briard Q&A WITH ANNE BIXLER, PAT HASTINGS, JOE HOLAVA, BRIAN & CINDY MEYER, LINDA ROBEY, STANLEY SALTZMAN & WALTER SOMMERFELT
toward a “generic, good moving” dog with showmanship with a disregard to proportions, tail sets, carriage and so on.
ascertain 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 impor- tant 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. 12. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? AB: Though I’ve seen or experienced hundreds of hilarious moments over the years, most of them are more enter- taining when viewed rather than described. But let me try—back in 2013, I took a bad fall the day before I was to fly out to California to judge a specialty. Consequently, I wore sunglasses for all the photos to cover up the eight stitches on my forehead, black eye and bruises. Sometime later, the husband of a friend asked what I looked like and she showed him the magazine with the specialty photos. Looking at the shots with my sunglass-covered face, he asked, “Is she with the mafia?” JH: This was humorous for me and hopefully for the exhibi- tor as well. While judging Shetland Sheepdogs, an obvi- ously new exhibitor nervously brought her dog into the ring. I usually have the dog go around the ring one time before examination to help relax both the dog and the exhibitor. Well, that didn’t work. When she presented the dog on the table, she appeared even more nervous. So, I started a conversation with her to try to help her relax and enjoy her day (sorry AKC, but circumstances called for it). With a straight face, I told the exhibitor that she probably didn’t know this about me but that I was also an animal communicator and that her dog was telling me that she was very nervous. She responded with impressed amazement that I could ascertain that infor- mation from her dog. Breaking from my straight face, I smiled. She then started to laugh realizing then that I had been messing a bit with her. From that point on, she was most relaxed. Unfortunately, there were better dogs than hers and she never made it to Winners. LR: I appreciate the effort ShowSight has put into education. The education articles are very helpful, especially on the less common breeds.
8. Has the breed improved from when you started judging?
LR: I think Briards are about the same. I saw outstanding Briards when I started judging and I see them now. I think much of the consistency is because many of the same breeders are still breeding wonderful dogs 25+ years later. WS: 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? LR: 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. WS: 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? LR: 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. WS: 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. 11. 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. 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
340 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2018
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