I started to bred cockers I remember I had a very bad time reading the
standard. It was so difficult to me to understand what that truly
means and how an ideal dog should be. But I was lucky enough to have
a mentor – Mrs. Sonia Peixoto, Golden Gate Kennel in Brazil – who didn’t
mind to spend hours and more hours, month after month, teaching me
all the points of the standard and showing the faults and qualities of
my dogs, helping me to find a good stud sire for my bitches and giving
me a picture how a perfect dog must be.
there are so many breeders around the world who are not so lucky as I was,
and thinking on them I decided to show my interpretation of the standard,
with as many photos as possible, trying to help the novices to understand
the standard of our so loved breed.
nobody is able to bred to improve the standard. The standard is what
it is. The breeders must improve their dogs to meet the standard.
That is the goal to any good breeder and a good dog is the one who is as
closer as possible to the standard's description.
forget something: To breed good dogs you don't need any luck. You
need KNOWLEDGE. If you are able to understand the standard and visualize
how a good dog should be, you will not have any problem to breed good dogs.
You just need luck to bred GREAT DOGS, but the decent ones are a piece
here we go!
"To attain a well proportioned head,
which must be in balance with the rest of the dog, it embodies the following:
EXPRESSION - the expression is intelligent, alert, soft and appealing.
EYES- eyeballs are round and full and look directly forward. The shape
of the eye rims gives a slightly almond shaped appearance; the eyes is
not weak or goggled. The color of the iris is dark brown and in general
the darker the better. EARS - lobular, long, of fine leather, well feathered
and placed no higher than a line to the lower part of the eye. SKULL -
rounded but not exaggerated with no tendency toward flatness; the eyebrows
are clearly defined with a pronunced stop. The bony structure beneath the
eyes is well chiselead with no prominence in the cheeks. The muzzle is
broad and deep, with square even jaws. To be in corrent balance, the distance
from the stop to the tip of the nose is one half the distance from the
stop up over the crown to the base of the skull. NOSE - of sufficeinte
size to balance the muzzle and foreface, with well developed nostrils typical
of the sporting dog. It is black in color in the blacks, black &
tans and black & whites; in other colors it may be brown, liver or
black, the darker the better. The color of nose harmonizes with the color
of the eye rim. LIPS - the upper lip is full and of sufficient depth to
cover the lower jaw. TEETH - strong and sound, not too small and meet in
a scissors bite."
the head is the most important part of any dog - Why?
Which part of the dog you look first to recognize if that is a dobermann,
a cocker or a collie? The head, right? we have different opinions
about how the perfect cocker head should be. Basically there are two types
of heads that meet to the standard:
Sporting and Plush and the different between them should be the length
of the foreface and the skull shape.
are the two VERY BEAUTIFUL examples of each one:
CH ST'JAMES BRIGHT MAN
the crown(forehead) is high, the
skull is round,
the stop is deep, the foreface
is short and
the muzzle is broad
CH SHERWOOD'S WHO'S YOUR DADDY
the crown is high, the skull isn't
so round as it should be
the stop is deep, the foreface
is longer and
the muzzle is broad
Which one is the
right one? That is the big dilemma!
The "plush lovers"
say the skull of the sporting heads aren't round enough and the foreface
is too long.
And the "sporting
lovers" say the plush heads' foreface is too short and sometimes the eyes
are too round. And they never will be able to work on the fields because
they couldn't carry a bird.
I like the plush head better and
as I think the head is so important, I do my best to bred dogs with plush
ones. I am what people use to name "head hunter". It is quite
difficult for me to like a dog without a plush head. On the other hand,
I will not think twice to use a male with a sporting head if I believe
this male will help me to fix some faults in one of my bitches.
However I already note the sporting
head is quite dominant to the plush one. Everytime I used a sporting
to a plush I get NO plush head puppy. A good exemple are the two
puppies bellow. The dam is the same, a bitch with a very plush head
out plush head parents. The puppy A is out the MALE A (sporting)
and the puppy B is out the MALE B (plush), each puppy (they are girls)
was the first "head choice" of their litters.
As you can see, the PUPPY A is in
the middle of a sporting and a plush head. It has the same round
skul and high forehead than the PUPPY B, the stop is almost so deep as
the other, but the muzzle isn't so broad and the foreface isn't so
short as the puppy B.
