Welcome to Dogs in Review’s annual Working and Herding issue. Looking around both Group rings, there are a few new additions to meet, and more on the way. Of course, “new” is a relative term. While they may be relatively recent arrivals to our shores, they are firmly established in other parts of the world. To help you keep on top of them, we are showcasing a few in this issue, presented by their most knowledgeable and articulate champions.
The Spanish Water Dog is a rustic and versatile breed that made its debut in the AKC Herding Group this year. Although its corded appearance is beguiling, serious breed fanciers put the emphasis on utility and discourage overgrooming of any sort. The Spanish Water Dog Club of America is fortunate to have AKC judge Richard Reynolds committed to the breed and working so hard to promote it. What impressed me most about Richard’s introduction to the breed is that he tells us what we are going to find in the SWD ring right now; in what areas breeders are working to improve and, when judges must be forgiving of the dogs in AKC show rings, where a compromise can safely be made. Learn more about this wonderful breed’s origin and function in Richard’s “Getting to Know the Spanish Water Dog,” on page 96.
In our November 2013 issue, Liz Hansen and Betsy Richards put together a highly informative feature on the Berger Picard for us. On July 1, 2015, the breed joins the AKC Herding Group. In this issue, Betsy provides a valuable refresher course for everyone who has judged Picards in the Miscellaneous Class or attended a Judges Ed presentation on the breed. Berger Picard stalwarts like Betsy and Liz emphasize function in this breed, clearly articulating why upright head carriage on the move and sculpting of the coat fly in the face of correct breed type. “Judging the Berger Picard” on page 115 should be considered a must-read for all arbiters of the Herding Group.
Generic show dogs and generic judging are challenges that our sport faces on a weekly basis. Without the confidence that a solid education gives a judge to discern breed nuances, it’s too easy to mentally lump the Malamutes and Siberians together; think of the Cane Corso as a more heavily built Boxer; and confuse the Lapphunds and the Icelandics. Such generic judging does a huge disservice to the breeds, and is disrespectful to all breeders and exhibitors who pay entry fees expecting a knowledgeable evaluation. In the same vein, a Tibetan Mastiff is not an oriental Newf, in either temperament or make and shape. Nor is a Newf a Saint merely painted differently. We asked AKC judge and longtime Saint Bernard breeder Joan Zielinski to compare the TM, Newf and Saint for our “Back to Basics” series. Joan’s article begins on page 86.
Also in this issue: “Icons of the Past” in the Working and Herding Groups (page 80); the 2014 Top Working and Herding Sires and Dams (page 126); and our comprehensive Crufts report (page 42).