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
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