So, if you are a plush head lover,
but all your dogs have sporting heads, I don't have good news for you.
It will be very difficult you get a plush head out them. But you will be
able to get plush heads in two generations. You will use your bitch
to a plush male, hold the best head girl and use her again to a plush male.
You will have good chances to get a plush head puppy doing that.
Another important point to identify
a good head- IT MUST HAVE A "8" SHAPE, the two elipses being almost
the same size. There are more exemples bellow (believe
or not the particolor was bred by me. It was the only one parti litter
I already bred):
More good heads with correct
There is another kind of overdone head,
but unfortunately I don't have any photo. It is when a sporting head
style is overdone. The dog will look like a clumber.
We have other 3 kind of heads than
the plush and sporty, but all of them are not correct.
There is the the dog that doesn't
have a deep stop, has plain skull, the muzzle isn't broad, the foreface
is long. I don't know if there is a correct denomination for this kind
of head. I name them CARROTS, because it is how they look like.
If you have one cocker with this
kind of head, maybe it would be a good idea take this out your breeding
program, because it will be so hard to have good heads (even if you like
sport type) using it. Maybe you can keep a bitch (if her body
is truly nice) and use her to a very plush head male. But if you
are planning to keep a male with this kind of head ... well, it must have
a FANTASTIC body, the best movement and terrific temperament. But
please never forget it is MY POINT OF VIEW.
But sometimes the dog has
a high forehead, short muzzle, deep stop, but the two elipses of the "8"
are not the same size, it uses to happen for two reasons:
The example bellow is a combination
of both: the eyes are too wide and the muzzle isn't so broad.
The muzzle isn't so broad
The eyes are to wide
I always used to think a head should
be very plush; as plusher as better, but I found out we can have
heads that are too much plush and they are not correct too.
I name them overdone and it looks like a crossing of a boxer to a shar-pei!
You can note the stop is too much
deep, "the bony structure beneath the eyes isn't well chiseled".
There are so many folds under the chin and on the area at the side of the
eye to the earset. Here are two examples:
But I already used overdone head
dogs in my breeding program and I got very good results. You can
use any kind of head with them (except the plush ones) and the puppies
will have very nice heads. They work very well with sporting bitches.
It is the only case you can get a plush head (out a sporting head) on the
We didn't finish yet! we must pay
attention in every little detail of the standard:
EYES - the standard says it is round
and full, but not goggled, as darker as better. The bitch on the photo
has two problems on her eyes. They are googled and could be darker.
All the other dogs I used to ilustrate the standard has good shape of eyes
and correct color
EARS - The standard mentions the
ears "of fine leather and must be placed no higher than the line to the
lower part of the eye". We see the expression earset very often,
in special on the dogs advertisements. High earset is when the ears
are placed higher than the eye line. Unfortunately you see much more
cases of high earset in the plush heads than on the sporting ones.
Here is an example of high earset:
Some dogs, in special puppies, look
like to have high earset on the photos. In several cases it is because
someone is trying to get their atention to the camera. Why
do they do their best to look to any other side than the camera?! It is
the same dog in two different positions. His earset isn't so high
on the 2nd photo as it is on the 1st one.
And finally, don't forget almost
all the plush head puppies have high earset before the age of 2 months!
Same puppy girl at different ages:
TEETH - Besides the standard asks
for strong, not small teeth and scissors bite, we can see in USA champions
who are level bite. The American judges penalize the bite as any other
fault and to tell you the truth I don't think they are so wrong.
But on the other countries around the world (FCI member) the bite is so
much important. The dog will be very hard penalized if it doesn't
have a perfect scissors bite and it is just impossible to finish a level
bite dog. In fact the judges would like to desqualifie them, they only
don't do that because it is not a desqualification fault in the standard.
It has being a big headache for
the breeders who import dogs from USA in the past. Sometimes we imported
a dog who had a good bite but who produced bad ones because there are cases
of bad bites on their line. But I already noted day by day more American
breeders are paying attention to the bite problems and are eliminating
bad bite dogs of their breeding program. But the small teeth still are
very common, not only in USA, but in almost everywhere.
I believe the other descriptions
of the standard about skull, nose and lips are very easy to understand
and I don't need to comment them.
