English Toy Spaniel Breed Magazine - Showsight

By Marilyn Tuesley Marsward English Toy Spaniels T he judge who came to visit looked startled when I asked her, “Please close your eyes.” We had one of my Charlies and I was going over impor- tant aspects of the head. Now, I was asking her to close her eyes and let her hands feel their way to some crucial information. It’s important because English Toy Spaniels come in four di ff erent colors, and di ff erences in color can cause optical illu- sions. For example, the width of the blaze or the presence of a full bar over the eyes can make the head appear flatter or round- er. But the hands feel the true structure of the head; they are not tricked by illusion. First, taking the head as a whole, think of a ball (Americans might think of a baseball, while we English might consider cricket ball). Cup the “ball” over the top with one hand. Th e head should mimic the feel of a ball in your hand. Th en cup the lower part of the head, under the jaw, with the other hand. It should be rounded and sit nicely in your palm. Th is is where many heads are faulty; they might be ball- like over the skull, but lack the jawbone to carry through the ball shape. Your hands cupped across the top of the head from ear to ear should continue to feel the ball shape. Th ere should be roundness and full- ness in every direction. Th e jaw should be upswept to complete the round head. Okay, open your eyes. Consider the nose. It should be large, black, with well- opened nostrils, and centered. Th e top of the nose should always be level with the inside corners of the eyes. A nose that is too high gives a Bulldog-like appearance, with a too-strong underjaw and not enough length of lip. A high nose restricts the amount of cushioning in the face. Th e breed is required to have “a well-cushioned face.” Th e proper

placement of the nose allows for the correct amount of cushioning. A low nose, on the other hand, gener- ally results in loose lips that do not meet evenly therefore not giving much cushion. Th is nose placement can create the illusion of a high-domed head; this is again why it’s good to close your eyes and let your hands feel if the dome is correct. A nose that is too small will give a pinched expression, rather than the soft, gentle expression that is characteristic of the breed. Th e standard says the muzzle is “very short, with the nose well laid back” but this does not mean that the nose should tilt back tightly into the head. A nose tilted to much will impact the amount of cush- ioning, and “well developed cushioning” is crucial to the breed’s appearance. Th e nose should sit centered with just enough depth to be able to put the tip of your thumb on the top. Th e eyes should be big, round, and dark. Oval or small eyes don’t have the sweet, kind expression that is typical of Charlies. Th e ears should be level with the outer corners of the eyes, with long leathers and plenty of fringing. If the ear placement is too high, it makes the head look flat and the domed appearance is lost. If the ears are set too low, there is a clown-like look. If the leathers are not long enough, the pro- portion of the head doesn’t look right. Moving to the mouth—make sure there is enough width under the jaw—if the jaw is too narrow the upper lips will hang down with no apparent cushioning. As you look at the dog’s face there should be a straight line from the center of the nose down to the center of the lower lip. If the line is not straight is may be an indica- tion of a wry mouth. Like most brachycephalic breeds, Char- lies don’t like their lips pulled. Personally, I never try to pry open the mouth, and never

cover the top of the head with my hand, as that makes the dog uncomfortable. Th e best method is simply to raise the lip or slip your finger under it and feel the place- ment and number of the teeth. You are looking for a slightly undershot bite. Once you determine that, it’s not necessary to inspect the teeth further. Moving from the head to the neck, close your eyes again. A correct, moder- ate, nicely arched neck will fill your hand with a rounded feeling. Th e neck should be strong to carry that big, beautiful head. A short neck is not correct; a long neck even though it might look elegant, it detracts from the correct “cobby” body type and is not correct. Long necks also usually mean long backs, which are faulty. Th e body should be compact, cobby, and square with a short, level top-line. Close your eyes to let the spring of rib fill your hands on both sides. Th e chest should be deep, providing good room for the heart. Th e standard calls the breed “sturdy of frame.” You should feel the breed’s good solid bone right down through the legs. Th e shoulders are well laid back. Th e rear legs should be well muscled with good angulation. Th e tail will be in many di ff erent types as they can be born with stubs that appear self-docked, cork screw, or long straight tails the latter of which can still be docked under American standards. Th e AKC stan- dard says the tail should be just slightly above the level of the back while standards elsewhere have the tail level with the back and not carried over. Movement of this wonderful Toy dog should be free, quick and elegant with driving steps from the rear and straight when viewed both coming and going. Judging the English Toy Spaniel is a challenge. But here’s my advice for doing a good job—hands on, eyes closed, at least part of the time.


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