Tails in the Standard

Not quite such a busy weekend to report, with just the League’s Southern section open show judged by Lars Saether (Pemcader). I'll hope for a Discover Dogs report in due course. Thanks to Val Pickford for the Southern section results – she says: “We had a good show, very friendly atmosphere as always. We are so lucky to have such a hard-working and willing committee.” It proved to be an exciting debut for Barry and Sue Coulson, Elisabeth Camboni and Katell Malagre’s French import Oye-Dragoon-Willow des Contamines at Woodhenge who at six months and five days went all the way to BIS and BPIS! He is by Int/Fr/Port Ch Lawrence Of Arabia des Contamines ex Fr Ch Legend Of Dragoon Rose des Contamines. BB was Dawn Woodey’s Barawood Summer Solace (Ch Pemcader Thunderball ex Barawood Soul Singer). RBD was Kim Warner’s tri Meitza Erik The King (Thunderball ex Meitza Goldust) and RBB also went to Barry and Sue with Woodhenge Storm Princess (Thunderball ex Woodhenge Moon Maiden). BPB was Teresa Maddox’s Salvenik Scarlet Rose (Redfordhill Magic Moments to Salvenik ex Bertley Autumnal Rose with Salvenik) and BV Carole Turner’s Cottonfields Hecate (Ch Pemcader Belroyd Zeus ex Powdermill Magic Gold for Cottonfields). Elizabeth Gordon (Troutop) judged the special award classes which were won by Corland Nighthawk, Cottonfields Antipodian and Zydahayes Jitterbug. Continuing with the breed Standards, we get to the controversial bit, the tail. Here of course we have to bear in mind that the legislative situation is different in the US where docking is still permitted. The UK Standard reads: “Short, preferably natural. “Docked: Short. “Undocked: Set in line with topline. Natural carriage above topline when moving or alert. “ This is rather awkwardly worded, as obviously the ‘short’ in the first paragraph is negated by the paragraph referring to the undocked Pems. Does this imply that preference (everything else being equal, which it never is) should be given to short-tailed Pems? I hope not in current circumstances. And among short-tailed dogs, should preference be given to natural bobs? That would be difficult as one can never be certain which ones are natural, though that small pad of flesh at the end of a naturally bobbed tail does give a clue. Then, how short is short? As we know, bobtails can vary considerably in length and some can be about half the length of a full tail, while others are scarcely longer than a docked tail. Best not to over-complicate matters I feel! The tail is set in line with the topline; as the latter is described as ‘level’ presumably that means the tail should (ideally!) come off the body horizontally. However when moving or alert, it should be carried above the topline. How far above, that is the question? Upright, or even curled over the back – is that OK? Thankfully most judges have sensibly so far (11 years after the ban) tended not to get too worked up about tails or their carriage. The Americans don’t acknowledge the existence of undocked Pems and their Standard reads: “Docked as short as possible without being indented. Occasionally a puppy is born with a natural dock, which if sufficiently short, is acceptable. A tail up to two inches in length is allowed, but if carried high tends to spoil the contour of the topline.” So half tails, more than two inches long, would be faulted there. Unlike some breeds, the American parent club has thank goodness not called for presence of a tail to be a disqualification. It is therefore left down to the discretion of the individual judge how seriously they penalise a dog who departs from the Standard by having a tail. So far, in practice I believe it is still rare for a tailed Pem to be shown in the States, and I haven’t heard of any which have gained a title there. I did notice one tailed Pem, from Canada, in the video of the PWCCA National. I won’t go any further into this issue as I know (from experience when I raised it on a breed Facebook group a few years ago) that it is a very emotive subject indeed! As far as I know, natural bobtails are also rare in the States, there being as yet no necessity for breeders to worry about not being able to dock. Whether that situation will continue indefinitely, who knows.

SIMON PARSONS

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