whippet Q&A with eugene blake, kathleen davenport, espen engh, russell mcfadden, david r. miller, todd miller, christy nelson & sharon sakson
in texture; in repose, thrown back and folded along neck.” The Whippet tunes his small ears this way and that when lis- tening to sounds; it is heartbreakingly pretty. Big, heavy ears don’t have that elegance. 8. What do you think new judges misunderstand? KD: One, I think there are still too many judges comparing Whippets to the Greyhound and the I.G. Secondly, some judg- es are influenced by color. A good Whippet cannot have a bad color. Judges please remember, “Color immaterial”! EE: A lot of new judges and outsiders find Whippets hard to judge. Many fail to understand the balance, proportions and outline of the breed. They may be looking for curves, but fail to understand where to look for them and often overlook the importance of the underline. Many also fail to have radar telling them when a Whippet is just too much or not enough. DM: New judges and judges who are studying the breed almost always relate their confusion over the topline/back- line. This is easily rectified with the notion that no exaggera- tion is tolerated—a graceful, natural arch, not too accentu- ated, beginning over the loin and carrying through over the croup. TM: Eye rim pigment—while it is ideal, and certainly finishes off the beautiful expression of the Whippet, the standard merely calls for “full eye rim pigment desired.” I have seen so many breeders and judges throw out an otherwise outstand- ing example of the breed merely for this very minor cosmetic feature. Front movement—restricted, lifty or hackneyed front movement is a serious fault in our breed and should be penal- ized much more heavily than a simple cosmetic feature. I see too many dogs being rewarded with this gait and it makes me think that the judges do not really read or understand what our standard asks for in front movement. CN: When I mentor future judges or discuss the breed with current judges, I tell them all the same thing, “go watch some lure courses and if possible open field coursing. You will under- stand our structure, S curve and the reason for elegants (agil- ity) and power.” All have come back and thanked me for such good advice, at least the ones that listened and took the time. SS: When you live with Whippets and adore them and con- stantly study everything about them, as my fellow breeders and I do, it is a shock to realize that new judges coming from other breeds don’t get them at all. Yet, I’ve discovered that Whippet toplines are very difficult for new judges. They read “graceful natural arch” in our standard and think it means high like a rainbow when it really means gentle, like the hori- zon. I encourage new judges to look for the underline; there they see the very accentuated curve that their eye is looking for. The topline is subtle. 9. Is there anything else you’d like to share? EB: I have had the honor to judge some really wonderful Whippets thus far in my judging career and to see most of our greatest Whippets in my years in dogs. And I want to remind everyone, that a judge can only judge the dogs we have in the ring on that day. So while I may reward a Whip- pet that may not be my ideal, it was the best Whippet on that day. Try not to pigeon hole any judge by reviewing a couple of their past judging assignments. I think that all judges are truly
interested in talking with breeders about their dogs. Judges are usually very pressed for time at a show, so ask the steward to ask the judge (or ask the judge yourself) when they are available to chat. And please have your dog available and keep an open mind. The most successful breeders are the ones who can honestly evaluate their dogs with their head and not their hearts. We all love our dogs, and you are taking the best dog home in the dog show, the one that love you. They don’t ask to be show dogs, they just know they love being with you. Don’t try to make your dog something he or she isn’t, accept he or she for its quality and strengths, and then work on improving your breeding and dogs in the next litter. KD: I think every aspiring new judge owes it to himself and the fancy to study the early history of the Whippet. This is a manmade breed unlike no other. This dog was designed to be a fast, easy to keep, elegant gaming dog, for the purpose “snapping” rabbits. This bit of knowledge should be kept in mind when adjudicating this breed. EE: Whippets are a fascinating breed to live with and also a most interesting and fascinating breed to judge. There are plenty of excellent Whippets in so many countries of the world, not only in the UK and the US, but competition is very strong in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Bel- gium, France, Italy, Portugal, Canada, Australia and New Zea- land to mention just a few countries. It is certainly a breed well worth learning to judge for those with a curiosity and a passport. DM: Whippets are one of the most enchanting breeds in the Hound Group. Their history is unbridled with many different variations depicted in major artworks in museums scattered throughout the world. My respect is deep for those dedicated breeders who have maintained balance and function, with no exaggeration. CN: In closing I would like to remind judges and breeders that we have an ideal height of 22" for males and 21" for bitch- es with more than ½ " disqualify. So remember ideal vs. dis- qualify and measure. There are numerous factors that help to deceive the eye on the true height of the dog. Also, our standard states, “When moving and viewed from the front or rear, legs should turn neither in nor out, nor should feet cross or interfere with each other.” I have been noticing the past several years, some very interesting down and back. And I have noticed judges rewarding single tracking. One last pet peeve—straight pasterns break down in the field. SS: What depresses me about Whippets is that we have a breed that can come in any color or combination of colors, yet it has been reduced to mostly brindle and white parti- colors because those are the flashy colors that catch the eye of judges. Many people, including me, used to show solid color Whippets, only to see them beaten again and again by Whippets of inferior structure, but flashy colors. Great Dane breeder Nikki Riggsbee was at ringside one day and said to me, “This is what Great Danes would have been if we hadn’t separated the colors.” In many of my litters, the solid color puppies had the best outlines. It was a linked trait. But it wasn’t worth it to try and show them. That’s why I exported my best solid color dogs to Europe and Scandinavia. They weren’t appreciated in the United States. They wouldn’t have had the big wins they got over there.
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