spinone italiano: A BREED Q & A
SUZANNE HUDSON 1. In order, name the five most important traits you look for in the ring. I approach the dogs with only the silhouette in mind. I specifically remind myself that I am NOT (at the first moment) looking for faults, I am looking for the Spinone silhouette which includes the Proportions (head is 4 ⁄ 10 the height at the withers, the leg/body proportions are 50/50, the hock is a third of the height of the withers, the lower thigh is just SLIGHTLY longer than the upper thigh which is VERY different than most other sporting breeds, the more open angles of the Spinone in both front and rear, but not straight front or rear, etc.) and I am looking of course for divergent planes, a two piece top line and a slightly sloping croup. I take a close look at the head from the profile and try to decide then what I might see when I get my hands on that head! 2. Have you seen or used Spinones in the field? How has this influenced what you look for? Yes, I have hunted almost all of my Spinone. This makes me keenly aware of the proper coat (not long or soft) and normal, balanced proportions. A Spinone that stands and/ or moves croup high is incorrect and will cause great dif- ficulty for a dog that works for a living! 3. What shortcomings are you most willing to forgive? What faults do you find hard to overlook? I am willing to forgive a dog that is a tad shy in the show ring; I am willing to forgive slight cow hocks because this is so common in our breed. I believe the emphasize and focus on the perfect rear has created an extreme problem with type in our breed over the years. Of course all dogs need to be sound, the hind assembly of a Spinone is very different than most Sporting breeds and the best rear is not always the best Spinone. I am willing to forgive a lot of faults (except soundness) if the dog has fantastic type. We have become used to a long, soft-coat- ed dog that moves and looks more like the other sporting dogs. This is not a proper Spinone. The correct Spinone is a wide dog. There is a good depth of chest and deep underline with very slight tuck up. Dogs lacking in depth of chest and depth of underline over all should not be top winning dogs. As far as faults, I find it hard to overlook
“slim”, slight bodied dogs. I find it hard to over look short muzzles and broad skulls with high set ears. I find it hard to over look a very light eye and an expression like a WPG or a GWP. I find long, soft coats hard to overlook. I find it very hard to overlook excessive tuck up. Dogs lack- ing in overall type should not be rewarded. 4. Has the breed improved from when you started judging? Which traits are going in the wrong direction or becoming exaggerated? Since I have become involved our club (the Spinone Club of America) has worked very hard to raise awareness of proper breed type for both judges and breeders. The Spinone Club of America has worked very hard to focus on training judges and breeders so that our breed can continue to be the old, rustic type of dog that has been so highly valued for hundred of years. Moving the breed toward a more generic and general Sporting dog is the wrong direction. Rewarding (award- ing!) dogs that lack breed type is the wrong direction. Divergent planes, broken top line and sloping croups are essential, but this is only the beginning of understanding the breed. Those specific traits must be there, but understanding that is only the beginning of understand- ing the breed. I do not think we have any exaggerated traits yet, but the fear of that holds many breeders back and keeps them from producing good type. Focusing just on the rears has produced dogs with great rears and no type. We need to focus on the dog as a whole. 5. Are there aspects of the breed not in the standard
that you nonetheless take into consideration because breeders consider them important?
Our standard does a very good job of explaining; how- ever, it is very difficult for judges and breeders to under- stand the breed. Most judges consider it one of the more complicated dogs they must learn about. 6. Describe the Spinone topline and its difference from other Sporting dogs. The Spinone top line is a two-piece top line. The break at the 11th vertebrae is slight. There is a gentle rise in the loin. The croup should never be above the withers. The dog is not to be built “down hill” or “up hill”. The withers is slightly above the croup—slightly. It is not the same top line as a Chesapeake or an IRW. It is a very unique top line.
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