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“Times Past,” AKC Gazette :

This 1952 photo by Joan Ludwig features Alma Starbuck and one of her famed Irish Wolfhounds of Ambleside.

In this passage from her book “The Complete Irish Wolfhound,” Mrs. Starbuck sets aside breed-specific concerns to discuss the age-old breeder’s quandary, type versus soundness:

“Basically, the show ring seeks type, first and last. Without type, where could we find the uniformity, the nearness to an ideal, which the breed standard demands?

“The great need is to make sure soundness is present in the vast majority of specimens. The ideal is good type plus full soundness—but, fundamentally, type must predominate over soundness in the ring, other things being equal. The better type dog that is not entirely sound takes precedence over the less typey but entirely sound dog, inasmuch as soundness is not as a rule hereditary. We breed for type—it does not come from 'beefsteak'; and this is where the art of breeding comes in.

“All animals should be sound, and any breeder who takes an unsound dog into the ring is more or less asking for trouble, since all understand soundness even if all do not know the type.

“I once asked a well-known judge why he put up a certain hound that was not quite true behind, and he said, ‘He has the most magnificent type I have ever seen and I can get all the soundness I want in the dog pound.’ This is certainly no reason to breed from or to show unsound dogs, but it does give pause for thought on the appraisal of type versus soundness.”
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This article was originally published in AKC Family Dog magazine. Subscribe today ($12.95 for 6 issues, including digital edition) to get expert tips on training, behavior, health, nutrition, and grooming, and read incredible stories of dogs and their people.
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