The Herding Group: Q&A


  • April 03, 2019

We asked the following questions to various experts involved with the breeding & showing of Herding dogs. Below are their responses, which are taken from the March 2019 issue of ShowSight.  Click to subscribe.  (Photo: Wikipaedia Commons)

The Questions:

1. A brief overview of your experience as a breeder.

2. Describe your breed in three words.

3. How does your breed rank in popularity among other Herding breeds?

4. Does your breed get its fair share of attention in the Group? Why or why not?

5. What’s the largest health concern facing your breed today?

6. Any trends you see in your breed that you believe need to continue? Any you’d like to see stopped?

7. What can your parent club do to increase awareness and popularity of your breed?

8. To whom do you owe the most? In other words, which mentor helped you the most as you learned the ropes?

9. Biggest pitfall awaiting new and novice judges?

10. Anything else you’d like to share?

11. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show?

 

ANSWERS 

Nancy Anstruther

My husband Bob and I live on an acreage outside of Innisfail, Alberta, Canada and have been involved with Collies, both rough and smooth, for over forty years.

I started in Collies as a Junior Handler, and had my first litter when I was 21 years old. Since then we’ve bred close to sixty American champions, most of them specialty winners but have also had a good number of group winners. In Canada we’ve had multiple dogs that were awarded all breed Best In Shows and have won the Canadian National multiple times. The highlight of our breeding program to date has been our wins at the Collie Club of America National, including the ultimate honour of Best Of Breed, plus Best Of Winners, Winners Bitch, Winners Dog, and Best Bred By Exhibitor.

When I was young and read the description of Lad going to a dog show from “Lad: A Dog”, my goal in life instantly became to do just that. I read every book the library had, went to a couple of dog shows and soon the first Collie came into my 14 year old heart, and it’s been filled with these wonderful dogs ever since.

Living in Alberta, Canada makes it difficult to get to the shows in America, but even with our geographical challenges we’ve managed to make the few shows we attend count. We’ve bred close to sixty US champions and have had four make it to the top ten in the country (and one number eleven!). We’ve been honored at the CCA with thrilling wins, including Best Of Breed, Best Of Winners, Winners Dog, Reserve and Best Bred By Exhibitor. In Canada our dogs have won the breed at the Canadian National numerous times, and we have done well in the all breed ring too, with eight different dogs (both rough and smooth) winning Best In Shows.

In 2016, I took the plunge and became an AKC judge and have enjoyed seeing the breed from the other side of the leash. I’m the Board Of Director for Canada for the CCA, and a member of the Collie Health Foundation. In 2016 I was thrilled to be chosen as Breeder of the Year, and Runner Up Breeder of the Year in 2018.

The breed in three words: intelligent, lithe and majestic.

Collies are known as a “specialty” breed as we have over 140 specialties a year, and our dogs are in coat for a relatively short time, so many of our best Collies rarely even go to all breed shows. We just aren’t a campaign breed as coats are at their best from November to May, and then the dogs stay home for the summer. However, a good Collie is a good Collie, and I believe a balanced, sound dog gets noticed and awarded in excellent 
group competition.

Bloat is concerning, as it is in our breed. We need more openness and honesty from our breeders to confront this issue.

Fronts give me pause for concern right now. Short upper arms and fronts set too far forward are changing the outline of the Collie. This is a breed of graceful curves—“lithe, strong, responsive, active” are important words from our standard. The other problem I’m currently seeing is tail sets. Our standard asks for a tail that is carried gaily but not over the back. There are a lot of tails out there that are curling up and over, and ruining the outline of the breed.

The Collie Club of America does a good job promoting our breed, but like all clubs could do a little better. We have a great committee that is working now on our social media aspect, and our web page is a wealth of information. The Collie is well represented at Meet The Breeds and more and more Collies are out and doing great at all performance venues.

Living where I do, which is about a 15 hour drive from the nearest specialty or major entry, my initial mentor was all breed and Collie magazines. I poured over them and read everything about every breed. Later when I was able to get to the states with more regularity Linda and Barbara Hash, Gambit Collies, worked with me and helped to hone my eye, my grooming skills and 
handling ability.

I’d love new judges to remember to treat each entry the same, giving them the same amount of time and 
consideration, and to remember that everyone started at the same place. And always, always, be kind.

One of the best artists in our breed let slip to me that she was afraid of bananas. A banana costume was procured, a prominent breeder/judge in our breed put it on, and we ambushed her with a life sized ripe banana at 
our national!

 

Donna Beadle

Donna Beadle has been showing and breeding dogs for more than 20 years. Firstly with GSD and then Berger Picards. She’s also an AKC Breeder of Merit and United Kennel Club conformation Judge.

I live near Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’m in Public Relations and am a personal trainer. My hobby is bodybuilding.

I’ve been breeding for 20 years. I started in GSDs and have been breeding Berger Picards for eight years.

The breed in three words: charming, stubborn and whimsical.

We are a newer breed but have a lot of interest.

Do we get our fair share of attention in the Group; as a newer breed, we have. I’ve had a couple dogs with Best in Shows.

Largest health concern facing the breed today is PRA.

They still can do what they were bred to do. I’d like to see more health testing done before breeding.

The parent club can include all members in their efforts to increase awareness and popularity of the breed.

Debbie Butt has been an incredible mentor and friend.

Biggest pitfall awaiting new and novice judges is lots of inconsistency in judging. Please learn the breed and what makes a Picard, a Picard! Also approach our dogs slowly and not over the head!

 

Valerie Black

As a breeder/owner/handler of my Berger Picards, and a fairly new participant in the dog show world as a whole, I have had a wonderful time sharing my dogs with judges, other exhibitors,and spectators. Prior to 2005 when I imported my first Picard from France I had been to only one local dog show just to walk around.

I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and am a full-time hospital PA. I enjoy aerobics outside of work, and until recently taught that as well.

As my love for my breed, my breed club, and exhibiting my dogs has grown, this has taken over a lot of my free time.

I was persuaded by our past President, Betsy Richards, as a fairly new owner of two Picards, to take a few handling classes, work at establishing a breed club for this ancient rare French herding breed that I stumbled upon, and to be an officer in that club, none of which I had any interest in at the time.

But, my daughter (nine at the time ) and I took a few classes, went to our first show, and we won! Ribbons were exciting, we kept going, and I am now the President of my AKC parent club for the breed, give judges education, mentor others, put many many miles on my vehicle showing my dogs and participate in Meet the Breeds. I will always be grateful to my dear friend, Betsy, for twisting my arm, (and she really had to!) and starting this great adventure! When we first were able to participate at Westminster in 2016 we had to pinch ourselves that we truly were there!

I have bred quite a few litters, work hard to produce healthy well rounded puppies, which has been a rewarding experience as well. I do feel that my Picard family, as it has grown, has only become closer over time. It is still true that many Picard owners have never shown a dog before they get a Picard as most of the original folks.

Most of us help each other along the way, many of us have had great success in doing so, and have enjoyed the camaraderie that we have had at what we call our Picardy parties. As a breed club we truly want to encourage owners to enjoy their dogs and show if able.

We do all we can to keep the Picard an Owner handled breed.

Judges need to be aware that many owner handlers are new to showing their dogs and this can be very intimidating in the show ring. At every judges education I stress that the dog should be judged, not the handler . There are many beautiful Picards in this country that at times are overlooked in the show ring when they may not be exhibited as smoothly as a professional can. As a breed club it is more important to us that a strong well muscled Picard that can move well, do its job as a herding dog all day and not tire, win over an overly groomed perfectly presented dog shown by a professional.

In the Herding group, when a Picard is presented as it should be, not over groomed,with a little brushing only, never refined, it may not always get the attention it might otherwise I think due to its appearance, But if a judge pays attention to the graceful fluid lovely movement that a Picard has that is so gorgeous to watch, then the dog should do well.

We strive through judges education, and educating owners, to keep the breed rustic in appearance as it should be. Dogs that have been overgroomed, scissored, poofed and sprayed should not be rewarded in competition as this is not correct.

Picards are not, by any means, a popular breed which is fine with me. They are a rare breed, the oldest French herding breed, and not well known anywhere, especially in the US where in 2005 there were only 40 dogs, now somewhere in the 600 range as far as we know. Even in France they are not seen easily as they live out on farms doing the job they were bred to do. In the late 1880’s several Picards were turned away from a dog show as they appeared too rustic! The club has continued to fight to maintain that rustic, tousled appearance as well as the function of this wonderful breed.

Those of us who founded the parent club for the breed did so to protect the breed and preserve it as the French intended.

I think we all would prefer that our breed does not become over populated, as it takes a strong calm owner to do well with a Picard. Picards are a rustic, loving,smart breed. They may not always do what you want, but never forget what they have learned. They have a sense of humor so owners need to as well! Picard are smart, think their way around things, and I truly believe that at times my dogs feel they know better than I do about how things should go! That does not mean they are hard to deal with, but a savvy owner needs to be in control, not the dog! And with an adorable scruffy face looking up at you, it can be very hard not to laugh at some of the antics they come up with!(and yes, I do laugh, discipline is not my strong point, but my dogs do listen in any case!). We describe it as having “an iron fist in a velvet glove “ as they are very sensitive to their owners, especially to their voice.

They are happier with “a job to do” whether it is even so simple as going for a walk, agility for some, herding for all if an owner can take the time, obedience for some Picards (not known to be extremely obedient as a rule as they bore easily, I think )—but they are always entertaining and loving and extremely bonded to their owners.

Picards do not have major health issues that are common. The only significant issue is PRA (progressive retinal atrophy) which is known in the breed. There have been other health issues, but none that are common and by and large, they are healthy dogs. The Berger Picard Club of America has DNA banked at the University of Missouri and encourages all owners to bank their dog’s blood there for research purposes.

I do think, for the most part, that breeders are paying attention to health concerns and doing their best to breed healthy balanced Picards that are bred to do their job, which is encouraging. We all, I hope, strive to keep the breed as it should be and not allow it to be changed as some other breeds have been over the years. Function in our breed should always be more important that beauty (although both, naturally is wonderful ).

My hope for the breed is that it will be recognized for the special dog that it is, and that owners will continue to enjoy their own dogs both at home and exhibiting at a show, whether it is in conformation or performance events. I would also hope that when professional handlers are involved, that they too will understand that this breed is not meant to be washed daily, product put in their coats, scissored, altered in anyway other than hand stripping the ears to keep that nice outline the Picard is known for.

ANNE BOWES

I have lived in Duxbury, Massachusetts for nearly 50 years and in the same home for 40 years. I bought my first show Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy in August of 1968, so I have been “in dogs” for over 50 years. 

Breeding and showing dogs are a very time-consuming occupation! There is no time for any other “hobbies!” All my other activities involve my family—my wonderful husband of 52 years, my two beautiful daughters and my three fabulous grandchildren! Both daughters live in New England and we are a very close family. I try to see my grandchildren often and take part in their activities.

