cocker spaniel Q&A
with carl anderSon, nancy gallant, david Kittredge & elaine e. mathiS
our line. However, my important suggestion to new breeders is when you outcross in your breeding program, do not put the outcross into every dog is your line until you have discovered if you received only the good traits in quality and importantly, health test before you find the outcross was a mistake to make. I know this sounds like a lot of dogs to keep, but it truly is not. Make a plan in advance for your next generations. Importantly, if pos- sible go over each dog you are incorporating and require proper health papers applicable to the breed. To stop the decline in quality, my suggestion is to never stop your education and study of the history of your breed; our forefathers were wise in so many ways. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? CA: The new judges today seem to forget the standard the tail is docked for a reason, the Cocker Spaniel is a flush- ing Spaniel and the tail is docked to allow the Cocker to go through the brush without being damaged. Also, faster is not better. NG: The hair confuses judges. I think they don’t understand they are still Sporting dogs and judge accordingly. DK: I have mentored many judge friends who are new to the breed, and sometimes to Sporting, as well. I’m proud to say I’m generally happy with what they do when they step in the ring. If a person has a good eye, they can usually apply that to any breed with a bit of study, guidance and experience. If there’s one thing that people outside the breed do struggle with, it’s our presentation. Yes, Cockers are generally shown on a taut lead. This does not mean they should be “strung up” to the point where the front feet hardly touch the ground. But to insist on a completely loose lead will destroy the class and the judge’s ability to truly assess movement. And yes, it’s second nature for most of our exhibitors to remove the lead during examination. Trying to put a stop to that in your class will probably waste more time than it will save! EM: I think most new judges and several of our long-time judges misunderstand the requirements of correct Cocker front and fail at correct examination to determine it. This is true in a lot of coated breeds. Read the stan- dard. You are to check the withers for layback formed by the correct angles as given in the standard. Check the smoothness of the shoulders. Place your hands on the sternum. This is best done by going to the left side of the Cocker and running your hands from the start of the chest down the front to check for forechest and depth. Correct angles as stated in the standard will give you a sternum that is rounded with fill on the sides and the depth to the elbows. Too wide of forechest is incorrect; also, what old timers call “pigeon breast” is incorrect (where there is a very prominent bone with no fill).
Several multi-group judges whom I have mentored in Cockers tell me they think of me when they go over a Cocker front, as I may be sitting ringside. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. CA: When Rosalie and I gave
a seminar on the Cocker Spaniel at an ASC Show,
carl J. anderson
an attendee, in going over a beautiful black and tan bitch, remarked, “What is wrong with her? She has a lump here,” to which we remarked, “That is what we call forechest, a must in the Cocker Spaniel.” NG: My battle cry is don’t just finish a dog and let it sit in a cage the rest of its life. Get out and do something--hunt- ing, agility, tracking, obedience, dock diving, something and if you don’t want to do that, place them so the can sleep on someone’s bed. DK: Cockers have given me a lifetime of enjoyment. I truly hope we can keep them the small Sporting dog that they are. I think attention to overall balance and moderation in all aspects is the best guarantee of that. EM: Please remember the movement should be effortless. Any excessive lift, pounding, etc. would not allow the endurance necessary while in the field. And we do cer- tainly have Cockers excelling as hunting dogs as well as in all areas of companion events. 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? CA: I requested an exhibitor to make a small circle and they made a pirouette right in front of me, I guess it couldn’t get any smaller. NG: I spilled a bottle of champagne in the ring. The owner wanted a picture of her dog getting his silver grand champion and gave me champagne to hold. It slipped and didn’t break, but the cork came out, spraying champagne all over the ring. My ring steward said, “I’ve cleaned up a lot of things in my day, but this is a first.” DK: I have one, but I’m not saying here! EM: I was judging a pointing breed at an outdoor show. After my instruction to the exhibitor to take her dog down and back, she proceeded. The dog stopped abruptly midway down into the most perfect point stance you would ever wish to see. A bird had just flown overhead. The exhibi- tor came back to me and apologized profusely and asked if she could please try again. I explained to her that it certainly took no points off and would give me a good memory for years to come—and it has!
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