Showsight Presents the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

JUDGING WHEATENS

W

By Richard Urquart

hen AJ asked if I would write this article for Show- Sight Magazine he said he had no instructions

the standard as a judge of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, a judge who happens to be a breeder and exhibitor. I do admit that on occasion a breeder bias may influence how I weigh the individual traits of an entry, but I consciously try to ignore them when judging. So, I walk into a ring full (or maybe not so full) of SCWTs—where to begin? How about with the entire standard!? It is very easy for a judge to memorize the charac- teristics outlined in the standard, to break down into sections and then subsections those characteristics, letting those be the stand alone deciding factors, good or bad. It is a lot more di ffi cult to see all of the individual characteristics (good and bad) as a whole and evaluate the overall quality of the dog. For me, there are a two descriptions of SCWTs in the very first section of the breed standard (General Appearance) that for me form the basic frame in which I begin to observe and evaluate my entries. As I view each of the dogs, watch them move and examine them individually, I want to see and feel a “medium-sized, hardy, well-bal- anced sporting terriers, square in outline” that present “the overall appearance of an alert and happy animal, graceful, strong and well coordinated.” With those two descriptions I can gen- erally evaluate the overall quality of the dogs in the first moments after they enter the ring—during the initial lineup as they stand and during the first go around. To be more descriptive: what I am hopefully see- ing and beginning to sketch in my frame

is the essence of the breed: the coat, the silhouette, the head and the attitude. I, like most judges, stand back and look at the entire lineup. Immediately, assuming the individual entries have been trimmed to “show a terrier outline” meaning a “square”, “sporting terrier outline”, I should be able to see clearly the balance, length of leg and proportions of each entry. A sport- ing terrier outline for a SCWT is square, if the length of the dog as measured from the chest to the rump (or for the pedantic: the prosternum to the ischium) is equal to the height of the dog as measured from the top of the withers to the ground. Th e exhibit is not a well-balanced sporting ter- rier if the length of the leg from the floor to the elbow and the elbow to the top of the withers is not equal and length of the neck to the length of the head to the length of the back. No tape measure is required—I know it when I see it. However, I am also aware that until I see the dogs move and put my hands on each, what I am seeing may also be misleading. Th ere are other qualities that begin to stand out as I walk the line and look at each exhibit, and they take their place in my framework. Are the “legs straight” and parallel, and do the stifles appear well bent? Does the dog have some width in the rear as it stands? I get a better feel for this when I have the dog free stack after the down and back and I walk around the rear of the dog. Does the head seem to be well balanced and in proportion to the body? Are the ears “small to medium in size” and do they appear to break even with

other than, “I want you to talk about what you think every judge should know when they walk into a ring full of Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers.” My first thought was that not many judges get to see a ring full of the breed. I have been actively breeding and show- ing since 1984 and outside of the National and Regional Specialties and a few areas in California and on the East Coast, very sel- dom are there full rings of our wonderful breed—at least in the classes. My second thought was that I would obviously need to reference the standard, I didn’t want to repeat the classic, “How to judge X breed” article going over the standard in a detailed fashion and opin- ing on the meaning of what “well-boned” or describing a “tail set on high” as they might apply to the SCWT. (See the National’s Judges Education CD found on scwtca.org for a very detailed overview of the standard complete with all of the appropriate pictures.) I decided to take you into a ring full of SCWTs (or least one with a few good ones) and tell you what I look for when judging. When I breed I want to improve (or at least not hurt) the dogs I am breed- ing, so in choosing breeding stock I will be very critical of individual traits. But in this article I hope to convey how I use

“...I want to see and feel a ‘medium-sized, hardy, well-balanced sporting terriers, square in outline’ that present ‘THE OVERALL APPEARANCE OF AN ALERT AND HAPPY ANIMAL, GRACEFUL, STRONG AND WELL COORDINATED.’”

t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& . "3$) 

Powered by