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Judging the Judges

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198 – March, 2020

By Lee Connor

Recently, the UK Kennel Club announced that it was expanding its ‘Breed Watch System’. This system is supposed to act as a kind of ‘early warning’ for judges, allowing them to identify points of concern in individual breeds.

Back in 2014, the way in which the KC monitored the health of pedigree dogs was enhanced through the expansion of ‘Breed Watch’. Through its implication judges were able to report on any visible conditions and exaggerations that they considered to be detrimental to the health and welfare of dogs.

This, of course, went hand in hand with the KC’s avowed belief that every dog should have the opportunity to live a healthy, happy life.

They even came up with a rather snazzy title for all this; ‘Fit for function: Fit for Life’.

All very positive and commendable, so who could possibly complain, right?

Well, me actually! My two breeds – Boston Terriers and Dachshunds – were recently added to the Breed Watch list. The points of concern were, for Dachshunds; ‘Sore eyes or excessive tearing, incorrect hindquarter movement/unsound movement…’ For Bostons the points of concern were; ‘lack of tail, screw tail, inverted tail…and irregular hind movement.’ However, anyone casually perusing the list will immediately notice a pattern in the ‘visible points of concern’ – although they might be phrased differently, they all basically mean the same thing.

Great Dane – ‘unsound movement’ Dachshund – ‘incorrect hindquarter movement’
King Charles Spaniel – ‘weak hindquarters’
Boston Terrier – ‘irregular hind movement’
Cavalier King Charles – ‘unsound movement’
Leonberger – ‘unsound movement and weak pasterns’
Then we have;
Rottweiler – ‘conformational defects of the upper and lower eyelids’
Bullmastiff – ‘conformational defects of the upper and/or lower eyelids so that the eyelid margins are not in normal contact with the eye when the dog is in natural pose’
Dachshund – ‘sore eyes or excessive tearing’
German Spitz (Mittel and Klein) – ‘sore eyes or excessive tearing’
Cavalier King Charles – ‘prominent eyes’ And finally, because there is really only one way of saying it…
Chinese Crested – ‘nervous temperament’
Maremma Sheepdog – ‘nervous temperament’
Great Dane – ‘nervous temperament’
Now, as I have said before, I am not knocking the KC’s good intentions and I broadly agree with what Bill Lambert (Senior Health and Welfare Manager of the Kennel Club) says in the following statement;

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198 – March, 2020

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  • March 2021