correct silhouette cre- ated by the sum of its proportions. Part Two will now cover the sec- tions of the breed standard that refer to balance and topline. Balance also involves proportions (a symmetry of proportions), and balance is a key consideration in the biomechanics of dogs. In this Part Two, we will use the breed standard and some simple biomechanics principles to propose a template, if not a blueprint, for the Russell Terrier. Quotes from the AKC breed standard of the Russell Terrier are shown in bold italics throughout. Photos of dogs used in this article are not meant to represent the ideal. Rather, the photos are used instead of skeletal drawings to demonstrate anatomic landmarks in the living dog.
BALANCE The overall dog must present a balanced image with
no one part exaggerated over another. …sturdily built yet balanced dog…
Balance is the part of the standard that tends to get abused most often when fads begin to take over a breed, and breeders who get too focused on one aspect can lose perspective of the overall dog. The same thing can hap- pen with judges who, perhaps, recall only a few specific lines of the standard for a breed that is not their own, and so they fault-judge on those few areas. Then, there are some who think that more is better. If the standard calls for a low-set hock, some will take it to the extreme and aim for that low-set hock appearance even if it is at the sacrifice of a balanced upper and lower thigh. The Rus- sell Terrier must present a balanced image, pleasing to the eye, without any one part exaggerated so much that your eye is immediately drawn to that area. The Russell Terrier is balanced as a whole and within its parts. It is balanced vertically, horizontally, and in motion. Vertical balance in most dog breeds follows the “gold- en rule of thirds” of artistic balance. The head and neck comprise one-third, the body one-third, and the limbs comprise one-third (Fig 1). This vertical balance is not specifically mentioned in the Russell Terrier standard, but it can be assumed since the standard states that the chest depth is to equal the leg length, and the neck is to be long enough to reach beyond the forelegs. This results in 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 for vertical balance.
Fig 1. The majority of dog breeds are vertically balanced in approximate thirds.
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