Showsight Presents the Welsh Springer Spaniel

SPANIEL WELSH SPRINGER

Let’s Talk Breed Education!

JUDGING THE

WELSH SPRINGER SPANIEL BREEDER-JUDGES DISCUSS THEIR PRIORITIES

BY MEGHEN RIESE-BASSEL

I n my experience, the best way to become truly familiar with a breed is to speak with longtime breeders who have not only bred a number of exceptional dogs, but who have also had the opportunity to judge quality dogs not of their breed- ing. Much knowledge can be gained from these two important areas, as it gives a rare understanding of a breed as a whole. Because the Welsh Springer Spaniel does not have separate styles worldwide or a field/show separation, understandable and productive discussions can freely flow between breeders near and far. I am pleased to introduce four very accomplished Welsh Springer Breeder-Judges from across the globe and share their discussions on the breed with you. Meet the Breeder-Judges:

Susan Riese

SUSAN RIESE STATESMAN WELSH SPRINGER SPANIELS, UNITED STATES

Susan has owned Welsh Springer Spaniels since 1975. She has bred/owned over 100 cham- pion Welsh Springer Spaniels, including multiple National Specialty winners, all-breed Best in Show winners, and OFA Champion of Health winners. Susan is approved by the American Ken- nel Club to judge 16 Sporting breeds and has judged the breed in the US and internationally.

MARJO JAAKKOLA BENTON WELSH SPRINGER SPANIELS, FINLAND

Marjo Jaakolae

Marjo has owned Welsh Springer Spaniels for 32 years and has been breeding under the Benton prefix since 1992. She has produced many champions worldwide, including the first undocked Welsh Springer Spaniel to win an all-breed Best in Show and National Specialty in the US. Marjo has judged Welsh Springer Spaniels, and other Sporting breeds, in Scandinavia, Europe, Australia, and the US.

FRANK BJERKLUND WESTAWAY ENGLISH AND WELSH SPRINGER SPANIELS, NORWAY

Frank imported his first Welsh Springer Spaniel in the early 1980s and has since bred 17 Norwegian Champions under the kennel names Inu-Goya and Westaway. He has been approved to judge the breed since 1993 and has judged in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and the Czech Republic.

Frank Bjerklund

CHRISTINE MCDONALD NORTHEY WELSH SPRINGER SPANIELS AND VIZSLAS, ENGLAND

Christine has owned and bred Welsh Springer Spaniels since 1976. She first judged the breed in 1983 and awarded CCs for first time in 1989. Christine has bred eight Show Champions, including four with their working qualifier. She has awarded CCs in Breed ten times, and awards CCs in: WSS, Large Munsterlanders, Brittany, Hungarian Vizslas, Hungarian Wire- haired Vizslas, and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. She is approved to judge the Gundog Group at Championship shows, and judged this at the Scottish Kennel Club in 2011.

Christine McDonald

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JUDGING THE WELSH SPRINGER SPANIEL

