Faults of Type

Assessing virtue is the essence of the whole judging process. However, the assessment of faults is also a part of that process.” Ann Gordon, Dachshund Club of America, February 2013 AKC Gazette

New dog show exhibitors will soon find that it is relatively easy to learn about, recognize and evaluate faults in construction. Soundness, proper construction, is a virtue that is necessary in any breed and is especially so for our Gordon Setters who are bred as hunters. Noting constructional faults during judging, like weak top-lines, poor tail-set, flat feet, or an incorrect bite; these things help a judge (and a breeder) to evaluate the dog against the typical competition.
What is also important though, what can pose a problem is the dog who is structurally sound but departs from an ideal type. An example might be the Gordon Setter with less than ideal angulation both front and rear who moves very clean coming and going, from the side however, this dog does not have the appropriate reach and drive of the Gordon Setter and does not display the outline of breed, this dog instead resembles more closely the Irish Red & White. In this case the dog would not be considered wholly typical, he lacks breed type, he has a fault of type.
breed-style 2
Photo by Bob Segal taken at the 2015 GSCA National Specialty

Whether we are new to breeding or have spent years putting puppies on the ground, we must always maintain perspective in the assessment of faults. When a dog possesses a fault that detracts from the very essence of Gordon Setter breed type, then both breeders and judges will need to be cautious in their assessment of that particular animal; and breeders need to be extra cautious as to the judicious use and the depth to which those faulty genes are going to be introduced into the gene pool, if at all.

Let’s be honest, there are many dogs who are very glamorous, who have beautiful showmanship and when those qualities are added to the fundamentals of breed type that dog is a sight to behold for breeders and judges alike. Where we need to be cautious is in viewing the dog who is superficially attractive but missing a fundamental quality of breed type, we must learn to see beneath the flash and glamor to the place where breed type is also needed to assess the overall quality of the dog and his use for breeding. (remember that the word “dog” used here is equally as applicable to a bitch)

In weighing faults of type one must include in the assessment, all the attributes this dog brings to the breed in order to properly determine the judicious use of the dog and the legacy left in the gene pool. If this dog is a top winner and breeders all rush to use him, then it is his owner who may be holding the reins that guide the future direction of the breed through the gene pool, especially if other breeders do not make appropriate choices for their bitch.

On the flip side, we must also understand that it is not always the top winning dog, lacking in type, who negatively impacts the gene pool, though it is easier to hold them accountable as their high profile makes them more obvious targets. Sometimes faults of type are being replicated litter after litter in a more prolific manner by those who fail to recognize the qualities of breed type, and therefore, unaware that they are replicating fault, continue to put multiple litters on the ground with faults of type.

So we must all, new and experienced, understand faults, both in soundness and in type, and we must all recognize that we each have a grip on the reins guiding the future of the breed. And most importantly for those who are experienced, we must be there to guide and mentor those with less experience as they may quickly learn to see soundness but breed type is best learned through the guiding eyes of others.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photos by Bob Segal are for viewing pleasure only and are not intended to illustrate points in this article.

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