Thursday, April 2, 2015

B -- Breed Standard

Currently the AKC (American Kennel Club) recognizes 184 different dogs breeds. Dog breeds are divided into seven different groups based on the breed's original function. These groups are:

  • Sporting Group
  • Hound Group
  • Working Group
  • Terrier Group
  • Toy Group
  • Non-Sporting Group
  • Herding Group

Every breed in the AKC has a breed standard. This is a written description of what an ideal dog of that breed should be. These standards are very detailed, covering everything from appearance and structure to movement and temperament. Many breeds have minimum/maximum height and weight requirements. All standards list what is considered a fault in that breed as well as what would be a disqualification.

In the AKC, each breed of dog has one National Club for that breed. This is often referred to as the "Parent Club." Breed standards are developed and maintained by the National Club for that breed. Responsible breeders pair up dogs based on these standards. Dogs in conformation competitions are judged against these standards. All these efforts are to maintain the integrity, temperament and functionality of the purebred dog. Yes, it sounds lofty. And awfully prejudiced. But this is what keeps a German shepherd from becoming a Chihuahua.

Here's CH Tazzman's Aregon. I've been in love with this dog for years. He's gorgeous. (And the sire of Jedi's latest half brothers and sisters. But that's a story for another time . . . )


Aregon is both a U.S. and Canadian champion. In 2009 he was selected as the Grand Victor -- a title given to the best of all dogs shown at the German Shepherd Dog Club of America's specialty show. (It's kind of a big deal.) It's safe to assume that Aregon is a good example of a dog that closely matches (aka conforms to) the breed standard. The standard states that a proper German Shepherd Dog is:
. . . a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life. It is well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It looks substantial and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness or soft living. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility -- difficult to define, but unmistakable when present.
(This is just a small portion of the GSD breed standard. I printed it out once. It's several pages long, single spaced!)

A cardinal rule for showing dogs is: Know your breed standard.

Whatever your breed of choice, it's imperative that you learn the standard. You will waste time and money if your dog doesn't conform to the breed standard. -- K

P.S. For fun, print out the breed standard for your favorite breed(s) before you go to a dog show. Based on the breed standard, who you would pick as the winner?

Tomorrow's Topic: Conformation Shows