I have been actively involved with Pembroke Welsh Corgis for over 50 years, breeding 110 champions under the “Heronsway” prefix, the majority of which were owner-breeder handled to their titles. Two Heronsway bitches have won BOB at the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America’s National Specialty Show. In addition, I have bred many Pembrokes who have excelled in Companion and Performance events such as obedience, rally, agility and tracking. In 2007, Heronsway was awarded the American Kennel Club’s Herding Group Breeder of the Year

I have been an active member of three dog clubs, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America (PWCCA), Ladies’ Dog Club and founding member of Mayflower Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club. In May of 2016, I was elected to Honorary Membership of PWCCA, an honor currently bestowed on only nine individuals. Currently I am serving as AKC Delegate for PWCCA.

For the past 28 years I have been licensed to judge Pembrokes and have judged throughout the US for all-breed shows including twice at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club. Also I have had the pleasure of judging 15 Regional American Specialty Shows and three times for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America. I have judged Specialty Shows in seven foreign countries: England, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Russia and Finland.

I have been married for 52 years to my husband, Rick, the silent partner in Heronsway Corgis! We have two married daughters and three grandchildren.

I had my first litter of Pembroke Welsh Corgis in December of 1970. I have had an average of 2 litters a year ever since. I have bred 110 Pembrokes who have attained AKC Breed Champions, 71 of which were owner-breeder handled to their championships. Also, Heronsway has produced over 50 Pembrokes who have earned Performance and Companion Dog titles.

The breed in three words: active, loyal and intelligent.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis are the second most popular Herding breed behind German Shepherds! In 2017, GSD were ranked second out of all recognized breeds and PWC were ranked fifteenth.

Does the breed get its fair share of attention in the Group: no, because Pembroke Welsh Corgis (and Cardigan Welsh Corgis) are the shortest dogs in the Herding Group, we are always at the very end. Sometimes the judges never even look all the way down the line to where the Corgis are standing when they are making their final decisions about the Group Placements—especially in a large Herding Group of 30 breeds or over!

I am very proud to say that Pembroke Welsh Corgis are a very healthy breed. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America dictates that all member-breeders test to make sure that their Pembrokes’ hips and eyes are within normal limits before breeding. We also have a DNA test for von Willebrand’s Disease and have virtually eliminated that disease. A big challenge for Pembroke breeders is Degenerative Myelopathy which affects approximately 6% of the population. While we have DNA test that identifies “At Risk” individuals, it is not conclusive as many “At Risk” Pembrokes live to a ripe old age without ever coming down with the disease. Since DM is the same disease as ALS in humans, the research for both diseases can be shared which hopefully will result in a conclusive DNA test in the near future.

I have been a member of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America since 1972. At the time I joined, Pembrokes were ranked 80th out of 100 AKC recognized breeds. When I walked my dogs on the street, people would stop and say, “What kind of dog is that? Are they pure-bred?” Fast forward nearly 50 years and in 2017, Pembrokes have risen to 15th in rank out of over 200 breeds! Now everyone knows what they are as they appear in movies, advertisements and on billboards! Clearly, Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America’s breeders have done an outstanding job of breeding Pembrokes with good health and good temperament! Maybe too good of a job! And this wonderful, whimsical dog has captured the hearts of dog owners in America and all around the globe! Our problem now is to maintain the outstanding virtues of the breed in the face of its out-of-control popularity!

I owe the most to Mary Gay Sargent, an accomplished Pembroke Welsh Corgi exhibitor and breeder in the late sixties, was one of the first people I met in the breed. Gay “took me under her wing” and taught me how to breed, raise, train and show quality Pembrokes. She willingly shared her extensive knowledge of the breed with me and I learned a great deal from her. Gay and I became very close friends and traveled together to many shows, near and far. The most important trip I took with Gay was to England in 1976 to visit the top UK breeders at the time. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for a young breeder and one I would not have had without Gay’s friendship. Before I left, I studied the English pedigrees so I would be knowledgeable about the breeders’ bloodlines we were going to visit. I was hoping to bring back my “foundation” bitch. In a small cottage in Wales, the home of Noelle Kevil’s Tymawr kennel, I found the litter I was looking for and was able to later import a beautiful bitch puppy, Ch. Tymawr Rambler, who became the foundation for Heronsway Corgis. Gay became interested in the litter as well and imported Rambler’s brother, Ch. Tymawr Roamer, who subsequently figured in many important pedigrees. Without the wisdom and kindness of Gay Sargent, Heronsway Corgis might never have 
been born.

Pembroke (and Cardigan) Welsh Corgis seem to be a difficult breed for new judges (especially those who come from breeds with normal legs!) to figure out. Being a dwarf breed, Pembrokes cannot be judged the same as long legged breeds. We hope that all new Pembroke judges will attend the Judge’s Education Seminars approved by PWCCA that are given around the country and at the PWCCA’s National Specialty Show. At these seminars we teach new judges the proper ways to examine and judge Pembrokes. We stress that judges must stand at least 15 feet away from Pembrokes in the ring to properly assess their all-important outline and balance. Also, movement in Pembrokes is more important when viewed from the side and judges who seem to make their final placements based on the “down and back” do NOT have a good understanding of the Pembroke Standard. The specific judging procedure that we want judges to follow when judging our breed is clearly laid out in our JEC Seminars. Because the procedure is different from judging procedure for other breeds, we exhibitors can tell wherever or not a new judge has bothered to learn it!!

I have exhibited Pembrokes at approximately 2,500 dog shows in the past 50 years! So, of course, there have been many humorous incidents. At the most recent PWCCA National Specialty in September of 2018, there was an obvious typo in our conformation catalog. The “Herding Titled” classes that we always hold for those Pembrokes who have earned Herding Titles, was mislabeled as “Hunting Titled.” The catalog is available on Monday and this class is not held until Saturday which gave the exhibitors in this class time to come up with a plan! A visit to the local Walmart and they were ready. When the class was called, in marched six Pembrokes whose handlers had hunting hats on their heads and toy rifles slung over their shoulders! Needless to say, the judge and all the spectators burst into laughter at the sight! The exhibitors moved their dogs around the ring amid uproarious applause! However, the exhibitors did remove their hats and guns once the serious judging of the class began!

I would like to encourage new breeders and exhibitors to embrace our wonderful sport. It takes a long time to study pedigrees and decide on the course you want your breeding program to take. There will be many set-backs along the way! However, the rewards are great. I don’t know of any other profession like dog breeding, that if you do it right, you can sell love and make a difference in someone’s life. And the joy of breeding your own show dog, raising and training it from puppyhood, and then showing it to a judge you respect who points to your dog for BOB or even BIS is absolutely incredible! This joy has kept me going for 50 years so far and I hope for at least a few more!

 

Cheryl Calm

I live in the Pacific Northwest in a suburb of Portland, Oregon attending most dog shows in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. I’ve shared my life with Bouviers since 1976 after growing up in Dog 4-H and working as an assistant to a professional handler during my high school years.

My professional life was as a radio news reporter and anchor then 17 years on the TV News Assignment Desk in Portland. I retired from that in 2016 and fill my days with granddaughters, family time, long delayed projects, and more dog shows than I could attend while working.

Bouviers have ruled my life since 1976 when I bought and finished Ch. Aviance DuMaas. She showed us how wonderful Bouviers can be but gave my husband Bill and I no puppies, leading us to buy the Belgian-blooded, extroverted, charming and supremely intelligent Am.and Can.Ch.DeLanda’s Rockford Calm. “Rocky” became a top producer in the breed, and our foundation dog. He sired 36 American champions and eight group winners, including our National Specialty and BIS winning Am. and Can. Ch. DeLys Calm Winchester, who was the U.S. all-time owner-handled and specialty winner in the breed. Rocky and Chester were instrumental in defining for me what I value in a Bouvier and what qualities I wanted to keep in our breeding. Even though our breeding program is 
limited, a Calm Bouvier has been nationally in the conformation Top 10 most years since 1986. All of them have been exclusively breeder owner handled by me. Calm Bouviers have also done well in Performance arenas.

I need more than three words to describe a Bouvier. They’re powerful, agile, and balanced in mind and motion. They’re fearless, steady, and intelligent with good judgement. They’re willing to work, though sometimes stubborn—thinking their judgement is better than yours.

Bouviers, while ranked 12th in the most recent AKC statistics, do get a fair amount of attention in the group. They’re a good looking, impressive dog when properly built, groomed, conditioned and trained. A well balanced Bouvier powering around the ring is a real eye-catcher. There are just a couple breeder/owner handlers who stay on their own high quality dogs and are consistently competitive.The majority of specials are with professional handlers who find they can win with them—if the dog lives with them. If you’re not considered “one of my people” by a Bouvier, they generally don’t care what you want.

Research is showing that most health problems in Bouviers are polygenic so not as simple to eliminate as problems with dominant genes. The Bouvier OFA CHIC program focuses on testing hips, elbows, heart and eyes. Responsible breeders are using Bouviers who certify “normal,” producing a good percentage of healthy dogs. Like all breeds, a portion of people who produce and sell Bouviers are “profit-centered,” so we have a constant battle to educate buyers to purchase from responsible breeders who check and demand good health in both sire and dam. Our ABdFC Bouvier Health Foundation has active research projects to find the genes for glaucoma and hip dysplasia. An earlier genetic study into aortic stenosis in Bouviers ended without conclusions. Hopefully the current studies will bring a definitive test to help breeders make good choices for future generations of puppies and owners. Like all breeds and species, we lose Bouviers to a variety of cancers. There’s no definite indication that cancer is genetic in Bouviers, though more research is needed.

Bouvier breeders have reversed a trend toward over angulated rears and the incorrect high kicking movement that went with it. Finding a correctly angulated front (slightly greater than 90 degrees) is more of a problem today, with too many front legs underneath the neck instead of the withers. Judges can do right by our breed by rewarding those with balanced, full extension in motion—with no legs coming up off the ground or overstepping underneath. That wasted motion tires a Bouvier and shortens their work day. I’m seeing some loss of body width and depth. Bouviers should be sturdy, well boned dogs who are square. It’s such an important piece of breed type along with a wide, deep head of 3:2 proportions. The days of “bigger is better” are gone. We now need to guard against Bouviers too small. Judges should be able to find an in-size, quality Bouvier in most rings. The standard gives a three inch variance (24 1/2 to 27 1/2 in boys, an inch less in girls) so there’s plenty of latitude to produce a correctly sized, agile Bouvier powerful enough to control a cow.

Our parent club is doing a good job increasing awareness of Bouviers. A good website and social media presence are now key to education and dissemination of information. ABdFC is fortunate to have a team of talented electronic media volunteers now revamping, updating and improving the club website along with websites for the Bouvier Health Foundation and Bouvier Rescue League. The ABdFC judge’s education packet is now accessible to anyone wanting to learn about the breed at bouvier.org. Our Facebook following is building all the time.

My success has been boosted by several breeders who said yes when I asked to use their stud dogs. I’ve admired and used several key stud dogs from Elaine and Louise Paquette’s Quiche Kennels and Doug and Michaelanne Johnson of Rocheuses Bouviers. I also learned a lot in conversations and watching their grooming and handling methods. I have to mention Kenny Rensink. One show weekend in the mid-1980s he asked if he could make a couple comments on my grooming when I was pretty darned green at grooming a Bouvier. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. In just 15 minutes Kenny explained how and where I was hiding my dog’s virtues and creating faults. I went home, spent the entire afternoon re-grooming and won the first of hundreds of Best of Breeds the next day with Chester.