NECK - the neck is sufficiently
long to allow the nose to rech the ground easily, muscular and free form
pendulous "throatiness". It rises strongly from the shoulders and arches
slightly as it tapers to join the head. TOPLINE - Sloping slightly toward
muscular quarters. BODY - The chest is deep, its lowest point no higher
than elbows, its front sufficiently wide for adequate heart and lung space,
yet not so wide as to interfere with the straight forward movement of the
forelegs. Ribs are deep and well sprung. Back is strong and slopoing evenly
and slightly downward from the shoulders to the set on of the docked tail.
The docked tail is set on and carrid on a line with the topline of the
back, or slightly higher; never straight up like a Terrier and never so
low as to indicate timidty. When the dog is in motion, the tail action
"The shoulders are well laid back
forming an angle with the upper arm to approximately 90 degrees which permits
the dog to move his forelegs in an easy manner with forward reach. Shoulders
are clan cut and sloping without protrusion and so set that the upper points
of teh witther are at an angle which permits a wide spring of rib. When
viewed from the side with the forelegs vertical, the elbow is directly
below the highest point of the shoulder blade. Forelegs are parallel, straight,
strongly boned and muscular and set close to the body well under the scapulae.
The pasterns are short and strong. Dewclaws on forelegs may be removed.
Teet compact, large, round and firm with hory pads, they turn neither in
When I started with cockers - 1993
- the front were the big problem on the breed and besides it has improved
a lot, it still is what our cockers have worst. And each part depends
of the other one. Bad shoulders will "destroy" the topline, bad shoulders
will make your dog's neck be short, bad shoulder will make your dog doesn't
have a good reach. And the most terrible, you can fix a head in two
generations (like I said before) but you will finish your breeding program
with the shoulders you started.
My foundation bitch had quite decent
shoulders with a good neckset. I used her with a dog with decent shoulders
(in that time it was quite impossible to find a cocker with excelent shoulders)
and I didn't have any truly bad shoulders on her litter.
But I decided to import my first
American dog and I can tell you its shoulders were terrible. I used
him once with this same bitch and all the 6 puppies had the same shoulders
as their father. I used him with another bitch and she had only one
puppy, but with the same terrible shoulders. I just place him in
a pet home as well his kids and didn't think to use him or anything out
him once again. THAT WAS THE BEST DECISION IN ALL MY "DOG LIFE". Just a
little detail - I paid US$ 2,000.00 for that dog plus shipping
cost and it was in 1994!
If you want an advice, here it goes.
You can take your chances with heads, with hindquarters, bites, even with
temperament, but NEVER use bad shoulders in your breeding program.
In few generations you can distroy all your years or hard work breeding
But let me start to explain about
the shoulders and all the other important points. The standard says
ths shoulders are forming a 90 degrees angle with upper arm. There
is no way to explain this than using photos or draws.
This is the ideal cocker, with proper
angulations. On this draw you can easily see the famous 90 degrees
angle, but sometimes we have problems to see the same in a "real dog".
Well, things will be much easier if you remember to trace an imaginary
line from the withers (nothing more than "highest point of the shoulder
blade" the standard is talking about) to the ground. This line MUST
TOUCH the dog's elbows. Check these photos:
The line touches the withers and
elbows at the same time. It is what the standard means for: "when
viewed from the side with the forelegs vertical, the elbow is directly
below the highest point of the shoulder blade". Much easier,
right?What else are you able to see on this girl? Can you see her
long neck and short back? Any clue why her neck is long and her back is
short? BECAUSE SHE HAS PERFECT SHOULDERS ANGULATIONS! Because her elbows
is under the highest point of her shoulders blade. It is exaclty
what the standard asks!
Now another puppy.
Like before I traced a line from
the withers to the ground, but this time it isn't even close to the elbows.
Why? Because the shoulders angulation is over 90 degrees. And what about
the topline? Can you see the short neck? Can you see the long back
since its withers until the tailset?
Now pay attention to the 2nd line
I traced, the one from the elbows to the ground. What would happen
if the shoulders had proper angulations and its withers were there? This
dog would be much shorter on back and with a longer neck, isn't it? If
you get a cocker magazine and start to trace these lines you will see why
people say the fronts are the biggest problem in our breed!
