Showsight Presents The Polish Lowland Sheepdog


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

JUDGING THE Polish Lowland Sheepdog


By Margaret Korzeniowska

for the dogs and new handlers to get used to the procedure. When the class enters the ring instruct the handlers to take their PONS full circle around the ring and then free or hand stack them rather then directly proceed with examination. Dogs will get familiar with the surroundings, stretch their bodies and show in more relaxed manner. Th is will save you time and make less work for the handlers to show the PONS at their best. When approaching a well-stacked PON remember his eyes are covered by fringes of hair so make your presence known to him – “head on” would be appreciated. It is a guarding dog dedicated to his master and sometimes protective of him so after you acknowledge your presence examine the body and then head and lastly the bite. Th at will save some dogs from pulling away, getting scared and having to be restacked. PONS have excellent memory, and you want them to have a positive experience to remem- ber so that they want to come to other shows. Th e head of the PON, even though medium size, should be strong and powerful appearing to be even bigger due to the abun- dance of their hair. Head should be much larger on the adult male than the female, but both should have strong necks cov- ered with a thick mane. When judging one should remember that the coat on the head grows longer than on the rest of the body – so younger dogs, even though strong boned, may appear as having smaller heads. Th e muzzle should be equal or SHORTER then the skull in length and be parallel to each other, but separated by a noticeable stop. Th e skull can be slightly rounded without being apple shaped, which can happen if the head is too narrow or too delicate and small. Th e standard calls for strong wide jaws with scissors or a level bite covered with well fitting dry lips. Teeth should be large and appear strong. In the last years we have encountered dogs with their lower jaw too

he Polish Lowland Sheep- dog is also known as the PON, which is an acro- nym for Polski Owczarek Nizinny. Th e PON is a medium-sized dog, large

boned and shaggy. When judging a Polish Lowland Sheepdog it is necessary to remem- ber that it is a herding and guarding dog developed on the farm settlement. His many responsibilities required a strong, capable, independent worker. PONS are adored by their owners and loved for their dedication, faith and stub- born but clowning personality. Th ey are devoted to those who care for them, which is why so many have great relationships with the handlers. When you invite a Polish Sheepdogs to enter your ring you can immediately see the hallmarks of the breed – Large head and a lush-coated rectangular silhouette. Skeleton proportions should be 9 to 10; however, the large coat on its chest and rear makes the dog appear even longer than it is.

narrow, which in many cases may lead to one or both lower canine teeth protruding into the palate or upper gums causing physical discomfort to the dog (obviously this should be avoided). When checking the bite we encourage a soft hand and lifting the lips to check the bite; it is not necessary to pry the mouth open to count the teeth. One of the breed characteristics is the big size of the nose with the front tip slightly turned down. Depending on the dog’s color nose should be black or chocolate. Pigmen- tation should be fully filled on the lips and nose and eye rims. Eyes are oval and medium in size, pro- tected by beautiful long eyelashes with fully Strong mover with proper neck set and reach, 3-year-old male

4-year-old female, note light chocolate pigment

Look for type, balance/soundness, and movement and pay special attention to the head. Remember that since the major- ity of the dog’s structure is covered by a thick double coat it is necessary to put your hands through it to achieve a good physical examination. Usually we do not use the ramp but if you decide to do so please allow extra time

1 ½ -year-old male, great head, wide jaw, wonderful pigment and expression

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2-year-old female, excellent head, bone, chest, coat

Powerful trot of adult male, great reach, note also topline, coat, bone

1 ½ -year-old male Note the abundance of the coat, great pigment , masculine head

to change their shade or color a few times during their lifetime. All colors and mark- ings should be judged equally. A movement has begun to preserve the rare solid colored Pons as they appear to be great pigmenta- tion carriers – with mostly white dogs seen in the ring nowadays we seem to be loosing skin pigmentation. When you send them down and back and around the ring ask for a loose lead, medium pace. Avoid speed too slow as they can go into pacing easily. Allow enough space between the dogs. Th e purpose of the PONS was to work all day, so an easy e ff ort- less trot should show that he could still excel at it. Look for a pleasing-to-the-eye harmoni- ous, e ffi cient gait, with nice forward move- ment, and a lowered head. Look for the front optically reaching the nose line. Look for the rear extended behind the dog. When assessing the legs look for straight, heavily-boned parallel columns with good reach and drive. You may expect some toeing in. Fortunately we now have much less east west and cow-hock dogs, it used to haunt us a lot years ago! In closing, I would like to mention tem- perament which I consider to be the most important trait in every dog. Th e PON should be reserved and get to know you slowly. He is trusting, but only after he has become comfortable in your presence. He will bark when you enter his home, but will stop when he is sure you mean no harm. He will be respectful of you, and watch you while you visit. He will remember you in the future, and greet you warmly. Hopefully you enjoyed meeting him toos! BIO Margaret Korzeniowska is an FCI Judge and former American Polish Lowland Sheepdog Club Director.