Biggest pitfall for new and novice judges in evaluating Bouviers is learning to see and feel under the coat. We have some excellent groomers in the breed who can present exactly the outline you want to see on a Bouvier who actually has a fair number of faults. Your hands—not your eyes—should give the information on what’s there, along with movement. That’s the real test of structure so don’t make your decisions based on a standing Bouvier. Also be sure you know the three severely penalized faults in the breed. They were the three things our standard committee wanted as disqualifications when the ABdFC formed in 1963, but AKC said the gene pool was too small. The three severe penalties are 1) over or undersized, 2) brown, white or parti-color coats, and 3) over or undershot mouths. The Bouvier standard is silent on level bites and you will see them. Maintaining a correct proportioned head with two parts muzzle to three parts skull and a scissor bite is difficult without some vigilance in breeding. Dropped center incisors in the breed are common and assigned no level of penalty in the standard. But the standard says “incisors meeting in a scissor bite.”

The funniest thing that’s happened to me at a dog show was years ago. There was a stud fee puppy I co-owned and handled who was quite an agile guy and just loved to jump. We were in the ring at a outdoor show on a nice day and the dog was feeling pretty peppy. We went out on the down and back but when we reached the far side ring rope, he flew over it and kept on going. Holding onto his leash, I went down and took the ring with me. I was unhurt, he came back over to see what I was doing and to bounce around. Everyone had a good laugh (especially the judge.) I got him under control, back we went, and he was WD and BW that day. Until I finished that dog, I always turned him around short of the corner.

 

Donna Defalcis

I’m with Silver Pastori Bergamascos, est, 1995. We’ve bred 27 Litters, Over 231 Puppies, throughout USA, Canada and Europe. I’m a co-author of the First Bergamasco AKC Breed Book, founder of the Bergamasco Sheepdog USA Club and had the first AKC registered litter 1998. I was the President of the USA Club from 1995 to 2016, Treasurer of the Bergamasco Club, Responsible for AKC Full Recognition in 2015, and Breeder of Merit Award in 2016.

I live with my husband Stephen and our ten Bergamascos in Bucks County Pennsylvania. We have been involved with the Bergamasco Sheepdog since our First Bergamasco Fauno greeted us at Kennedy Airport in 1995. Love at First Site! Our life revolves around our dogs, Stephen owns his own business and never leaves the house without bringing at least four dogs to work with him. I am a Special Needs Teacher for 31 years, I am never without Whope, who is a Certified Therapy dog, who continues to bring joy to the students. When not working we enjoy short Holiday trips to Block Island and Martha Vineyard, where we can enjoy both our dogs, and our love for biking. Both islands are extremely dog friendly. Dogs can go on buses while exploring the vineyard and run free on Block Island beaches, at the same time, we can to enjoy, two very Bike Friendly Islands. We have never faltered from our love for the Bergamasco. Twenty four years later our Bergamascos continue to bring joy and happiness to those that have opened up their hearts and homes to owning a Bergamasco.

I have always believed in “Preserving the Past by Taking Care of the Future”; breeding is a art and science doesn’t always work the way you would like it to. One needs to look at the whole linage. Looking five to ten generations back is more important than breeding two champion dogs with many titles. For me, breeding is not about change or improvement, it is about maintaining what was. Every puppy that leaves my home, takes within them a little piece of history. When a puppy leaves my house, I always say “This is my Best Litter” for me it is!

The best three words that describe the Bergamasco: companion, herder and protector.

Their ranking is hard to say as they are new to the AKC. However, their unique appearance and awesome temperament certainly draws attention to them.

The group ring is for the best of the breeds. There are now Thirty akc recognized herding breeds that compete in this category. Even for the most experienced judge, understanding the uniqueness of all these breeds and making a decisions with only moments to view the dogs is a difficult one. The judges have to rely on what they know the best. I believe the Parent Club needs to be proactive in helping the judges learn the nuance of the Bergamasco qualities competing within Herding Group.

Bergamascos are not known to have major health concerns. Like any rare breed we try to keep a close watch for any type of mutation or defect which may surface. I would like to note that I feel that it is very important to educate new puppy owners about puppy nutrition, careful with vaccines, heartworm, tick medications and exercise. Particularly growth and exercise. Bergamascos take at least two years to reach full bone growth and some remain puppies for quite some time after. I believe it is imperative to remember that, although most puppies have lots of energy, their bodies are immature and are not ready for exercise that causes sharp or repetitious impact. As a Breeder, I do not encourage spaying or neutering, however if one is considering Spaying or Neutering it should be done after the age of two years when the Bergamasco is fully mature. If done before full maturity the overall health and bone structure of the Bergamasco can be effected.

Bergamascos are a medium to large dog (45 to 80 pounds)—a few months of patience could make a lifetime of difference for your dog.

Our AKC standards are based on the work of Dr.Maria Andreoli, a geneticist who in the 1960s created the Dell Albera Lineage and made her life’s work to analyze the wide scale Historical evolution, define a deep and accurate study of locomotion, build structure, temperament and genetics of the Bergamasco Sheepdog. I believe that these deep rooted standards of the Bergamasco of yesteryear need to be continually taught and upheld by all.

I would like for the judging to have a better understanding of the Bergamasco coat. Each dog develops their coat at their own rate depending on the dogs genetics. The Bergamasco’s coat formation and development is quite unique and extensive from the three different types, formation of the flocks, to the color and genetics of coat color. The coat at any stage of life is meant to be rugged and not portrayed as “every hair in place.” Some handlers have asked to brush their dogs out because they appear “dirty” or “messy.” Obviously this practice is concerning. I believe a better understanding of the coat is needed by most. The Parent club needs to focus more on the coat development in the Judges Education as it appears to be more and more important in the show ring.

BSCA has continually participated in various events including “Meet the Breeds in New York”, Charity events, Bench Shows throughout the years, as well as participating in Herding, Obedience, Rally, Coursing, Agility and Conformation Events. It is also important that the Parent Club continue throughout the USA to provide judges education, as well as having active roll by providing a user friendly social media group on Facebook and Instagram, of this very unique breed.

We imported our first Bergamascos to the US in the mid-1990s, with the guidance of Dr. Maria Andreoli, we began a careful breeding program, selecting the best available dogs from Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and England. From 1995 through her passing in 2005, we spent summers for two weeks in Italy, talking Bergamasco, learning type, movement, genetics, nutrition, coat, most importantly grooming, she always said, “Every dog has something positive to offer to your breeding program, what one has another may lack from the coat, to angulation to large head, etc”, thus began the beginning of Silver Pastori Bergamascos, and the dell albera linage. In the years since we first started, other owners of Bergmasco puppies in the US have become enthusiastic supporters of the breed. In recent years, many have become accomplished in the show ring, and have developed an impressive number of champions. Other Bergamasco owners have become involved with herding, agility, and other types of training. The Bergamacos numbers have risen, through careful breeding and placement. Today the Parent club, the Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America, is composed of various owners, breeders and breed experts who work together to sustain and develop this wonderful breed.

I am sure the novice judge is very pressured for time management and really doesn’t have the leisure of taking the time to really feel and touch. I would say focus on the main characteristics, movement, body proportions, and try not to be influenced one way or the other on the obvious coat. A young 2.5 year old with hair sticking straight up appearing unkept just may be the best in the ring on that day.

Only to me, but I’ll never forget being at an Arba show in the late 90’s, Fauno was sound asleep, all of a sudden the steward yelled “Bergamasco to the Ring” Fauno jumped up to win Best in Show that day! or Whope jumping up on the stands to say “hi” to the spectators during Westminster 2017 “We’ve come along way”.

Most important, I can say I am always proud that no matter the competition if a dog is loose, lost or hurt everyone steps up to help in every-way possible. The dogs well being is always the first priority of 
the competition.

 

Jeanine Dell’Orfano

I have been involved with the Bergamasco Sheepdog since 2005. I fell in love with an image of a Bergamasco in a rare dog encyclopedia and lived on a farm in Nova Scotia, Canada at the time with herds of goats and sheep. In 2007 I bred the first Bergamasco litter in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada.

I moved back to the U.S. in 2008 and worked with the parent club to help gain breed recognition with the AKC. This would be a long process and in the meanwhile I attended shows and events and continued to create awareness. For the next several years I served as the parent club Vice-President and was able, along with the help of my colleagues to gain full AKC recognition for the breed in 2015. I am the former President of the parent club and have worked diligently to achieve parent club status with the AKC. During my time as President I helped to organize the club, draft the bylaws, partner with the CHIC registry and set health testing standards for the breed. I have been involved with the AKC Judge’s education program since breed recognition and continue to enjoy long and short term Judge mentoring as well as ring side mentoring. In addition, my husband and I were the founders of the Bergamasco Companion, a quarterly publication of the BSCA no longer in print.

In 2018 I founded the Bergamasco Shepherd Association of Canada and am currently working on breed recognition with the Canadian Kennel Club. I am the current President of this association. I am also currently a member in good standing of the Bergamasco National Sheepdog Alliance and Societa Amatori del Cane da Pastore Bergamasco (S.A.B.).

Over the last 13 years we have bred 8 litters. We believe in quality over quantity and our current and future litters are carefully planned. We are active in AKC conformation events and herding. I am proud to be an AKC BRED with H.E.A.R.T. breeder. The last two years have brought us some show success with two of our bred bitches winning the breed at Westminster in 2018 and 2019. Our currently campaigned bitch has won Best of Breed at the AKC National Championships and the Purina National Dog Show in both 2017 and 2018. We look forward to continuing to help improve this amazing breed.

I live in Durham, Connecticut. I have had dogs for twenty years and even as a child I always had a dog. I started seriously thinking about dogs from a working and breeding perspective in my early 20’s and that’s when I got my first Bergamasco. Outside of dogs, I live on a farm with Norwegian Fjord horses, Nubian goats and chickens. I am a step-mother to two teenage girls and married to my husband. I love to play the drums in my rock band and love the outdoors. I have always had a fascination with the arctic and aboriginal populations and enjoy traveling to remote places.

I’ve been breeding Bergamasco Sheepdogs since 2007, the year I had my first litter. I lived in rural Nova Scotia, Canada at the time and moved back to the United States with a litter of ten puppies and six adults in my truck. It was the trip from hell but all those puppies went to great homes. Some stayed in Canada. Since then, I’ve had litters every one to two years and take great care in choosing dogs that will help improve our breed in health, genetic diversity and overall working ability. That is my goal anyway. With a rare breed such as the Bergamasco, homes are scarce and so is genetic material. We have been lucky with our imports and we have had some really nice successes in the show ring too.

The breed in three words: unique, loving and quirky.

They are still very rare and are not in high demand. I would say they rank toward the least popular side. Many people still don’t know they exist and the appearance of the dog either attracts you or it doesn’t. It’s not the breed for everyone but often those who get to know them end up wanting one.

We have been very lucky with a bitch who places consistently in group in the New England and tri-state area. She has been campaigned for a couple of years and I think Judges just need to keep seeing them. She has placed in group even at the prestigious Purina National Dog Show which is a big deal for a Bergamasco. We are still very new to AKC and while the more well established breeds tend to do better in the herding group, the Bergamasco is slowly getting there and a lot of judges are open to awarding them in the group.

