I love dogs. I guess you all know that by now. I love all dogs, purebred and mutts. I know that's not a popular idea with a number of people these days. I think if I read "Adopt, don't shop" one more time, I may throw something. At another time I'll go into why I object to that not well thought out slogan, but this post is about what happened at Westminster on Tuesday.
This year the favorite dog at the 'big show' was Matisse, a Portuguese Water Dog. Matisse is three years old and has already won 238 best in show titles. Thia makes him the most winning male dog in history, only about 40 wins away from being the most winning dog of all. From what I understand from other PWD people and others in the dog show world, he is magnificent with almost perfect conformation. He certainly is beautiful and moves exceptionally well.
I've been thinking about this for a couple days and last night I was talking it out with Rob, when I had to admit that if I were the judge, I would not have chosen Matisse. Given the group that he had before him, I would probably have made the same decision and chosen the Beagle.
It covers what the ears should look like. How does it walk?
The standard for the Portuguese Water dog is detailed, too. It talks about coat type and how it should be clipped. Two clips are acceptable in the USA.
The retriever - in order to give a natural appearance and a smooth unbroken line, the entire coat is scissored or clipped to follow the outline of the dog, leaving a blanket of coat no longer than one inch in length. The hair at the end of the tail is left at full length.
The lion clip - As soon as the coat grows long, the middle part and hindquarters, as well as the muzzle, are clipped. The hair at the end of the tail is left at full length.
The PWD standard goes on to say - The Portuguese Water Dog is spirited yet obedient, robust, and of unexaggerated, functional conformation; sure, substantially boned and muscled, and able to do a full day's work in and out of the water.
When the judge chose Miss P, the Beagle, he said he could picture her doing the job she was bred for, hunting rabbits in the field. For me, that says it all. Matisse is lovely, but he doesn't look like a dog that would jump out of a boat into cold water to pull nets. He looks like a dog that wouldn't want to get a hair out of place.
If we write a standard for the breed, then we should aspire to achieve it. If we intentionally go against the standard, than we don't deserve to win. Do I think the PWD community will learn anything from this? No.