came roller-coaster toplines, long backs, wedge-shaped heads, low tailsets and testy temperaments. It set the breed back 30 years. It has been a long road back, but we seem to be recovering and getting back to the square, upstanding, confident sporting Terrier that our standard describes. However, having recently judged our Roving National, it was distressing to see many exhibits with huge ears—a problem we had conquered years ago and now has come back again like a bad penny! 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? JF: Clever grooming is rampant in the breed. KF: That they are soft and wooly instead of the importance of correct texture with color. They also need to remember it is still a Terrier and should have a proper body structure with good muscle underneath to follow with form and function. SG: Structurally, the Wheaten is a moderate, square dog with level topline, butt behind the tail, a rectangular head and an easy gait. The hardest thing for new judges to master is coat quality. While coats don’t vary nearly as much as they used to—when they often looked like what a friend once described as, “Wooly Coated Whitens” instead of Soft Coated Wheatens—some judges need help distinguishing soft and cottony from soft and silky. A silky coat that has sufficient length to flow when the dog is in motion is a joy to behold. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. JF: Please do not hesitate to spar the breed. Seeing a well-constructed SCWT standing on its toes in proper soft wavy coat, alert to his surroundings, is a sight to behold. KF: This should be a self-assured, fun-loving breed. When you judge them they should make you smile. You should look for that when structure and type are equal. SG: Wheaten color never fully stabilizes, but must always be clear, not gray or smutty. The standard says, “any shade from pale gold to warm honey”—just like a field of ripe wheat. Puppies are often darker in color; adolescents may be very light. I suggest to my mentees that they wear something white when judging our breed to distinguish it from the pale wheaten color of an adolescent and to be wary of gray or black anywhere other than the perfectly acceptable blue-gray ears or beard. Gray elsewhere, such as shoulders, elbows, top skull, etc. should be shunned as it will most likely be passed down generation after generation. Additionally, judges need to be aware
“A SILK Y COAT thAt hAS SuffiCient length to floW When the dog iS in motion iS
A JOY TO BEHOLD.”
that our standard requires that dogs that are overly trimmed be “severely penalized” as the coat is a distinguishing characteristic of our breed. 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? KF: We used to joke that certain successful handlers could win even if they walked in to the ring with a pig. The old Tar-Heel Circuit used to be known for fun events and great participation from all the exhibitors, breeders, handlers and judges. We were watching the groups when one of the very well-known handlers did exactly that with a potbellied pig under one of the group judges. People laughed so hard it brought tears to the eyes. Those kind of things always helped remind us that we should never take ourselves too seriously and enjoy our sport. SG: Many years ago I finished a bitch whose co-owner decided to put a CD on her himself. They were going for her last leg at a show where I was showing another of our Wheatens in conformation. The obedience ring was quite nearby and we were on at the same time. As I was exiting the breed ring, I heard them call the Field Rep to the obedience ring. He had to make a determination as to whether she would qualify for her CD. It seems she spotted me in the breed ring and performed her entire heel exercise watching me with her head at her owner’s knee—speeding up, slowing down, sitting when he stopped—backwards! At the time the obedience rules only said the dog’s head must be at the handler’s knee; it did not specify the way the dog must be facing, so she got her CD!
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