How dogs are judged

Kennel clubs in individual countries, Great Britain included, and the FCI (federation Cynologique Internationale) to which breeders’ organization in 24 countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America Belong and with which the United Kingdom and some other non-member countries have reciprocal agreements, issue standards for individual breeds of dog. These are descriptions of the general appearance of the dog and various components of the body. At dog show it is the task of judges to estimate how closely the dog exhibited conforms to the standard that is how nearly it approaches the ideal for the breed in question.
At shows in all countries, fairly uniform terminology is used for describing the general appearance of the dog, the structure of the body and other features so that the conformity of the dog to the standard can be estimated.

Body structure:
It can be symmetrical, asymmetrical, well balance, low, moderately low build, taller build. The dog can be too tall (that is to say compared with the standard), or too low. The balance of various parts of the body is also described: the dog can be long-legged, short-legged or the hind quarters may be higher than the forequarters.

The ratio of the height at the shoulder to the length of the body. The dog can be square, oblong, small, large, short, long or conforming to the standard.

The extent to which the dog, at first sight, approaches the ideal for the breed, that is whether it is typical or not. Type also expresses the difference between dogs and bitches which should be clearly distinguishable – for a dog to resemble a bitch or a bitch to look like a dog is a fault.

The state of development of bone and muscle structure which can be strong, weak, firm, coarse or fine. A dog is then commensurately massive, strong, weak, and robust. If it gives the impression of clumsiness it is heavy, if the reverse it is light.

Thoroughbred appearance:
The general impression the dog gives according to its breed and by which it can appear thoroughbred or not, over-bred with an unusually fine skeleton or too coarse.

The dog’s overall fitness, bearing in mind its physical structure, state of health and temperament, can be fine, coarse, lean or sluggish.

The physical state of the dog at a given moment, which can be described as good, moderate, poor obese, emaciated, and working, stud or show.

Terminology to describe individual parts of the body
Head: Can have thoroughbred or non-thoroughbred appearance, can be adequate, light, too heavy, coarse, reflects the dog’s sex and its typical or non- typical.

Muzzle: Can be long, short, pointed, blunt, narrow, and broad.

Corners: Can be emphasized or not.

Lips: Can be fleshy, adequate, little developed, overhanging, close fitting, not close fitting, firmly closed.

Cheeks: Are bugling or flat.

Nose: Can be of various colors, nostrils can be narrow or broad.

Bridge of nose: Can be level, convex, concave, broad or narrow.

Skull: As whole, can be broad, narrow, long or short.

Forehead: Is broad, narrow, flat, arched, domed, narrowing towards the eyes, with indentation or without it.

Stop: Which forms the transition between the bridge of the nose and forehead, can be emphatic or slight, defined or not defined.

Upper eye sockets: Are emphasized or not.

Crown: Can be broad, narrow, domed, and flat, with or without indentation.

Occipital crest: is perceptible, imperceptible, clearly defined or not.

Eyes: can be round, elliptical, triangular, almond-shaped, wide open, deep set, prominent, with raised or lowered lids. Their color can be dark, dark brown, brown, and hazel, light brown, amber, light, wild or fish-like. Expression can be lively, uncertain, calm, shy, and fierce.

Ears: Can be long or short, broad or narrow, small or large, set high or low, with narrow or broad base, fleshy, thin, pointed, rounded, erect (pricked), pendent, laying flat on cheeks or not, well or badly controlled, hanging to the side, dropped or semi-dropped (button), light, heavy cropped, post surgery to correct some fault).

Neck: Can be described as long, short, weak, strong, adequate, muscular, slim, thick, set high or low, carried high or low, arched, stag-neck, ewe-neck.

Nape: Can be graceful, arched, short, long, muscular, broad, and narrow.

Throat: Can be graceful, broad, narrow, clean cut, thick.

Brisket: Can be deep, shallow, narrow, broad, short, long, barrel-shaped, humped, arched, well developed, under-developed, pressed against the shoulders; viewed from the front it can be well developed, under-developed, flat, broad, narrow, well or poorly muscled.

