SEEING THE DOG, NOT
Catherine M. Thompson
When you first look at a Rottweiler, what do you see? Do you see the trees or the forest? Most breeders and judges have a pet part (the trees). For some it is the head, for others the topline, tail set, etc. However, for all of us our first look should be the WHOLE DOG (the forest).
We should never get so hung up on one part (the trees) that we lose sight of the whole (the forest). Kennel blindness sets in very quickly when we concentrate on one part of our Rottweilers. If we concentrate only on the head—eyes, ears, etc., what happens to the rest of the dog? Do you only place in show homes the pups with the gorgeous heads? What of that pup with the lovely body whose ears are a trifle long?
We must all go back and read our Standard and find out what our breed was bred for. Yes, this is indeed the place to start. Rottweilers were originally bred as the “butcher’s dog”. What exactly does that mean? To me it means a dog that can drive cattle, guard the animals as well as the butcher and do it all day and night if need be. Therefore, I think of the Rottweiler as a rather all-purpose farm dog. He herds, he guards, he can even pull the milk cart. He should be strong of body and mind, athletic and with great endurance. His gait must be effortless and free flowing.
Photo Courtesy Michael Mesloh
It is true if a Rottweiler is so constructed as to have proper fore and rear quarters and a correct body he can herd and guard. It is also true that without correct dentition he can not bite too hard. But please remember that before he bites he must first get to the “bad guy”.
Mind you now, look at the whole dog first, evaluate the overall picture and then start on the individual parts. You must learn to have an “eye” for the overall concept of our breed and then begin to work on the bits and pieces.
I can remember, way back in the dark ages, condemning a Rottweiler for his poor rear. How fortunate for me that an experienced breeder proceeded to point out the dog’s good qualities. In a few minutes I quickly learned that all dogs have something or even many nice things about them, provided the viewer doesn’t get hung up on just one aspect.
In order to develop an “eye” for Rottweilers you must look at the whole dog. This is what the good all-breed judges have done. They have developed an “eye” for the whole dog. Breeder judges are often criticized for judging on details. However, it has been my experience that the good, breeder judge first judges the whole and then carefully attends to the cosmetics. Both viewpoints are needed if our Rottweilers are to be maintained and improved. First the whole dog must be correct (proper balance and proportion, leg length, bite and dentition, etc) and then the cosmetic parts.
Just for fun, take pen and paper and evaluate your own dog or dogs. List the good points on one side of the page and the faults on the other. Now read (or should I say reread) the standard and see how you shaped up. This is an excellent learning tool, and if we don’t keep educating ourselves, all is lost.
What are you seeing? The forest or the trees?
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