Judging Soundness Vs. Type

If you are a judge, do you find it harder to go from judging Great Danes to judging Yorkshire Terriers, or to go from judging English Cocker Spaniels to judging American Cocker Spaniels?

In other words, is it harder to turn the page in your mind and adjust for the vast differences between two breeds that have little in common, or is it harder to go between two closely related breeds that have a great deal in common?

In the first case, you must think of every aspect as being different; it is unlikely that you will see many Yorkshire Terrier characteristics in your Great Dane. In the second case, first cousins have a great deal in common, so recognition of the differences is crucial. Any tendency in a dog of one of the breeds to have some of the other breed’s distinguishing features should be penalized.

Finding and rewarding the essence of breed type is what judging is all about. I am not putting type over soundness. I consider them both essential and overlapping. Soundness is about much more than not being lame. It is breed-specific. Soundness in a Pekingese is different from soundness in a German Shepherd Dog. Further, a hunting dog with a pinched, small nose is as unsound for his job as a lame dog would be.

Any definition of soundness must include having in good working order all the parts that are needed for that particular breed’s function. Soundness is totally breed-specific and related to breed type.

—D.M.