Showsight Presents The Rottweiler

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

FS: When I started judging, a small entry had 50 dogs and specialties had over 100 dogs. Today the entries are much lower. I do find some very worthy dogs when I judge and think there are some very good breeders who are a credit to the breed. LW: Generally, I think the quality was better years back when significant entries were needed for majors. Dogs of the past were structured decently with slight varia- tions in head, bone and style. Today, exhibits are often exaggerated in certain areas, which when put together as a whole means that there are disconnects. This is particularly true when the dog moves—the front is not moving at the same rate as the back, producing incor- rect movement and weak toplines. Always ask yourself, ‘Would this dog be able to perform the tasks it was bred to do without tiring?’ 7. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? PG: I think any judge who is a serious and ongoing student of dogs will develop his or her own priorities that are consistent with good Rottweiler type. They do not need my recommendation. A judge who is approved to judge Rottweilers just because it is another breed, is not going to pay attention to my recommendations any more than he or she paid attention to his or her mentor’s, so I have no recommendation with respect to what judges should avoid or reward. SG: This breed can be judged with very little contact by the judge; the hands-on physical exam need not be rough, extensive or time consuming. As teeth are addressed in the standard, it is reasonable to expect the handler to present the teeth, and to instruct a new exhibitor to do the same (sometimes assisting). Be patient with puppies and young dogs; occasional shyness is sometimes more reflective of the newness of showing than it is of questionable temperament. EL: Great strong movement achieved at the expense of firm and level toplines and proper proportion is not good. Also, I have found this breed to be playful, determined and courageous in the ring. I think they are fun. Some judges are afraid of that determination and honest confidence in the ring. They need to get to know the breed better. NL: I don’t think this needs to be a giant breed, nor do I think the biggest head needs to win. LO: I know it is worrisome for new judges to need to examine the bite on the Rottweiler and count teeth. This just takes some practice and most (not all, but most!) handlers are good about showing the bite, in the order to look. That would be front teeth (6 incisors top and bottom), then the side (premolars and molars) and then the small M3 in the back of the mouth. I also think they worry they will miss type. I tell most new judges, if in doubt, move them. Move them twice around the ring if necessary. This isn’t a breed you can hide structural faults in very easily, and you will be able to pick out the better dogs in this manner. Coming and going is equally impor- tant for soundness in Rottweilers. Find your soundest and best moving dogs, and from those, select the best type.

FS: This is not a generic dog. It is an amazing Working dog. He can herd cattle, pull a cart and defend his owner. The versatility gives the breed a greater range of height (3 inches) than most breeds. The herding dog is at the lower end of the height range where the carting dog is larger. The breed needs to be sturdy and sound to do their jobs. The Rottweiler has a very strong jaw and unlike the slash- ing Doberman, they break bones. Stable temperament is vital. The Rottweiler head is very important. It defines the breed. You need to know how to count teeth in this breed. Their gums can explode over the teeth making it a challenge to see the back teeth. More than one missing is a DQ, so count. Of course, a sound, robust body must accompany a correct head. LW: I don’t know if I would call it a misunderstanding, but I have seen all-breed judges often select the safe choice, instead of choosing the dog that aligns to the standard the most, but may look different in comparison to others in the ring. 8. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? SG: I have often wondered if we would more consistently promote the image of the Rottweiler in its best state of balance if the judging could occur with movement first and stacking and cosmetic inspections second (for the purpose only of verifying the line up, given adjustments and/or eliminations of those presenting faults). EL: Uncropped tails—too much of an issue in this breed and to the detriment of the breed overall. My feeling is that we are there to judge breeding stock and to borrow a phrase from Pat Trotter, “We can fix that problem in one generation.” NL: I suppose I would be remiss in not talking about the elephant in the room—tails. I will reward an excellent dog with a tail simply because it’s something the dog was born with and it doesn’t reflect on the genetic ben- efit a dog will bring to the whelping box. It is not a DQ, so I will fault it but not exclude that dog from consider- ation. I have recently seen some exceptional tailed dogs that can help any breeding program, so I will award one when it’s obviously the best dog there. LO: Remember, the breed ring is the place to evaluate breed- ing stock. The more sound dogs that win, the better off our breed will be in the long run. Another question new judges ask me is about natural tails on Rottweilers. For me, it is not genetic and it is not something that both- ers me in the least. I tell judges to do with what they are comfortable with in this aspect, but we are seeing more and more of them in the ring, and three have won majors at the American Rottweiler Club National Specialty Shows. While some may like it and others will not, most Rottweiler exhibitors are very accepting of it. I would just pick the best dog (structurally and breed type), as that will do our breed the best service for our future. LW: In judging the Rottweiler, it is important to keep in mind the Rottweiler is first and foremost a Working breed and should have the physical and mental attributes to that end.

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