What faults are you never willing to accept? Marjo Jaakkola: “I am not willing to accept an adult dog who does not display a confident temperament in the show ring. I will not toler- ate a dog whose proportions are tall, leggy, and square. This is totally untypical for the breed.” Susan Riese: “The drags of the breed should not be tolerated. In Welsh Springer Spaniels, these are: Fiddle fronts/bent front legs, leggy or Settery examples, and weak hocks that allow for hyperextension (luxating hocks).” When examining the Welsh Springer Spaniel, what areas must be felt with hands for a com- plete examination? Christine McDonald: “The hands should glide over the dog to feel its symmetry; a smooth- ness from occiput to base of tail with very gentle curves, NOT a pronounced ‘S’ shape. The neck should be handled when the dog is not strung up, to check for natural length, strength, and lack of throatiness. Although the breed standard states, ‘long,’ it must be understood that this should be in proportion to the dog. The length of neck is necessary for the dog to scent the ground and retrieve; strength is as important as length—all should be in balance. When the breed was first introduced to the ring, they were known as ‘Welsh Cockers.’ It could be the case that the requirement for a ‘long neck’ in the WSS was one part that distinguished it from the ‘moder- ate’ neck required in the Cocker. Or it could have been the case that there were a predominance of short-necked dogs at the time, and the phrase in the standard may have been inserted to steer breeders away from this fault. Muscle quality, particularly in buttocks, and first and second thighs. Coat texture; silky look and feel, yet dense and weather-resistant.” Marjo Jaakkola: “Definitely forechest, depth of chest, and length of loin. It is important to feel the length of the ribcage to loin. A correct dog will be long in the rib and fairly short in the loin. The breed experiences a number of problems with length of ribcage to loin. Oftentimes, a dog may appear to have correct proportions, but in real- ity, the ribcage may be short and the loin may be long.” Susan Riese: “Working from head to tail, be sure to evaluate the chest and prosternum. Check that the prosternum is not sunken between the front legs, and the chest has a layer of muscling. Feel shoulders to determine layback. Because the breed creeps through brush, the tips of the shoul- der blades should not be too close together; two fingers is fine, but should still be smooth. When examining the body, feel and look for Spaniel roundness, finished off with wide thighs and well- developed second thighs. Because of the amount of coat and skillful grooming, be sure to feel the width and muscling of the upper and lower thigh as well as the length and strength of the hock.”

left: A Welsh Springer Spaniel displaying the undesirable bent “Queen Anne” front. above: A mature Welsh Springer Spaniel bitch with correct outline, substance, and amount of coat.

What are your priorities when judging the Welsh Springer Spaniel? Christine McDonald: “I look for a strong, merry and active dog, flowing from tip of nose to end of tail and balanced throughout. Even in the show ring, I like to see evidence of a biddable, merry temperament displayed, certainly with no aggres- sion or nervousness. I like to see substance but also a degree of classiness. The exhibit to be of standard size, or within an inch either way, with strong bone and no cloddi- ness. Rounded, well-padded feet to protect against thorns and rough terrain. I like to see a well-balanced head with nicely rounded, not too heavy flews, and adequate stop with chiseling below the eyes, which should have a kind, biddable expression. I like neat ears, not set too low. Well-laid shoulders are necessary to enable the dog to run at speed with his nose to the ground, twisting and turning to scent, and well-devel- oped ribbing to give plenty of heart and lung room. I like to see generous hindquar- ters with good width and depth of first and second thighs, to push the body through heavy cover. The arch of the muscular loin and a generous ‘bum’ is necessary to display true type, and aid propulsion. The coat should be within the parameters of ‘rich red and white’ and the exhibit should ideally be presented to best advantage in terms of condition, trimming, and showmanship. I like to see a feminine bitch and a masculine dog, with neither giving the excuse for coarseness or fineness.” Susan Riese: “I look for a rectangular red and white Spaniel, free from extremes and who moves in a coordinated and effortless manner.” What faults are you willing to accept and in what situations are you willing to accept them? Marjo Jaakkola: “Although I think a good head is important, I would select a Welsh Springer Spaniel with good body structure and movement with a small head fault over a less than average dog with a beautiful head. In young dogs, I can accept differences in toplines because I have found, in most cases, it will improve with age. I can also tolerate a youngster who is a little unsure about being examined by a judge, as long as it is confident when gaiting around the ring.” Susan Riese: “I will tolerate a soft topline in bitches with otherwise good quali- ties, but I will not accept a dog with a soft topline. I believe that there is a genetic link between soft toplines in females in the breed. Maybe it is just the hormones! I need to stress that my tolerance is for a soft topline, not a swaybacked topline.” Frank Bjerklund: “A little shyness in a young dog or bitch, because the history says that they can be a little reserved towards strangers. When it comes to constructional faults, it is always a matter of degree and seriousness. We know that all dogs have faults, but some are only of minor importance to us. Others are more serious, affecting the dogs’ health and, therefore, should be judged accordingly. We are also not teeth fanatics, as some judges are—a correct bite is more important than one or two lacking teeth. A grey- ing coat in a senior dog is also something that I would look past.”

