Showsight Presents The Rottweiler

ӕoVVYeiNeӕ Q&A WITH PETER GAETA, SUZAN GUYNN, ERIC LIEBES, NANCY LIEBES, LEW OLSON, FAYE STRAUSS & LIZ WERTZ

involved in the dog show world when I purchased my first Rottweiler in 1984. Later in the 1990s, I began judging sweep- stakes and decided to pursue AKC licensing in 2006.

proportion with some leg under the dog to get the job done. A strong well-proportioned head with noble and self-assured expression. NL: I like to see a solid topline and perfect balance going around. I think of this breed as a tireless trotter that can work all day without breaking down. LO: I want a dog that is balanced (front angulation to rear), appears as though it could trot at a medium speed with endurance and have good breed type. That would include dark, almond-shaped eyes, eyes set level with the top of the head at a medium size and good fill in the cheek (zygomatic arch). FS: The Rottweiler must have a strong, robust body, a distinctive headpiece and stable temperament. This is a strong Working dog, just off square at nine high to ten long, appearing compact. LW: Temperament, breed type and balance. The build should be compact, yet robust denoting great strength, agility and endurance. The attitude should be calm and confident promoting a regal stature and presence— never shy. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? SG: As both a breeder and a judge, I see far fewer breeders and exhibitors and far fewer Rottweilers now than 20 years ago; yet in contrast, there is increasing pressure on breeders to conform and by clubs to police what breeders do. The effort to mandate breeding “ethics” is a futile proposition—and is unlikely to result in a better Rottweiler; in fact it may compromise the future of the breed. Breeders’ ethics can not prescribed by commit- tees, but they do transcend their breeding practices and emerge most discernibly in how breeders treat other people and how they treat the animals to which they purport their allegiance. My proposal is to eradicate all mandatory practices and codes of ethics—and instead implement a database for all breeders to reference in order to make good, educated (even sometimes risky) decisions intended to improve their pedigrees. (Case in point... a dog—that even perhaps may descend from lines with great longevity—is thrown away from someone’s breeding program because of a cataract, while a dog with good “cleared” eyes is proudly bred from a pedigree noto- riously rampant with cancer by five years of age. There may be a case for both dogs to be used—or a case for neither—depending on the breeder’s perspective.) Breed- ers should be thinkers and not have all of that thinking done for them or foisted upon them in the form of a prepackaged notion of right and wrong and the finger pointing and “punishments” that follow if directives are not met with compliance. Many of the greatest Rottwei- lers we have seen in our country would not have existed had their breeders followed today’s mandatory practices and/or stringent “code of ethics” recommendations. They would not have been bred either and their profound and positive impact on the breed would not have been realized. The trend toward mandating increasing health clearances and gene tests and dental profiles (and increas- ingly longer lists of such) may eventually compromise the opportunity to produce better dogs in exchange for

1. Describe the breed in three words. PG: Formidable, substantial and athletic. SG: Character, confidence and elegance. EL: Strong, substantial and courageous.

NL: Sturdy, balanced and powerful. LO: Muscular, athletic and balanced. FS: Powerful, robust, sturdy dog, black with rust markings. LW: Intelligent, loyal and guardian. 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? PG: Since everything about the purpose of this breed has to do with power and stamina, my ultimate preferences include a dog that displays proper proportions and is balanced front to rear and balanced with respect to substance (muscle) to bone. These considerations include length and mass of bones, the angles of their engage- ment and the length of loin relative to overall length of body. A Rottweiler must have a proper level topline, both standing and moving. These are the components of a good silhouette, which is the first thing I notice. All of this can be appreciated in a dog standing. They are proved, or not, when the dog is in motion. If a dog is running downhill, his rear assembly clearly does not match his front assembly. The bone(s) are too short or at wrong angles in front or too long or at wrong angles in the rear. When I say too long or wrong angles, I mean relative to the other end of the dog. Even if the topline appears to be level standing, the dog is high in the rear. The result is an inefficiently moving dog. To elaborate on movement, while the spine should be somewhat flexible, it should be strong and straight in this trotting breed. It is the component that transfers the drive from the rear to the front and must have rigidity and strength. Indeed, think of a towrope. One car can pull another car with a towrope, but the car in the rear cannot transfer any drive to the car in front with the same towrope. Further, I look for a dog that is only “slightly” longer than tall. The standard indicates a preferred ratio of 9:10 and states that proportion is of “primary importance.” That means at the top of the height range for a dog, he should ideally be no more three inches longer than tall: from prosternum to the rear most point of the rump. Adding three inches to the overall length of a 27" Rottweiler does not make him look rectangular. He is still slightly longer than tall. Proportions inconsistent with this ratio are referenced in the standard as a serious fault. In addition to the priori- ties I express above, a Rottweiler must have heart. He is a drover, a draft animal and a fierce guardian. While there is little call for today’s Rottweiler to be so occupied, upon examination his physical condition must and demeanor might indicate his readiness to perform. A true dog per- son will appreciate good conditioning and not be put off by or penalize a little wariness. SG: My must haves include breed type, balance and the accompanying harmonious gait. EL: An effortless, powerful and balanced gait carrying a substantial dog with a solid topline. Good nine to ten

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