Showsight May 2017

the sporting group Q&A

and Weimaraner fanciers when they talk about the titles after their dog’s name. These are breeds that are main- taining the ‘dual’ purpose of their function. The highly-organized breeding programs for the designer breeds (especially Labradoodles and Goldendoodles), is a serious challenge. While there is now more publicity and information about the serious problems associated with designer dogs, there is still a strong following that believes the concept that these are designed to be better than the purebred. Purebred breeders must be vigilant to inform and educate. We cannot afford to be the ostrich with its head in the sand. 4. What advice would you give a newcomer? Find a really good mentor who you can trust to guide you with the difficult decisions. Read everything you can about your breed and other Sporting breeds similar in history, origin and purpose. Go to the Conformation events and definitely to the performance occasions when your breed is doing everything it was bred to do. Learn about the health issues in your breed before you make the impulse purchase over the internet. LINDA MORE 1. Current overall quality of the Group?

good household pets and companions, as they always have been. At present though, there is a lot of growth in performance activity with Sporting breeds right in there with others, participating not only in hunt tests but agil- ity, lure coursing, barn hunt, dock diving, as well as the more traditional obedience and tracking sports. Probably about the only thing a Sporting breed would be unlikely or unable to do would be Earthdog as the holes aren’t big enough! Just recently I saw a Golden Retriever that had won a nice BB from the classes and he is a UDX and Mas- ter Hunter. Sporting breeds are nothing if not versatile. 3. Are breeders keeping true to the Sporting Group standards and heritage? Some are, some aren’t. Perhaps the best illustration for me is the Golden Retriever, a breed I was actively involved in for some years. The standard describes a just slightly longer than tall dog (12:11) with good rib spring, short coupled, with a front set well under the dog and a close lying weatherproof coat. We are still seeing too many dogs in the ring that are long and low with fronts set on too far forward, slab sides and long loins, as well as fluffed and puffed coats—hardly true to the standard. 4. Is grooming correct or too exaggerated? Other breeds besides Goldens are fluffed and sculpted— even Labradors sometimes. Some of the Spaniels have top coats stripped down to soft, non-protective fuzz. Some- times one sees Setters barbered to the extreme in under- line. But one also sees many dogs correctly groomed with proper topcoats of functional hair and a lovely natural appearance. The short-coated Sporting breeds are pretty much shown without excessive tidying up. JEFFREY PEPPER

Just like the other groups, I find the quality varies across the country. At some shows I am impressed with the overall quality, while at others I am depressed! Overall, I do not think the quality is better at this point in time than it was a some decades ago, though there are breeds which have certainly improved and there are pockets of quality in

1. What is the current qual- ity of the Sporting Group?? As always, there are some out- standing dogs in a number of breeds and other breeds have suffered a loss of overall quality during my 30 years of judging. 2. What advice would you give a newcomer? Newcomers will be best served by trying to find a mentor who is willing to spend the time necessary to help the newcom- er learn about the sport and

individual breeds, at times in surprising places. Some breeds appear to be on a recovery after a low point of a while back—Irish Setters come to mind. Some breeds are too often poorly judged at all breed shows—some of the flushing spaniels come to mind here. For example the English Cockers, in which dogs that are simply too Setter-y win under some judges. Golden Retrievers have suffered from the widespread trend too long and low, as well as from very incorrect grooming—moussing, fluffing and extensive trimming. Perhaps factors such as these help to explain the rise in popularity of group shows and specialties. 2. Most of these breeds were developed for particular (and almost always outdoor) purposes but now find themselves leading primarily indoor, air- conditioned lives. How do you think Sporting dogs have adapted to this change? So many of the Sporting breeds have affable, easy and pleasant temperaments, which makes many of them

their dogs. Understand that we all had a “first show” and that learning the sport and learning about your chosen breed is something that takes time—and dedication. Perhaps most importantly, take the time to read your breed’s Standard and ask knowledgeable people about the Standard and what it means. There is nothing wrong with asking questions—we all started that way—but be

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

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