Why The Stand-Out Best Dog Can Be A Loser
- E. K. (Katie) Gammill
The Best of the Best or one that looks like the rest? Let’s be honest. Something called “preferred type” is flooding the rings today and in many breeds, it has little to do with the Breed Standard. When “current type” does not equal correctness, the best dog can lose because in many rings, the fatal flaw is being a stand-out.
A dog show friend, absent from the sport for several years, attended some local shows with me. Welcoming the opportunity to view dogs in general after her sabbatical, she became visually distressed. Her despair increased when a “less than average” class dog received BOB. The waning quality in her beautiful breed breaks her heart. She stated it would be wasted effort to show a dog correct to the standard today, as some judges feel compelled to award dogs conforming to the majority of the entries.
“The best dog you’ll ever breed may
be the hardest dog you ever finish!”
Observing other breeds, she remarks on the lack of neck, restricted front movement and the lack of rear follow through; we discuss “gay tails” and breed type variances.
We watch faulty movement and see coats dragging the ground. Weak pasterns and sickle hocks complete the picture. She wonders what causes this to happen to functional dogs in such a short time. It seems the correct dogs have fallen victim to what one may refer to as the “Perfection of Mediocrity”.

Today, many breeders and owners turn to performance, choosing not to participate in a “crap shoot” where such variety in type confuses both judges and ringside. I make this statement at the expense of being tarred and feathered but increasingly, the best dog you’ll ever breed may be the hardest dog you will ever finish. It will be the “odd man out” and look different from the majority of dogs represented in the ring. Why? Some judges, insecure in a breed and therefore lacking courage, choose to walk “different” dogs rather than stick their neck out. Understandable, but should those lacking confidence be passing judgment on another’s dog?
My old mentor said, “The pendulum of type swings to and fro, but those remaining true to the standard triumph in the end.” Those dedicated breeders have the knowledge to restore a breed to its initial form once it hits bottom.

Should a judge reward a dog to suggest it could possibly assist in correcting breed faults? NO! It is a breeder’s responsibility to incorporate such animals into their programs, regardless of success in the show ring.   Judges are to  judge to the written standard to the best of their ability, fairly and efficiently. They avoid awarding “drags of a breed” when possible but judges have little insight into the Pandora’s Box of breeding.