I see last week’s World Dog Show as one of the four premier canine events held each year, with the Westminster Kennel Club Show, the Crufts dog show and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, being the others. Each year we see increased competition by Americans in Europe and vice versa. As we hurtle toward mid-century, this fancier wonders what impact the foreign registry may have on our sport here in the US.
One positive impact is access to new bloodlines. As a cheerleader for our less popular breeds, I am encouraged about the opportunities to bolster endangered gene pools. Not only do we have access to new bloodlines, we have the introduction of new interpretations of the standards, new looks in the breeds. In recent years we have seen imported dogs gaining Top Ten rankings in the US. The 2013 Westminster Kennel Club BIS is a dog bred in the Netherlands. The European influence has also interjected a new debate about size into several breeds, notably in the Terrier and Toy Groups. The one comment I would make about that is if your earth dog can’t fit into the tunnel, it’s too damn big.
Then there are the prohibitions on cropping ears, docking tails and removing dew claws. Let me make my position clear. Fanciers should have the right to crop ears, dock tails and remove dew claws. I’m not going to try to offer a medical rationale for the procedure, though I will say I am pretty certain that any temporary discomfort caused the dog by these minor surgeries pales beside the hours on the grooming table and the stress of a yearlong show campaign.
The 2013 World Dog Show BIS was the Old English Sheepdog from Hungary, Bottom Shaker My Secret. While all the official show photos show a very traditional Old English outline, the above photo shows what a bobtail with a tail looks like. This got me to thinking what a breeder’s reaction to a ban on ear cropping, et al., might be. Might breeders start to breed for different tail sets if forced to forgo docking?
While in New York for the Westminster show, I spent a day at the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America National Specialty and was lucky enough to sit with some very knowledgeable Yorkie breeders. The Yorkie standard calls for a tail, “Docked to a medium length and carried slightly higher than the level of the back.” Now that makes for a beautiful outline on AKC’s most popular coated breed. However, left undocked, the heavily plumed tail seems to drag on the dog. Perhaps a tail set similar to the Maltese, curled over the back, would complement the undocked Yorkie more? Have you ever seen a Cocker Spaniel with an undocked tail? It reminds one of a 1959 Cadillac. Might Cocker breeders opt for a straight line tail like their Setter cousins?
Maybe even more radical plans could be in store for those breeds currently with cropped ears. To these non-expert eyes, a Doberman Pinscher with uncropped ears and an undocked tail evokes little of the intensity of the tax collector’s protector. Could a prick ear be bred into the Doberman? It could with an outcross (sacrilege!) or 60 generations of selective breeding. You might think I am being ridiculous (I am frequently), but then 20 years ago you probably never thought it would be difficult to find someone to crop a dog’s ears. It’s time to think about how we will merge our game with the Europeans. Let AKC know where you stand. And that’s today’s Back Story.