Get any group of breeders together, and the talk soon turns to to the big winners of the day. It is always interesting to hear other breeders opinions, and most of us can spend hours talking about bloodlines, structure, breed type and movement.
When we educate judges, we ask them to evaluate the entire package; not overlooking faults in favor of virtues, but weighing those faults and prioritizing the virtues. Evaluate the Cardigan as a whole- the sum of his parts.
It is even more important that breeders and exhibitors learn to evaluate the entire package. No Cardigan is without faults, and all Cardigans have virtues. How those virtues and faults work together is how experienced breeders (and judges) make their decisions.
Finding faults in a dog is very easy! It is also a very negative and damaging way to evaluate dogs. How many times have you sat ringside and heard comments about "So n So's" straight shoulder or bad tail set? When you look at your own dogs, do you see the faults first? Are you able to appreciate your dogs "parts", and evaluate him as a complete dog?
The fault judge is one that will discount an otherwise worthy dog for one major (or minor!) fault. The fault judge is someone who will not be able to see past cosmetic faults, or perhaps a less-than-ideal tail set, and appreciate the other qualities that the dog possesses.
We talk alot about how the Cardigans front is the hallmark of the breed- but it is not the only thing that makes a Cardigan worthy of being shown or bred... or not! A Cardigan with a great front- yet short in back or with an atypical head or curly,wiry coat or oval bone- is just not a great Cardigan. By the same token, a dog that is otherwise exceptional who has a poor coat, or a round eye, or a straight rear- is not a bad dog. Both dogs have virtues, and the strength of those virtues must be weighed against the severity of the faults.
Most successful breeders will agree that they would rather have an exceptional dog with one major fault, then a mediocre dog; a dog without major faults, but no outstanding virtues. Always remember that mediocre begets mediocre!
The next time you have an opportunity to see a group of Cardigans, try to find the virtues first- before you are tempted to point out the faults. Start training yourself to appreciate the dog as a whole-- the sum of his parts.
As always, I encourage you to visit the CWCCA website or Cardigan Commentary website for more information on judging our wonderful breed.
While on the CWCCA website, click on upcoming events, and find a supported entry or regional specialty near you.
Looking forward to seeing you around the rings!