JUDGING THE PARSON RUSSELL TERRIER
“If the best dog is over-groomed, do you want it to win in spite
of the grooming or should it lose to an inferior dog that is shown in a nature state? The more dogs that are groomed literally to a fault and win, and are then advertised for those wins, the more the over-grooming is ignored by other judges, and the more the competition think they need to over-groom in order to win.”
Head Overly Groomed vs. Correct
“The height at withers is slightly greater than distance from the withers to tail, i.e. by possibly 1-1½ inches on a 14 inch dog.” So, if you have a 14-inch dog, the standard calls for a measurement from the withers to the tail to be 12½-13 inches. But there is still the area in front of the withers to either the prosternum or point of the shoulder (this is not addressed in the standard) and the area from the tail to the ischium (point of the buttocks) to be added into the mix. Subtract the 1-1½ inches then, and you have a dog that is close to being rectangular— not off-square but actually longer than tall. It also would make a difference if you are measuring from the highest point of the with- ers or from the end of the withers, where the back begins, but again, that specific is not addressed in the standard. The Sealyham Terrier illustrated standard addresses this as a square within a rectangle, which is a perfect description. The above-mentioned numbers are the exact measurements in the standard under Size, Substance, Proportion; BUT under Neck, Topline, Body, it says: “In over- all length to height proportion, the dog appears approximately square and balanced.” Almost every picture in the Introduction to the Parson Russell Terrier is an example of a square dog. And you blame judges for not understanding your breed? Who is to blame here? The judges, the breeders, the parent club, AKC? I know the PRTAA works very hard on their judges’ education, but these kinds of contradictions make judging the breed all that much more problematic. Another area of total confusion is in the grooming. Remember, Parsons are sup- posed to be medium-boned. Why, then, are so many exhibitors and/or their handlers grooming the dogs to look like they are heavy-boned? Forget for a moment the fact that they should never be heavy-boned; the standard specifically states that “sculpturing is to be severely penalized.” Also, the standard says, “Whether smooth or broken, a double coat of good sheen, naturally harsh, close and dense…” I guarantee that you cannot see a good sheen or a harsh natural coat when it is full of chalk and hair spray. Furthermore, “a clean outline with only a hint of eyebrows and beard if natural to the coat” is a far cry from trying to duplicate the furnishings of a Wire Fox Terrier. Soft, silky, wooly coats are to be faulted because these types of coats would provide little protection to the dog while working; however, a judge cannot identify these faults readily when the coat is full of products. Of course, all dogs have shortcomings, and it is the exhibitor’s job to minimize the appearance of shortcomings. But it is the breeder’s job to breed for strengths. Hiding unacceptable coat types in the ring does not eliminate them from the gene pool. The blame here lays with the exhibitor or handler, not the judge. If the best dog is over-groomed, do you want it to win in spite of the grooming or should it lose to an inferior dog that is shown in a nature state? The more dogs that are groomed literally to a fault and win, and are then advertised for those wins, the more the over-grooming is ignored by other judges, and the more the competition think they need to over-groom in order to win. Then the new people who are coming into the breed see what is winning, so they think that is what the breed is supposed to look like. Over time, this cycle leads the breed away from what is required for its original pur- pose. Remember, the original purpose of the breed defines type. Both coat types should have the same silhouette from a distance, but the over-groomed Parsons no longer have that silhouette.
Speaking of coat types, we are seeing fewer and fewer smooth-coated Parsons in the ring. Breeders tell me that they cannot win with them because their heads look so different without the furnishings. I feel this problem does lie with the judges. The furnishings may make the dog look cuter, but cute is not part of the standard. If we always examine the head with our hands and actually wrap our hand around the muzzle, we soon realize that it is just as easy to judge the smooth as the broken. So, judges, have a hand around the muzzle, not a hand in eliminating the smooth coats from the gene pool. Also, the standard says teeth large with complete dentition in a perfect scissors bite. So please, judges, pay attention. We don’t need to open the entire jaw, but we do need to make sure that the mouths are staying cor- rect. When we judges don’t pay attention to mouths, then the exhibitors stop worrying about them. This is another area where judg- ing can influence what breeders are doing. The Parson Russell Terrier is a working Ter- rier, and their teeth are tools of their trade. So watch those mouths carefully because bites and missing teeth can become a serious prob- lem in a breed very quickly and can be very difficult to correct.
218 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2022
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