IT’S ALL ABOUT THE STANDARD
I would like to briefly touch on different aspects of the Giant Schnauzer Breed Standard, the reason for having a written Stan- dard, and how the Standard is applied by judges in the conforma- tion ring. Quotes directly from the Standard are in Bold Italic. GENERAL DESCRIPTION The General Description, basically, describes what a breed should look like and it offers a guideline for understanding breed type: The Giant Schnauzer should resemble, as nearly as pos- sible, in general appearance, a larger and more powerful ver- sion of the Standard Schnauzer, on the whole a bold and val- iant figure of a dog. Robust, strongly built, nearly square in proportion of body length to height at withers, active, sturdy and well muscled. Temperament which combines spirit and alertness with intelligence and reliability. Composed, watch- ful, courageous, easily trained, deeply loyal to family, playful, amiable in repose, and a commanding figure when aroused. The sound, reliable temperament, rugged build, and dense weather-resistant wiry coat make for one of the most useful, powerful, and enduring working breeds. This paragraph effectively describes both the physical and intellectual traits of the Giant Schnauzer, starting with the open- ing sentence. The breed does, in fact, resemble a larger, more powerful version of the Standard Schnauzer. The word “version” is important in this sentence because, although both breeds are basically square in proportion, the Standard Schanuzer appears a bit more compact than the Giant. I believe the reason for this lies in the genetic mixture of the Giant. The German Mastiff, now known as the Great Dane, is believed to have been part of the makeup of the Giant in order to gain height. This factor had the effect of giving the Giant a proportionally longer leg bone than that of the Standard Schnauzer. The second sentence states that the Giant is nearly square in proportion of body length to height at withers. Further into the Standard, the proportions given are exactly square, so this is actu- ally a minor discrepancy within our Standard. The third and fourth sentences in the General Description go into detail about the temperament that the Giant must possess. This aspect of our breed must never be diminished or disregarded, as it is such an integral part of what makes a Giant a Giant. The last sentence in the General Description eloquently puts into perspective why the combination of the Giant’s temperament,
its build, and its dense, weather-resistant, wiry coat make it such a versatile working dog. Note the order of important aspects listed in that sentence. I don’t think it is a coincidence that temperament is mentioned first. Remember the history of our breed and the purpose for which it was developed; driving cattle through the Bavarian Alps. Giants had to be strong enough to drive cattle as well as to protect both the cattle and the people who owned them. They had to possess enough stamina to move at a trot all day over rough terrain. These factors were combined to produce what we as fanciers have come to appre- ciate; an exceptionally versatile, working dog. I believe that any dog person not already introduced to the Giant could form a reasonably correct image of how the Giant appears, simply by reading the General Description. HEAD & NECK The Breed Standard states that the Head is: Strong, rectangular in appearance, and elongated; narrow- ing slightly from the ears to the eyes, and again from the eyes to the tip of the nose. The total length of the head is about one-half the length of the back (withers to set-on of tail). The head match- es the sex and substance of the dog. The top line of the muzzle is parallel to the top line of the skull; there is a slight stop which is accentuated by the eyebrows. Most of this is straight-forward. The point I wish to explore is the length of the head. The Standard states that it is “about” one- half the length of the back. The Standard does not indicate that the length of the head “must be at least” one-half the length of the back. I am concerned that exhibits should not be unnecessarily penal- ized for having too short a head. The Standard even goes so far as to define the back as being the distance from withers to set-on of tail. Considering that the set-on of tail is somewhat in front of the tail, the defined length is much shorter than the overall length of the body. As much as anyone, I appreciate a beautiful, long head. That detail is often the defining characteristic that can give a good exhibit the advantage it needs to win, when all else is equal. Gener- ally speaking, however, a dog shouldn’t be penalized if the head isn’t exaggerated. Other aspects of the head include the Skull, Cheeks, Bite, Ears, and Eyes: Skull - (Occiput to Stop). Moderately broad between the ears: occiput not too prominent. Top of skull flat; skin unwrinkled. Basically, the skull should not be dome shaped nor should there be a presence of excess skin.
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY 2022 | 239
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