Afghan Hound Times
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Afghan Hound Times Icon    Country Magazine, Nov 1876
Article on Clubs, Standards, Judges

Since we last penned a few notes on dog clubs another has been added to the list—the Bull Terrier Club, which was favourably launched a fortnight ago, as recorded by us, and we understand, had the Alexandra Palace show taken place next week, a very strong fox terrier club would have been formed then, and no doubt the postponement of its formation will be very short. As clubs of this kind are rapidly increasing, it is worth while considering whether the objects of such associations are of a commendable character, and if so, whether the best means are adopted of attaining such objects. One principal object is invariably stated to be to promote and encourage the breeding of pure dogs of the kind which gives its name to the particular society.

So far, surely, no one can object to such associations, for, even supposing, to quote from the letter of our correspondent " Crom A. Boo," these clubs are bands of dog dealers, it does not in the least detract from the value of the end professed; but, as a matter of foot, we know that the clubs referred to do not deserve such a stigma, and we conceive "Crom A. Boo" has confounded two things altogether distinot, and that he can be but partially acquainted with the ??rms adopted by these clubs to attain their object, as is proved by his own words: "To judge anything by its merits, there must be necessarily a standard of perfection, and to obtain animals that will as nearly as poseible come up to that standard, is or ought to be the aim of the breeder." Now, the first duty undertakes by each of these clubs with which we are acquainted has been to discuss and define precisely what are the various points and characteristics of a pure bred dog of each breed, and to adopt the same as the only recognised standard of excellence by whioh the dog is to be judged and prizes awarded. Now we contend that this is an absolutely necessary step towards attaining the professed object of these clubs, and in itself wholly desirable; and without such standard, whether embodied in language, or existing only in the mind of the breeder, his operations in that character will begin and end in a muddle, just as, for want of a recognised standard of excellence by our dog judges, we so often see them floundering amidst such incongruous types as they distribute prizes to, laying themselves open to the pity of contempt, and the soathing sorcasm properly directed against those who assume a public position they are incompetent to fill.

"To judge anything by its merits, there must
be necessarily a standard of perfection,
and to obtain animals that will as nearly
as possible come up to that standard, is
or ought to be the aim of the breeder."

"To judge anything by its merits, there must be necessarily a standard of perfection, and to obtain animals that will as nearly as possible come up to that standard, is or ought to be the aim of the breeder." The class dog clubs, composed almost entirely of men who devote themselves to the breeding of one variety, hand over to committees of shows and their judges what they, as practical men having had experience of the breed, consider a clear and minute description of a perfect dog; and if committees and judges had the wisdom to accept such standard, and gauge the various points of each dog by it, we would hear less of the disappointed exhibitor.

There is one thing to be remembered in framing such standards, and that is to look forward more than back. All such standards should be drawn up with room for and with a view to improvement on the present. To be constantly indulging in a vain search for the original dog of any breed is on absurd waste of time. "Crom A. Boo" is right in the main when he says "no dog now resembles the same species one hundred years ago." The only dog we have anything like an accurate description of in ancient times is the greyhound, and even it has been greatly changed and improved; and we fancy even Arrian's Herme would stand but a poor chance with some of our flyers across the flats of Altcar. It should, therefore, we consider, be a strong point with clubs, when defining their standard, to endeavour to delineate an absolutely perfect dog to breed up to, instead of taking living or dead specimens, however good, as a beau idéal, as none are faultless, except in the too partial eyes of the owner.

"Look forward more than back.
No dog now resembles the same
species one hundred years ago."

What is judging but a weighing up or balancing of merits? It is also usual for these clubs to place a certain valuation on each special point for the clearer and more accurate application of their standard in the judging of classes. This also we consider a proper and commendable means of arriving at their object — the improvement of the dog — for we defy any intelligent and honest person to take, for instance, the standard of excellence set up by the Bulldog Club, and apply it point by point to a whole class, and give honours to two dogs of opposite types as is constantly being done under the system of favouritism and rule-of-thumb judging which obtains in all classes. We have heard it objected to point judging that it is too mechanioal, and reduces everything to the level of the tape and the scales. Such an idea appears to us altogether fenciful. Weights and measures are useful; but they are not everything. Resort to them in many cases confirms or reverses an opinion on some particular point, but cannot exert more than a legitimate influence on the awards, and in so many cases give a definiteness which is sadly wanted. But, whatever accessories may have to be Called in to the assistance of the judge in point judging, the fact remains incontrovertible that all true judging must of necessity be by points.

"the (1876) system of favouritism and rule-of-thumb judging.
What is judging but a weighing up or balancing of merits?"

What is judging but a weighing up or balancing of merits? The plan we advocate, and which the dog clubs insist upon, is simply a means of reducing chaos to order, substituting system for muddle and misrule, giving judges what many of them so sadly want-prinoiples to guide them, instead of trusting to their "inborn faculties," and other snob, imaginary nonsense; it is, in fact, teaching the dunces on the lower form that instead of guessing at an arithmetical problem or furtively counting on their fingers, they may attain more correct results much more easily, if — with a little application, which presupposes the existence of a modicum of brains — they will first master the multiplication table; but it is sometimes argued that these points are only of use to the novice and that the true judges are born with an aptitude for comparisons and an eye for variations, and must not be trammelled with laws which may serve very well for the guidance of ordinary mortals. We have no faith in such transcendental people; those who are so exalted above others as to be independent of ordinary laws, if such there are, will not be called on to perform such sublanary tasks as dog judging and when a man shrouds his ignorance in such empyrical pretensions he ought not to be allowed the honour of judging. When a man takes upon himself to say that one dog is better than another and cannot or will not, give his reasons, he is not a judge, but a delusion and a snare; and however long the public and exhibitors who like a holiday and enjoy the spice of gambling with which exhibitions are flavoured, enable committees to play at dog shows, appointing the judges and taking the prizes without a reason further than the irresponsibüe will of the judge, so long will they fail in a first duty, which failure the adoption of point judging would remedy.

Another means the clubs adopt of attaining their object is by keeping a list of competent judges from which committees of general shows can select. It is not, made imperative that the judge should be so selected, for the standard of excellence is given to the world, and may be used by anyone, but the clubs frequently offer special prizwes in the classes they are interested in. In the bulldog classes these are very handsame gold silver, and bronze medals and certificates and when these are given it is claimed that the club shall have the right to appoint the judge This is open to objection, as those outside the club would not unnnaturally suspect the existance of a favourable leaning towards the dogs of fellow members and therefore, purely as a matter of policy, without suspicion so rife in this world we would say, avoid the very appearance of bias and favouritism, rest content with seeing the standard adopted and, no matter by whom; and when the advantage of systematic judging is more fully recognised, committees will, equally as a matter of courtesy and in their own interest, consult you as to appointment of judges. We have dealt only with the one main object professed by the clubs. There are others they have in view and some which we think they might with advantage adopt, but which we hae not space to deal with at present; so leave them and the possible influence of these clubs on the doggy world in general for future consideration.

Country Magazine, 1876

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