An Eye For A Dog

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Pedigree show dogs

I will try not to get on my high horse with this one ‘an eye for a dog’. Although this post is about the dog show world and the Kennel Club breed standard. A lot of the new wave of dog groomers and dog breeders should read this and take note. This post also goes well with the other dog show, dog breeder and dog grooming blog posts I have which are

The following information has been taken from a Facebook post Thursday 16th February 2023 with permission from Maureen Mitchell (Kennel Club Affix Staxyll) to use here. Which is a quote from the great dog show judge of the past Tom Horner. This may help you understand the term ‘an eye for a dog’ which I often refer to in my blog posts.  

Maureen writes

This is a piece written by the great Tom Horner many years ago but no matter when it was written the content is still valid.  “A Breed Standard isn’t just a collection of words, it’s the blueprint, the way in which we recognise the distinguishing features of one breed from another. Our own interpretation of the Standard should never overly stray from that blueprint and it’s our understanding of it that takes the most time to learn and hopefully put into practice and having “an eye” to determine a good dog from a mediocre one. The learning is continual and never stops …. “

Tom Horner puts it all into perspective in the following piece….

“Breed Standards are like The Lord’s Prayer.  Even a child can memorize it, but it takes a lifetime to completely understand it.   Judging is both an art and a science. It is an art because the decisions with which a judge is constantly faced are very often based on considerations of an intangible nature that cannot be recognised intuitively.  It is also a science because without sound knowledge of a dog’s points and anatomy, a judge cannot make a proper assessment of it, whether it is standing or in motion.

Knowledge, decisiveness, integrity and the rest of the necessary qualities are useless without one vital possession – ‘an eye for a dog’, which is the ability that every good judge has to recognize at a glance whether a dog is right or wrong, good, bad or indifferent.  A priceless gift, without which no one can make a real success of judging, it is acquired by long and painstaking study of anatomy, breed standards, high-class dogs and poor ones, breed books, photographs and so on, until it becomes an instinctive skill to weigh up the merits of a dog, almost on first sight” …..


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