Our largest health concern is hip dysplasia followed by elbow dysplasia. Now with DNA testing available we are learning more about what other genetic diseases our breed may carry but hip dysplasia is our biggest problem.

More and more breeders are testing their dogs now. We are trying to do better. We are also importing more and more and widening our gene pool. DNA is also giving us more accurate inbreeding coefficients than computer programs alone. The trend of breeding healthier, more sound dogs from varying pedigrees needs to continue. The practice of promoting only certain lineages and their particular characteristics with lack of health testing needs to stop. It will hurt a small breed like this in the long run.

The Parent Club should honor all Bergamascos and not just dogs from certain kennels so that the community feels welcome and included. The club should be transparent about health testing. I think having a more diverse board of directors and allowing anyone willing to support the breed such as owners, breeders,handlers, judges, enthusiasts in as members would increase it’s popularity.

I owe the most to a few people who taught me that for years I really didn’t know much even though I believed I did. I’ve learned a huge amount about dogs, herding and good breeding from several people. Amanda Shea, Berna Welch, Mary Davidson, Lynnette Melville and Susan Sullivan are all my mentors and I would not be the breeder I am today without them. Within my breed I have mentors in Italy who are always happy to educate me such as Lele Mariani, Luigi Calvachini and Pierangelo Vezzoli. 

These are the original Italian breeders of the Bergamasco. Here in the USA, I am lucky to have a small group of breeders that are very well versed in this breed and we all learn so much from each other. Thanks Susan, Nicole, Kay and Yvonne.

In this breed I would say it’s hard to understand how they are supposed to look in different stages. Age really changes the appearance of this breed. As puppies though they look nothing like their adult versions and this can really throw a judge off.

I’ll have to share a personal story. At the Purina National Dog Show a couple of years ago our bitch was in the herding group and it was her first time being in a room full of boom cameras and loud speakers etc. She was a little freaked out. Her handler showed someone a picture of me on her phone and sent her to find me in the audience. I was approached by a stranger who had a photo of me on her phone and she said, “Please come around the other side of the ring your dog needs a hug”. I left my seat to find her so I could hug her. She started wagging after that and was fine but she needed mom for some consolation.

 

Lori Frost

I currently live in Ventura, California with my Cardigan Welsh Corgis. My first dog, an ASCOB Cocker Spaniel, was my 2nd birthday present. I started working with dogs about 45 years ago in Alaska with a great 4H program. We did obedience, conformation and I started with some field work with my Golden Retrievers. Switched over to herding breeds while I was out training horses; have had Australian Cattle Dogs since 1982 and got my first Cardigan in 1999.

Life outside of dogs? (Sorry, I laughed) I work. 
I operate and maintain water districts and do specialized plumbing. I am an active member and current Vice 
President of Ventura County Dog Fanciers Association and a member of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of Southern California.

Cardigans have become the breed I’ve done more with as my kids went on to their own lives. They are smart, active clowns who love being with their people. Had my first litter in 2007; and since that time, there have been numerous dogs with the Glasshouse prefix who have titled in conformation, herding, agility, barn hunt, lure coursing and nosework. Several are therapy and support dogs and one is a hearing service dog. Just recently I had a litter who was from all four of my foundation dogs and it fulfilled an idea I carried for 11 years.

One of my dogs was sent out to “special” as he has structure and movement rarely seen in the breed. His co-owner and handler, M’Kayla Stahr, let him shine and he was the #1 Cardigan in 2017. I hope to breed more like him in black, brindle and red. It is a work in progress.

Cardigans are noticed more in Group and becoming more popular; we aren’t just the “other” Corgi at the end of the line. They are doing better across the country with various dogs and handlers in many venues. Love seeing the breed out there doing so many things. Cardigans are a breed who are incredibly versatile and I believe this is one reason they are becoming more popular.

Cardigans are a healthy breed, but not without issues. Hip dysplasia does not present the same problems as it would in larger dogs so many don’t test. We do have a problem with shallow hip sockets and I believe we should be testing. IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease) is rearing its head more frequently and that is worrisome. Is it a genetic, structure or both issue? With fronts losing upper arm length and pushing forward and not supporting the weight and rears getting straight is it making a weaker back? I’m also concerned about the current trend of breeding year old dogs; the breed generally doesn’t mature until much later with full growth not achieved until three or four years.

We are losing the true dog men and women that understood husbandry, pedigrees, breeding, history, structure and movement. Those items are in Standards for a reason, and those people who came before without the genetic tests we have now bred litters and learned from experience and time. Have spent hours talking dogs; Paul Myers with ACDs, Leonard Rivera for show and handling tips, Bill Bergum for giving me his AKC tapes and getting me to think about going for a judge’s license. Bill’s mother-in-law used to know my Grandmother showing Pekingese in the 40’s.

One funny thing on my ‘road of learning’ happened when Connie Redhead (ACDs) from Australia came over to judge. I had a grandson of one of her dogs and I was doing a pedigree. She asked to see it and I opened it up and it all unrolled…all of the 18 page scroll to the beginnings of the breed. Oh, the time and effort to put that into Word. We still laugh about that. I did this with my first Cardigan, too.

Deborah Furlow

I share my time between our home in Dearborn, Michigan and our home, Sweetwater, in Manistee, Michigan on the shore of Lake Michigan. I’ve owned Bearded Collies since 1982 and bred my first Sweetwater Bearded Collie litter in 2004. I am active in my local Great Lakes Bearded Collie Club. My involvement with the Bearded Collie Club of America has included chairing our Therapy Dog Committee, serving on our Board, being on committees for several National Specialties, co-chairing our Health Committee and serving on our Rescue Team.

My husband and I have three adult sons and seven grandchildren. We enjoy time with our busy family supporting their many activities including swimming, tennis, golf, hockey, soccer, volleyball, basketball, synchronized ice skating, dance and baseball.

We also enjoy traveling with family and friends and of course with our dogs! The first of two memorable dog trips involved convoying with friends and dogs from Michigan to California for our National Specialty—Diners and Dives restaurants, National Parks, Route 66—our Beardies being great ambassadors across the country and back. The other was a trip to Crufts. It was a thrill to attend a dog show with nearly 30,000 dogs in attendance.

My husband and I have bred six litters in fifteen years. We have been fortunate enough to have the support of knowledgeable and experienced breeders. Our conformation accomplishments include a Best in Show winner, RBIS, a Bearded Collie Club of America National Specialty winner, a two time Canadian National Specialty winner, a Bearded Collie Club of America Best of Opposite, Regional Specialty BOB wins, National Specialty Selects, Select and BOS wins at the AKC National Dog Show, Select and Best of Opposite placements at Westminster, a #2 ranked Bearded Collie, a Top 5 Bearded Collie for for three consecutive years and numerous group placements. As a thirty year teacher of students with autism the sweet and intuitive nature of Beardies became important to my students and led me to be involved in therapy work with my dogs. I am especially proud of having bred a number of certified therapy dogs and dogs with many other AKC titles. I work hard to breed structurally sound, healthy dogs with an easy temperament making them happy to work in the show ring or any other venue.

I would describe the Bearded Collie in three words as bouncy, smart and happy! But I can’t forget they are also beautiful and independent.

The Bearded Collie ranks right in the middle of the herding group in terms of popularity.

The Beardie seems to be frequently rewarded in the Group Ring. Easy, balanced, floating movement and a beautiful coat along with their charm makes a special Beardie hard to deny!

We are fortunate to have a relatively healthy breed with longevity of generally 14-15 years and frequently longer. Auto immune issues do occur and hemangioma sarcoma as the dogs age is not uncommon. We have a strong international community discussing health concerns and organizations and a Charitable Foundation that support research. We are excited about the possibilities that the future offers from DNA testing and are working right now to hopefully launch an international initiative to register as many dogs as possible. Along with the direct health concerns that DNA information can address it can also help us better understand the genetic diversity of our breed.

The Bearded Collie Club of America has a very complete and informative website which offers information about the breed and current litter listings. The goal is not necessarily to increase the popularity of the breed but to make sure potential owners have a good understanding and are acquiring the right dog for their family and lifestyle. And for Beardies that are found in need we have an award winning rescue program. The club supports Meet the Breed events at both the AKC National Dog Show in Orlando and also at Westminster in New York.

So many people have helped me along the way. Included are numerous mentors in Bearded Collies, experienced people in other breeds, handlers who have become friends and advisers, seminars, veterinarians. There is always more to learn be it about breeding, health care, grooming and the process as a whole. There is always a new perspective. For me it has been invaluable to listen and learn.

The Bearded Collie Club of America has a wonderful Illustrated Standard and an ever evolving Judges Education program. If new and novice judges make use of these tools they will understand what they should be evaluating when judging the Bearded Collie.

Every weekend at a dog show provides amusing anecdotes! Three of my favorite incidents involve one of my first mentors who has since passed. She was a knowledgeable breeder who always offered a kind and blunt assessment of my puppies. The first incident involved driving her van into Cobo hall on setup day and promptly backing into a water pipe and creating an impressive geyser! On another day her dog was in the ring with her and there was a clinking sound every time she moved the dog. Yes, with that all that Beardie hair, her dog was not only wearing a show lead but also a street collar, tags and all. The third is a story she told. One year at Westminster she was walking her dog to the ring and a child dropped a hotdog, mustard and all, right on the back of the dog. She always responded with a shrug of her shoulders and a smile-another lesson I’ve taken to heart!

Kaycee & Gina Klang

I was born in Detroit Michigan and moved to California at an early age. I have always been an avid animal lover for as long as I can remember. I owned American Saddlebreds in my younger years and enjoyed riding and showing them until I left for college in the early 80’s. I attended Stephens College in Columbia Missouri where I studied equine management and journalism. I have been lovingly owned over the years by a Toy Poodle, an Irish Setter, a Cocker Spaniel, a Bichon, a Lhasa Apso, a Pitbull-Shepherd mix, two Boxers, several Whippets, and two Havanese.

It was not until I was married that I found my niche in dogs. I owned my first show dog or what I thought was my first show dog in the late 80’s—a Boxer named Betsy. I soon learned that Betsy was not a show dog at all. But, I did learn the basics of dog showing. In 1995, I successfully owned and finished my first briard champion Mon Jovis Lolipop and my fascination with Briards began.

And, so began MON AMIE. I have actively bred this amazing breed for 24 years and with the help of my daughter KayCee I hope to be breeding for many more.

I now live in Palm Springs, California and have been involved in dogs for 24 years now. Outside of dogs I am a mother of three grown children (one of course my talented daughter and breeding partner KayCee) and a wife of 20 years. Having ridden and owned horses for most of my life, I also enjoy my two quarter horses, Gin and Sham and love to do cow sorting with them.

I fell in love with the Briard when I was given my first show puppy, Loli. My love and fascination with the breed quickly grew and now I have been privileged over the years through selective breeding and hard work to have produced almost 100 champions of record, BIS dogs, National and Specialty winning dogs, herding, obedience and agility titled dogs, and many dogs doing wonderful Therapy and Service dog work. I worked generationally on temperament which has produced the stable easy temperaments my dogs are known for. I also sit on the Breed Education Committee and am a presenter/tutor for our parent club.

