Showsight Presents the Schipperke

THE TALE OF THE TAIL Schipperke The

BY JO PATRICK

JUDGE, BREEDER/HANDLER, FROM THE FIRST POINT TO WINNING BOB AT OUR NATIONAL SPECIALTY

B efore I begin my view on the AKC Schipperke stan- dard, I find it important to inform you that my life prior to dogs was teaching young children with learn- ing disabilities. All were bright and had a true will- ingness to learn; they just learned differently. Thus, it was my duty as their teacher to present one subject in five or six different ways. Anything that worked was a success. This was in the early 1960s and the beginning of the change from standardized teach- ing to one that was more individualistic in nature. I began my odyssey with AKC-registered dogs in 1972 with the purchase of two Shetland Sheepdogs. Fortunately, I’d pur- chased my Shelties from a reputable breeder, which began my introduction to showing dogs. I’d viewed my first dog show in 1969 while living in Japan with my husband, after his squadron’s tour in Vietnam was finished. While I loved the sweet temperament and amenable behavior of the Shetland Sheepdogs, I found that I was drawn to a temper- ament more independent in nature. So, in 1980, I obtained my first Schipperke, and a few years later, my first Great Pyrenees; the two breeds that have held me captive for the past 39 years. While different in looks, both breeds are very much alike in their determination, independent nature, and complete loyalty. I will be using various “verbally visual” references in this interpretation, providing, hopefully, a successful mentoring experience of the Schipperke. I am totally devoted to and smitten with the Schipperke! Now, on to the important part—my breed. THE TALE OF THE TAIL* “The small, fox-like Schipperke is known for its mischievous expression and distinctive black coat, which stands off from the body and is harsh to the touch. This enthusiastic, joyful, and sometimes willful dog has a thickset, cobby body, and lacks a tail. Although historically a watchdog and vermin hunter, today this ageless breed enjoys competing in conformation, agility and a variety of other dog sports, often well into its teens.” The verbiage used to describe all standards is significant. The wording used in the Schipperke standard is essential. Those words, whether nouns, adjectives, verbs or adverbs, bring to us an image of our breed; the Schipperke. To look at and capture that visual image, we must be able “to perceive as a picture in the mind, rather than as an abstract idea.”

When presented with a new Standard and the learning process begins, our mind views the entire physical presence. As future judg- es, we see the entire dog. We have this picture captured and stored away to be utilized when followed by the written language. The standard for the Schipperke begins with General Appearance: “The Schipperke is an agile, active watchdog and hunter of vermin. In appearance he is a small, thickset, cobby, black, tailless dog, with a fox-like face. The dog is square in profile and possesses a distinctive coat, which includes a stand-out ruff, cape and culottes. All of these create a unique silhouette, appearing to slope from shoulders to croup. Males are decidedly masculine without coarseness. Bitches are decidedly feminine without over-refinement. Any deviation from the ideal described in the standard should be penalized to the extent of the deviation. Faults common to all breeds are as undesirable in the Schipperke as in any other breed, even though such faults may not be specifically mentioned in the standard.” Honestly, this one paragraph says it all. Let’s look at the descriptive words used in the very first sentence to portray this one small dog: Agile, active, watchdog, hunter, small, thickset, cobby, black, tailless, fox-like.

246 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2021

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