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JUDGING THE WELSH SPRINGER SPANIEL

A Welsh Springer Spaniel bitch displaying correct depth of body, leg-to- body proportions, and the desired flow of topline.

stack their dogs and push the (docked) tail up/forwards, like a Ter- rier—it is alien to the breed and should be discouraged.”) Marjo Jaakkola: “Because I come from a country where dock- ing has not been allowed since 1996, I am very used to tails. When judging the breed, I often do not remember if a dog was docked or undocked. It does not make a difference as long as the tail is carried correctly. I feel the most important thing is that you don’t penalize the dog for having an undocked tail.” What do you feel is commonly misunderstood about evaluating/ judging the breed? ChristineMcDonald: “Topline springs tomind. The UK breed standard calls for, ‘Loin muscular and slightly arched. Well cou- pled.’ This is NOT the same as the oft-quoted, ‘rise over the loin’— it is the muscular loin that gives it a slight arch. The muscular structure gives the Spaniel the pushing power to penetrate tough cover where birds may lay.” Frank Bjerklund: “Some say that a Welsh Springer should have an S-shaped topline; however, this is incorrect. The standard asks for a strong back that is slightly arched over the loin; the same wording that is in the English Springer Spaniel standard. If a dog has an S-shaped back, it most often means it has a weak back.” Marjo Jaakkola: “I feel the topline is the most misunderstood aspect in this breed. The topline should not be flat; it should be level, with a slight rise over the loin. There should be no evidence of sloping or dipping.” Do you have any words of advice for those interested in pursuing their judging license for the Welsh Springer Spaniel? Marjo Jaakkola: “Don’t be fooled by presentation, excessive coat, and fast (not always correct) movement. A Welsh Springer should display workmanlike movement with good reach and drive. When you are judging the dog, a good judge should be able to see a good dog that is not necessarily handled well by an amateur. Similarly, but in converse, a mediocre dog handled professionally should not cloud your judgment. If you have an overly barbered dog enter your ring, please judge the dog but encourage the exhibi- tor to present the breed in a more natural way in the future.” Susan Riese: “Judges and exhibitors need to remember that this is a working Spaniel and that tremendous reach and drive, while flashy in the show ring, is not correct. A good all-day work- ing dog in the field needs to have coordinated, athletic, and effort- less movement with adequate reach and drive.”

A Welsh Springer

Spaniel dog with correct substance and ribbing.

What areas do you feel the breed could use improvement in? Susan Riese: “I believe the overall quality of the breed has improved over the last few years. I feel current breeders are making an effort to learn more about type, function, and structure, and are incorporating this knowledge into their breeding plans. I am still shocked to see the occasional bad-fronted dog, with elbows out and bent forearms, winning top honors. A bent leg can break down from repeated impact, which could deem a dog worthless in the field.” At what age do you consider the breed to be fully mature, and what areas do you feel are affected by maturity? Marjo Jaakkola: “The Welsh Springer can be a slow maturing breed. I prefer to see young dogs that look their age. In my experi- ence, many puppies that mature too quickly often become over- done. I do not heavily penalize an immature youngster who has the right essentials. The topline is one area that often changes as the dog matures. I would say that by the of age 4 to 5, they should be fully mature and looking their best.” Susan Riese: “I feel the breed takes longer to mature than some of the other Sporting breeds. What changes over time is that the ribs gain more spring. Heads can mature and become more mas- culine on males. Welsh can look nice at 2 to 3 years and can be specialed at this time, but they usually reach their peak of maturity at 4 to 5 years of age. The word ‘peak’ can cause the image of this being their ‘best’ time in life, when in reality, the good ones keep getting better into veteran classes. Several veterans have won at WSSCA National Specialties over the years. They don’t get older, they just get better.” Please share your approach to judging a mixture of docked and undocked dogs. Frank Bjerklund: “We never think about tails when judging. The important thing is that the breed should carry it in accordance with the standard: ‘Low set, never carried above the level of the back.’ (It never stops puzzling us, why some handlers in the US

