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Photo by Jessica Bolander

Survival of the Prettiest?

When people ask me how to judge my breed — and they do — my advice is NOT to look for the prettiest dog in the ring. That gets them every time: "What, not put up the prettiest dog? Isn't that what dog shows are for?"

No, not necessarily, at least not if you agree that dog shows should be more than a superficial exercise is who's the cutest, who is the flashiest, whom does the novice spectator's eye go to firsst? If that is what you think dog shows should be — and there are lots of people who obviously do — then read no further; you will find your views amply supported by many judges coming soon to a local dog show near you.

If you think, however, that dog shows are meant to provide an opportunity for judges to select the dogs possessing the most outstanding characteristics of their breed, then, like me, you probably have a problem with much of what you see at today's shows.

It can be almost any breed, since most breeds seem to be afflicted by the same disease: a few characteristics that are apparently inherently pleasing to the average spectator seem to have become the gauge by which show dog "greatness" is measured, regardless of whether these traits are really desirable for that breed or not. It has even been suggested that we might soon have a new breed simply called "The American Show Dog," whose only outstanding features would be that it runs around the ring like a bat out of hell and never, ever stops baiting …

Breeding for the Pet Market

         If I hear one more breeder brag about how rarely they breed I think I'll explode … I'm not sure why it's taken so long for the simple truth — that we all need to breed more dogs — to get into my head, but it's cold comfort that many other dog people obviously still think the way I used to for many years.

Through the Centuries with Sighthounds

Hounds have long been considered emblems of luxurious living. This image is so deeply embedded in popular culture that its use as a literary device can only be described as ubiquitous. The most famous reference to their unspoken value may be the Nikolai Gogol character in The Inspector-General, a corrupt public official who accepted only Greyhound puppies as bribes.

Cirnechi dell'Etna
Cirnechi dell'Etna

How Many Sighthound Breeds Are There?

         Everybody knows there are just a dozen or so Sighthound breeds, right? Watching the Hound Group being judged at a regular American Kennel Club show, you will see the established Sighthound breeds, long-legged and aristocratic, lined up somewhat incongruously next to mostly very different-looking other Hound breeds. First come the Afghan Hound and the Borzoi, then the Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Saluki and Scottish Deerhound, with the Whippet at the end.


The Sobers prefix, owned by Bitte Ahrens of Italy, is today known around the whole world, including the US. The kennel was started in Sweden in the mid-1950s by Bitte’s grandmother Astrid Jonsson, pictured with a group of her first homebred Greyhound champions.

50 Years Around the World… with Sighthounds

When you’re involved in dogs you will almost inevitably meet a lot of colorful people and see a lot of wonderful dogs.

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