Showsight Presents The Briard

˃TKaTF Q&A

WITH ALICE BIXLER, MICHAEL GREENBERG, SULIE GREENDALE-PAVEZA, PAT HASTINGS, JOE HOLAVA, BRIAN & CINDY MEYER, STANLEY SALTZMAN, MARGARET SHAPPARD, WALTER SOMMERFELT, DONAVAN THOMPSON & MARY WEIR

as well. Teenage Briards are often going through a coat change, which can be both color lightening and texture softening. Lastly, pertaining to movement, the head of a Briard is held proud and alert when standing, and will lower in motion (to about 10:00), but should not drop down below the withers. There is a tendency for han- dlers to keep the dog’s head upright, or move dogs too fast to fully evaluate the gait. Judges shouldn’t hesitate to request a reasonable pace and/or a lose lead, even if it means having the dog go around by itself. SGP: First and foremost, new judges should learn the correct way to approach a breed that has hair over its eyes! PH: I do not see a problem with newer judges in this breed as they have a pretty good standard that is easy to inter- pret and many good breeders that are very helpful. JH: New judges to the breed, as well as those who don’t get to see the breed often enough (a problem with a more rare breed), can have difficulty with the proportions of the breed if they don’t to their homework. If they see one or two here and there and then are faced with a larger entry, they can especially run into difficulty. For exam- ple, four entrants are too long and only one is properly proportioned, the new or inexperienced judge with the breed might ignore the properly proportioned entrant, as he is different from the rest. Different is not necessarily a bad thing. Too many overly long dogs in the ring can present a challenge to the judge in his or her quest for the best. B&CM: Many judges we have observed have not studied the standard and know the disqualifications. When examin- ing a Briard, approach with confidence, do a quick and thorough exam and lastly check for dewclaws (lack of two dewclaws on each hind leg is a disqualification). The Briard should stand for the exam, but keep in mind they are reserved with strangers. SS: I don’t think misunderstanding of breeds is limited to only new judges. The Herding dog temperament is some- times difficult for non-Herding dog people to understand. MS: Briards should be moved at a nice, easy trot on a loose leash; judges should be looking for strong reach and drive with rear follow-through and trueness coming and going. Look for strong, efficient movement—not speed. Recognizing correct proportions can also be problematic. Briards often have one to three inches of coat depth on the chest and point of the buttock, which can make them appear longer in body than they actually are. DT: This is not a square breed! While the standard does refer to a measurement from point of shoulder to point of buttock being equal to or slightly longer than the height of the dog at the withers. To further explain: in front of the point of should there should be at least an inch if pro sternum and in front of that 2 inches of hair and in back of the buttock should be at least an inch of tail followed by at least an inch of hair. I have just added 5" minimum to the length when observing the dog from the side giving the outline of 26 ½ " in height to 31 ½ " in length— hardly a square. WS: I think all judges new to a breed do go through some type of learning curve as you evaluate the breed and see

the differences within them. All judges need to keep reviewing the standards as well as revisiting their mentors to continue the education process. It takes time to fully understand the unique features of each breed. So in my opinion it’s not as much about misunder- standing, it’s more about continuing to grow and learn from each opportunity. 5. Is there anything else you’d like to share? AB: My main concern about the Briard is straight shoulders. With restricted reach, a dog is unable to display the cat-like gait that is so effortless. Good shoulder layback is hard to come by and easy to lose. I hope breeders will pay particular attention to shoulders and judges will reward a well-constructed balanced front and rear. MG: In a breed that has fairly small entries, even in regions that used to be hotbeds of Briard activity, it can be hard for a new judge or judge applicant to see a number of Briards of different ages. Apart from the National, which rotates around the country, there are Regional Specialties in California, Pennsylvania and Ohio on an annual basis, which do attract a nice number of dogs in today’s climate and would be worthwhile to try to attend. It will give you a greater opportunity to see more than just the attractive puppies and mature specials. SGP: It is a breed I have long admired. I was privileged to exhibit in the Midwest where, in the 1980s and 1990s some of your best, dedicated breeders and handlers showed top winners every weekend. I came away from that with a particular appreciation and true understand- ing of your lovely breed. PH: Just to congratulate the breeders on what they have accomplished and to keep up the good work. JH: Here are a couple of short judging tips to share that one might find helpful and want to employ or consider when evaluating the Briard. When one stands back to ascer- tain the breed’s proper body proportions, that is also the time to take note of the length of head. You want to see good length (40% of the dog’s height), an important characteristic of the breed. When you examine the bite, don’t have the mouth opened or side lips pulled back as full dentition is not mentioned in the standard and many Briards and their handlers aren’t use to such procedure. While I’ve seen it done, also please don’t lift the dog’s leg to check for dewclaws. The dogs are not used to this and may react poorly. Not just applicable for Briards, the ring gating can be your friend by noting the number of strides it takes a dog to cover a section—the less strides, the more efficient and tireless worker you have. One can’t let those sheep win! B&CM: Although many disqualifications are subjective, from a judge’s perspective, it is difficult to believe that dogs with only one rear dewclaw have become champions. SS: One of the outstanding things I like about this breed is the breeders. They are usually nice, cooperative and almost always exhibit very good sportsmanship—very rare and desired attribute for any group. MS: To appreciate fully the character of the Briard, you will need to see them when they are exposed to what

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