Showsight Presents The Black and Tan Coonhound

JUDGING THE BLACK AND TAN COONHOUND By Robert Urban T hus spoken by the founders of our breed nearly 70 years ago, when our standard was first written and the breed entered into the

connected to this, as a hound not carry- ing the proper degree and quality of bone will not have the substance upon which muscle may form, attach and develop to its optimal advantage. Secondly, we look at how the pieces form together to create a whole. Our standard calls for a “muscu- lar, sloping, medium length” neck flowing into “powerfully constructed shoulders.” “Forelegs are straight… pasterns strong and erect.” “Feet are compact, with well knuckled, strongly arched toes and thick, strong pads.” Moving on the hindquar- ters, we want “Quarters well boned and muscled. From hip to hock, long and sinewy, hock to pad, short and strong.” “Stifles and hocks are well bent… When standing on a level surface, the hind feet are set back from under the body and the leg from pad to hock is at right angles to the ground.” Putting all of these descrip- tive terms into play we move on to address gait which states: “When viewed from the side, the stride of the Black and Tan is easy and graceful, with plenty of reach in front and drive behind.” Descriptive terms used in evaluating movement coming and going include “e ff ortless, soundness, converge, balance and stamina.” While doing all of this, the head and tail carriage is “proud and alert; the topline remains level.” Th is all paints a pretty easy to under- stand and apply picture, right? Assuming the judge has a proper working knowledge of canine gait and structure, one would hope so. Th is brings us to the next, more elusive portion of understanding the Black and Tan Coonhound: Type. Head and overall expression define breed type in many breeds, as does the body out- line. Both of these are most helpful in learn- ing to identify the correct Black and Tan. Th e head is a unique feature of the B&T and although it is immediately recogniz- able as a scent hound and apparent kin to

AKC. “ Th e Black and Tan Coonhound is first and fundamentally a working dog; a trail and tree hound, capable of withstand- ing the rigors of winter, the heat of sum- mer and the di ffi cult terrain over which he is called upon to work.” As a member of our Judges Education Committee, I stress the first paragraph of our standard from which this sentence is taken - unchanged since 1945 as the foundation upon which the evaluation of the breed should be based on. Th e old adage of “No foot, no horse” has a ring of truth to it here as well, although it is important to recognize that all things are connected and interdepen- dent, from the foot to the hip as well as shoulder blade. Th e Black and Tan standard refers to gait and soundness on three di ff erent occasions and has its own separate sec- tion dedicated to gait. Our breed found- ers recognized the importance this played in both the formation and preservation of the breed and placed the appropriate value and emphasis on it. Again quoting from paragraph one of our standard: “He immediately impresses one with his ability to cover the ground with powerful rhyth- mic strides.” Once we have established the importance gait, structure and stamina play in the formation of the ideal Black and Tan, how do we go about selecting those qualities that tend to support those all important characteristics within the some- what limiting parameters of the showring? Firstly, we must look at overall condition and balance. Th e hound should appear fit and in proper condition to do the job for which it was created. Substance is directly

Correct low reach and drive.

Great expression.

274 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , F EBRUARY 2014

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