But you want to evaluate your own
dog, there is nobody to stack it for you while you take a look on it.
What to do? Use your hands! Stack the dog, put your thomb on the
withers. You little finger should touch it elbows. Check the
But did you remember when I said
bad shoulders will limit dogs movement? Why it happens? Look the pictures
This time I traced a line from the
withers passing to the point it meets to the upper arm and keep going
to the ground. This line is exaclty where they will put their foreleg
when they are moving. It is the famous REACH! There is no way the
leg goes ahead than that point, not because they don't want
to move, don't have attitude or is not being shown by a professional handler,
it is because THEY CAN'T GO OVER THAT POINT. Their anatomy doesn't
allow them to do that. And looking to both them side by side can you note
how the black & tan's shoulders are well laid back , like the standards
asks? So, everytime you read or hear something about well laid back shoulders
you alredy know how it should be! Now pay attention to the ground.
The black and tan will be able to put her leg much ahead than the black
one, right? It means she will cover much more ground thand the other,
with a simple step. Now imagine the difference it will be in one day working
on the fields. But I will talk more about this when I start to work with
the GAIT subject.
Just another important thing: When
you are watching a dog in moviment (in special in a dog show) pay attention
on its front legs and on the nose (YES, THE NOSE). A dog with a good
reach will be able to put his foreleg ahead than his nose. If it is not
able to do that, it is because it doesn't have a good reach and its has
problems with the angles of its shoulders. Let's see what I am talking
This is a Brazilian dog bred by
one of my good friends - CH Good Advice Total Eclipse, aka Jordan.
Now Jordan in movement. Can you
see his front leg is ahead than his nose?
Now the same photo with some lines
to you see better what I am talking about:
It wasn't that difficult, was it?
Now you already know how to evaluate
a good head, lay down shoulders & long neck. Believe me, the
head can change, but the shoulders never will. Bad shoulders never
will be good ones. And the opposite doesn't happen too. Sometimes
it can improves A LITTLE, but don't wait for MIRACLES, ok? I have some
photos to prove what I am saying. Take a look on this girl.
Since she was 15 DAYS OLD I was pretty sure how her shoulders should be.
DON'T FORGET TO TRACE THE IMAGINARY LINE, ok?
I will repeat this again:
To breed good dogs you don't need any luck. You need KNOWLEDGE. If
you are able to understand the standard and visualize how a good dog should
be, you will not have any problem to breed good dogs. You just need
luck to bred GREAT DOGS, but the decent ones are a piece of cake!
we are not done with the fronts. We must check the ribs. The standard says:
"its front sufficiently wide for adequate
heart and lung space, yet not so wide as to interfere with the straight
forward movement of the forelegs. Ribs are deep and well sprung."
This is a diagram of a cocker, front
view. You can see the ribs on it. If the ribs are not wide enough,
the dog will have a narrow front, but if it is too wide it will force the
elbowns to be out, like a buldog front.
These are the three types of front:
Another photo of a good front.
This time I am using a shaved down dog. I traced lines at the side
of its scapulaes. The forelegs are exactly under it, showing how
a proper front should be. Read again what the standard says: "Forelegs
are parallel, straight, strongly boned and muscular and set close to the
body well under the scapulae."
Don't forget about what the standard
says about the ribs and movement "it is not so wide as to interfere with
the straight forward movement of the forelegs". Let's see what happens
with the movement of a dog with wide front:
Pay attention to the elbown.
Can you see it is "out" of the dog's body while it is moving? I know
it looks like difficult now, but believe me, you will be able to see it
even the dog is in full coat. In fact it is easier to see when the
dog is in show coat, because you will see the coat going to that direction
while the dog is moving. You just need to train a little your eyes.
Sometimes we hear the expression:
"this dog needs more substance". Usually people are talking about the fronts.
The dog who needs more substance is the one with narrow front.
Some puppies with narrow front will
improve with exercises. By the way, exercises are the best thing for any
puppy. Some breeders don't like to do that saying it will damage
the coat. Remember that a coat can grow up when the dog is older,
but the same will not happen with the dog's structure. Exercises
works great for the rears too, but we will talk about that later.