A version of this article first appeared in the October 2012 edition of SHOWSIGHT.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghen Riese-Bassel is a second generation Welsh Springer Spaniel breeder-judge. Statesman Welsh Springer Spaniels has owned/produced over 100 National Specialty winners, all- breed Best in Show winners, OFA Champion of Health winners, and AKC hunting-titled dogs. Meghen champion Welsh Springer Spaniels, including multiple is approved by the American Kennel Club to judge a number of Sporting breeds, as well as and Spaniel Hunting Tests, and has judged in the US, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand.

282 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JUNE 2021

Judging the WELSH SPRINGER SPANIEL

By Adrienne Bancker

W alking into the ring to judge the Welsh Springer Spaniel should be a simple plea- sure. Here is a breed that has managed to maintain its form and function for hundreds of years. A Welsh is a simple dog; there is nothing exaggerated about it. Th ere is no separa- tion of type between working and show- ing as there is no separation of type from country to country. Temperament re fl ects a dog comfortable with people and amiable with other dogs. And, to make things even more pleasurable, the Welsh Springer, as a whole, has continued to improve in quality over the past 36+ years that I have person- ally known the breed. Th is is how I recom- mend judging the breed so that it will be a simple pleasure for the reader, as well. When the dog enters the ring what is the fi rst thing I want to see? A working spaniel. I want a medium sized, function- al, unexaggerated dog. If that picture isn’t there, I consider it a serious deviation from the general appearance desired for the Welsh Springer Spaniel. I then move on to outline and propor- tion. Do I have a rectangular silhouette of a dog with a balanced head that blends into a slightly arched neck which fl ows into a level back with a slightly arched loin and continues to a slightly rounded croup fi n- ished o ff by a tail (regardless of length) set as a continuation of the topline? Th e length of the dog comes from the properly angled fore and rear quarters and in the length of ribbing. I use the square within the rectan- gle as a high-level guide. Th e square comes from drawing an imaginary line up the back of the front feet, through the elbows to the withers (height) and from the withers to the set of the tail (length). Th e rectangle

comes from drawing a line from the point of shoulder to the point of buttock (length). When that length is compared to the height, the Welsh is longer than tall, hence rectangular. If any aspect of my desired picture for outline and proportion isn’t there I need to fi nd out why when I do my examination. Next I want a glimpse into movement. A simple trot around the ring will tell me if I have a dog that moves e ffi ciently and e ff ortlessly with drive from the rear. Th is is not a test of speed, but of endurance. Do I have a dog that will be able to last in the fi eld one day, enjoy the outing and be physically fi t and able to do it again the fol- lowing day and the day after that and the day after that? If I don’t see this on the fi rst go around, but I like the overall impres- sion of the dog, I wait until the individual movement to determine if it was the dog or the handler causing the o ff -picture. I now move to the front of the dog and take my fi rst glance at, what I consider, breed essence—the head and expression. Our standard states: “…head is unique and should in no way approximate that of other spaniel breeds. Its overall bal- ance is of primary importance” Th is is an aspect that makes a Welsh a Welsh and not a red & white English Cocker, Beagle, or Setter. Primarily, there is no exaggera- tion anywhere. Th e head should never be broad and massive nor opposite long and lean; there is no pronounced stop, no deep, pendulous fl ews, no round eyes, nor pro- nounced eyebrows, no long, low set heav- ily leathered/feathered ears. Th ere is no excessive skin. Even though there is a bit of loose skin on the body of the Welsh to prevent tearing and pulling while working in and amongst heavy brush, the skin of the head is relatively clean fi tting. Th e ears, in repose, are set on a line with the corner

Illustrating an International Champion, multiple group winner doing what is natural for the breed.