The breed in three words: loyal, courageous and athletic.

I don’t think Briards are as popular as some of the other herding breeds. Briards require a lot of socialization and work as puppies and up through adulthood. The coat also requires effort, so Briards remain to be somewhat rare in my opinion.

Does the breed get its fair share of attention: my first response to this question would be no, however, there have been many beautiful representations of the breed who have had wonderful careers. Like all dogs when there is one that stands out most knowledgeable judges will reward it.

Bloat and cancer (Lymphosarcoma) sadly are the biggest health concerns.

I think temperaments overall have improved over the years. My foundation dogs were much tougher than the dogs I have today. I think that might be true for most Briard breeders. The breed has evolved into easier more biddable temperaments. That is good for the breed and I would like breeders to continue to work and make temperament a priority. I’d like to see coats go back to a more natural length. Our dogs should be able to work all day and they certainly could not carry all that weight around and do their job with the coats the dogs carry today. We as breeders cannot forsake the entire integrity of the breed solely to produce dripping hair. Too much emphasis being put on coat and not on structure. Their has to be a sound animal underneath.

Fault judging is a pet peeve of mine. Not looking at the dog as a whole and finding faults, instead of rewarding the dog with the most virtues. It is hard to teach people to have a good eye and see the whole picture. Also, a big pitfall for new judges would be to actually see past all that beautiful hair (which can hide a lot of structural issues). It is very easy to be impressed with all that pretty hair but judges need to get in there and feel for the boney landmarks and see correct movement. Now that’s not to say that dogs wont enter the ring that posses beautiful breed type, movement and structure and also be in amazing condition with beautiful coat.That would be the ideal dog to us and what we strive for when breeding.

My mentor in the breed was Mary Lopez; she bred under the kennel name Mon Jovis. With Mary’s help, she and I worked together for almost ten years. It wasn’t until I was breeding on my own that I realized how much I had learned. I have also been given advice and spent many hours talking dogs with breeders I respect and value, Terry Miller of Deja Vu Briards and Dominique Dube of Popsakafoo just to name a few.

Alice Lawrence

My husband, Steve, and I live in North Central Connecticut near the Massachusetts border. We have been showing and breeding dogs since 1972. We were the AKC 
Herding Group Breeders of the Year in 2011. Now that I am retired, in the few remaining minutes when I am not doing dog chores, my days are filled working to assure that this country will survive the disaster of the current administration in Washington, DC. I also love volunteering at our local public library.

We have not made our mark in dogs by breeding hundreds of them. We have never had more than two litters a year in order to give the puppies all the time they need. We breed very selectively and strive to breed wonderful, healthy representatives of our breeds who excel in the show ring, as therapy dogs and as family companions. Our Kennel name is The Fuzzy Farm.

Pulis are energetic, very smart and totally devoted to their family and friends.

Pulis are about the 10th least popular of all the AKC recognized Herding breeds. (#22 out of 31)

Our breed has had several noteworthy superstars who have received celebrity status. In between these campaigns, it has been hard for the breed to get much consistent recognition in the group ring.

Like many breeds, I think that cancer is a growing concern as well as cardiac issues.

Over the years I think that temperaments have improved tremendously. I definitely think the tendency towards breeding very small Pulis has got to stop. Ideally, males are 17 inches, bitches 16 inches. An inch over or under these measurements is acceptable. Today, it appears that many Pulis are a number of inches smaller than that. I really dislike the mini-Puli look. It is just wrong.

We need to make a concerted effort to bring younger families into the breed and dispel the myth of how difficult the coat is to maintain. Puli coats are actually quite easy to maintain, they just look hard. Unfortunately, many young families want breeds whose coats mature quickly and are quick to wash and dry. While bathing and drying is not as difficult a chore as many people might expect, there is the fact that a Puli owner has to have to the patience to wait four or five years for the Puli to 
look mature.

Our first dog was an enormous Old English Sheepdog, followed shortly after we acquired him by a Komondor. (Brushing was not our thing, we found out.) We love corded coats and acquired a Puli in the 1970’s as a companion for our Komondors. Our passion for showing dogs came from the people we grew up with in the sport: Dottie Collier, Ann Quigley and Pat Turner. Living in New England, we were fortunate to learn a great deal about showing dogs from Bob and Jane Forsyth, Fred Olson, Joy Brewster and Kathy Kirk. We have gone to handling classes weekly for many years and feel there is always something to learn as each dog we show presents 
new challenges.

New judges have the dreadful trait of looking to celebrate extremes in each breed. For example, in Pulis, they think the longer the coat, the better the dog. Young dogs are often penalized for having a shorter coat. It seems that sometimes judges get confused as to how much emphasis to put on the coat, to the detriment of judging other qualities of the dog, such as movement, soundness, and structure. It is truly maddening.

Also, our colors are listed as “rusty black, black, all shades of grey and white are acceptable.” Yet, if the dog in the ring does not have a jet black coat, the dog is often overlooked. I like to describe the correct color as “shabby black.” Since the first color listed in the standard is “rusty black” I think dogs of that color should receive as much recognition as those of other colors. All breeds are now being judged on extremes rather than correct interpretation of standards. Extremes are easy to observe, correctness is not. New judges need to spend more time understanding the nuances of each breed.

Without a doubt, fun has gone out of dog shows. I feel so sorry for young and new exhibitors who don’t know that we used to laugh a lot at dog shows. Now shows are consumed with ugly, mean spirited people looking for their next opportunity to “bench” someone. This used to be so much fun! I miss that aspect of showing dogs. Without question, the funniest thing I ever witnessed at a show was when Lt. Col. William Garvey dropped trou in the Group ring. I won’t elaborate, I am laughing 
too hard .

Susan Legg

I live in Clayton, Delaware. I have been in dogs my whole life. My father bred Beagles. My parents bought me a German Shepherd when I was 16. I started breeding Shepherds and Rottweilers when I was 20 and I started breeding Belgian Malinois 25 years ago.

Outside of dogs, I like to garden and Larry plays golf.

Larry Legg and myself have been breeding Belgian Malinois for 25 years producing three best in show dogs National specialty winners and the only Malinois that has placed in the group at Westminster Kennel Club. I have been in dogs my whole life and my deceased husband Chris Brendel was a professional dog trainer that trained police dogs and personal protection dogs. He also was a dog trainer in the military and served in vietnam. We have had 13 number one ranked Malinois.

I have tried to stick to breeding to the AKC standard and improving temperament and movement. I think we have been very successful at accomplishing this 
as breeders.

The breed in three words: intelligent, square and tenacious.

I feel we’re not that popular with the general public but very popular with law enforcement, border patrol and military.

I don’t think the really good ones get as much recognition as they should. There are a lot of mediocre Malinois out there so when a judge sees a really good Malinois it should be recognized. We have had a lot of success in Group and best in show competition. Breeding three of the five Malinois that have went best in show. I think they don’t get as much recognition because a lot of judges are not as familiar with the breed as they are with 
other breeds.

Luckily we do not have many health concerns in our breed so no one particular thing stands out.

I think the temperaments are getting better overall compared to what I saw when I started in the breed. The problem we are having is working line dogs are showing up in the show ring with incorrect type and coat. The breed should have the distinct Belgian sillouette and type. These dogs should not be awarded. I am seeing too many small Malinois especially males. This breed should not be blonde they should be rich red to mahogany with black tips.

What can the parent club do to increase awareness and popularity: they can encourage more people to join the parent club and get involved instead they keep people out and have their clicks that control everything.

I would say Dick and Christine Baum they taught me the ropes of showing dogs and Skip Stanbridge that taught me about Belgian type. Also my husband Larry and my son Greg without their help we could never had achieved what we have accomplished.

The biggest pitfall for new judges is I don’t think they are getting mentored correctly by the parent club.

The funniest thing: we gave Barbara Walkirch a slinky Dachshund for her birthday and she took it in the ring and pretended it was a real dog the judge was Karen Ashe and she went right a long with it Barbara put it on the table and Karen examined it sent her down and back and around and handed her a blue ribbon. All of the other judges stopped in the rings next to them and everyone was laughing one of the most fun things I have ever seen.

Chris Levy

We live in Salem, Oregon. We started in dogs in 1972 with a Miniature Schnauzer and a German Shorthaired Pointer. We had them for 20-30 years, along with Cairns and Shiba Inu during that time. We discovered the Pumi in Europe in 1998 and got our first one in 1999 and haven’t looked back. It’s now our only breed.

I finished over 30 champion Miniature Schnauzers and obedience titled dogs, mostly homebred, and a number of GSPs, Cairns, and Shibas. Once we got our first Pumi (a male so we wouldn’t be tempted to breed them), we were totally taken by them and now it’s our only breed. I felt that all the years we spent learning about dogs, their care and breeding, and working in dog clubs in all capacities gave us the background to be successful not only in breeding Pumik, but in introducing and growing the breed in the US. I’ve been judging since 1994 and was the first adjunct judge for the Pumi.

I began showing dogs in 1972 with a Miniature Schnauzer and a German Shorthaired Pointer. I finished many Miniature Schnauzers entirely owner-handled. We also finished German Shorthaired Pointers, Cairn Terriers, and Shiba Inu. I put obedience degrees on both breeds. These days we compete in herding, coursing, and nose work where I am currently trialing at the Elite level.

We got our first Pumi in 1999, and in the years since devoted ourselves to just that one breed. We have imported 12 Pumik and frozen semen from different lines and different European countries in order to establish our breeding program. We have shown many times in FCI countries and won World Winner Titles in 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014, in addition to European Winner titles championships in European countries. We have traveled to Hungary many times to get dogs, talk with breeders, and attend seminars on the Pumi.

I have been President of the Hungarian Pumi Club of America since its beginning in 2005 until 2018 and I am now Vice President. I developed and coordinated the approval of the Pumi standard. I have been an AKC judge since 1994 and judge the Terrier and Non-Sporting Groups, half the Sporting Group, and few other breeds, including the Pumi.

The breed in three words: smart, square and whimsical.

The Pumi is 24th in popularity out of the 30 herding breeding. They didn’t come into this country until 1998 and obtained full AKC status on July 1, 2016. They’re becoming much more popular with the show people. They were already popular in the agility crowd, and 
just recently have unfortunately been “discovered” by 
the doodle breeders, so we expect their numbers 
will increase.

Does our breed get its fair share of attention in the group: absolutely not. When you judge a group, you ask yourself (or at least I do), “how much better this dog than the usual specimens you see at a show”. The judges in this country don’t have the experience with the breed to be able to judge that. They’ve never seen Pumik in Europe so have no comparison. I believe some of the dogs we’ve bred are as good or better than the best dogs in Europe, but no one in the US knows that. There’s a tendency to put up the “usual” breeds and the ones 
with the most reach and drive. The Pumi is to have moderate reach and drive, so a properly moving dog isn’t 
fast enough.

This is fairly healthy breed, not that far off the farm. Hip dysplasia is the most serious ailment at slightly over 10% incidence. We are educating our breeders to health test, keep genetic diversity in the breed, and not overuse sires, so we’re hoping to keep the breed healthy.