We are almost finishing with the
fronts. We only need to talk about the chest and forechest. The standard
asks for a deep chest, "its lowest point no higher than elbows".
There is no way you "see" how deep a chest in a show coat dog.
but you can feel it. Put your finger on the elbows (there is
an arrow showing the right place), the chest must be deeper than your finger.
By the way, it is a good test for the ribs too. If there is a "space"
between your finger and the ribs, it is because it is not wide enough.
Ribs with good shape will be very close to the elbow.
The photos above are of the same
girl. When she was 2 months old you already could see her forehead
(check the arrow). She had a good forehead at that age and kept that when
adult. I traced one line in front of her foreleg. The forechest
must be ahead than the line.
And I traced another line to show
where her chest "finishes". If you put your finger on the arrow (exaclty
on the elbows) you will be able to touch her chest.
Now a puppy without enought forechest.
It is easy to see the problem when the dog doesn't have so much coat, but
in full coat, it is quite difficult, in special with a good trimming.
It will be necessary to touch the dog to feel the problem.
FINALLY! We are done with
the fronts. To resume, the dog with a good front must have proper
should angulations (90 degrees) + good rib cage (not narrow not too wide)
+ deep chest + good amount of forechest + parallel forelegs.
TOPLINE - Sloping slightly toward
muscular quarters. Back is strong and sloppin evenly and slightly downward
from the shoulders to the set on of the docked tail. The docked tail is
set on and carrid on a line with the topline of the back, or slightly higher;
never straight up like a Terrier and never so low as to indicate timidty.
When the dog is in motion, the tail action is merry.
Besides I am a "head hunter", I
agree there is something in cockers (or any other breed) which is more
important than the heads. It is the TOPLINE. What is the topline?
It is the neck + back + tailset. A dog with a good topline is half
way to be a good dog.
Basically there are three kind of
toplines, but I don't know how to say that in English. But let's
As the standard says, the back must
be strong and sloping.
With a good trimming and experince
stacking dog, it is not difficult to cover the problem when the dog is
stacked. So, the best way to see if the dog has a bad back is watching
the dog moving. Unfortunately I don't have photos to show them in movement.
But here is a photo of a perfect slooping back in movement:
The first puppy is a good example how
a good back should be.
The puppy in the middle has a
curve on it. Some lines have this type of curved back on the puppies, but
when the dog is an adult, the back will be ok. That was the case
of this puppy as well her dam. I saw them growing up and their back
were absolutely strong before one year old. I have one friend who is a
very famous schnauzer breeder in Brazil and he says he has the same on
his line. Some of his puppies has this curve, but when adults have
the best backs. But how to know if the puppy will have a hard back in the
future or will keep the curved back? Only using a crytal ball. There
is no way to know. So, maybe it is better to don't take your chances
keeping a puppy like this.
The other puppy is what I say soft
back. It is the same kind of a horse back and I never saw one puppy
with this kind of back that will be ok when it is an adult. It is
quite the opposite. It never improves but can get worse with the
age. Some puppies have good backs when young, but because they are overweight
they can be soft backs when adults. And it happens very often with
bitches after they have puppies.
We have three kind of tailset: NORMAL,
LOW TAILSET AND TERRIER TAILSET.
This is an example of a LOW TAILSET.
When the dog is stacked and in show coat, with a proper trimming, it is
very difficult to see the problem. But when it is moving, the problem will
"Hips are wide and quarters well
rounded and muscular. When viewed from behind, the hind legs are parallel
when in motion and at rest. The hind legs are stongly boned, and muscled
with moderate angulations at the stifle and powerful, clearly defined thighs.
The stifle is strong and there is no slippage of it in motion or when standing.
The hocks are stong and well let down. Dewclaws on hih legs may be removed."
As I did with the fronts, I will
show the proper angulations. This is a photo of a bitch with very
good angulations, front and rears:
Why I am saying she has very good
angulations? Let's take a look on the diagram I used to show the
Now I am using the same lines on
Can you see she has the same angulations
as the draw? It means she is BALLANCED - another term very used for
the breeders - and a dog with this kind of angulations will be able to
move very well. And it isn't just theoric, this bitch is a great
understand the rears angulations and its movement (it is named DRIVE) it
is necessary to think in "to bend" and "to jump". I know, it doesn't
seem to make sense, but I will show you my point.
