BEWARE OF TRENDS: AMERICANIZATION IN PROGRESS
by DOUGLAS A. JOHNSON
M y passion in this sport has grown over my time in it but my sweet spot is Spaniels. This is my life- blood, my oxygen and where I get my most joy. So the opportunity to write about my beloved Spaniels comes at a good time for me, as I have just been to Australia to judge Sporting dogs (i.e. Gundogs). Traveling abroad is a perk of judging dogs. It is a great tool to keep you informed about that is happening in your breeds around the globe. I am of the mind-set that we are one dog community worldwide and our breeds should be able to compete on that scale. The trip gave me a renewed prospec- tive on our breeds that I’d like to share. In my seminars, I speak to the Amer- icanization of show dogs in our coun- try. This is the practice of breeding dogs over generations that take on the fads or trends of the general dog fancy. The result is a molding of breeds to look alike rather than celebrating them on their breed specific differences or traits. In America, we have fostered a great professional dog show culture unlike other countries. We have a unique dog show experience. Shows are dominated by professional handlers and profes- sional dog judges. The breed specialists are tucked away to come out for rare ring appearances and owner handlers who are able to win on the national lev- el are the exception. In most countries, breeders exhibit their own dogs and sell dogs to other breeders who show them and incorporate them into their kennel where they produce their own dogs to show. This is vastly different than in America, where group wins and group placements are often times domi- nated by the paid professional. Alas, the birth of the owner-handler series.
Black and Tan English Cocker: Doug's Best Puppy at the Melbourne Extravaganza.
Additionally, to support our need to win, we created careers in the sport (i.e. handlers, groomers, sales reps, photo editors, magazine editors and dog show photographers—to name just a few). There are niche advertising and retail markets unique to our American dog show fancy. It is my hope that we all know (or realize) that it isn’t like this anywhere else in the world. This is the American Dog Show scene—it is obsessed with promotions, dogs that run fast and winners that “ask for it”. Though few will admit it, the breeds are suffering here. They are styles of their former selves. We, as both judges and breeders, have succumbed to the fancy and have produced and rewarded
dogs that will win rather than worked to produce or reward dogs that repre- sent the true spirit of the breed we are claiming to protect and preserve. As a general example, one issue that affects the vast majority of Flushing Spaniels today is tailsets that across the board are higher than ever. All Spaniel breeds were bred to have a rounded croup. This will result in the correct lower tailset just below the line of the back. The set is not level with the back line, it is below. The tail is not to be carried erect. It is to be merry and out-level or slightly elevated. It is never gay and never down. The only exception is the American Cocker that was engineered to be a stylish sister
210 • S how S ight M agazine , M ay 2017
Powered by FlippingBook