Field Spaniel Breed Magazine - Showsight


J udges have the unique oppor- tunity to make an impact to a breed’s progress by being diligent in learning and applying the standard to dogs they reward. What is most challenging in a rarer breed, such as the Field Spaniel, is applying “type” to this equation, as well. Considering that Field Spaniels have always been on AKC’s “low entry breed” list, it is within reason to assume that many judges have not had the privilege of viewing a large entry for the breed, or have had that opportunity on multiple occasions. Th at said, it is of the utmost importance for you to know and understand what makes a Field Spaniel unique regardless of the limited opportu- nity that prospective and current judges may have to evaluate the breed in person. History While the Field Spaniel was one of the earliest registered breeds in the United States, dating back to the 1880’s, it is in reality a breed with a young history from a conformational standpoint. Due to a decline in both the US and the home country of England, and near extinction, the breed had to be reintroduced to the US in the late 1960’s by way of three litter- mates imported from the UK. Th e breed has come a long way since that time due to the commitment of diligent breeders. While this lovely breed continues to grow and improve, breeders have also proved and maintained the breed’s natural work- ing ability. It is very important that the breed remain one that can stand up to the requirements of a day in the Field. Beauty, Balance & Type What three things should you as a judge keep in mind when evaluating a Field Spaniel? Th e answer is easy: Beauty. Bal- ance. Type. But how are these reflected in individual dogs? How would you go about judging the breed? How do you define

recognize in the breed? What about move- ment? What makes the Field Spaniel head distinctive? Are there any hallmarks of the breed? Th e most significant line from the Field Spaniel standard is, “Symmetry, gait, attitude and purpose are more impor- tant than any one part”. You will want to remember this as you continue reading. Th e Field Spaniel is described in the standard as a combination of beauty and utility, a well balanced, substantial hunter- companion of medium size, built for activ- ity and endurance in a heavy cover and water. It has a noble carriage; a proud but docile attitude; it is sound and free mov- ing. Symmetry, gait, attitude and purpose are more important than any one part. Th e Field Spaniel is a breed in which there is no division between bench and working dogs. Considering that they are bred with this in mind, it is imperative they be judged with this in mind as well. Your judging begins the moment the dogs walk in the ring. Watch them as they enter. Th ere are many owner handlers in this breed, and they are usually handling inexperienced dogs. Keep this in mind as you move through your assignment. Th is is a breed that can be reserved at first meet- ings and may be unsure of the goings on. Th is is especially true if the dog is young and the handler is inexperienced. How- ever, this is by not an excuse for an overly shy or timid dog, particularly in the open or bred-by class. As the standard says, “ Th ey may be somewhat reserved in initial meetings. Any display of shyness, fear, or aggression is to be severely penalized.” Proportion “A well-balanced dog, somewhat longer than tall. Th e ratio of length to height is approximately 7:6.” Look at your entry of exhibits in line and take a moment to assess the overall outline of the dogs. Th e front of the dog should be in balance with, and not heavier than the rear. Front and rear angles should

be both moderate and balanced, as well. Th e initial appearance should be neither coarse nor weedy, but have adequate bone and substance. Th ere should be no extreme exaggerations in any direction. Th e Field should be longer than it is tall in a ratio of 7 to 6, with the length being measured from the forward most point of the shoul- der to the rear and the height from the withers to the ground. Th e depth of chest should be roughly equal to the length of the front leg from elbow to ground. Th e rib cage should be long and extending into a short loin with little to no tuck up in mature dogs. Th e upper thigh should be broad and powerful; the second thigh well muscled. A key point to remember when viewing the outline of a Field Spaniel is that it is incorrect for this breed to have a sloping topline. Th e neck should smooth- ly slope into the shoulders, followed by a strong level topline. Over extended or, worse, over angulated rears are also not desirable. Overall balance is of the utmost importance. Th e front must be in balance with the rear with a deep loin connecting to the two! And it is essential that that there is balance between size, proportions, and substance. Head Look down the line and view the head and expression. Per the standard, expression should be “grave, gentle and intelligent.” Th e head should convey the impression of high breeding, character and nobility, and must be in proportion to the size of the dog. Eyes should be almond shape and a dark hazel to dark brown col- or. A round eye and/or light eye is incor- rect is likely to express a harsh or hard expression, instead of the grave and gentle expression the standard requires. Adding to the distinctive head and expression is an ear set slightly lower than the level of the eye, a moderate stop, a strong long muzzle neither snipey nor squarely cut, flews cov- ering but not extending beyond the lower

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