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Many Breed Standards say size should not take precedence but this Group judge explains why it is still important to symmetry and type.





Whether Judging Or Breeding, Size Is Important!

E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge, Exhibition Editor


Many standards say “size should not take precedence over the virtues”. However, size must be taken into consideration when the breed exceeds common sense limits.


A moderate size breed enters the ring. Looking for a dog that “fills the eye”, one dog’s overdone head” and “massive bone” immediately attracts attention. When one “part” outweighs another, “symmetry” is destroyed.” It is a judge’s responsibility to address size DQ’s.


A correct SIZED Chihuahua with “attitude” is a plus in the Best in Show ring.Many breeds are no longer used for their intended purpose. It is then exaggeration enters in. This results in overdone coat, bone, straight fronts and over angulated rears. Head and size exaggeration is common. At times the smallest dog in the ring MAY be the only dog correct to standard. One should not assume due to size difference, that this dog is wrong. It must be judged equally regarding virtues and correct size.


A correct size Chihuahua with “attitude” is a plus in the Best in Show ring. This is what separates the “SPECIAL” from the “CHAMPION”. All sportsmen who use hunting breeds to put food on the table know the large, big boned dog is not as effective as the lighter boned more agile animal. Therefore, we see a division between “field dogs” and “show dogs” such as Labs, Goldens, and Beagles. Coon hunters need stamina, voice, hunting technique, good feet, and a burning desire to hunt over rough terrain, hills, and valleys. These virtues are not needed for three minutes in the show ring, but they definitely add staying power in a night hunt where stamina, energy and brains are required. Heavy bone and large size will encumber a dog’s ability to navigate brush and brambles.


Too many moderate breed dogs have “giant breed” bone. Some dogs appear to “tip forward” due to head exaggeration. Some people call straight fronts “STYLISH, but what is “stylish” about a dog that doesn’t have time to finish the rear follow through? This “stand out” dog may draw the eye, but is it correct, or is it faulty? THIS is the difference between “balance and symmetry”.


When nature compensates for faults, it produces a “balance” or “adjustment”. The result is a “perfect generic” show dog.” Appearing in proportion, the dog’s “correct size” may be easily overlooked. A symmetrical dog will NOT draw the eye to any one specific part of the whole. The animal is “harmonious overall.” However, symmetry will allow imperfections due to the “over-all pleasing picture”. This is why judges must be aware of trends that exaggerate size, both “too large” and “too small”.


Watching a seminar class, five dogs enter the ring. One is noticeably TOO LARGE. Impressive, YES, correct, NO! Many judges placed it first. To develop a point of size reference, watch Groups and Best in Show. If the Australian Shepherd is the same size as the Great Dane, ONE IS WRONG! If the Beagle and the Harrier are the same size, check your standard. Be careful what you award because correct size is a part of type AND the judge is responsible for “setting a “trend of acceptance”.


In many breeds, the length from the nose to the occipital bone is approximately the same length as the occipital bone to the withers. This size measurement holds true for balanced parallel head planes, shorter muzzled dogs, and bulldogs. This correct ratio of measurement adds to the symmetry of the dog. When a wedge head becomes cylindrical, ear placement may change. Muzzles lengthen and the upper lip falls over the lip line, destroying the profile. As the skull narrows, eye placement and shape may change. This results in the peripheral vision being affected and may affect temperament.


When head balance to neck is achieved, the legs WILL BE beneath the dog where they belong. (Exceptions are in desert hunting breeds.)


Unfortunately, many people today never saw the “greats” of many breeds. Today, some dogs become Champions simply because they are present and well presented. Therefore, an oversized or undersized dog may be used at stud in the search for an illusive virtue. Litters are often repeated before the prior litter matures. This offers breeders less information regarding adult size, physical characteristics or genetics. Breeding to a dog “just because it wins” does not insure success. Breeding “pieces” puts a breeding program at risk. ”For the want of a shoe, a horse is lost. For the want of an eye, a dog is lost”! Researching pedigrees, faults and virtues and basic overall construction is imperative if you want a winning pedigree. Ignoring such issues promotes unintentional breed type change.


E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge/Exhibition EditorJudges and breeders alike must seriously consider correct size, be it a DQ or preference. Otherwise there’s little deviation between breeds. Overall size, body shape, top line, and breed specific movement is part of “breed type”. All are dictated by size and substance correct for each breed.


So, size DOES matter and should be seriously considered.


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