You are standing up and start to
bend your knee. The more you bend, the higher you will be able to jump,
right? The same thing happens with the dogs rear but the dog will not jump,
it will "push the ground". The more angulation the dog has (bend in the
knees), the more it will be able to push the ground, commonly called 'DRIVE'.
The bend in the knee is also called bend of stifle.
This also means that a dog with
less angulation (the knees don't bend enough) will not be able to 'push'
the ground properly (less drive) and an over angulated dog (knees bend
too much) will 'push' the ground too much (too much drive)
Pay attention to these two puppies,
littermates, pictured at the same day. It is important to say I resized
the photos and the pupipes have exaclty the same height , ok?
The first puppy has proper rear
angulations and the 2nd one fewer angulation. Can you see the knee of the
first puppy is much more bended than the second one? What else you
can see on these puppies? Do you see the first puppy has a slooping
back and the second one a level back? Why it happens? Because the
second puppy's knees aren't bended as they should be!
You can think the second puppy isn't
well stacked, but it is the "comfortable" position for him. How do
I know that? Because the hock must be in 90 degres with the groud. In fact
his hock is a little ahead than they should be and you can see the angle
with the table is smaller than 90 degrees. It is the reason we say
THIS DOG NEED MORE ANGULATIONS, the angle should be higher.
Another interesting information.
Pay attention on their hocks. Can you note the first puppy has smaller
hocks than the second one? Everytime you see a dog with a high hock it
is because it doesn't have enough angulations. In fact I believe a lot
of problems with rear angulations are because the size of hocks. As higher
the hocks are, are less angulations the dog will have.
What I don't know is the following:
the dog has high hocks because it has less angulation or it has less angulation
because it has high hocks? If some noe has the replay for this answer,
please let me know.
Now let's see other photo of the
2nd puppy when he was a couple of months older:
This time we put his legs as far
as possible, trying to improve his topline. But it still is "level" back
and not slooping back as it should be. The hocks still are
in an angle smaller than 90 degrees. I traced a line of the end of his
back (when the tailset starts) to the ground. The knee shouldn't
go ahead than that line, but his does. There is an arrow showing
where his knee is.
Why the knee can't go ahead than
that line? Because when it happens his legs will not be bended enough
to push the ground properly.
Check again the photo of the bitch
with good rear angles. Trace an imaginary line on her tailset to
the ground and check her knees. Her knee isn't ahead thatn the line like
the other puppy, her rears are still bended and read to push the ground.
Here is her photo again:
Now let's see the last example,
the over angulated rears. This puppy is over angulated. When I stacked
him I care his knee was not ahead than the line of his tailset.
Take a look on his hock. Can
you see the angle with the ground (table) is over than 90 degrees?
But what would happen if I stack
this same puppy and put his hock on the proper angle (90 degrees)? His
knee would be after thatl ine and that is not right. See the photo:
Maybe you can start to wonder a
dog over angulated is much better:
Believe or not a lot of breeders thought
the same on the past. Nowadays over angulated dogs are so common
on the rings, but they forgot about the ballance of the dog. The
front will not be able to follow the rear movement even if the dog has
a good front. And we can't forget until 1992 the cockers should
be 15% shorter on their backs than taller.
he will be able to move faster because
he will "push the ground" much more.
A dog over angulated has short hocks
Doge over angulated always have
slooping back (great point)
Try to have a picture. The
fronts were terrible, no proper angles and you already learned a dog with
that characteristc doesn't have GOOD REACH. The rears were over angulated,
it means the dog had TOO MUCH DRIVE. And the back should be short!
To resume: IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO THE DOG MOVE PROPERLY. The best movers
were the ones with long backs. What hapenned? They changed the standard
and the dogs should be longer backs after 1992.
I know a lot of people will not
agree. They will say there are other reasons, but it is hard to me
to believe on the reasons like pain in the back (someone already told me
about that). But just remember IT IS MY OPINION.
You should keep this in mind - A
GOOD DOG IS A BALLANCED DOG. The rears and front should work together,
Now we must see the rears from another
These are the photos of the same
bitch. The first one around 45 days old and the other when she already
was an adult. You can see her legs are parallel, not so wide not so narrow.
It is how correct rears should look like.