As with many breeds, we have a tendency towards short legs. The standard says “The depth of the chest is slightly less than 50% of the height at the withers.” When you combine that with “square”, it means this is a short-bodied, leggy dog.

We don’t want to increase the popularity! The Pumi’s looks bely their working temperament and they are not the cute, fluffy, couch potato that they might seem to be. And popularity leads to people who care more about selling puppies for profit (or creating “doodles”) than actually working to maintain and improve the breed. Thanks, but we’d rather stay obscurely in the background.

My mentors are in Europe. Tamara and Gyorgy Langer of Szürkebarát Kennels (where we got our first Pumi) have been our main mentors, but we have many mentors in Hungary, and the Scandinavian countries.

Biggest pitfall awaiting new and novice judges: not having seen enough dogs. And too many judges who were approved to judge Pumik by virtue of having taken an open book test on the standard. We have developed a good AKC Canine College learning experience and I hope many judges will take advantage of it.

The funniest thing I’ve ever seen at a dog show: oh my, I can’t think of “funny” per se, but the toddler competition at the Covered Bridge Classic last weekend was absolutely adorable!

The Pumi is an awesome breed for the right person/family. I hope that judges will consider this breed in the group just as seriously as the other more common breeds and take the time to educate themselves on the breed.

Christina Miller

Christina (Chris) Miller has been active in purebred dogs and AKC events for over 40 years. She first stepped into the conformation ring at the tender age of 8 with her parent’s, Michael and Merry Carol Houchard, Great Danes. Since that time she has competed in conformation, junior showmanship, obedience, agility, rally obedience, coursing ability, barn hunt, and herding.

Chris became enamored with the Canaan Dog in 1997, the year of their full AKC recognition into the Herding Group. Looking for a breed of medium size, intelligence and exceptional health, the Canaan Dog seemed the logical choice. After meeting her first Canaan Dogs in person, a new chapter in her life began. With the arrival of her first Canaan Dog in 1998 she has devoted much of her life to this amazing breed.

Chris’s breed accolades include the top breeder/owner handled Canaan Dog for the breed 2000 to 2005, the top owner handled Canaan Dog bitch for 2009 and 2010, top breeder/owner handled Canaan Dogs for 2011 to 2016. The 2005 AKC ACE Award for Exemplary Companion Dog was awarded to one of her dogs. CDCA National Specialty awards have included 2013, 2015, and 2018 Best of Breed, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2018 Best of Opposite Sex, 2000 CDCA National Specialty High in Trial and numerous CDCA National Specialty Best Rookie and Best Experienced Herding Instinct winners. She can also boast of the first Canaan Dog to earn their AKC Grand Championship and the first with the AKC Coursing Ability title. Three of her dogs have also received the CDCA Dog of the Year award. Through the years, she has bred or owned over 30 AKC Champions.

She is an AKC licensed judge for junior showmanship and provisional for Canaan Dogs. She also had the honor of judging the 2008 CDCA National Specialty Puppy and Veteran Sweepstakes and will be judging the 2020 CDCA National Specialty. Chris was awarded the CDCA Member of the year in 2010 for her continued dedication to the club, sport and breed.

I live in Conyers, Georgia, which is about 30 miles East of Atlanta. My parents bred and showed Great Danes, under the Lyceum prefix, and I was born into the wonderful world of purebred dogs. I began showing the Danes 42 years ago and continued with the Danes until the Canaan Dog entered my life 21 years ago. There isn’t much I do outside of dogs. I am an artist, but my art and crafts revolve around dogs. I am an avid sci-fi fan (aka geek/nerd) and I do enjoy attending sci-fi cons. I also enjoy travel, both domestic and international, again most of this revolves around dogs and dog shows. I am only ten states shy of having visited them all. I’d say 80% of the 40 states I have visited must be credited with dog show travel. Even the international travel revolves around dog shows. Two of my four trips to the United Kingdom have been for Crufts. Our time in Australia also included the Melbourne Royal Show and many country shows.

My experience as a breeder runs the gamut of highs and lows. There is the old adage that if you breed long enough you will see everything, this includes the good and the bad. The good includes saving that puppy you were certain wouldn’t make it through the night, producing a litter so consistent in quality that you want to keep them all, watching the next generation improve on the past, and welcoming new people to the breed that have a passion equal to your own. My pride as a breeder comes from having produced over 25 Canaan Dog champions, garnering the Canaan Dog Club of America National Specialty Best of Breed three times, having the first AKC Grand Champion in the breed, the first Coursing Ability Titled Canaan Dog, and providing many wonderful families with companions. The bad includes holding that fading puppy in your arms as it gasps its last breath, watching a bitch mourn the still born puppy she just whelped, losing a whole litter mid gestation to mysterious circumstances, and even the hole in your heart left by a full life of a good dog. All of these experiences have helped to mold me into the breeder I am today. We take the good with the bad, learn our lessons, and move forward.

The breed in three words: alert, athletic and noble.

The Canaan Dog is a rare breed. We sometimes joke that there are more Giant Pandas in the world than there are pedigreed Canaan Dogs. In all actuality, that probably isn’t far from the truth. We are not a popular breed among Herding Breeds and judges can go a whole lifetime without judging a Canaan Dog. Although the breed is the progenitor of many of today’s dogs, the breed itself is at risk of extinction.

A good Canaan Dog will get its fair share of attention under good judges. Judges that can appreciate the honesty of a good Canaan Dog do reward them at the group level. Of the 20 to 25 Canaan Dogs that have placed in the Herding Group since 1997, those dogs placed on a consistent basis. You must know that there are only a handful of Canaan Dogs being shown across the country and to have the breed placing/winning the Herding Group consistently is a testament to the quality brought to the show ring.

Other than extinction, which technically isn’t a health concern, our largest concern is that of all other breeds—the big C. Cancer, in many forms, is taking our dogs from us much too soon. We don’t have any one type of cancer that is prevalent in the breed, nor do we have any other major health concern. The Canaan Dog is a hardy, natural breed and the more we can keep it close to its natural state the longer they can be with us. I believe there are many environmental factors that are contributing to the rise in Cancer related deaths we are seeing in Canaan Dogs. From processed food, to over vaccination, to parasite prevention, to household chemicals. We must keep in mind that the original Canaan Dogs, that walked with Moses, were not exposed to any of today’s modern convinces for millennia. All things in moderation with a smattering of common sense.

Overall, I am pleased with where the breed is at this point in time. The trend of presenting Canaan Dogs in the show ring that are ring ready is one that needs to continue. Along those lines, the trend of Judge’s not being fearful of the Canaan Dog is a wonderful trend that needs to continue. The are an aloof breed, not an aggressive breed. The trend towards generic show dog is always one that needs to be watched. Although not prevalent in our breed, you always want to think Canaan Dog first and show dog second.

Our parent club consists of a small, but hard working, group of people. Far less than the population of Giant Panda, the CDCA and its members does an excellent job of promoting the Canaan Dog.

I owe the most to, as always, my parents—Mike and Merry Carol Houchard. Their love of purebred dogs, dog shows, and dog events was instilled in me my entire life. Although, my mother is no longer with us, I still hear her guidance and encouragement. Dad is still very active in purebred dogs and travels with me to quite a few shows. I also have to give a shout out to Mel Holloman who has guided me in more recent years and helped me to step out of my comfort zone. Within the breed I must acknowledge Bryna Comsky and Donna Dodson, without their passion for the Canaan Dog and their help along the way, I wouldn’t have the quality I have at this point in time. And to my colleagues/co-breeders that keep me grounded—Amanda Pough, Julie Haddy, and Amy Preston.

The biggest pitfall for new and novice judges of the Canaan Dog is understanding correct Canaan Dog movement and getting through the initial approach on the exam. Correct Canaan Dog movement should be light, free, and flowing. They are endurance trotters, square of build, and moderate of angulation. Any movement that detracts from the efficiency of endurance should be faulted. The approach for the individual exam should be confident, but not dominant. The sooner you can get your hands on the exhibit, the better. Hesitation gives the Canaan Dog a chance to think there is something “off”, they don’t like it when things are “off”. A pleasant ring experience, as an unpleasant experience, will last a lifetime with this breed.

In 40+ years, there have been many funny things I have seen at a dog show. One that comes to mind had to have been in the 1970s, when things were still fun at the dog show, an Angora Goat was exhibited in the Komondor ring. There was a full exam done, the goat was gaited back and forth, and awarded a ribbon. It was then obviously excused and the actual dogs were judged. It was then decided that it should make a lap around the Working Group ring, and then switched with the real Best of Breed when it came time for the individual exam in the Group. I know there were a few ringside that didn’t catch the switch. One of those many dog show memories that will always stay with me.

Terry Miller

I live in Cleveland, Ohio. I graduated from college in Philadelphia in 1976. I moved to Cleveland, totally leaving my education in fine arts behind, in order to start training dogs and apprentice with a canine behaviorist. My start in dogs was all about behavior and training. I competed in obedience with my first Standard Poodles around 1978, then showed a client’s Mastiff and a client’s Golden in conformation. The first Briard I showed was in 1979 under JD Jones, for another client who had no control over her nutty dog. My first Briard came in 1982.

Outside of dogs, I love to read as well as write a bit. I am very interested in reading about politics and pay a fair amount of attention to that subject. I have a blog about our dogs as well as behavior and training. One regret is that I lack the time to write on the blog very often.

I bought a bitch, studied pedigrees, phenotype, genotype, history, old standards, the current standard, talked endlessly to mentors. Bred a litter. Learned that all the preparation and mental anguish in the world provides no guarantee for the results you seek. Learned that you have to pick a direction, take as many and as few risks as you can stomach, close your eyes and hope for the best. The more I think I know, the less I realize I do. The longer I breed, the more serendipity I discover.

I was fortunate to have extraordinary mentors in dogs. Not only did they teach me basic animal husbandry, they infused in me an intense appreciation for the responsibility, ethics, work ethic and stewardship on the shoulders of a good breeder. I work every day to honor the gift they gave me of themselves and of those before them.

The breed in three words: shaggy, square and athletic.

The Briard is fairly rare, and not high in popularity, deservedly so. They are very high maintenance between the intense socialization needs to develop and reinforce stable temperaments and the grooming needs. In the pet world, we have a rather big pet market with many families who have had the breed for generations and decades and would never own any other breed. The Briard is a perfect house/family pet as far as being clean, quick to learn, very loving and not super active. In the show ring, the breed can have good success in the Herding group and are rather competitive there. I have bred and owned five Briards who have been in the top five of the Herding Group and who have won more than 50-100 Group Firsts, placing five times in the group at Westminster. A Briard won the Working Group at Westminster in the early 80s but no Briard has been in the Top 10 All Breeds not has won the Herding Group at Westminster. So in the pet world, the breed is pretty popular (in a rarer breed kind of way) but in the show ring, not so much.

The Briard does indeed do fairly well in the Herding group around the country. We are losing dedicated fanciers of the breed so there are less people promoting them in the groups. In the past couple of years the competition nationally in the breed has been very small, causing class animals who place a couple of times in the group to end up in the Top Ten of the Briard stats.

Luckily, we are quite a long lived healthy breed with no real breed specific health concerns. We deal with the usual issue with cancer than most all do and have a problem with gastric torsion in some which seems to be very much familial. Most Briard fanciers are pretty good about performing the basic health tests for hips, hearts and eyes.

