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Your Role in the Future of Purebred Dogs
Posted on 12/19/2013 in Bloodlines Editor's Comments.

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This ‘N That
Your Role in the Future of Purebred Dogs

Vicki Rand

In September, the following statement to our judges by Wayne Cavanaugh, was included in the Third Quarter Judges Newsletter, and was posted on the UKC website.

In March of 2012, the United Kennel Club, Inc., announced that we were making major revisions to our breed standards. As we stated in our March 28, 2012 news release, the UKC is first and foremost a worldwide registry of purebred dogs, but we feel our moral duty to the canine world goes beyond maintaining data. We are alarmed by the paths of exaggeration that many breeds have taken, all of which directly affect the health, function and performance of those breeds. These anatomical exaggerations occurred in small, subtle increments over many years; the result is that many breeds drifted far from their original purpose. Numerous breed changes have developed unchecked as a result of fads and fashions. Breeders, exhibitors and judges must all do their part to reverse these disturbing trends.

UKC feels something must be done to address this problem, and we are willing to do our part, hoping the canine world will follow suit. Toward that end, we have decided to revise all of our breed standards to reflect that goal. As you know, standards are viewed as a blueprint to which dogs are to be bred. UKC believes that breed standards are also more than that and we will be including directives to breeders, judges and owners.

To reinforce that mission, this preamble is now included in all of our breed standards. The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges. Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated. Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.

In addition to adding the preamble to all breeds, UKC has also revised approximately 26 breed standards to specifically address exaggerated skeletal and skull changes, and other structural fads that, in the long run, are detrimental to the breeds’ well-being. Those standards currently include: Alaskan Klee Kai, American Pit Bull Terrier, Basset Hound, Bolognese, Chihuahua, Chinese Shar-Pei, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, German Shepherd Dog, Miniature Schnauzer Neapolitan Mastiff, Pekingese, Pug and Weimaraner. In addition, the standard for the newly-recognized Olde English Bulldogge (and American Bully breed) reflects these concerns. Some standards needed only minor changes to emphasize our goal. These include: American Eskimo, American Water Spaniel, Australian Cattle Dog, Barbet, Belgian Shepherd Dog, Boykin Spaniel, Bracco Italiano, Brittany, Hamiltonstovare, Standard Poodle, and Multi-Colored Standard Poodle, and Russkiy Toy. It is important to note that the standard revision process is ongoing; you will receive additional updates as they become available. The majority of breeders and owners expressed their support of these mandates, and I ask you to follow suit. Please take up your share of this burden by never granting approval to dogs that do not meet the UKC breed standards.

UKC remains dedicated to the health and welfare of purebred dogs and will continue to search for solutions to address that goal. Along with breeders and exhibitors, I ask you to be mindful of your role as an integral part of the improvement process. Be consistently responsible and conscientious when making your choices. Choose your winners based on the ‘UKC Total Dog’ philosophy.

The exponential growth in UKC Total Dog events is living proof that dogs can have the essence, health, temperament and conformation to be excellent representatives of their breed. We understand that breed standards are left to subjective interpretation and are not a panacea on their own; however, combined with UKC Total Dog events and our UKC Judges Education program, they are a natural extension and essential continuation of our commitment to the future of purebred dogs.

UKC breed standards can be accessed anytime at: www.ukc dogs.com/Web.nsf/WebPages/DogEvents/BreedStandards. If you have an email address on file with the UKC Judges Department and receive the Judges Newsletter electronically, you have received an email with an attachment that included a complete set of all the updated breed standards in PDF format. They can be downloaded to mobile devices, tablets or laptop computers. If you do not have an email address on file with the Dog Events Department, please send your email address to judges@ukcdogs.com. If you do not have an email address, or do not have access to our website, please contact the Dog Events department to discuss alternate ways to receive the standards and updates. To see news of any standard updates anytime, the Dog Events Department also produces an electronic version of the UKC Quarterly Judges Newsletter at: www.ukcdogs.com/Web.nsf/Web Pages/DogEvents/JudgesNewsLetters.

It is your responsibility to bring the most current UKC standards to the ring. It is not possible to recall every word of each standard for hundreds of breeds, so please do not hesitate to stop and check your standards while judging. Doing so does not impart a lack of knowledge; it shows that you care enough about the breed in your ring to make certain of every detail. Also, for those of you who judge in multiple registries, be sure to judge by the UKC standards at our events and to adjust your overall mental picture of the breeds accordingly. We have seen some judges bring standards from other registries into the ring which is not acceptable and is not fair to the exhibitors.

I also ask you to remain committed to the already established judging policies that have long been a part of the ‘UKC ‘Total Dog’ Philosophy. You are evaluating breeding stock: for example, things like docked tails and cropped ears are obviously not inheritable so are not to be penalized. Decisions should never be based solely on showmanship, grooming, or presentation.

Please be fearless in your judging, regardless of how difficult it may be. It is your responsibility to choose the dog that represents its breed as it is meant to be, never based on fads or whims. Remind yourself that the show ring is a place you have chosen to be, a place where you can have a positive impact on a breed. Have the courage to stand by our, and your convictions. UKC will always back you on a decision that is made in the best interest of the breeds. Keeping yourself educated on the breeds you have chosen to judge is a major commitment. The future of purebred dogs depends on your dedication to that goal. Quality must never be sacrificed in favor of current fads or detrimental breeding practices. Above all, the breeds’ history, health, function and origins must be the core of your evaluations. Sincerely, Wayne Cavanaugh

Much Ado About Nothing?

Or, Should We Be Worried?

For many years, a sheep farmer down the road from me (who has since passed away), maintained a flock of about 200 registered ewes. He also had a small flock of about 30 replacement rams, also registered, that he sold all over the country. Because his sheep were quite valuable, and we had (and still have) a large coyote population in our area, he took great care to protect them. He did have a llama that ran with the ewes, and also had five to seven Great Pyrenees flock guardians that lived with the sheep year-round. Two of the females had a litter each year, and all of the puppies grew up with the sheep until they were sold.

I was fascinated by them, and every day as I drove by on my way home from work I always looked for them in the fields. Normally they could be seen mixed in with the flocks, calmly watching over their charges while scanning the fence and tree lines for intruders.

Two of the males regularly patrolled from just inside the fence line along the narrow country road, and, barking loudly with hair standing up, charged any car they thought might be going slowly enough to be a supposed threat. I wondered about this behavior as guardian dogs usually do not pay much attention to people, even those they are unfamiliar with. In fact, one of the females got out regularly and would sit next to the fence, looking worried that she wasn’t in with the flock. It was not uncommon for any of us who knew the dogs to stop and put her back in. All you had to do was open the gate, and she would rush back in, avoiding you in the process.

I asked a friend who was a guardian dog expert about this “ferocious rushing-the-fence” behavior and she explained that it was merely what she called “posturing”; i.e., making themselves look big and bad to ward off all potential danger. And it worked.

What’s my point, you are probably wondering. The recent revisions to the Animal Welfare Act are very confusing, and to me seem to be just so much “posturing” by politicians and government agencies attempting to make laws about something they know nothing about. (Please read “How Will the New USDA Changes Affect YOU?”, by Sara Chisnell in this issue. Sara spent many hours researching this matter, and made a valiant attempt to explain what just might be unexplainable.)

Initially, I wondered if the changes might be a knee-jerk response to pressure from animal rights activist groups, but I’m not even sure about that. The changes are confusing, and even the USDA has no clear answers on how they will be enforced. Maybe they are trying to scare us into stop owning, training and breeding dogs? What do you think?

This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of BLOODLINES Dog Event News.