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The Importance of Knowing Your Standard

On a scale of one to 10, the importance of knowing your breed standard would be somewhere close to an 11. Don’t ya think?

What do you think?

Obviously it may be difficult to memorize an entire standard word for word, but little by little the pieces should start to fit together, and before you know it, you will have a handful of breed standards right in your head. Or at least the gist of multiple standards.

For Yourself
I would say 99 percent of dog fanciers are specifically involved or dedicated to one breed, if not more than one. The other 1 percent could be at shows for a few different reasons – looking for their “it” breed, simply for the fun of it or perhaps to support someone showing a dog. Whether the majority got into showing or breeding themselves or grew up with it in their family, most of us have “our breed.” That being said, I think we owe it to ourselves to know as much as we possibly can about our breed, and the first step to doing that is to read the standard. Well maybe it’s not the first step, but it’s definitely up there. Knowing your standard can be helpful not only in the ring, but outside of it as well. Overall, it’s a great way to better understand your dog and one of the best ways to feel confident that you do indeed understand your dog.

For Others
Many times others will, well, hopefully they will, take an interest in your breed. Instantly the questions will start pouring out: “What should their gait look like?” and “Is their head supposed to be this way or that way?” Who knows? They may even end up wanting to take on “your breed” one day, just from the great and knowledgeable things you have to say to about it.

For Junior Handlers
Remember all those times when you won your class, and along with your first place ribbon, a little card was handed to you to pick up a prize from the superintendent’s table? Well, if you had the chance, you probably went to pick up said prize to find out that you were to choose a booklet of breed standards. I’m not 100 percent sure about today, but back when I was in Junior Showmanship, it was the “it thing” to collect all of these booklets and make your very own book of them. Some of us even made two or more books to give to other people.

Now, getting to the point: for any junior handler knowing the breed that you handle is one of the most important things for succeeding inside the ring! Although, yes, judges are judging you, they are also looking to see how you handle the breed you’re showing. I can’t count on my two hands how many times I’ve either been told or have heard a juniors judge say the following: “Please take your dog around and when you stop, show them off to the best of their breed,” or something along those lines. Knowing your breed or even a breed that you may be showing for the first time can make or break your performance. So, don’t ever think twice about learning as much as you can about each breed you plan to take into the ring!

On Another Topic
Another thing I’ve seen circulating on social media for a few weeks now is the “Junior Showmanship Judging Guide.” Some people’s reaction is that it may be missing a few things here and there, but overall it seems to serve a good purpose. I thought some of you DFR readers, junior handlers specifically, may enjoy reading it.

Voice your opinion below about why you think knowing your breed standard is important.

And don’t forget, Dogs Freakin’ Rule!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"
  • Crystal September 10, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    The group of people you left out is breeders! There are so many people out there who show their dogs and produce litters who do not know their breed standard. How can you produce a dog that matches the standard as close as possible when you in fact do not understand the actual standard?

    • Kayla Bertagnolli
      Kayla B. (DFR) September 10, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      That is very true Crystal, I did not intentionally leave out breeders, but I am glad you added this in. I agree 100%

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