Showsight Presents The Belgian Sheepdog

JUDGING THE BELGIAN SHEEPDOG

"A square body is one of the

characteristics of the Belgian Sheepdog." MOST IMPORTANT

JUDGING THE BREED You will fi nd that Belgian Sheepdogs are mostly owner-handled. Th is is true of specials as well as the class dogs. Th is is a breed that is typically free stacked and doesn’t require excessive posing or hand

the chest is equal to the elbow to the ground. Th e length of hair can hide the proportions, especially on a full- coated male. So when judging, be sure to feel for the point of breastbone and the depth of chest. You will see many

di ff erent proportions; some long in body or short on leg. You will also fi nd dogs that appear shorter in body and longer in leg, which is equally incorrect. So look for the square, balanced dog. When we say bitches may be longer we mean “slightly” longer. We still want a bitch that appears square. When looking at proper proportions, be aware of the surface the dogs are standing on. If they are outside in long grass it can really distort your impression. Bone structure should be moderately heavy in proportion to height, neither spindly and leggy nor cumbersome and bulky. Th is is another area where the standard gives a clear direction on the fact that we want a strong, medium-sized, agile breed that can perform many functions. HEAD While the Belgian Sheepdog is not a head breed, the head is one of the areas that really de fi nes breed type. Here are a few lines from the standard that I think are key in describing an ideal head. Head: clean cut and strong, overall size should be in proportion to the body. Eyes: brown, preferably dark brown, medium size, slightly almond shaped, not protruding. Ears: triangular in shape, sti ff , erect. Base of ear should not come below the center of the eye. Skull and muzzle: top skull fl attened rather than rounded. Th e width approximately the same, but not wider than the length. Th e standard does not mention skull to muzzle proportions, but we are looking for the muzzle and the top skull to be of equal length. Parallel planes are also not mentioned in the standard, but to get the proper expression we are looking for close to parallel planes. Look for a head that is balanced and a slight wedge. We are not looking for a narrow head as you see with a Collie and not a larger wedge like you would see in the Australian Cattle 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 fl atness on the checks. Th e breed’s high set >

stacking. An important thing to remember is that the Belgian Sheepdog is very focused on the handler, so be sure the dogs know you are approaching before you go over the dog. I do this by just saying hi to the dog or you can just speak to the handler. It is important to approach with con fi dence, as with so many of the Herding and Working breeds, if the judge is hesitant the dog starts to think something is wrong. Always remember to never accept questionable temperament. Excusing a dog that is having a bad day is okay. GENERAL APPEARANCE Th e Belgian Sheepdog standard states in the fi rst lines: “ Th e fi rst impression of the Belgian Sheepdog is that of a well balanced, square dog, elegant in appearance, with an exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck. He is a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life.” When fi rst stepping into the ring, look at the line up of dogs. Th ey should appear square with an outstretched neck that goes smoothly into a level topline. A square body is one of the most important characteristics of the Belgian Sheepdog. SIZE, PROPORTION, SUBSTANCE Th e ideal height is 24-26" for males and 22-24" for bitches. We have a strong desire to keep our dogs and bitches medium in size so we have height disquali fi cations. Males under 22 ½ " or over 27 ½ " and bitches under 20" or over 25 ½ " are to be disquali fi ed. Th e Belgian Sheepdog standard allows a greater range on either end for the disquali fi cation than the Belgian Tervuren and Belgian Malinois standards. So please check the standards before judging the Belgian breeds. But do remember that the ideal is the same for all three breeds. Th e length, measured from the point of breastbone to the point of rump, should equal the height. Bitches may be slightly longer. When looking at the height, the point of the withers to

SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JULY 2020 | 179

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