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.”
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JUNE 2021 | 281
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