Showsight Presents The Cocker Spaniel

on sides of the sternum and the correct front to provide proper reach in the front assembly. There is no excuse for a Cocker with improper temperament. A Cocker should have size and the silhouette described within the standard. The parent club position is that the Cocker should be judged as a “docked tail” breed as directly spec- ified twice in the standard. This position can be found on the ASC website. Since it is not a disqualification, this deviation should be excused and/or penalized to the extent of the deviation of the tail, such as in the actual appearance of same, carried incorrectly or set on at the base improperly. The tail should be carried on line with the back or slightly higher; although this is not addressed in the standard, as our standard does not call for anything but a docked tail. It does call for a natural grooming look and a Cocker with an undocked tail that has the flag of hair removed definitely appears unnatural. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? CA: Over angulated with steep shoulders, lack of forechest and small birdy heads with bug eyes. NG: Top line and heads looking like the Toy breed. DK: I actually feel the breed is in fairly good shape right now. I do think that with the many wonderful products available, exhibitors tend to show their dogs in more coat than is necessary and this can often mask the outline of a good dog. I guess we all have the tendency to think that more is better. EM: The only exaggeration I feel appearing and it has for quite some length of time, is the overabundance of coat. Now, where to place the blame? First, I try to blame the judges for awarding it when our standard is clear on moderate coat and importantly, correct texture. How- ever, the breeders are to blame for breeding and entering these dogs. I do have a solution, but no one wishes to seem to try. Let us start showing our exhibits that are not in spectacular coat. We all have some that did not inherit the huge coat factor, they have just come out of the season or just finished having a litter. There are several Cocker bloodlines that the heavy coat gene is not passed on to each puppy, especially in Ascobs and Parti colors. Blacks, as rumor has it, have more hair follicles per square inch than the Ascob and Parti varieties. At an ASC breeder seminar that I conducted several years ago, I suggested the attendees to start showing their Cock- ers that were excellent, but not heavy coated. They all said they could not win with them. I asked which judges will not put them up. I expected perhaps names, but was told it was the Toy and Non-Sporting judges, though they might chance it under a Hound or Working judge. I told them the story as follows. I was at a Florida dog show merely as a spectator. Exhibitors had built a major, as majors were hard to find at the time. After the first go around a beautifully moving bitch with proper back coat cocker spaniel Q&A

with carl anderSon, nancy gallant, david Kittredge & elaine e. mathiS

and enough body and leg coat to evaluate texture, caught my eye. After watching the judge’s hands evaluate, I said to myself that I would put up lesser-coated bitch in a second. Just then the judge pointed to the filler entry for the major. That judge was Desmond Murphy. I was proud of his judging and the exhibitors, although wishing the major, show good sportsmanship as they also appreci- ated the bitch. Do we need more judges willing to look beyond the abundant coat in not only Cockers, but in many breeds in groups today? 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? CA: When I first started judging the Cocker Spaniel, the entry was always over 100 with many good breeders and good dogs in good condition with lots of substance and mussel tone; unfortunately, as in many breeds, this is not true today. NG: I think a few years ago we hit a real low spot but are coming back. We don’t have the depth we once had. When I started we had the big kennels and long time breeders and people who studied the breed and had a passion for it. I don’t think many new people really study the breed and ask for help. DK: I feel the overall quality of Cockers being exhibited today is better than it was in the late 80s and the 90s. We fought through some huge problems with severe lack of front angulation, cottony coat texture, extremely short muzzles and overly-high tail carriage. We still see those faults, but not nearly as often these days. EM: I believe the majority of the Cockers shown in specials and/or winning in groups and BIS competition has not declined. I do find a decline in the quality in class com- petition. At times, it makes you wonder from where the beautiful specials have come. You will find outstanding dogs in all classes, but not the large classes and overall quality we saw years ago. This change has been long coming in a lot of the AKC breeds. I feel this no doubt is due to the lack of longtime breeders and the techniques they followed to come up with the generation after gen- eration of type and quality. We always have had excellent handlers in Cockers and but also wonderful breeders and owners who love showing their own dogs. We got our start under great judges of the past back when they called us “the kids” around the Cocker ring and prior to LaMar becoming a handler. In the past, if you needed a particular quality, you went to a linebred kennel that had produced generation after generation of that quality. We do not have many breeders today that have that option available to our breed. Now you look for the stud to use on a wonderful bitch and your hopes are strong that you are not to lose what you have already gained in quality and health. We have always linebred with an outcross when needed and brought the outcross back into

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