Pembroke proportions


City of Birmingham’s judge was Kevin Young (Sunkap Bearded Collies) and Kevin Dover and Lars Saether’s Ch Pemcader Thunderball (Ch Pemcader Belroyd Zeus ex Pemcader Black Glamour) won his tenth CC of the year (52nd in all) and was BOB.

BCC was a first for Amanda Rees’ recent import from Australia, Aus Ch Jopearl First Noelle at Breconmohr for Stadwen. She was bred by Joanne McCann by the US import Aus Ch Hum’nbird Rock Your Socks ex Aus Ch Jopearl A Little Night Music who combines New Zealand and US breeding..

I guess she must be the first Australian import to the UK to win a CC, though multi-titled Ch Antudor Accidentally In Love (Aus bred and then living in Norway) won a CC and Ch Nireno Luke Skywalker (UK born, US conceived ex an Australian bitch) is owned and bred by an Australian.

RDCC went to Tracy and Kath Irving’s dual CC winning Born To Be Your Salt Dog at Twinan (Hung/Rom/Greek/Mac Ch Born To Be Your Sparticus di Pi Et Ra ex Int/Rom Ch Twinan Colour Me Red) and RBCC was a first green card for Chris and Nicki Blance’s Penliath Sent From Coventry (Am Ch Ninacorte Chicago Hope ex Coventry Dancing With The Stars for Penliath). She is litter sister to CC winners Spanner in The Worx and Sent To Coventry. If you get confused between To and From, remember To is the Tri!

BP was a seventh such award to Lorraine Weedall and Nicola Bogue’s Bronabay Illuminations (Ch Bronabay Cannonball ex Bronabay True Colours) and BV an eighth such award this year for Mary Davies’ tri Ch/Rus/Ukr Ch Ermyn Snow Knight (Ch/Am Ch Rosewood Set Sail to Salvenik ex Wharrytons Pansy Potter at Ermyn).

The show has a best junior award which went to Kim Warner’s tri Meitza Erik The King (One CC, by Thunderball ex Meitza Goldust), who was second in the junior group under Jeff Horswell.

Eleanor Thomas was third in her junior handling class under Rachel Barney and Balletcor third in the breeders group judged by Tom Isherwood.

Mary Davies, along with Brenda Piears for Cardis, judged the Polish club specialty and from the photos it appears to have been a jolly affair with the theme of ‘Nero’s Feast’ and many of the exhibitors dressing appropriately! Makes one wonder if some of our club shows should have a ‘theme’!

BOB and BIS was the tri dog Ch Style Life Unicum (Int Ch Shamquin Fox Knight ex Ch Style Life Alpine Rose) and BOS Pem, Int Ch Solntse Oldenburga Almaznaya Kroshka (Ch Andvol Jonkoping ex Int Ch Maxbord Tsarskaya Zabava), both I think from Russia.

Continuing our comparison of the UK and American Standards, possibly the most interesting contrast comes in the description of the body and proportions.

In the UK we have:

“Body: Medium length, well sprung ribs, not short coupled, slightly tapering, when viewed from above. Level topline. Chest broad and deep, well let down between forelegs.“

And don’t forget we have already had under General Appearance: “Low set, strong, sturdily built, alert and active, giving impression of substance and stamina in small space.”

As ever there are more words in the American version. The topline has its own section: Firm and level, neither riding up to nor falling away at the croup. A slight depression behind the shoulders caused by heavier neck coat meeting the shorter body coat is permissible.”

And then we have this for body: Rib cage should be well sprung, slightly eggshaped and moderately long. Deep chest, well let down between the forelegs. Exaggerated lowness interferes with the desired freedom of movement and should be penalized. Viewed from above, the body should taper slightly to end of loin. Loin short. Round or flat rib cage, lack of brisket, extreme length or cobbiness, are undesirable.”

Earlier in the American Standard we have had two other relevant sections:

“Proportions - Moderately long and low. The distance from the withers to the base of the tail should be approximately 40 percent greater than the distance from the withers to the ground.

“Substance - Should not be so low and heavy-boned as to appear coarse or overdone, nor so lightboned as to appear racy.”

And they too mention these aspects under General Appearance: “Low-set, strong, sturdily built and active, giving an impression of substance and stamina in a small space. Should not be so low and heavy-boned as to appear coarse or overdone, nor so light-boned as to appear racy.”

On toplines, then, we agree, UK saying in the minimum possible word that it should be level, the Americans going into more detail but saying the same thing. From the US version you would rightly infer that you should use your hands to check that either a good or poor topline isn’t just the result of clever or not-so-clever grooming. Sending the dogs round reveals all!

We all want substance, the Americans emphasizing that this shouldn’t be overdone which would surely detract from the Pem’s working ability.

The Americans mention a ‘moderately long’ ribcage; sadly we in the UK don’t mention how long the ribs should be, which is surely a pity as many judges agree this isn’t one of the breed’s strong points anywhere in the world.

Now to the controversial bits! Surely one of the most important things a judge of any breed needs to understand is what is considered to be the correct outline and proportions. It’s the first thing that ‘hits’ you when a dog enters the ring and surely the main component of breed type. Yet the country of origin Standard for the Pem is extremely vague in this vital topic.

Yes, it gives clues in a few phrases: ‘low set’, ‘body medium length’, ‘not short coupled’. But that is all, and hardly sufficient to give any serious indication of what is correct Pembroke balance. Perhaps that explains why the breed’s shape has changed from the rather squareish dogs of pre-war times, to the distinctly long, low balance we see today. Which is more suited to a breed with the Pem’s purpose in life – well that’s a moot point.

The Americans, on the other hand, give very specific body proportions: “Moderately long and low. The distance from the withers to the base of the tail should be approximately 40 percent greater than the distance from the withers to the ground.”

If you take a ruler to photos of real dogs and measure these proportions, you will soon find that only the very long and/or low Pembrokes fulfil this balance. Certainly none of the early dogs would come anywhere near 40 per cent longer than high, measured from the points given in the US Standard.

I have previously tried to find out, without success, why the enthusiasts who drew up the current American Standard considered that these should be the ideal Pembroke proportions and why this ‘long-lowness’ should be encouraged. Would be interested to have the views of American experts on this topic.

The other point of contrast is regarding the loin. Britain simply says ‘not short coupled’, while the Americans want ‘loin short’. Most authorities seem to agree that the couplings and the loin are the same thing, so we seem to have a direct contradiction here, which seems especially strange when the Americans appear to want a generally longer dog.

So which is most suited to a working dog? On the one hand, you don't want a weakness in the loin area, which is of course unsupported by the rib cage. On the other hand you need sufficient flexibility for the dog to twist and turn in the course of his duties. I guess the answer is that exaggeration in either direction is to be avoided.

SIMON PARSONS

The Welsh Corgi League