Yesterday, Nalyua had some amazingly good questions about Clover and her championship. So good, I wanted to pull them out into their own post. (Naly, I <3 you so much for how good these are!)
Congratulations for Clover winning her Championship! (Err my apologies if I interpret the post wrong!)
You did not interpret the post wrong. Thank-you very much!
That leads me to a (maybe) stupid question again. I’m sorry!
I see that Clover won points even after she got this floppy ear which is not breed standard.
Before her ear injury, Clover had already won 11 points and had two major wins. She needed four points to finish her title.
The thing about breed standards is that they describe a hypothetical ideal dog of that breed, and no real dog is going to be perfect in every way. Some judges we’ve shown to since her ear injury have been able to look past the floppy ear and say, “Well, even with the bad ear, I think this dog gets closer to the hypothetical ideal dog described in the standard.” Some judges have decided that the bad ear was enough of a flaw that they felt the other dog in the ring was more deserving of the win. I had the opportunity to talk to a judge on each side of that divide — one said the ear injury didn’t bother him because he liked Clover’s structure and her movement very much. The other judge said that, while there were things she liked about Clover, the standard was very clear about both ears being erect, and she felt that was more important. Judging is inherently subjective because you’re comparing each dog in the ring to a hypothetical ideal dog, so every judge has to decide for themselves what part is more important than other part. If you have two dogs that are in all other ways equally of good quality, do you pick the one with a better shoulder, or the one with a better rear? Ask ten judges, get ten different answers.
And I saw your descriptions that Jackson needed to mature a bit and get more broader around the chest.
Yep, at the time we retired him from showing, we hoped that with maturity, Jackson’s front would improve.
He didn’t seem to get the same amount of points Clover got. To me as a total noob this seems very strange because the floppy ear is obviously and clearly visible not supposed to be there, while Jackson looks like an exemplatory Ridgeback( and even seemed to be the breeders pick puppy until they decided on a girl instead). To someone who has no idea that is.
In some way, this is just an example of how you make an educated guess at 8 weeks old of how a puppy will turn out, and then they do (or don’t) turn out the way you had hoped. Jackson’s shoulder and chest assembly is put together in a way that makes him stand with his two front feet very close together most of the time, because his chest is narrow. With dogs, movement follows structure. The way a dog is put together directly influences how he will move. And the more easily a dog can move — the less he has to fight his own body to move freely — the easier it will be for him to do the job he was bred to do (or to compete in dog sports, or even just be a pet). He has some lovely features — he has beautiful shoulder angulation, a very strong rear, and he looks very nice when you watch him trotting from the side. But as soon as he starts trotting in a straight line toward you, you can immediately see how that narrow chest affects the way he has to move his front legs in order to get out of his own way.
I am told — by people who are much more experienced in this than I am — that if I wanted to spend the money on it, I could eventually put a title on Jackson, but it won’t be as easy as putting points on Loki has been. I haven’t taken it off the table yet — Jackson is only three years old. No dog is ideal, and he’s got a lot of good points too.
In this photo, you can see the difference between Jackson’s chest and Loki’s chest (or Clover’s chest) pretty clearly, especially if you look at the spacing between their feet. This was a candid photo so you can see how each dog naturally “falls” into a different way of holding himself, just as a result of the differences in how their bones are put together. But also pay attention to the amount of space between the legs at the bottom of the chest — imagine putting your hand between their legs, and how much room there would be on Jackson versus Loki. See also how Jackson’s toes on his front feet point in different directions, and Loki’s all point the same direction. Again, this is due to that chest assembly and how the bones all interact with each other.
Then again Clover got this floppy ear due to an injury and Jackson’s problem is more from the general bone structure?
I am told that as long as an injury is considered an “honorable” injury — in other words, it’s not the result of cosmetic surgery or an attempt to surgically correct a fault in structure — that it is okay to continue to show the dog. So, if Clover’s bad ear had been that way since birth, that would be one thing. But her ears were up, and the one ear fell due to injury, and that makes all the difference in the world.
Does this make any difference in a show? And does the limited amount of Canaans in a show make a difference?
Yes and no. The rarity of Canaan Dogs versus a more popular breed like Dobermans does mean that it’s less competitive. You have more breeders and owners showing their own Canaan Dogs (versus handling them off to a handler) so it’s easier to compete as a novice like I am. A professional handler who has been showing dogs for forty years will know how to take a less-than-stellar front and make it look as best as it can be made to look. A novice won’t have that skill yet.
There’s a downside to rarity too, though: it’s harder to get points. I’m lucky that Poppy is local to us and so we could get three of the four points Clover needed just by competing against her. But for Poppy — who has all the points she needs EXCEPT for her second major — having Clover local to her is less valuable. Amy had to really work behind the scenes to organize getting Bird, Jury, and Mary Russell to come to us for shows, and it was only possible because they were in the same position Poppy was: they had points, but needed majors.
Because if I understood your explanation about shows then a Major can be only won if the dog beats contestants, or did I misunderstand?
Nope, you have it right. The amount of points you earn at any one show is determined by how many dogs you defeated, and you have to earn three points to be considered a major win. For Canaan Dogs, that means you need to defeat at a minimum four dogs of your sex who don’t have their title yet. Things get complicated when you add in crossover points, but to keep things simple, just know that you need at least four girls entered (who don’t have a championship yet) to be worth three points, and you need three or more points for a major win.