Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dog Shows: Best in Show or Best of what was Showed?

This past weekend I went to the dog show at the Orlando Fair Grounds. I am not really into the whole show world in the sense, its not a sport I could see myself involved in, but I do appreciate dog shows and learn a lot from them.

If you have never heard Pat Hastings speak, you must. FYI, we are hosting her for a one day workshop/seminar on October 9, 2010.

I really gained an incredible amount of knowledge from her workshop last year. Her proven knowledge provided much insight to what a good dog should look line under his/her skin.

At one point in her presentation she was talking about stacking a dog. Before I go on, let me define what stacking means and the different kinds of stacking.

Stacking is the behavior in which the dog stands in the proper position fro the written standard for his breed. There are two kinds of stacking:

1. Handing Stacking: is where you actually manipulate the dog into the position that you want.
2. Free Stacking: Is when the dog positions himself/herself on his own, typically in a fashion that is naturally most comfortable to the dog.

According to Pat, a structurally sound puppy can be tested at eight weeks of age for exact accuracy for adult structure. Stacking begins by holding the puppy above a table, by supporting the puppy under the chest and head, with the other hand under the butt, then let the legs hang down. Once the dog is completely limp, like noodles, place him evenly (front weight and back weight) onto the table.

A dog with great angulation and proper structure will not have to be hand stacked. The dog will place in a great stack. Those dogs that have to be adjusted are compromising for some structural assembly.

In this case, breeders will begin training their puppies from a very young age to stack according to the position they are moved into, vs what is naturally comfortable.

Imagine that for a person with a low arch in their foot. Imagine them standing. Naturally they might "stack" more inwards. Can that person be taught to stand neutral such that their arch is lifted higher. Sure.

If that is difficult to imagine, try this. Imagine a person with a knee problem. In order to stand for a lengthy period of time, that person may slightly adjust his/her weight to compromise for that slight discomfort. Can that person stack correctly? Sure, they can be made to. Are they structurally fit? No.

So the same goes for the dog. Especially if the knee issue is due to genetic assembly and not injury.

The dog can be taught to stack, but does that mean the dog has got what it takes structurally to represent the breed "best in show?"

Back to this weekend's dog show. We were watching the Samoyeds, and it was interesting to make note that every single dog in the ring was noticeably different in appearance than each other. it was also very interesting to note all the mechanical flaws in each dog.... they were very obvious if you knew what you were looking for. I believe, every dog in that particular ring had a structural flaw, but a winner still needed to be selected.

So, best in show or best of what was showed?



Denise Zaldivar with IES said...

Hi Teena! Your blog is very, very informative! I had never heard about stacking, and it is very interesting. Yes, I agree with you: are they showing the TRULY best, will the TRULY best win? In a fairly poor comparison, but that just popped up in my mind...if we look at human peagents, beauty peagents...most of these ladies had a lot of "work" done to themselves. Structurally, no, most of them are far from being truly fit!

Food Freak Frank said...

Thanks for this post! I feel that in almost every ring there are many flawed dogs, and I am sometimes shocked by what the judges pick! Even with my own dog, the last time I showed him, the judge was miffed about a conversation she had just had with the ring steward, and she didn't even LOOK at my dog while he was on the table. (She was complaining to me rather than looking at him,) and then when his competition came in the ring (a very very poor example of the breed, structurally) she put him up over my dog because "your dog's ears weren't up when I looked at him." For real?! I'm starting to lose all faith I had in judges.