Showsight Presents The Airedale Terrier

Everyone knew Shirley was a gourmet cook and I could tend bar quite well. It was always a great opportunity to talk dogs and often to see new youngsters. I’ve been living in rural central Massachusetts for 35 years. When you’ve been “in dogs” all your life it’s difficult to imag- ine anything else. But I do enjoy painting, reading, traveling and dining out with friends. I have been involved with Airedales all my life and am the third generation with the breed. In 1957 I began exhibit- ing in obedience at age 14, breeding my first litter in 1965. I have competed in confirmation for 50 years and judged many sweeps including Montgomery which was quite an honor. With my partner Shirley, we bred over 70 champions in the US, Canada and Europe. Limiting the Airedale to only three words is impossible but intelligent, mischievous and independent will have to do. No single trait describes the Airedale as it must be square and balanced without any exaggerations. However when I evaluate youngsters I hope to keep, the tail must be set well up on the back with a good amount of butt behind. The shoul- ders must we well laid back sloping into the withers and the neck must blend into the shoulders smoothly, never abruptly. My family were my original mentors and then i met people especially handlers at shows who helped with grooming and showing. There were few mentors and no clinics run by the breed club back then. We were pretty much on our own. Without doubt the Airedale commands the ring as the larg- est in the group, the leader of the line, bright of color espe- cially outdoors, sharp of eye, and attitude. The Airedale is a relatively healthy breed and always has been. While some problems are present such as hip dysplasia.

most are found to be environmental rather than inherited. Much information is available to help prevent or limit health problems. And todays breeders are willing to share such information with others. I have always especially valued a breed win at a specialty and particularly one at Montgomery. Isn’t it really all about competing against your own breed? Over time traits change in importance and there are of course many reasons for this. Winners, especially at Mont- gomery will tend to influence stud selection for the following year especially if there is an exaggerated trait deemed to be correct. This trait such as straight shoulders and long necks will slowly predominate among the winners causing move- ment problems, dipped top lines and shoulder damage in dogs competing in events. These dogs move poorly and pass structural problems on to their progeny. Stove pipe necks are incorrect. Airedales are a square breed of moderation and judges need to avail themselves of every opportunity to watch these dogs perform activities for which they were bred. Breeders, handlers and judges are all equally responsible for structural changes in all breeds. We have to remember that winning isn’t everything. While there have been many humorous incidents in the dog sport, an early one is often remembered. I kept a male from my first litter in 1965 and was persuaded to show him at the Terrier Specialty that preceded Westminster. I remem- ber following Tom Gately into the ring and was watching him set up his dog. Meanwhile, my fellow lifted his leg on Judge Percy Robert’s pearl grey suit! Percy then said “he’s a nice pet and would be best kept at home”! The dog had a short career.

Judging the Airedale Terrier, continued from page 274 6

with ones that are 24 inches or taller if everything else about that dog makes you say “yes”. And don’t reward a bigger dog simply because he is larger. Ideally, the coat “should be hard, dense, and wiry”, the jacket should be “black or a dark grizzle” with the rest of the dog a “tan” color. Conditioning and presenta- tion are an important part of the Aire- dale’s appearance and presenting an Airedale in a properly stripped coat is a must. You should not reward scissoring or clippering on any part of the body with the exception of the underbelly which is usually clippered. Remember, the Airedale was bred to hunt over ground and in the water so he should move effortlessly, with good reach and drive. His front paw should easily extend beyond his nose when in full stride with good extension behind. Look for the front and back feet to meet in the middle of the dog while in stride. I saw a number of long backed dogs this past Montgomery and their feet place- ment while in stride made this all the more evident. You will see bouncy toplines on the long backed dogs, too. Going away from you his hocks should move parallel to each other and not close together. Coming at you “the fore- legs should swing perpendicular from the body, free from the sides, the feet

the same distance apart as the elbows”. In summary, he should move around the ring in a powerful purposeful way

with no excess movement anywhere on the dog. He should be a tight efficient package in motion.

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A PRIL 2019 • 279

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