Showsight Presents The Briard

Viewing & Examining The Briard in the Show Ring

BY DENISE SIMENAUER continued

Correct Tail Carriage & Crochet

Correct Tail Carriage & Crochet

Correct Tail Carriage & Crochet

Correct Tail Carriage & Crochet

for the ideal dewclaws which the standard describes as dewclaws which form additional functioning toes. Sometimes the dog may have additional nails but not two additional digits. Again, two additional digits must be present. Occasionally you may feel a third or even a fourth dewclaw and the dog is not faulted if the additional dew- claws are present. Dewclaws that are attached low on the leg or are positioned next to the other toes may necessitate that you lift the foot to confirm the presence of the dewclaws. If you are unable to locate the dewclaws, give the handler the option of showing them to you. If the handler wishes you to proceed with the exam yourself, carefully lift the leg back and up just a bit, keeping the foot and leg in line with the body. In viewing the Briard’s movement, you will want to see the side gait as well as the Briard coming and going. Our standard is quite beautiful in its description of a Briard’s gait. The well-constructed Briard is a marvel of supple power. His movement has been described as “quicksilver”, permitting him to make abrupt turns, springing starts and sudden stops required of the sheep-herding dog. His gait is supple and light, almost like that of a large feline. The gait gives the impression that the dog glides along without touching the ground. Strong, flexible movement is essential to the sheepdog. He is above all a trotter, single- tracking, occasionally galloping and he frequently needs to change his speed to accomplish his work. His conformation is harmoniously bal- anced and strong to sustain him in the long day’s work. Judges should note that there is a penalization in the standard for gait— Dogs with clumsy or inelegant gait must be penalized. While viewing the Briard’s gait, this is a good time to look for another Hallmark of the breed—the J tail. Tail— uncut, well feath- ered, forming a crook at the extremity, carried low and not deviating to the right or to the left. In repose, the bone of the tail descends to the point of the hock, terminating in the crook, similar in shape to the printed “J” when viewed from the dog’s right side. In action, the tail is raised in a harmonious curve, never going above the level of the back, except for the terminal crook. Although it may be one of the last things that you may examine on the Briard, it does not mean that it is of little importance. The J tail of the Briard is a Hallmark of the breed and those Briards without the correct tail do not give the true overall impression of the breed. It should not be straight but should always form some type of crochet or J in its shape. The tail should NEVER go above the level of the back except for the terminal J. At times, when a dog first comes in the ring or first begins to gait,

the tail may elevate above the topline. However, the tail MUST come down and not be carried above the level of the topline, except for the terminal J. A typical hound tail which is curved over the back or an extended sporting dog tail which is straight IS NOT what a Briard’s tail should look like. So, please look for the crochet. Look for the correct carriage. It is a Hallmark of the breed! Lastly, let’s talk about grooming. Our standard says that the outer coat is coarse, hard and dry (making a dry rasping sound between the fingers). It lies down flat, falling naturally in long, slightly waving locks, having the sheen of good health. The Briard has experienced the same over-grooming that many breeds have and it is up to the judge as well as the owner to not accept it. The Briard is a herding breed with a coat that can tolerate the demands of field work, barns and pasture. The BCA Breed Education Committee says, “The proper Briard coat does not require elaborate grooming. In order to evalu- ate correct coat the Briard should be presented clean, free of tangles, mats and foreign substances. Other than trimming of the feet for a tidy presentation, any trimming which alters the natural appear- ance of the Briard is to be avoided. The length of coat described in the standard is often not apparent until 3-4 years of age and may not be maintained if the Briard is also working. No additional cred- it should be given for extra length of coat.” So please keep in mind that there is no additional credit given for long coat length and that any trimming or sculpting which alters the natural appearance of the Briard is to be avoided. It is up to judges to make this happen. If judges take a minute to say something to handlers about the over- grooming of Briards which are sculpted and trimmed, perhaps the handlers will stop doing it. Thanks to all the judges that have read this article and have taken it to heart. Hopefully it has helped you understand our stan- dard a little better and will help you the next time that you evaluate our gorgeous breed. We all look forward to presenting our beautiful Briards, our hearts wrapped in fur, to you. Note: The italicized portion of the content of this article is directly taken from the AKC standard. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Denise Simenauer has had Briards since 1974. She is a judge and has bred her dogs under the kennel name of Dior. She currently serves as the Chair of the Breed Education Committee of the Briard Club of America.

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , O CTOBER 2019 • 253

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