Showsight Presents The Belgian Sheepdog

JUDGING THE BELGIAN SHEEPDOG Y ou’ve reviewed the standard. You are well versed in flaws and faults of structure and movement and with this knowledge, you enter your ring. It is doubtful you will have huge entries of this

mostly owner-handled breed as they are few and far apart. It takes a while to get to know them well. Ah, there are only two entries today. Being a solid-colored dog, you know you must look more closely because the details can get lost in poor indoor lighting. But you also know most herding, working breeds don’t appreciate direct stares. Now you are ready. Th e day is sunny with a soft breeze flowing. He is standing natu- rally, square on all fours and alert. He seems totally engaged in his handler. He is lively and eager to get going. He’s not inclined to stand still, particularly if he’s young. His jet black medium harsh coat drapes over him sparkling and shimmering in the soft wind. Th e beautiful mane which frames his head is full and characteristic of a male. On the other hand the female carries a shorter but equally dense coat and her head is framed by a collarette around the neck.

least equal in length to the topskull. From the side, his head is not deep. Th e stop is moderate. Th e planes though not men- tioned in the standard, approach parallel and his bottom jaw is well developed. Th e gaze from his dark brown, slightly almond shaped eyes is direct, intelligent and ques- tioning, but not bulging, fierce or piercing. Going past his head, you find that he has a well arched elongated neck which is essen- tial to his silhouette. His slightly high wither blends into his strong level back. His shoul- ders are long and oblique and form a sharp angle to his upper arm which is well under him. His loin is short but strong. His croup is gently rounded and gradually meets his beautiful plumed tail which he holds low, the tip bent back level with the hock. Th e bone of the tail reaches his hock. His chest is deep and to the elbow. His prosternum, though not mentioned in the standard either, is well developed and prominent. His underline smoothly sweeps up to his loin. His bone is oval and his legs and hocks are straight and parallel to each other. He has the feet of a herding dog. His front feet are cat feet and they are well padded. His hind feet are slightly elongated but also well padded. His pasterns are of medium length, strong and very slightly sloped to give him the resilience he needs to move e ff ortlessly. by LINDA MCCARTY

He has no white spot on his chest or on the tips of his back toes. It’s not to be fault- ed as long as the chest spot or strip is small to moderate. He has some short white hairs on his chin which is called “frost” and some white between pads of feet and that’s okay also. Sometimes black hair can have reddish tinges when the sun reflects o ff from the finer hair behind the ears, in the feather- ing, behind the shoulder and the tips of the chest hair. Shedding dogs have red- dish tinges when the hair is dead and ready to drop. Puppies in particular have more delicate coats which burns easily from the sun. When he’s shed out, it can appear as if the thigh and shoulder on the side have been sculpted or cut out but that’s just tem- porary until more hair grows in. Th e mane should be distinct from body hair. Th ey do not resemble Collies in coat. Th ey should never have an open coat. He exudes elegance in his silhouette due to his balanced proportions and square body. His height is between the preferred 24 to 26 inches. His length is measured from point of breastbone to point of rump and equals his height. His outline, proud head carriage and erect ears are his trade- mark. He reminds us of a black stallion. On occasion, you see dogs who appear

short on leg and this definitely detracts from elegance but be sure he’s not in tall grass or has excessive length of chest hair. Other illusions with big coats are lack of neck and length of body. Th is is where you must use your hands. He turns towards you because he sensed you long before you think he did due to his inherent aptitude as a guardian of flocks and protectiveness of the person and prop- erty of his master. He appears all at once extraordinary. Tentativeness on your part would only breed suspicion. You approach him directly and with confidence. He senses your confidence and he stands his ground. Sometimes youngsters can be unsure and you always give them the time, patience and gentleness they require and deserve. He has a full mouth and a scissors or level bite covered with taught black lips. Th ough pink on his gums is distracting, as long as the outside of his lips are black, it’s perfectly fine. His head is clean cut and proportionate with his body. Th e skull is topped o ff with small triangular and well-cupped prick ears and the base of the ears comes well above the center of his eye. Running your hands along the sides of his skull finds flat cheeks and sides. Looking from the top you see a one piece head and blunt wedge. Your hand finds a flat topskull and a muzzle that is at

Continued to pg. 205

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2015 • 203

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