international competition each year, Pyr Sheps have taken countless gold medals in the past dozen or so years, including over- all Champion four times by three di ff er- ent dogs—one of them bred and owned in America. In 2011, all four top spots overall went to Pyr Sheps. Here, their prowess has earned them countless gold medals in the 16" category at the Eukanuba Invitational, the AKC National Agility Championships and the counterpart agility organization’s USDAA World Cynosport Champion- ships. Running a Pyr Shep is, however, not an easy undertaking. Th eir blazing speed and quicksilver intelligence make them extremely challenging for even well- seasoned handlers! And the high need for socialization to people and places goes far beyond the usual herding breed. Th eir work as the daily herders of sheep, and to some extent cattle and oth- er livestock when called upon, required them to be a jack of all trades, rather than a highly stylized master of one like the Border Collie. Beginning in the 1920s, they have competed at the top levels in French herding competitions, with one little bitch earning the coveted national championship 3 years in a row! Th ey are also outstanding search and rescue dogs as their small size and keen drive allows them to search areas where larger dogs simply can’t go. All these shapes and activities make the breed very challenging for the non- specialist to judge. Here follows a dozen of the questions most commonly asked by judges. The Questions Q: What are the 3 most important cri- teria in judging the Pyr Shep? A: Head type, body proportions and side gait. Q: What constitutes correct head type? A: Th e head should be triangular with a pointed muzzle sweeping back to the zygomatic arches in a well-filled-in wedge. Th e eyes are almond-shaped but somewhat open—more the shape of an almond in the shell. Th eir dark-brown color accentuates the intense, alert, some- what suspicious expression so crucial to
breed type. Th e skull is nearly flat on top with the ears set high. Th e muzzle is shorter than in other herding breeds – slightly shorter than the backskull. Q: What is the correct movement? A: Th e dog has a flying trot and a dou- ble-suspension gallop. Th ey should have a big, ground-covering side gait—more pro- nounced in the Rough-Faced variety. Th ey are highly athletic and will often jump e ff ortlessly onto the table. Pyr Sheps quickly singletrack coming and going. Th eir dewclaws make them look even closer in the rear. Side gait is to be prized much more highly than perfec- tion on the down and back.
and loin but not on the head or over the withers. Q: Are they always examined on the table? A: Yes. In the US they are always examined on the table. This is optional in Canada. In Europe they are gener- ally examined on the ground. In the US, they should never be touched in the ground but put back on the table if the judge desires further hands-on—this is standard AKC policy. Q: What should the judge look for on the table versus on the ground? A: Th e temperament of the breed encour- ages them to be very alert and in constant motion. In this low-entry breed, class dogs are generally inexperienced, as are their own- ers (whom for the sake of the future of our sport should be encouraged!). So the judge should not prolong the table exam. Th e class dog will only get more fidgety. Th e judge should look for 3 main things in the table exam: A) Head shape: flat on top with small ears set on high. Muzzle shorter than back skull, but not exaggeratedly so. B) Scissors bite: level or reverse scissors is acceptable as long as the teeth are touching. But a gap over or under is a DQ. C) Long scapula and humerus. D) Rough-Faced dogs have a complex topline with a crested neck knitting well into the back with the long scapula tips making a bump over the withers. Th e back is level over the ribs but has a pronounced rise over the loin. Th is rise is accentuated strongly by the coat, especial- ly on heavily-coated dogs. Rear should be well angulated with good let-down of hock. Smooth-Faced dogs should be more square, more moderate in angulation, length of scapulae and rise over the loin and are higher on hock. Q: Should I wicket dogs that appear small or large? A: Th e breed has a very large size range and most dogs fall within it. And because they tend to be fidgety it can be di ffi cult to get a fair measurement. Judges might be especially tempted to wicket dogs who look very large. Remember that although being over standard is a fault, a judge should 4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& . "3$) t
Q : How do I tell the varieties and coat types apart at a glance? A: 1) Th e Smooth-Faced has short hair on the face and the fronts of the legs, rather like a Sheltie except the body coat is not more than 3" long and with less undercoat than a Sheltie or Aussie. Rough-Faced dogs have long hair on the face, but not so long as to hide the eyes, and longer leg hair of equal length on both front and back of the legs. 2) Proportions of the Smooth-Faced variety are nearly square; the Rough-Faced variety is a horizontal rectangle. Both coat types within the RF have strikingly rect- angular proportions. Q: What are the two coat types within the Rough-Faced variety? A: Th e Rough-Faced variety has two coat types: long and demi-long. Th e body coat of the demi is not as long and has a crisp texture and little undercoat. Fur- nishings can be very pronounced on the longhaired dogs, more rudimentary on the demi-long. Longhaired dogs may be corded on the legs and even over the sides
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