In my opinion, probably our biggest health concern is temperament. The breed can be easily mismanaged and like many herding/guarding breeds, there can be issues with lack of confidence manifesting itself over time through aggression. Temperament, like any other health subject, is highly genetic in the negative as well as positive.

Sadly, I see the effort to do precision scissoring of the coat, trimming the head, underline and stifles—although most disturbing are the Briards whose handlers scissor the entire dog. I am not against neatening the coat, especially in summer when a mature Briard can lose its underline and daylight in the long grass of outdoor rings. But there are better ways than a pair of scissors. That looks bad and is just lazy and fake. Lastly, too many dogs who are shown as youngsters with poor high tail carriage, then have the tail “fixed” for a specials campaign. My comment is more about focusing on the effort to breed the right tails and croups so that fixing the tail surgically is unneeded. Since the Briard tail is one of our classic hallmarks of the breed, and correct croups effect the synchronicity of the dog and the rear assembly, it is worth it to select for good croups and correct tail carriage and proper “J” shape of the Briard tail.

I think for the most part, our breed is best left unpopular since they are not suitable for the average pet person. We do extensive interviews with people considering the breed because they need to be prepared for alot of work and dedication to solid consistent controls and socialization.

I have several incredible mentors to whom I owe everything. Mary Lou Tingley is where I bought my first Briard. She became one of my most trusted advisors, cheerleaders, supporters and friends. She was one of the most unselfish dedicated stewards of any breed I have seen. She was a smart and kind dog person with an almost altruistic sense of right and wrong and ethics towards the Briard. We were truly family and I think of her daily still. Stephanie Katz and I were hard fought competitors in my early years but we were able to move past that over the years. I found such friendship and valuable judgement in Stephanie. She was a brilliant dog person and like Mary Lou, had an almost altruistic sense of her responsibility to the breed with which she shared with me.

Third on my greatest hits list of mentors to me is Cass Moulton Arble, an OES breeder. I met Cass very early on. She is one of the most brilliant people I know in the world and one of the most brilliant dog people I know. I learned more from Cass about genetics, breeding theories, selection and phenotype than anyone. I still check in with her and ask for ideas and inspiration.

And lastly, my partner Dominique Dube. She has the best eye of any dog person I know, is the most independent thinker I know, and is an inspiration in her ability to size up a dog, and sort through a litter of any breed. She is a brilliant and intuitive breeder who has been a huge influence for me.

The biggest pitfall awaiting new and novice judges is finding a mentor who can teach them right and not personalize the teaching, and develop a backbone so that they are true to themselves and their judgement.

Patricia Princehouse

I run a yearly dog trip to the Pyrenees Mountains. We go into ancient caves to see prehistoric art, visit breeders, scout for dogs working the flocks in the high mountains, take horses to the foot of the glacier in the National Park, enjoy cheese and wine tasting and other gastronomic marvels, and end with the combined National Specialties of the four breeds at the festival of dogs and folklore in the High Pyrenees. I arrange this through my job. I teach evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University and am Associate Director of the Institute for the Science of Origins. We also run other science and nature tours to places like Iceland, South Am, Africa, Mongolia, etc. I also work with Richard Leakey’s group in Turkana, Kenya where half of the world’s fossil hominoids have been discovered. Although paleontology is my first love, I’m also involved in genetic research on dogs. I live in Ohio and have been in dogs since childhood, so over 40 years. I’m also an AKC judge. 

Around 1975 I caught the bug from a Siberian breeder who lived nearby. By the time I was in 7th grade I was showing Great Pyrenees and whelped my first litter in 1980. Since then I’ve had about a hundred litters (two or three a year). In 9th grade I went to France for the first time and brought back my first import. It was then I fell in love with the herding counterpart to the Great Pyr -the Pyrenean Shepherd. I only ever intended to have one of the little guys but when she was four, the president and secretary of the French Pyr and Pyr Shep club came to Canada to judge Great Pyrs and I took her up (she went everywhere with me anyway, even attending my college classes!). They said she was excellent. I said, yeah, I like her. They said, No, you don’t understand, she is outstanding, you must breed her. So I took her back to France and at the first show she won the breed and got pulled in group. The judge told me she would have won the group if she hadn’t been overweight (a real no-no in this breed).  She obligingly came into heat and later that year I had my first litter of Pyr Shep puppies. I’m proud that two of the people who took pups from that litter are still in the breed 30 years later. Providing world class foundation stock for people just starting their breeding programs is an objective I take very seriously as part of what we owe the breed and each other as fanciers. I value deeply the success these breeders and fanciers have had. That said, I also have a lot of fun in competitions. Dogs of my breeding have won over 100 championships and well over 1000 performance titles in fields ranging from herding, tracking obedience and agility to dock diving, freestyle, weight pull, frisbee and others. I’ve bred/owned twenty National Specialty BISS winners, dozens of group placers and all of the group winners and the breed’s only AKC BIS dog. My agility puppies have gone to competitors in the US and internationally and have represented their countries on eight World Teams. In 2018 I was recognized by AKC as Agility Breeder of the Year. I also place both Great Pyr and Pyr Sheps as working farm dogs and take very seriously the importance of maintaining correct type, temperament and working ability in what must, must, must remain one single breed. 

Fracturing into “show”, “performance” and “working” types must be avoided at all costs! I have been heavily involved in breed and all-breed rescue and I lead the breed in numbers of dogs certified by OFA across the board and several of the health problems rampant in early imports have been virtually eliminated in my 
breeding program.

The breed in three words: sparkling, brilliant and athletic (and very Idiosyncratic).

This breed is not at all popular but both the number of fanciers and their level of engagement in dog sports is steadily increasing. 

Does my breed get its fair share of attention in the Group: definitely not. We often joke that there’s a rule among judges that only one “weird” breed can be among the four placers in the group on any given day. As the number of “weird” breeds has increased in recent years, our rate of group placements has actually decreased compared to the first few years of AKC recognition. In addition, in recent years the all-breed fancy has seen a very small number of extremely prominent dogs taking most of the BISs. This makes it extremely difficult for a Pyr Shep or any of the less well known breeds to get top honors. Beyond that, it’s a specialist’s breed with many unique type features not well understood by many judges—especially those who do not hail from the herding breeds. Thus, many judges see outstanding movers among Pyr Sheps but hesitate to put them up as they’re afraid of making a mistake since the head, proportions, topline, and desirable light bone run counter to the generic American show dog. Leaving aside the handful of outstanding dogs of my own currently being shown, there’s a bitch out there not of my breeding who should be racking up the BISs, but thus far she has only 1 Group win and a smattering of placements. This is wrong.

The biggest health concern for the breed: there’s nothing unusual or terribly widespread, hip dysplasia still persists but even most affected dogs still move well. Not a health issue but the biggest management problem at a companion level is the idiosyncratic behavior of these dogs. They are high energy and very close to their wilderness roots and can be a great challenge for the average pet or show dog owner, and their desire for a close relationship with one person can be difficult for most professional handlers to manage. OTOH it is these very qualities that make them outstanding performance dogs and great companions for active people who appreciate their highly affectionate and rough n ready personalities. Many of my pet owners understand and appreciate the breed better than many show folks. And many of my performance owners understand the breed’s structure and function better than most AKC judges. 

A good number of judges now understand the personality of the breed and especially among class animals are tolerant of their suspicion of strangers as long as it doesn’t cause too much of a problem. Nevertheless, there are still too many judges who size up our many novice handlers and fault the dog for the handler’s inexperience. With that attitude, how are we supposed to encourage newbies and or encourage performance people to take up conformation? C’mon people!  That, combined with the breed’s unusual physical traits sometimes leads to novice dogs and owners having ribbons withheld. I feel judges should stop and think whether they really believe they could do a better job producing a dog that is light-boned, heavily angulated, high in the rear, suspicious of strangers, with a small triangular head, short muzzle and flying trot! You’re welcome to give it a try! Does the average Pyr Shep exhibited meet the standard better than most of the more common breeds including those prized for “soundness” such as Dobes (with their recent proliferation of ewe necks), or the many pigeon-fronted Boxers? Dogs in the group should be compared to the norm for each breed. If it’s one of the best Pyr Sheps you’ve ever seen and that’s not the case for the more common breeds, then it should be winning the group. 

What the parent club do to increase awareness and popularity of the breed: they should offer not just judges education but seminars on type, the standard, etc for anybody interested and make these seminars 
widely available.

I owe the most to Guy Mansencal, former president of the French club and one of only six all-round judges in France in his day. I still learn from him constantly and he’s now 90 years old and still going strong! I recently had a great and very unofficial honor: I was stunned to learn he had sent photos of my most recent group winner (a corded bitch, no less) around to the top breeders in France giving them a heads up that American dogs where outclassing the best French-breds in a large number of specific points of type and they should step up 
their game! 

The biggest pitfall awaiting new and novice judges is AKC in their wisdom made us combine the two varieties into one single standard and refused to allow them to be judged separately with each variety sending a representative to the group—as is done in every other country on earth. The differences between the two varieties surpass any other breed and this makes it extremely difficult for all judges—even breeders—to judge because the features of the two varieties are so different. It makes judging the breed more like judging the group! I wish all 
kennel clubs would take advantage of their option to at least divide the open class into Rough-Faced 
and Smooth-Faced.

The funniest thing I’ve ever seen at a dog show: we have a local show called Barkaritaville where there’s an all-breed costume class for dogs and encouragement for exhibitors and judges to indulge in attire suitable for a tropical beach party. Last week, not only did I see a dog presented in the ring wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but Wally Sommerfelt judged his entire assignment in a grass skirt! I truly believe shows like Woofstock and Barkaritaville are the future of the sport!

Jo-Ann Secondino

I live in Maryland and have almost 16 years with Icelandic Sheepdogs, but purebred dogs always have been a part of my life.

Outside of dogs, I am tasked with ensuring Food Safety and Food Defense programs are followed at a commercial bakery. I am so fortunate that the management there allows me a flexible schedule so that I can do more with my dogs. Other hobbies include: baking, gardening, spinning wool as well as other fibers (like dog hair) and textile arts. We are also homebrewers, creating our own beer and mead, which we often share at “Icetoberfest” an annual gathering that Jon and I created to fundraise for the breed’s 501c3 rescue group the National Icelandic Sheepdog Rescue Alliance. We collaborate with other Icelandic Sheepdog owners to bring the community together every Columbus Day weekend to help ensure the welfare of Icelandic Sheepdogs and “Ice-a-Likes” in need. It is often the largest breed event of the year.

Jo-Ann Secondino and Jonathan Pickett live in a small town in Maryland. They share their home with Icelandic Sheepdogs Viking Lilja, Kaffi, four generations of Icie offspring and a Chinook named Rhiannon. Breeding under the Fox Meadow and Alfagardur kennel names, they delight in seeing their extended Fox Meadow family enjoying their dogs as well as working with and meeting people across the USA, Iceland and Europe to help ensure the success of a breed that was once close to extinction 60 years ago. Website: www.fox-meadow.com.

