HERDING GROUP JUDGES Q&A
back, looking at the silhouette and proportions. Overgrooming, trimming, and sculpting can be seen every weekend at the shows. Certain breed standards are pristinely clear about how all of that excess grooming, fluffing, and trimming is to be penalized. What about breed-specific movement? Do I demand this from Herding Dogs? AGAIN, OF COURSE! For example, a Border Col- lie should always be moved on a loose lead, allowing the head to plane forward to be level with or slightly below the withers. Ger- man Shepherd Dogs should move with coordination and balance, feet carried close to the ground; an effortless ground-covering gait. The section on Gait in the GSD standard is incredibly well-written and creates a clear picture of a long stride, front and rear. Unfor- tunately, they are often judged in postage stamp-sized rings. (And by the way, this gait is seldom enhanced by double-handling and is frequently destroyed by it.) I expect to see OES moved from a walk to a trot, and not penalize an amble or pace. The Corgis do not move in exact parallel planes, but do incline slightly inward to compensate for shortness of leg and width of chest. Pyrenean Shepherds have one of my favorite descriptions of gait; they “shave the earth” with feet barely leaving the ground. Most of the square Herding breeds ask for some combination of effortless gait; smooth, free and easy… covering maximum ground with minimal steps. In all breeds, FASTER is not better, and racing around the ring often creates what my mother would term a “Mixmaster” (think old-timey eggbeater), a kind of scuttling/scurrying gait; unattract- ive and incorrect for any Herding breed. Are the Herding breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns? Reasonably so. Within the Herding Group we have MANY low entry breeds. Even some of the previously huge entry breeds have slipped down to low entry status. That is not to say that one can- not find excellent dogs in the low entry breeds. Au contraire! But it does mean that some Herding breeds have fewer good (dare I say, great) examples of the breed out there competing. Of course, there are pockets of beautiful dogs of individual breeds across the various parts of our country. In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Herd- ing Dogs of the past? LOL! On the days when I am judging Herding breeds and I have wonderful dogs, I think, “Gosh this breed has come a long way—well done!!” On the days where every entry is a struggle to rate because there is no depth of quality, I think, “NO… our Herding Dogs are going in the wrong direction.” Change in breeds is rather inevitable. That said, there are sev- eral Herding breeds which seem to be in fabulous shape. Just my opinion, of course, but as one example, the overall quality of the Aussies is truly impressive. The retirement of so many Herding Dog breeders is hitting some breeds hard… but this is true in Sporting and Working Dogs too. The sport of dogs, in general, needs young, smart, passionate breeders to come forward to focus on breeding outstanding dogs… Herding Dogs are no exception. Be kind to those new breeders, they are the future of your breed! Why do I think Herding Dogs can often become outstanding Show Dogs? Because of their “awareness” of everything, Herding breeds have some challenges to overcome to become great show dogs. That said, as an owner, there is nothing like a Herding Dog to make you feel like the most important person on earth. We have had many fabulous, top show dogs in the Herding Group (GSDs, Aus- sies, Beardies, Shelties, Collies, Corgis, Bouvs, Pulik, and OES, in particular) winning top-billing year after year in the Group. AND YES, there are wonderful examples of other Herding breeds being top show dogs as well. What do they have in common… maybe an innate willingness to work with their owner, to please their human? Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Herding Group? I can think of two in particular with Herding breeds.
200 Obedience Trial winners, and multiple High in Trial dogs in Herding, Obedience, Rally. • Three littermates who were all either BOB or BOS at the Tervuren National AND All-Breed Group Winners: BIS BISS GCHB OTCH MACH StarBright Casino Royale VCD3 UDX3 OM5 RE BAR; BISS GCHB StarBright Bettin’ On The River CD RN CGC; and BOSS GCHG StarBright Winning Bet BN RN. • The first CH Tracker of the breed; CH CT StarBright Je Ne Sais Quoi CDX HT. We have been blessed with great bitches who produced gen- eration after generation of multi-talented, multi-titled StarBright Tervs: CH StarBright Bouquetiere CD TD BAR; CH StarBright Fait Accompli TDX BAR; CH StarBright Jalapeno BAR; CH Star- Bright Kachina CDX BAR; CH StarBright Mille Fleurs CDX BAR; CH StarBright Mata Hari TD BAR; and CH StarBright Cinema Quick Pick CDX, RN BAR. Additionally, we were fortunate to partner with other breeders to import from top kennels in Belgium (van de Hoge Laer, Grim- mendans), France (La Clairiere aux Louves, Val Myrak) and Eng- land (Domburg, Belamba, Branock) to bring in qualities desper- ately needed in our breeding program at the time. Any performance or parent club titles? Yes, 18 StarBright Ter- vuren have earned the American Belgian Tervuren Club’s top pro- ducer awards, called the BAR, in Conformation, Performance, and Obedience/Tracking. What are the qualities I most admire in the Herding breeds? Biddability/Trainability/Willingness to Please. I love the Dog/ Human bond that we see so consistently in the Herding breeds. Honestly, there are many times I KNOW our dogs are smarter than we are… and pretty much any owner of the Belgians (and most other Herding breeds) will admit to the same thing. Our Herd- ing Dogs need to be independent thinkers yet work in partnership. They need to instinctively “react” to stock when working. Sadly, it is NOT uncommon for that reactivity to be too highly developed… one consistent criticism from many judges who did not grow up in the Herding breeds. In those breeds where you can readily see eyes/ expression, I want to see a dog who is “in there” looking back at me with interest. Have I judged any Herding Group Specialties? I have judged pretty much all of them at this point in my judging career. It is a singular honor to be invited to judge at a Herding Group Spe- cialty. And after National Specialties, it is my most enjoyable judging experience. Do I find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Herding breeds? Oh, don’t we all wish! I think breeders are honestly trying to breed to their standards, but some proportions are just a bit harder to achieve and maintain. Those breeders who are producing square dogs KNOW how difficult it is to achieve that square silhouette and have correct angles, front and rear, that create proper gait for the breed. It is ever so much easier to produce an ani- mal off-square (in pure geometric terms this is correctly described as a rectangle, folks!) whose proportions allow for forgiveness in gait when there are imbalances in angulation front/rear. Size… I am noticing a few of the small-to-moderate-sized Herding breeds beginning to get too much size. Measuring those breeds with DQs for height needs to be more consistently applied. Is breed-specific presentation important to me as a judge? Can I offer some examples? BUT, OF COURSE! What I never ever understand is why exhibitors who own breeds where head propor- tions, eyes, and ears are NOT covered by an abundance of long hair, cords or flocks consistently bait their dogs so high that it creates the illusion of a short neck from the side. Bait your dog upwards when the judge is right there looking at expression. And for heaven’s sake, let it come to a more natural position when the judge is standing
178 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MARCH 2022
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