Showsight May 2017

the sporting group Q&A

question, “Which dog will hunt better for me, the one in the kennel all the time or the one that lies at my feet each night?” 3. In your opinion, what accounts for the change in a breed’s popularity? If this question is directed at show dogs then I would have to say that the climb on the popularity chart of the Labrador, Golden Retriever and many other Sporting breeds probably is a result of their sweet temperament and versatility. 4. What are the challenges a Sporting breeder faces? From a standpoint of a breeder’s ability to sell Sporting dog puppies, I see no issue. For those who choose to hunt their dog the cost of licenses and the fact that many landowners now require a lease agreement certainly impacts one economically. 5. Are breeders keeping true to the Sporting Group standards and heritage? Far too many breeders have lost track of the purpose of our Sporting dogs and it shows—even in the conforma- tion ring, it is clear that they are not, and probably never have been, in field condition. The heritage of all Sporting breeds is their ability to find, point, flush, set or retrieve and to do so all day. As to keeping true to the standard, I think most quality breeders are good keepers and the rest probably, I’m sorry to say, haven’t read the thing. 8. Is grooming correct or too exaggerated? Grooming in most of the Sporting breeds is fine and in others it has become a sculptor’s paradise and I would caution my fellow judges to let your hands do the looking as the eye can be fooled by a talented exhibitor. 9. Any trends in these breeds that you’d like to see continue? Any that you’d like to see stop? From a judge’s standpoint, I like the trend towards allow- ing some of the smaller breeds to now be shown on a ramp or table because it lends itself to a more thorough examination. Many of our judges are at a point in life where judging a Sussex on the ground, for example, has become an exercise. The down is easy, the back up not so easy, if you know what I mean. What would I like to see stop? Throwing bait! I do not get the premise behind it, I always thought the goal was to tempt and then reward, not show and throw. It’s saying, “Here it is, but you can’t have any.” VIRGINIA “GINNY” LYNE 1. What is the current quality of the Sporting Group?? The quality of the very best of our Sporting Dogs is excel- lent; however, for the most part, other than top quality dogs being campaigned, it is more likely to see the very best at our National Specialties and Group One shows— rather than the smaller All-Breed events. It is pleasing to see the improvement in the smaller entry breeds which have come ahead significantly—these would include

breeds such as Field, Sus- sex, Clumber Spaniels and Irish Waters. Meanwhile, some of the more popular high-entry breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labra- dors and Cocker Spaniels are perhaps being affected by spending time at the top of the entry charts. The much smaller entry size in the Cocker is such a contrast to the 1960s and 1970s, when they were so popular. Easily groomed

and moderately sized breeds, such as the Vizsla and German Shorthair, are much stronger in depth of entry, I find. This may be a reflection of their suitability for family life. 2. Do you think Sporting breeds have adapted from traditional roles to modern living—full of indoor living and air conditioning? I must debate a little the premise of the question as Sport- ing Dogs from the onset have been intended to share the home and hearth of their masters and while they have a ‘purpose’ to bring fur and feather to their master’s table they also were responsible for warming feet on a cold night and minding the children heading for the pond. I certainly do not believe that these dogs are ‘leading indoor, air-conditioned lives’. At least my English Cockers are not! I do think that there has been adaptation in all our breeds to accommodate the lifestyle choices we make. One of the major pleasures of the Sporting breeds is that they are excellent at having this flexibility. If you want to swim or canoe, they will happily join you in the water. Prefer to hike or run the trails? They are quite prepared to come along. And if you want to curl up with a book and a blan- ket by the fire, they will join you there too. I think we are seeing some structural changes as dogs are not performing their original function: for example, over- angulation and lack of balance, demands for fancy, racy movement style not appropriate for the breed, excessive coat and less emphasis on hard muscle and conditioning in our Sporting dogs are all examples of how we have changed our breeds. 3. What are the challenges a Sporting breeder faces? Being true to the purpose of your breed in terms of its original function is a challenge for the new owner. Find- ing opportunities to take part in breed specific events such as Hunt Tests, Working Certificates and Field experi- ence is valuable. A large part of the Sporting Dog com- munity is never going to see the Conformation show ring and we cannot judge these dogs unless we appreciate that the Field community is out there going to events that many owners know little about. It is always impressive to hear the passion of the Flat Coat and Golden Retriever breeders, Shorthair and German Wire breeders, Vizsla

190 • S how S ight M agazine , M ay 2017

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