While I was a lifelong purebred dog owner, I only seriously began my adventures into breeding and competitive dog sports with my introduction to the Icelandic Sheepdog. Upon meeting our first Icelandic Sheepdogs, my partner Jon said, “Don’t bother looking at any other dogs, this is the breed for you.” He was right; we jumped in with both feet and never looked back.

As the breed was still in AKC-FSS with aspirations of seeking AKC full acceptance when we got involved, the contract for my first Icelandic Sheepdog stipulated that should our puppy pass her required health testing I should have at least one litter. This was to add to the breed’s numbers here in the USA to aid in meeting the requirements to become a fully accepted breed in 
the AKC.

I had never considered breeding dogs before but was open to the new challenge. I was instantly welcomed into the Icelandic Sheepdog owning community. I was honored to be taken under the wing of Veteran owner’s in the USA, Iceland and Europe who impressed upon me that I had accepted the role of a breed steward and I had the obligation to understand the breed’s history, pedigrees, health, genetics and standard. Everyone was so passionate, that I soaked up everything I could. We then became Fox Meadow Icelandics with our first litter.

Early on, I was asked to serve on the parent club’s Health and Genetics committee, later I served as the Committee’s chairman and the club’s Vice President. Today, I work with breeding partners across the USA and Europe who are interested in maintaining the genetic diversity of the breed, importing dogs and frozen semen to enhance and improve our gene pool and exporting semen and puppies to help the European owners to do the same with theirs.

I have been honored to become a Bronze Breeder of Merit in 2017, thanks to the help of our incredible Fox Meadow family of owners. We have had our dogs appear on the National Dog Show as well as receive invitations and win awards at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. We have puppies working as Autism Support Dogs and Assistance Dogs, training to be Search and Rescue Dogs, as well as competing and being ranked in Lure Coursing, Rally, and Agility. They also take part in Barn hunt, Dock Diving and Herding. Jon later adopted his own kennel name and breeds under the Alfagardur Icelandics prefix.

The breed in three words: spirited, hard-working and hilarious.

Being somewhat new to the Herding Group (we achieved AKC full acceptance in 2010) the breed is somewhere towards the middle-bottom of the popularity rankings. People are still learning about them. That they aren’t super popular isn’t necessarily a bad thing, they aren’t a breed for everyone.

For the size of the breed’s competitive population most owners agree we get our fair share of attention 
in group.

I think the Judging community have become more comfortable with the breed and exhibitors are putting quality dogs, who are well presented dogs in the ring.

The Icelandic Sheepdog is a pretty healthy breed, honestly, the biggest concern at the moment are random defects or cancers that can’t be anticipated which claims the life of a young dog. It doesn’t happen often, as they aren’t an issue of them being hereditary conditions. Occasionally, a breeder does produce a puppy with Hip Dysplasia or even rarer a hereditary cataract, most cataracts don’t progress and few dogs have trouble with their Hip Dysplasia.

Breeders considering that the most endearing quality of the Icelandic Sheepdog is their stable temperament, confident and outgoing demeanor which allows groups of Icelandic Sheepdogs to work and play together. These qualities also allows them to rapidly adapt to new situations. Breeders also strive to maintain no distinction between “Show lines” and “Working lines” every show dog must have the ability to be a good working dog.

I’d like to see shy or aggressive dogs being awarded placements stopped. They are a herding breed, they need to be able to work together and quickly recover from stressful situations. Another is over-grooming to go into the show ring, shaping/trimming coats, chalking, and excessive use of grooming products. The desire internationally is that the Icelandic Sheepdog is to be a “Natural Dog.” Proper coat quality is essential to their ability to work in their country of origin, without it—they would become hypothermic. Excessive use of grooming 
products can alter the feel of the coat. It is coat quality not coat length that the dogs should be judged on. A bath and a blow-out should be all they need to go into the ring and U.S. owners really would like to keep it that way.

I believe the parent club is doing what they can to bring awareness to the breed, what we need is more owners getting their dogs out there and competing in dog sports. Folks don’t know that they are a breed designed to do it all and just how much fun they are to work with. When they go to events—they always get positive attention.

I owe the most to Elisabet Stacy-Hurley of Viking Icelandic Sheepdogs who allowed me into her home, introduced me to her dogs and allowed me to take home my first Icelandic Sheepdog, Viking Lilja. Elisabet had the key role in creating the breed’s parent club, the Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America. She has not only been an incredible mentor but also my greatest cheerleader, helping me to have the confidence to do more with my dogs. Elisabet instructed me about the standard, and the history of the club but most important showed me how important “community building” is to our breed’s future. Just like our breed’s founders— we have to work together now to ensure our breed’s future success.

In addition to Elisabet, Brynhildur Inga Einarsdottir, Monika Karlsdottir, Helga Andresdottir, and Jóhanna G. Harðardóttir of Iceland, Pieter Oliehoek of the Netherlands, and Riitta Lumiluoto of Finland also had a huge influence on my education into the breeds history, population genetics, pedigrees and health of our breed. 

I continue to be fortunate to learn from so many others in Iceland and Europe who generously share their experience to ensure the future of one of Iceland’s National Treasures.

For the biggest pitfall for new judges, I did poll the breed’s most active Breeder Owner handlers to give a “breed viewpoint,” as many decisions made in the ring effect the decisions breeders are making outside of it. Here is our response: Many judges want to see the breed having a “cookie cutter” type here in the USA. We want the judges to know that Breeders are still enhancing the gene pool in the USA by importing dogs from Europe and Iceland who each have their “style” of Icelandic Sheepdog, all of whom meet the standard. While breeders recognize that each part of the standard is held to be equally important, among breeders we regard temperament, structure and movement to be the most important qualities and choose dogs on those merits to maintain a dog’s ability to work. We often regard faults such as color an inconvenience in a good dog to be corrected in the next generation. We acknowledge that expression is important—they should be a dog with spirit, alert, happy and outgoing. Shy or aggressive dogs should not be rewarded. We would like to encourage you to not just rely on Judges Ed, but to go and talk to the breeders, we are more than happy to share our time with the judges. If you feel you need to—refer back to the standard while judging, we are happy to see it when you do. Don’t be afraid to put up a dog with merit from the classes—we’ll cheer for you if you do, we don’t expect Champions to always be BOB. As we are new to being ramp optional, the dogs should be always free stack never hand stacked on the ramp, but we all probably need some practice on it.

While still a AKC-FSS / Miscellaneous Class breed, we would have “Conformation Fun Matches,” inviting area judges to meet the breed and participate. At one of these, it was a steamy August morning in Maryland and Judge Jay Hyman generously agreed to join us. It had rained the night before and the grass was still damp. My dog Kaffi was being handled by a friend, after the exam and during the down and back, Kaffi couldn’t take the heat anymore. He, in a very slick move, did a nose dive and proceeded to roll around in the wet grass to cool down. He then popped back up, turned back to look at the judge, flashed a big Icie grin and continued to move on. He did go Best of Breed that day, only to come out of the ring to stand in the water bucket. Kaffi went on to be ranked the #3 Icelandic Sheepdog in the first year of AKC acceptance in 2010 and the breed’s first BOS at Westminster in 2011. He always had a sense of humor when in the ring—you just never knew how he was going to prank you at a show.

Debra Waelde

Evansville, in southern Indiana is where I call home. I started in obedience with Shelties about 30 years ago, then switched breeds to Collies and never thought I would be doing conformation and herding. Chrysalis Collies began producing group winners, specialty show winners, herding and obedience dogs and just dogs to love. I have been blessed as a BOH.

I still work full time as an RN and when time permits between shows, I enjoy hiking/camping, reading and family.

My breeding program is small but successful, having litters only every other year or so. Breeding dogs is challenging, rewarding and education in the breed and knowledge of the the birthing process from conception to puppy-hood is of utmost importance. We need to let our bitches get stronger in whelping their puppies without so much of our intervention, making our breed stronger, that is challenging to me. The nurse in me comes out. Breeding to the standard, but never forgetting structure and movement is important as I do herding also. Most importantly all breeders should make sure every dog placed is loved and well cared for, that’s all a Collie wants. Having “Show Quality Dogs” is icing on the cake.

The breed in three words: grace, beauty and elegance. That is actually the Chrysalis Collies logo, but never, ever forget intelligence, loyalty and family oriented.

I feel like we are mid-way in popularity with the rough being a bit more popular than the smooths. Smoothies are continuing to increase in popularity.

The herding group is one of the largest groups and placing in the group is challenging for a lot of the herding breeds. I have seen many top Collies over-looked even in the breed ring, but isn’t that true for all breeds at one time or another. We need to keep producing sound dogs to the standard and present them regularly to the judges.

The Collie is a strong breed. We continue to do eye, bloat, DM and DMS research, to name a few. The Collie Health Foundation does an amazing job providing education and working with universities and laboratories to always improve Collie health. Incentives and rebates are offered to Collie enthusiasts to promote better breeding and health trends. As breeders, we need to promote the importance of testing to our colleagues and owners. Collie Health Foundation, Collie Club of American and local clubs are the best places to start.

Breeding stronger, healthier Collies has become a big focus, along with standard interpretation and other issues. The clubs are offering more seminars and opportunities for breeder and judge education. I have seen some of our local Collie clubs struggling with membership and engaging new membership; our local breed clubs need to be proactive in recruiting all Collie lovers in general.

The Collie Club of America has a wonderful website that is user friendly and full of everything Collie. As one of the earliest dog clubs formed the CCA is strong with good support. Focusing on juniors and the local clubs is so important.

I cannot begin to name all the people that have mentored, helped, supported and taken me under their tutelage and still do. Collie folks love their dogs and want only the best for he breed which in turn leads to many friendships. You never stop learning about your breed. The comradeship is strong in the Collie world.

The biggest pitfall for new judges: this is a hard question as I am not a judge. We need to promote the oldest sport of dog showing, the more people involved in the sport the more that will get into to the judging aspect. We often talk about the great judges of back when and they are hard shoes to fill.

Heike Wehrle

I live in Hampshire, Illinois and have been in dogs for 45 years. Outside of dogs, I love to travel and go sightseeing.

With forty years of experience, my goal with each litter is to maintain good temperament, overall health, breed type, as well as staying true to breed standard. My passion for Belgians has led to many friendships and working relationships which have taught me so much. I am thankful to have found such a regal, intelligent, and loving breed.

The breed in three words: intelligent, loyal and dependable.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem the Belgian gets the recognition it deserves.

Does the breed get its fair share of attention in the Group? I don’t think so. I believe this due to a lack of popularity in the breed.

In general, the Belgian Sheepdog is a very healthy breed.

Due to the tireless work and coordination of knowledgable breeders and judges we now have an elegant but powerful breed. As far as my concerns, I believe we are seeing many Belgians that are somewhat lower on leg.

I’m not so sure that I want to increase the popularity of the breed because that often leads to their demise, like many other breeds.

In my earlier years, Nancy Mages (Tervurens/Schipperkes/Border Collies), a wonderful and professional “Dog Person”. I owe the most to her.

Judges should not look for assignments based on popularity. They should seek information from an array of breeders. I would personally recommend they visit their focal breed’s country of origin. In order to know the finer points in the breed, this can really develop your eye and taste.

The funniest thing I’ve ever seen at a dog show? People! “What happens at the dog show, stays at the dog show.” 

             

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