Showsight - November 2017

JUDGING THE WEST HIGHLAND WHITE TERRIER by DR. GERRY G. MEISELS C onformation judges hold the long-term future of the breeds they judge in their hands. Half a century ago,

knowledge of the standard and of canine anatomy and movement. Judg- ing requires the ability to see and evalu- ate type, structure and movement and especially a clear understanding of what is important in the breed. This understanding underlies the ability to judge the whole dog rather than a sin- gle feature, such as shoulder layback or front movement. Seeing and judging the whole dog is essential to good judging. Examining the Westie follows a pro- cess that parallels the approach most judges use for all breeds. However, at each step the evaluation must pay special attention to those aspects of conformation that help define Westie type. Not all judges do this in exactly the same way, so the following descrip- tion is that of a typical approach. The evaluation begins at the moment when

the class first enters the ring and the handlers set up their dogs. The outline or silhouette alone should immediately say, ‘This is a Westie.’ You should see a level topline and proper balance or proportions of the parts. The standard is clear about some aspects that can be translated into the adjacent drawing based on an 11" male. For a 12" dog, these measurements would of course be proportionally longer, for a 10" dog or bitch proportionally shorter. See Figure 1. The proportions of Skull S, Muzzle M, Neck N and Tail T cannot be derived quantitatively in the same way. The standard calls for the head and neck to be in proportion to the body or to the remainder of the dog. Judgment of the proper proportion is informed by knowing the working function of the Westie.

a few knowledgeable judges, such as Alva Rosenberg and Billy Kendrick, could inf luence the development of a breed because there were fewer shows and judges. Today, there are thousands of shows; nearly three hun- dred judges are approved for Westies. These judges now share collectively the responsibility to help guide our breed’s development. To meet this responsibility, they must evaluate not only characteristics that are common to many breeds, such as movement, they must also understand type and use it in their decision-making. The following discussion assumes that you, the reader, have thorough

Fig. 1. Westie Proportions (Balance) in the Standard. Illustration by Sylvia Meisels.


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