pigmented rims around the eye. Eyes should be brown and as dark as possible, with the exception of chocolate dogs may have lighter eyes. Ears are medium size and hanging with inner edge close to the cheeks. Th ey are set moderately high; not so high that they inter- fere with the dogs expression or distract from the shape of the head. After examining the head move your hands towards the neck to find it medium in length, strong and muscular, set in the well laid back shoulders, carried 45° to the ground or less while the dog is standing, carried horizontally or just slightly elevated while the dogs runs. Neck should be well set in the significantly pronounced and broad withers strongly connecting it both to the back and chest. Necks too long and narrow or set high and perpendicular to the back might not allow for proper breed function. Withers should be visible and easily palpa- table, with top of scapulae set two fingers apart. Length of the dog’s body comes from the thoracic spine rather then lumbar. Look for the body to be strong, deep and broad. Back should be well muscled, strong and straight, level or 2% higher in the withers then in the loin, avoid rears that are too high. Chest should be deep with well sprung ribs, good forechest, in fact, 50% of dog’s height comes from its depth of the chest. Scapula and upper arm should be about the same length, the forearm slightly longer, with tight elbows meeting the brisket. Th e pasterns should angle slightly forward, and the dog should have compact paws. Th e Loin should be wide, well built, opti- cally shorter than the with slightly cut croup. Hindquarters should be well angulated, muscular with well accentuated short hocks. Rear paws are slightly smaller than the front paws.

An adult female, great structure, level back, great coat

Only naturally short tails or ones that have been docked to a maximum length of two vertebrae are accepted by American Standard PON. However, tails naturally come in di ff erent lengths and carriage types which are allowed in the European Union. When you move your exhibits look for toplines to be level and sturdy , make sure to examine it also by hand as extensive groom- ing and hand stacking can a ff ect the topline as well. Even though sculpting and extensive scissor grooming is strongly discouraged in our breed it happens and can change the outline of the dog significantly. Th e shaggy coat of the PON, the hallmark of the breed, should be double with strong straight crisp outer coat and dense softer undercoat. Th e PONS is considered non-shedding however you will find seasonal di ff erences in appear- ance. Remember to consider age while judg- ing the coat. Younger dogs look a lot taller then older ones whose back coat can come all the way to the ground while flattening the undercoat on the back which makes the dog optically longer. All acceptable with solid colors or white with markings. Black, brown, grey, fawn and dark chocolate puppies often end up grey, cream or light chocolate as adults, with sable pointing due to the fading gene that some carry. PONs are known

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H i! My name is Shad- ow and I represent the Polish Lowland Sheepdog, often called a PON because in Poland I was known as the Polski Owczarek Nizinny. It is believed that the earliest of my PON family came from dogs being bred in Asia. We were first mentioned in Poland in the 13th century. It was in the 16th century, however, when it is believed the breed was established. Two males and a female were exchanged with a Polish merchant who was in Scotland trading sheep, and for a ram and a ewe he obtained three PONS. Th e first PON was shown in Warsaw in 1924. My family nearly became extinct during WWII. Dr. Danuta Hryniewicz came to our rescue when her PON, Smok, is believed to have been “the father of the breed” when he was bred to six females, thus saving the breed. By the late 70s more PONS were spreading thru various coun- tries in Europe. Th ey first arrived in the

United States in 1979. Moira Morrison brought in the first PONS, but it was with the establishment of Elzbieta Kennels in 1982 by Betty and Kaz Augustowski that the breed gained popularity. Working with her husband and three other couples, a par- ent club was established. By 2001 we were formally welcomed into the herding group of AKC. Enough of this history stu ff .

often born dark, we will most often fade into a lighter color. All colors are accept- able: black, white, chocolate (only one to have a brown nose), black and white, cream, charcoal grey, etc. Spoiling me is easy cuz I am so cute, but that’s not good for my long term life as a human family member. I am extremely intelligent (even can herd with- out human intervention), loyal, protective,

“As an adult I am a medium-sized, compact, muscular long coated dog WHO WAS BRED TO BOTH PROTECT AND GUARD MY HERD.”

As an adult I am a medium-sized, com- pact, muscular long coated dog who was bred to both protect and guard my herd. However, as a puppy you would find me to be a soft, cuddly ball of fur. While we are

manipulative and can show a great sense of humor. I have an excellent memory. Th ree months later I can go back to visit and will remember where that kitten hid last time I saw it hide from me. While I might remain

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coursing, treiball, dance—you name it. I love being active. I can be your buddy and cuddle with you when you are down or not feeling well. My instincts are very strong because I was bred to work and to be aware of what is going on around me. Sometimes you will think I can read you better than you can yourself. And if you want weather warnings, just watch me closely because I often tune in. Now if you think a Polish Lowland Sheepdog would be the perfect breed for you, and I believe I might be, if you have the time and the will to socialize and train me, it is important that you find a good

cuddly, I require a family who both has the time and is willing to socialize and obe- dience train me. Training is best done in a positive, fair, firm, consistent manner. I don’t belong with someone who has a hard time saying no. Show me how to do things and I will learn quickly, of course this means both the good and the bad. My human family tells people to never let me do what they don’t want me to do as an adult. Left to my own devices I may well become manipulative and demanding, overprotective and even sometimes aggres- sive. I am great with children if they are taught to respect me also, but I need to experience them at a young age. It is my nature to be stando ffi sh with strangers and in new experiences, so the more I experi- ence as a young puppy the better. My sug-