This is the same bitch as above, ‘Mimmi’ INT FIN S(u) N DK CH FINJW-09 NORDW-10 HeW-10 FINW- 10 Benton Walk of Fame winning GROUP-1 at Helsinki Winner under Mr. Ron Menaker, USA.

A young female illustrating correct profile and highlighted areas.

172 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014

Th ere must be chiseling under the eye, lovely de fi nition of bone that underlines the beauty of the Welsh head and expression. As to balance and its importance; the foreface is equal in length or only slightly shorter than the back skull. Th is is very easily measured by taking your hand and placing it, palm down, on the back skull, determining the length by opening/closing your fi ngers and then placing that same hand on the foreface. Does the nose extend beyond your hand or fi t within the same measurements? On the contrary – do you have a short, chubby head? Is the foreface noticeably shorter than the back skull? No matter how cute a “cockery” head may be, it is de fi nitely an objectionable feature for a Welsh. Teeth should be large and useful for gripping game. Th e slightly divergent planes of the Welsh Springer head are easily determined by looking at the head in pro fi le and using your hand. Th e top of the muzzle is straight, e.g. no roman nose, and leads in to a clearly de fi ned stop which goes up to a slightly domed back skull. When measur- ing for length of back skull to length of foreface, you can also use the palm of your hand to feel for the slight dome (front to back) of the skull cap. As I move from the head to the body I want a head to neck in proportion of about 1:1 and I want the neck to blend smoothly into the shoulders. I don’t expect Welsh shoulders to be as close at the tips as some of the other spaniels, but they should be long, sloping shoulders and I want a well set back upper arm with a prominent forechest. Th ese are problem areas in the

breed—upright shoulders, short upper arms and/or lack of forechest and these areas will alter the desired silhouette. Moving along the dog I want a long ribcage with well-sprung ribs. A young dog may not yet have the spring of rib that comes with maturity, ask the steward the age. If less than three years and you like the dog, you may forgive the fault depend- ing on what you feel under your hands; is it immaturity or is it slabsided? Any older than three years and I would prob- ably leave the dog out of contention. Th e loin is slightly arched, muscular and close- coupled. I like a rib:loin to be about 2 ½ to 1. Th e body of the Welsh is compact, but length of ribbing should never be compro- mised. I can forgive a slightly longer dog with a longer loin with a long rib cage and will always consider it above the Welsh that appears to be more compact but is in fact 50/50 rib to loin. Th e proportion of the rib to loin is one of the major con- tributors to the correct Welsh outline and its length of body. Depth of body should reach to the elbows or very slightly beyond; I do not want a shallow body. Th e topline is level in that it does not slope as stated in several other spaniel standards. Stating that the topline is level does not mean it is fl at; one can’t describe a topline as having a slightly arched loin and slightly rounded croup without having some fl ow to the picture. Th e hind quarters should be welldevel- oped with good wide thighs and second thighs. Hocks should be well let down. Remember: Th is is a breed where noth- ing is exaggerated. I shouldn’t see long

The top winning and top producing bitch British Show Champion Ferndel Cecilia. Even as a veteran bitch, ‘C’ still illustrates so many desirable qualities of an outstanding Welsh Springer and is one of my all-time favorites.

Left picture illustrates CORRECT convergence in front. Right picture illustrates INCORRECT.

Top picture illustrates CORRECT convergence underneath. Bottompicture illustrates INCORRECT.

of the eye and gently taper to the tip, they do not hang straight down, but at an angle and hanging close to the cheek. Th e fl ews/ lips also gently taper as they move towards the well developed nostrils; the throat is clean. And, the eyes. Th ose eyes must be set in tight, darkly pigmented, oval rims and must have an expression that is kind- ly, friendly. No sclera or haw showing.

“THE PROPORTION OF THE RIB TO LOIN IS ONE OF THE MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THE CORRECT WELSH OUTLINE AND ITS LENGTH OF BODY. Depth of body should reach to the elbows or very slightly beyond; I do not want a shallow body.”

