Judge's Perspective

Are international standards realistic?

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A number of years back, I was invited to judge in Australia. One of my assignments was a Cocker Spaniel specialty show. I looked forward to judging the breed because it was the first breed that I becme interested in as a youngster, one that I had bred and one that I have followed with great interest through the years.

My enthusiasm waned considerably when I read the Australian standard of the breed. It contained a number of points that I found to be in direct conflict with what was described in the American standard, and in conflict with what really constituted the essence of this American breed.

Was my job to judge by a standard that clearly contradicted what was important to the breed? Wouldn't this betray what I knew was correct? Should I reward teh dogs that were best equipped to improve the breed despite the fact that they might have characteristics that were not called for by the country's standard?

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