ShowSight January 2019


of a domed head with low ears and a short muzzle is not correct, regardless of how sweet it may appear. Body shape must be approaching square with some leg under the animal. Not long. Not low. Recently we have seen longer loins and shorter legs on some individuals which is incorrect. Stamp the correct shape into your mind’s eye and that vision will help eliminate those dogs which are either too long in loin or too short on leg. LY: Trends come and go in many breeds, but over the last decade I would say we have seen too much focus on having a lot of hair when everything about the Cavalier should be moderate. This, coupled with the creative grooming of professional handlers, creates sculpting that offensive to true aficionados. Shape and size have also evolved into some long and low outlines in the past decade and, at times, being well over the 18 pound high- end of the standard resulting in a Toy breed that would be difficult to carry around the show or have on your lap for too long. I prefer a more moderate Cavalier in the middle of our standard at 15-16 pounds, but unfortunate- ly, at times, that perfect size looks too small in the ring compared to many at the upper end of the size spectrum. I also have seen some rounding of the top skull with ear set or carriage lower than many years ago, again, affect- ing correct head shape and expression. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? SA: When I first started judging the Cavalier, they were just newly recognized by AKC in 1996. At that time there were too many weak rears and it appeared that breeders placed disproportionate emphasis on head type to the exclusion of soundness. That has now improved. CH: Although I’ve only been judging three years, I can answer this based on the 22 years since being recognized by AKC. I believe our dogs have greatly improved both in structure and more consistent in head type. EV: In many ways, Cavaliers in the United States have improved tremendously over the last 30 years. In order to compete in the Toy Group, some breeders have worked to produce a more sound animal while still maintain- ing typey dogs. While still a problem, rears are (for the most part) stronger and better angulated than in the past. Weedy Cavaliers that lack type and substance are rarely seen the show ring today. Our standard allows for quite a variance of size; while we do not want weedy specimens to be rewarded, neither is a cumbersome, coarse animal correct. “Moderate” is correct. (A significant differentia- tion: smaller Cavaliers of either sex can be completely correct as long as they have ample bone and substance.) LY: I strongly believe that with the significant increase in popularity of the breed following AKC recognition, our breed has realized improvement in overall structure and conformation. All breed competition requires dogs to be sound to compete at the group level. In my opinion, prior to AKC competition the breadth of knowledge on canine structure and conformation amongst some breeders was

not as strong as what exists in our breed today. That said, our breed has also been the result of widespread popular- ity increase in the recent two decades and as a result, there are times when a very sound, impressive, correctly moving and beautifully conditioned Cavalier can do big winning with a head that would have had challenges gaining a championship title in years past. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? SA: Many new judges seem to lack an appreciation of breed type. You can read a standard many times without really having a grasp of type. CH: The most common misunderstanding (or maybe a deci- sion to ignore) is our stand on trimming and sculpting. These are natural dogs with natural coats. Our standard is adamant that there be no trimming, stripping or sculpt- ing and to send those specimens to the back of the line. JI: A judge must remember the roots of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and its history. This is not an English Toy Spaniel or a “Charlie,” which is a delightful breed in its own right. Remember that it was Roswell Eldridge (an American) who in 1926 sought to re-establish the breed depicted in the seventeenth and eighteenth cen- tury paintings with a “long face, no stop, flat skull, not inclined to be domed and with the spot in the center of the skull.” A Cavalier must not appear to have a domed skull or deep stop. EV: The burgeoning popularity of the breed has caused an explosion of different “looks” which is disheartening. Expression can be difficult to assess. A Cavalier’s expres- sion should be soft and melting with large, dark, round eyes set directly on the front of the face. Cushioning under the eyes helps contribute to a soft expression. Eye rims must be dark and eyes a very dark brown. Light eyes are an anathema. Our standard describes a “white sur- rounding ring” as being a fault. But a “white surrounding ring” is different from an unfortunate drop of white in an eye. A slight drop of white in an eye of an otherwise outstanding specimen may be a consideration but not be heavily penalized. Consider first the shape, balance and head qualities which are integral to a typey Cavalier. LY: First is learning correct expression. It really takes time to learn the balance in proportion of topskull to stop, stop to muzzle, cushion under the eyes, correct eye shape, col- or, ear set and understanding this changes in the first few years. The Cavalier should not resemble other Spaniels if they have the correct muzzle length of 1½ inches per the standard, which for judges coming with knowledge from other Spaniel breeds, can look entirely too short or Toy like if they do not spend time really learning how that length of muzzle when balanced with correct expres- sion truly defines our breed. A second point some new judges struggle with (depending on what breeds they come from) is to see a good topline through parti-color markings. Judges must carefully examine structure on both the table and standing and be aware that markings broken across mid back can create an optical illusion of a

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