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014 • 173

sweeping rear ends with hind toes stand- ing far behind where the point of but- tocks end. Feet are round, tight, with good arches and thick pads. Th ese are feet that need to work on all sorts of ter- rain as well as swim. Flat feet, paper thin pads, loose feet all contribute to injury for a working spaniel. As I am going over the dog I am also evaluating coat and texture. Markings are easy—they don’t matter as long as I have a dog that is a rich chestnut red and pearly white. Th e coat is straight, fl at and soft. Silky not wooly. No obvious barbering and not dripping in feathering either. I end the exam with movement. I want to see a dog moved at an easy trot. Th ink of it this way…how much e ff ort does it take to trot around a show ring on level ground usu- ally on matting and in a climate-controlled building? Even if outside on a hot day on poorly mowed grass with gopher holes, there shouldn’t be much e ff ort made to trot. I want to see a dog light on his feet, covering ground smoothly and with purpose. I de fi - nitely do not want to see a dog raced around the ring. When a Welsh is in the fi eld he is an endurance trotter with frequent bursts of running. He doesn’t trot in the fi eld at break neck speeds; if he is going to trot that fast he will break into a run. Currently there are two movement problems I see occurring more frequently. Th e fi rst is lack of convergence of the front legs as the dog is moving towards you. Although the Welsh does not single track, the legs de fi nitely do converge as speed increases. Too many Welsh are moving in a side-to-side, wide, plodding movement. Th e other problem is lack of conver- gence of the front leg with the hind leg

underneath the body. Th is can be attrib- uted to several things, but primarily it fol- lows the course of the incorrect front end as I stated earlier. As for temperament, I expect the dog to accept my hands for examination. Th e tail may be wagging furiously or maybe just a gentle waft, but except for obvious novices or very young puppies that may be a bit overwhelmed by their surround- ings, I want my Welsh to exhibit a friendly and con fi dent character. To do otherwise is anathema to the breed. I would like to end this article with a statement from A.T. Williams, as quoted from Th e Twentieth Century Dog, ed. Herbert Compton, London, 1904: “ Th e ideal Welsh Spaniel must be exceed- ingly active and strong, able to negotiate the most di ffi cult as well as the thickest places, and to last out the longest day. His color must always be red and white, the red deepening with age. His head is fairly long and strong, but not settery type. Ears should be small, o ff ering a minimum of resistance to gorse and briars; eyes dark and full of spaniel expression; body very muscular, not long on any account, with thick coat, not curly, stern down, never above the line of his back, with plenty of movement; legs medium length with plenty of bone and good round feet. And for disposition he must possess utter devo- tion to his master, high courage and not afraid of a fi ght if imposed upon him, but not quarrelsome.” Th at quote holds true over 100 years later. It is our responsibility as breeders, owners and judges to ensure that it holds true 100 years from now. In the meantime, I hope you too enjoy the simple pleasures

BIS/2xBISS Rolyart’s Still the One CD RN WD VC. Among his many, many accomplishments, ´*atorµ Zas also tKe first EreederoZner handled Best in Showwinner for the breed. ‘Gator’ is the son of a Swedish sire and American dam.

Br. Ch. Julita Ryvanda, ‘Vanda’ is a British WSSC club show winner as well as full British Champion field and EencK  AltKougK ¶9anda· is full %ritisK breeding and is pictured here as a veteran bitch, notice the similarity of type to the youngAmerican Champion ‘Gator’.

of judging this delightful breed, the Welsh Springer Spaniel.

BIO Adrienne Bancke,

WSSCA Judges Edu- cation & Briarbanc Welsh Springer Span- iels. For more infor- mation on the Welsh Springer Spaniel, go to www.wssca.com/html/ wsscaEducation.html

“The tail may be wagging furiously or maybe just a gentle waft, but except for obvious novices or very young puppies that may be a bit overwhelmed by their surroundings, I WANT MY WELSH TO EXHIBIT A FRIENDLY AND CONFIDENT CHARACTER. TO DO OTHERWISE IS ANATHEMA TO THE BREED.” 176 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014

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