Chest: Brisket from the front – can be well or under-developed, flat, narrow, muscular, or otherwise.

Shoulder: Can be described as high, low, well defined, and not well defined.

Back: Can be level, roached, projecting, firm, soft, narrow, broad, long, short, poorly or adequately muscled.

Loin: Can be long, short, firm, soft, broad, narrow, well knit or loosely knit, well muscled or not, arched.

Flanks: Are broad, narrow, firm, loose, sunken, well filled.

Rump: The rear part of the body from the crest of the hips to the seat – can be level, sloping, dropping, steep, long, short, broad, narrow, muscular or poorly muscled.

Pelvis: Can be described as oblique, steep, long, short, narrow, and broad.

Hips: Can be projecting, clearly defined, and not defined.

Tail: Can be set high or low, can be thick, thin, coarse or fine, thick or thin at root, short, long, gradually tapering, docked short or rather longer, carried erect, in an arch or horizontally, downwards, curved, kinked, curled, curled over on back.

Hair on tail: Long-haired gundogs can have a plume or feathering on the underside of tail, rough-haired varieties can have a brush.

Belly: Is tucked up or loose, capacious or firm.

Anus: Not specified in detail.

Groin: Can be more or less fringed.

Genitalia: Not specified in detail.

Hind’s legs: Can be straight, well or insufficiently bent, well or poorly muscled.

Thighs: Can be long, short, weak, strong, muscular or poorly muscled.

Trousers: Are formed by long hairs on back of hind legs and thighs.

Stifle: Can be free, turned out or turned in.

Lower or second thighs: Can be long, short, strong or weak.

Hocks: Are described as emphasized or not, narrow, broad, strong, weak, bare, well let down, high from the ground.

Heel: Can be long or short.

Pastern: can be short, long, strong or weak, upright or bent under.

Feet: Are cat like, hare like, spoon shaped, closed up, compact, soft, arched, small, large.

Toes: To hind feet can be firm, loose, closed up, compact, arched flat.

Dewclaws: Can be strong, weak, filed down, too long, color can correspond to standard or not.

Nails or claws: Can be strong, weak, filed down, too long, color can correspond to standard or not.

Forelegs: Can be straight, crooked, rickety, well or poorly muscled.

Shoulder blades: Are sloping, steep, long, short, firm, loose, according to the standard or not.

Shoulder joint: Is clearly or only slightly perceptible.

Upper arm: Is long or short.

Elbow: Is firm, loose, turned in or turned out, flat.

Forearm: Can be long, short, strong, straight, crooked, and rickety.

Trousers: Of forelegs are formed by longer hair on back of forearms in long-haired breeds.

Color of coat: Can vary according to the provisions of the standard.

Quality of coat: Is constituted by the undercoat and outer coat. These together with the color create the typical coat for the breed determined by the standard. It can be short, long, wavy, curly, straight, coarse, fine, close, open, hard, soft, glossy, mat, harsh, smooth, dense or sparse. It can have bald patches or be moulting, well or badly trimmed or clipped.

Eyebrows: A characteristic feature of rough haired breeds can be strong, weak, emphasized, not emphasized, perceptible, and imperceptible
Beard and whiskers: Also a feature of rough-haired breeds – can be well developed, adequately, over – or under-developed.

Posture and gait: At shows not only the shape of the legs and their muscles are described but also their posture in repose and in action. Judges, therefore, insist on seeing the dog in action in order to assess the qualities or faults of the legs which influence the whole mechanism of movement.

Posture of forelegs: Can be correct, narrow, broad, close-set, and wide-set, converging or diverging, correctly or incorrectly bent.

Posture of hind legs: Can be normal, steep, cow-hocked, barrel-shaped, set under, converging, diverging, and standing firmly, broad, and narrow, correctly or incorrectly bent.

Temperament of the dog: At shows the judges must also ascertain whether the dog’s disposition is accordance with the standard. The dog may be described as being full of character, straight forward, crafty, good, bad wild, gentle, fearless, timid, trustful, and mistrustful.