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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 …

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