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Look for a head that is balanced and a slight wedge. We are not look- ing for a narrow head as you see with a Collie and not a larger wedge like you would see in the Australian Cat- tle Dog. What you are looking for is a clean wedge. Look for the balance in the skull and muzzle being equal in length; give the side of the head a quick feel to check for the flatness on the checks. Th e breed’s high set triangular ears are necessary to help define the proper type. In the standard we ask for a full complement of strong white teeth, evenly set meeting in an even or scis- sor bite. Be aware that the Belgian Sheepdog standard does not mention faults when it comes to teeth or bite. We do want you to look at the bites and the standard does ask for a full complement of teeth. When examining the mouth we want you to check (or have the han- dler show it if you prefer) the front of the mouth for even or scissors bites. Th en, gently lift the side of the lips and check each side for evenly set premolars and molars. We don’t expect you to pry open the mouth as you would in a Rottweiler or Dober- man. If there are missing teeth most likely they will be the small premo- lars. Since the standard does not address missing teeth there is no rea- son to open the mouth. Th e standard is pretty clear on the body and it is not that di ff erent than many of the herding dogs. We are looking for a strong level topline. Th e lowest point of the brisket should reach to the elbow. With the coat you will not see this so you must check for it with your hands when judging. Front feet are round (cat footed), toes curved close together, well padded. You may find white on the tips of the front toes, it is allowable but a fault. Rear feet are slightly elongated and well padded. White is acceptable on the tips of the hind feet. Please check for flat feet, the well padded feet are necessary in a herding dog. Th is is a long coated breed but the coat should never be so exces- sive that it would interfere with the working ability or mask the elegant outline. Coat texture is more impor- tant than the length and amount. Bitches seldom carry the same coat as males, but they should always be
given equal consideration. I often describe the di ff erence in male and female Belgian Sheepdogs as the dif- ferent in a Lion and Lioness. Do not let the coat get in the way of finding the best dog or bitch. Th e Belgian Sheepdog is a black dog with allowed white in certain areas described in the standard. I hear many people saying it is hard to judge a solid black dog. Please look at the outline and remember the stan- dard. While a solid black dog may not look as flashy in the group ring, it may be an excellent example of the breed. What makes an excellent Belgian Sheepdog are the character- istics discussed in this article and we would love your consideration in the group ring as well as the breed ring. Proper movement is essential in a herding breed. Th e standard describes it as smooth, free and easy, seemingly never tiring, exhibiting facility of movement rather than a hard driving action. He tends to sin- gle track on a fast gait. Th e backline should remain firm and level. When you move the dog down and back you should be looking for single tracking movement. When viewed from the side the front legs should extend to about the nose and the rear should be in balance with the front. A square dog can move as cleanly and easily as any breed. Th e di ffi culty is the front and rear angles, with a square dog the angles must be proper and in balance. You just don’t have as much body to cover up movement faults. Th e Belgian Sheepdog is not required to be friendly with the judg- es, but is expected to be approach- able. Th e standard says, “He does not show fear or shyness.” Please do not award points to a dog that displays poor temperament. Th e Belgian Sheepdog is not a high profile breed at the AKC shows, but we who are dedicated to the breed care about its future. We would ask all judges that wish to judge our breed to take our standard as seriously as we the people who own and love this breed do. Th e Belgian Sheepdog Club of America’s Judges Education Com- mittee has an online illustrated stan- dard on the parent club website. Th e link is http://bsca.info/judges-educa- tion/judges-responsibility/
In the rear, his thighs are broad and heavily mus- cled. Th e upper and lower thigh bones form a rela- tively sharp angle at stifle joint. Th e angle at his hock is relatively sharp. Dewclaws are not allowed on the rear feet. He is not over angulated. His rear angles match his front angles. He is robust and substantial but in no way is he cumbersome or heavy. A fat Bel- gian is not a working dog. He feels solid, lean and well-muscled. Immature Belgians are often very lean due to their activity level. Your hands glide over him finding no abrupt changes of direction over his body. Everything about him “fits” the picture. Th ere are no exaggerations and in this simplicity is great beauty. Now you ask him to go around the ring. His demeanor changes and he’s suddenly alive and ready to get going, finally! His head drops to just about level to his back to allow for e ffi cient movement and maximum reach and around he goes. His foot timing is impec- cable and his topline remains firm followed by a tail that is raised and has a curl, which is strongest toward the tip. Although he is moderate in angulation his con- struction allows him reach and drive that is balanced giving his movement a light-as-a-feather look rather than a hard driving action. His movement is e ffi cient, e ff ortless and covers maximum ground. Going away and as speed increases, his legs converge to a centerline forming a “V”. Coming towards you reveals the same action. It is here that you see his marked tendency to herd and circle. His head is often wrapped around the handler, especially if he’s young and inexperienced. You might have to let him try that again because you might not have a clear picture of his movement. He can be quite exuberant as a youngster and may herd his owner, jump up on him, as well as nip at his sleeve or jacket! Th is is a slow maturing breed with some not reaching their full potential until 5 or more. Th ey can be seen competing in rings as old as 9 to elev- en and sometimes even longer! You know that any deviation from the Belgian Sheepdog standard is a fault. In determining whether a fault is minor, serious, or major, two factors should be used as a guide: 1. Th e extent to which it deviates from the standard. 2. Th e extent to which such deviation would actually a ff ect the working ability of the dog. You are aware of the breed’s disqualifications which are under 22 ½ or over 27 ½ inches in height for males and under 20 ½ or over 25 ½ inches in height for females, ears hanging (as on a hound, cropped or stump tail and any color other than black and lastly, viciousness. You’ve covered the essentials and you are content in knowing THIS dog is the Belgian Sheepdog! But wait... now SHE comes into sight. SHE leaves no doubt she is a female. Not as impressive as the male with all his coat and big mane, but, oh my! She’s a beauty and she’s melting your heart. SHE is equally well made. SHE moves as well and SHE is steady on her exam. Just when you thought you had your win- ner you may have to reconsider. No one said this is going to be easy.
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2015 • 205
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