someone can find a fault doesn’t mean he can find the best Rottweiler. Th ere is a certain grace that accompanies an earnest e ff ort to look for a Rottweiler’s virtues— and it does change energy between judges and exhibitors in a positive way. Whether you judge for virtues or not, you may hear ringside editorials about how inconsistent you are on a given day. Sometimes it is sim- ply not possible to be consistent because the dogs are all so di ff erent and as we know, judging is sometimes complex. Further, to seek to be consistent simply for the sake of others’ evaluation of you as a judge not only turns your thoughts away from the exhibits (and inappropriately inward to yourself ), but well may preclude you from coura- geously pointing to a deserving exhibit (in accordance with the AKC Standard) that you feel is exceptional due to its virtues. I recall nearly 30 years ago, our national breed club hosted Ms. Joan Blackmore from the United Kingdom to adjudicate the national specialty. She awarded Winners Bitch to a bitch with one missing tooth. She acknowledged her decision that day by pro- claiming that in her mind’s eye the virtues of her winner far exceeded those of any oth- er entry, missing tooth or no missing tooth! I noted the accomplished track record of her breeding program and concluded (for a lifetime) her position on that day to be far more credible than that of those expressing sideline rancor and incredulity. Balance: Th e AKC Rottweiler Stan- dard describes the Rottweiler’s most desir- able proportion of height to length to be 9 to 10. A Rottweiler can meet this ratio and be very handsome standing still, but he can only be spectacular when on the move. His carriage and the manner with which he commands himself as he covers ground tells more about the dog than a dozen hands on examinations. Although the AKC requires the physical exam of every exhibit, the truth is that much can be told on the structure of the Rottweiler by how his structure computes to motion. A dog built harmoniously moves harmoni- ously. Th e topline should remain strong and level while the dog moves e ff ortlessly, his legs moving straight and strong, his feet converging to a single track as his speed increases. Th e reach and drive are
This puppy already show promise of harmonious balance on the move.
quantity of rust markings. In addition, these are sometimes characteristics which while acceptable, are not preferred and are therefore classified as “serious faults”: examples include one missing tooth, yellow eyes and curly coat, among others. De fi nitives: Th ese are aspects of the breed standard presented without a ff ord- ing negotiation or implied range. Th ey are finite, factual and characterized by definitive adjectives and verbs: exam- ples include “nails short and strong, tail docked short close to body and rear dews must be removed”. Deal Breakers: Th ese are the disquali- fying faults that render the Rottweiler ineligible for competition under the AKC standard: examples include long coat, overshot and ectropion, among others. Th ose aspects of the standard written as negotiables are intended to be just that, given measurements or size falling within the parameters provided. Th e language, however, of the definitives is presumed to be intentional, as no range or option to fault is provided. Th erefore, while a 22 inch female Rottweiler meets accordance with the AKC standard, a 22 inch female with rear dewclaws does not. She is not in accordance with the standard. A discus- sion on whether she could reasonably have one dewclaw rather than two on each rear
leg is moot. Th e standard clearly indicates that the dews in the rear are removed. And so it goes with the tail which is also conspicuously addressed within the AKC standard. Th e standard’s language is clear and definitive, “tail docked short close to body”; a parallel conversation about how an undocked tail should be carried is equally moot. In judging and seeking constructive ways to assimilate the stan- dard, a comprehensive grasp of these three characterizing mechanisms of our AKC Rottweiler standard (negotiables, definitives and deal breakers) is critical in preparing us for the challenges we as AKC judges will face in today’s show ring. Th e language of the standard is intentional and telling and we as judges can educate each other and inquiring exhibitors by demonstrating this broader, intellectual regard for the standard—and its lan- guage—as entrusted to us. Judging Rottweilers to the AKC Standard—Here Comes the Fun! Start with your mindset: Rottwei- lers are beautiful creatures. Th ey deserve a judge who can assess virtues ahead of faults (all of course within the framework of the AKC standard). Just because someone can fault a dog does not mean it is not the best dog on the mat. As well, just because
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