sidered a shedder, my coat will mat and during this time in my life it often seems worse than ever. Sometimes it will seem like I have learned nothing, but it is impor- tant to remember to keep training me and keep your rules in e ff ect. Just like human teen-agers I will try you, and if you want a great adult you will continue to train me. Training never ends as my learning and ability to outsmart you will never end. So once I have grown up there are lots of fun things I can excel in. I need exer- cise daily, and if you will play and/or walk me I will generally be happy. I can adapt to just about any living environment, but keep in mind I am a family member and want to be with my family. Most say that’s you, because you are my herd. I love to do things with you. My favorite thing to do is

breeder. I recommend that you do not get a PON family member from anyone who is not willing to let you visit their home and /or kennel. Meet and spend time with at least one of the parents of your poten- tial puppy. I would ask permission even if you know you can’t really get there. A “no” should be a big red flag. Th ey should be as willing to meet you as you them. Ask lots of questions, even if you think they

“SHOW ME HOW TO DO THINGS AND I WILL LEARN QU ICKLY, of course this means both the good and the bad.”

gestion for every new PON puppy human family is they sit down, establish the rules that I will be expected to follow, and every- one adheres to them. I will quickly learn who if there is a weak link. Early adolescents can be a rough time. My coat is double – finer below and coarser above. While it normally requires a thor- ough brushing at least once a week, during my change from my puppy to adult coat can be a trying time. Although not con-

herd because that is what I was bred to do. I will herd you, kids, my toys, it doesn’t matter. If you want me to look pretty in my natural, un-sculpted not trimmed, long coat I can make you proud in con- formation. Th at’s how it’s supposed to be. If you want me to be well mannered and behaved, I can do well in obedience and even make a great therapy dog. I am a great Good Citizen just train me. I can play flyball, do agility, rally, tracking, lure

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are silly ones. Find out about any health problems in the breed and possibly in their lines (such as PRA, hip dysplasia, thyroid, diabetes, etc.). Don’t be afraid to ask to see test results. Th ey should also be asking you lots of questions—your experience with dogs, your home environment and sched- ule, your ability to socialize and train, and many, many more. Th ere is a PON puppy buyers guide on line that can help you with questions, what to ask and what you should be asked as well as other information. If the breeder doesn’t seem that interested in your situation or seems more interested in rushing you into buying a puppy, I would go elsewhere. I would also recommend you speak to several breeders in several parts of the country before purchasing a puppy, be honest with them, and trust your intuition if something seems awry with them. Good breeders are interested in seeing that there puppies go to good homes where they can spend a lifetime not just selling puppies. Do not rush into buying. Do your homework! BIO Getting her first PON in 1985, Loana J. Shields has long been a Polish Lowland Sheepdog (PON) fancier. As a breeder- owtner handler she finished the first U.S. champion in both conformation and obe- dience, SKC Ch. Europa Casmir z Elzbie- ta, CD in 1988. His photo was presented to the Polish Kennel Club on behalf of the first champion PON in the U.S. She

also showed in ARBA where several of her PONS and their o ff spring became champi- ons and were eventually to become part of the foundation stock in AKC. Loana travelled extensively to intro- duce the breed across the Eastern United States and spent time mentoring under various judges to absorb all she could. She joined a local all-breed club and learned to steward, most often requesting the herd- ing breeds. In 1987, she had recommended to Betty Augustowski, person credited for establishing the breed in the U.S., that a parent club should be started to both pro- mote and protect the PON, hoping to keep it from exploitation as was happening to many other rare breeds. From the begin- ning because of her love of the breed, she promised herself she would always work in any ethical manner possible to promote the breed and help maintain its health, integ- rity, and standard, putting the breed’s needs first. Loana Shields was instrumental in starting the parent club along with her then time partner, Tom Wason, Betty and Kaz Augustowski, Dorene and Herb Zalis,

and Larry and Jane Brown. She became its first secretary. For many years thereafter, she served on the Board, most often as Vice President. For several years she also pro- duced and edited the club newsletter, for which she was nominated as ARBA editor of the year. Her dream was to show her kennel, Shaggi PONS, SKC and ARBA Champion Shaggi PONS Duzy Bozolski in AKC, but before that could happen her health and other circumstances forced her to stop showing. However, her knowledge and will to protect the breed and take part in its welfare continues to this day. In 2004, Loana established a yahoo website called PON Behavior to help other PON owners, particularly those who were having problems with their dogs. Th at site is still active today. Most recently she has developed two informational sites, her goal being to let all people know about the breed and how to go about finding a good breeder and puppy. To learn more, plus the benefit of seeing many pictures, visit the two websites and learn for yourself. Th e sites are www.ponpuppybuyers- and www.polishlowland- In the future Loana J. Shields will continue to work for the breed in any way she can. She presently lives in western New York where she lives with her pet, Legacy’s Shadow of Shaggi Pons. She found it ironic that Shadow, her current PON, after all her work, was from a kennel named Legacy and that he “shadows” all her other PONS that have since passed.

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