In the Dog House
Body in balance
I TOOK a few hours off from the Saturday of Crufts to attend the first part of the newly formed Jack Russell Terrier Club’s first seminar where that very clever breeder, Kao Miichi from Japan, was talking on the breed Standard. Kao has the famous Monamour kennel which has produced so many winners worldwide, including the best dog at Crufts a couple of days earlier.
Her talk was fascinating and very informative, concentrating as it did on the real essence of the breed, in particular expression and overall balance.
Her very obliging models were happy to have pieces of coloured tape stuck to them to demonstrate the correct proportions for the breed.
What this brought home to me was how careful those who are compiling breed Standards have to be when dealing with the exact wording for body proportions. It is quite possible to give entirely the wrong impression if you don’t ensure that you refer to the correct parts of the dog’s anatomy. Indeed when Kao started out, because of the poor translation into Japanese of the Standard, she found she was aiming for dogs of quite the wrong balance.
Thankfully, Kao was complimentary about the newly compiled interim UK Standard for the Jack Russell.
This states: “The length from the point of shoulder to the buttocks slightly greater than the height from the withers to the ground.” Certainly the diagrams and photos Kao used, and her well proportioned live models, fitted this to a T.
This is in contrast to the FCI Standard for the breed which states: “The length from the withers to the root of tail slightly greater than the height from the withers to the ground.”
That gives a quite different proportion. Indeed the dogs would be quite ridiculously low to ground for this sort of working terrier, Dachshund shaped in fact. Try applying a ruler to an outline photo of a Jack Russell and you will see what I mean.
I think the same anomaly used to apply to the UK Standard for the Chihuahua which said that the back should be slightly longer than high. Even such a renowned expert and brilliant writer as Thelma Gray wrote: “They should have bodies of medium length, that is, the length of the back from the top of the shoulders to the root of the tail should be slightly more than the height of the dog from the ground to the same point on the shoulders.”
Yet if you applied that to a real dog it would, as with the case of the FCI Jack Russells, result in a very long, low sort of animal, and not at all what I’m sure most Chihuahua breeders were or are aiming for.
Today, thankfully, the UK Chihuahua Standard has been changed, and now in this respect reads similarly to that for the Jack Russell: “Body, from point of shoulder to rear point of croup, slightly longer than height at withers.” Surely that is much more the proportions one would expect a Chihuahua to be.
An even more extreme example occurs in my breed, the Pembroke Corgi where, according to the American Standard: “The distance from the withers to the base of the tail should be approximately 40 per cent greater than the distance from the withers to the ground.” Superimpose those proportions on a Pembroke outline and you get a very long, low dog indeed and I suspect few if any Pembrokes are quite that extreme; indeed I’m not sure why you would want them to be.
Our own Standard for that breed is very vague as far as proportions are concerned, and simply calls for the body to be of medium length, which the American dogs definitely wouldn’t be if their Standard were taken literally.
I’m sure that if you go through the breed Standards from various countries you can find lots of similar anomalies. At least in the cases I have mentioned, it is the British Standards which seem to be the sensible ones, calling for a dog of good unexaggerated proportions.