Showsight Presents The Briard

Q&A

much of the consistency is because many of the same breeders are still breeding wonderful dogs 25+ years later. 9. Are there aspects of the breed not in the standard that you nonetheless take into consideration because breeders consider them important? I try to stay pretty close to the standard. If a group of breeders felt strongly about an aspect, they would make changes to the written standard. I feel the standard is the blueprint we need to follow as closely as we can. That is the best way to keep the breed consistent in the long run. 10. Can Judges Education on this breed be improved? I think it would be helpful if the parent clubs could have the education material online. They should make a clear link for “Judges Education” with a good explana- tion of the standard. Photos of correct dogs are really helpful in setting a picture in my mind. Many clubs do this already. I find it very helpful and a good place to review. It also gives club members a place to go and learn about the breed. I also like that the AKC is putting on educational semi- nars with the larger shows. It is a good place to learn about the breeds. At the larger shows, there is usually a big enough entry to see several examples of a breed and discuss it with mentors ringside. 11. Do you have anything else to share? I appreciate the effort ShowSight has put into education. The education articles are very helpful, especially on the less common breeds. WALTER SOMMERFELT 1. Where do you live? What do you do outside of dogs? I live in Lenoir City, TN; a western suburb of Knoxville. I am an agent and financial services specialist with Nationwide Insurance. 2. Number of years owning, showing and/or judging dogs? I started as an exhibitor in 1970 and have been judging since 1985. 3. Describe your breed in three words: The Briard is alert, powerful and agile. 4. What traits, if any, are becoming exaggerated? As with many coated breeds now, they have become over groomed and trimmed to either hide various problems

or to shape a different appearance than what is actually under the coat. That is why it is very important to thor- oughly examine the breed under the coat. 5. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? What shortcomings are you willing to forgive? My “must haves” are the proper proportions, coat, head and topline. They should be sound and well muscled to do the work they were bred for. They must also possess the supple and light gait that the standard describes as “quicksilver” that allows them to make abrupt turns, and springing starts and stops. As to shortcomings, the Briard has numerous dis- qualifications in the standard, which address the major concerns of the breeders. When judging, the perfect dog has yet to be bred, so there will always be areas we must make allowances for based on the dogs presented on that day. 6. While judging, do you see any trends you’d like to see continued or stopped? Improvements in presentation and conditioning. I would like to see more attention paid to the proportions area of the standard. I see too many exhibits that are long in body and short on leg. The standard calls for a dog that is equal to or “slightly” longer in length to height. 7. What, if any, are the traits breeders should focus on preserving? I believe many of today’s exhibitors and some breed- ers do not pay attention to the “breed specific traits” described in the standards. There seems to be a tendency toward a “generic, good moving” dog with showmanship with a disregard to proportions, tail sets, carriage and so on. 8. Has the breed improved from when you started judging? I do think overall this breed has improved through the years. 9. Are there aspects of the breed not in the standard that you nonetheless take into consideration because breeders consider them important? I believe you should always look for type first and try to find the exhibits that come closest to it with the ability to the job for which they were bred. 10. Can Judges Education on this breed be improved? Because it is a coated breed, mentors must teach judges how to feel under the coat as well as how to see proper movement while in motion. It should also be about the judges being able to identify the breed specific traits that make this breed different from the others.

232 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A UGUST 2015

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