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When judging, take care that you don’t allow exaggerations to influence you. We are Americans, and many of us have a tendency when we look at a car to think that if a little chrome is good, then a lot is better! If a dog who moves alertly and with purpose is good, then an exhibitor who shows a Shih Tzu and runs with him in the ring, proving that this dog can go faster than the others in the ring, has a dog who should be rewarded. (Wrong.)

And since Poodles should have intricate and beautifully coiffed coats, a Poodle with more hair is therefore better! This kind of thinking must be avoided. A Poodle’s coat should be shaped and fitted to suit that dog as an individual specimen, and texture is more important than length.

Here is a useful motto by which to live: “It’s not how fast they go, it’s how correctly they move for what the breed was bred to do.”

Certain dogs exhibit “star quality.” That kind of “Look at me” attitude is partly a result of genetics, but the potential for that kind of ring presence must be carefully nurtured from birth if it is to help the dog in the show ring. This characteristic can help a dog reach his full potential as breeding stock. But watch out for star quality on a generic type of dog: one who is fat, hairy, and moves wide behind. This is a trap waiting to trip you up.

Never reward a dog who exhibits what is sometimes called “the drag of the breed.” Examples of this would include Poodles and English Cocker Spaniels who are long and low; English Pointers who have traces of houndiness; Great Danes who are long and low, or who are herring-gutted and Whippetlike in outline; Whippets with high, snappy front action; and “Chowie” Poms and—equally bad news—“Pommie” Chows. We should never reward entries who show this “return to from whence it came” syndrome.

Some of the qualities that make a purebred dog special are type; usefulness to the breed, which is ascertainable when a dog exhibits those abilities the breed was bred to perform; strength in areas that have plagued the breed for generations; and correct temperament, body, and coat condition. The dog should be presented in correct trim for his breed.

Your experience, interest, and dedication to the sport of dogs, your ability to separate the real from the fake, to always send forward the dog who can do the most for his breed at this particular time—these are the personal attributes that help you define the class dog and that next great one.

It was said of one of our great all-rounders in years gone by that he never missed a good one. I would wish that could be said of all who proudly wear the judge’s badge. —Anne Rogers Clark, AKC Gazette

Photo: Standard Poodle Ch. Nunsoe Duc de la Terrace of Blakeen

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