There are two other kinds: cow-hocked
(the hockes almost touching each other) and another one who would be exaclty
the oposite: The hocks are too far and the legs has the same shape as a
"cowboy leg". I don't have photos of these two types, but I will
try to find them.
Well, we are done with the rears.
I will talk now about short and up on leg dogs. I am sure you already
heard these expressions, right?
"SIZE - The ideal height at the
withers for an adult dog is 15 inches and for an adult bitch, 14 inches.
Height may vary one half inch above or below this ideal. A dog whose height
exceeds 15 /12 inches or a bitch whose height exceeds 14 1/2 inches shall
be DISQUALIFIED. And adult dog whose ehght is less than 14 1/2 inches and
an adult bitch whose height is less than 13 1/2 inches shall be penalized.
Height is determined by a line perpendicular to the ground from the topof
the shoulder blades, the dog standind naturally with its forelegs and lower
hind legs parallel to the line of measurement.PROPORTION - The meassurement
from the breast bone to back of thigh is slightly longer than the measurement
from the highest point of withers to the ground. The body must be of sufficient
length to permit a straight and free stride; the dog never appears long
The standard is VERY CLEAR about
the dog's size. A dog or bitch who is over that size should be DISQUALIFIED.
For this reason I never will be able to understand why dogs in USA are
so big. However I already noted it is different from one state to
another. Sometimes if you show a dog 15" tall it will look like a mini-cocker
when you put it side by side with other cockers on the same show. I am
sorry, but I don't think that is right.
My dogs use to be as closer as possible
to the IDEAL HEIGHT (around 15", because it is what the standard asks for,
right?) but some breeders think my dogs are too small !
Another thing that I don't like
is big bitches who look like more males than girls, or small males who
look like bitches. I think you must note if a cocker is a male or
a female just looking to it. If you must ask to the ower about the sex
it is because something is wrong. The same for the puppies.
As example I am using photos of
two littermates - CH ST'JAMES NEVER ON SUNDAY and CH ST'JAMES NOVEMBER
RAIN, at the same age. I think you will not have problems to know
who is who, right?
But what about this cocker?
Is it a boy or a girl?
Would you be surprised to know
it is a girl?!
Another important thing about the
dog's proportion is the lenght of the legs. I believe everybody already
saw a photo of the "father of the breed" - CH Obo. He was a very
low dog. Don't forget there is a big difference between a small dog and
a low one. The low dog has short legs and the small is just small,
but still a well proportioned dog.
When I started my dogs used to be
small with "normal" legs - not so low not so long - but it was very common
to have some puppies short on legs. I had to introduce new dogs on my breeding
program to fix that problem. But you must be careful trying to make your
dogs upper on legs because you can get oversize dogs and of course that
is not diserable.
The last time I was in USA to watch
a National was in January/2003. I have to say I was so disapointed
with the buff dogs showed there. Almost 80% of all the dogs/bitches/puppies
were short on legs. I believe the lenght of the legs are the worst problem
with the buff cockers nowadays, even worse than the shoulder angles. As
I didn't go there since them I am not sure if the problem is still the
same of if the legs are upper.
Here are examples of normal,
short and up on leg dogs. As usual I am using puppy's photos to show better:
You must stack the puppy and see
the area under its belly. A normal dog will be almost the same size
from it's withers to the chest than from the chest to the ground. However
some puppies with a very deep chest will look like to be shorter on legs
but in fact they aren't.
As I said before, the shoulders
never change, but the legs do. Some short leg puppies at 2 months
old can be normal when are older. The oposite happens too.
And never forget to DON'T TAKE photos of your puppies just after they got
food. Their belly will be so full and they will look like shorter
legs than they really are. Another exemple of the same puppy.
I got the first photo as soon she got food. The other was around
one month after. Much different, right?
I will start to work with movement.
That will take more time because it is the most important aspect of the
This is the most important thing
about dogs, not just about cockers, but as all other breeders. In
a breed like cockers. with so much coat, it is not difficult to cover the
problems with a good trimming. And if you have enought experience
stacking dogs, you will be able to make the dog look beautiful, even when
it is not even close to be perfect.
But when the dog starts to move,
it will shows all its qualities and faults. The low tailset will
be there, the soft back too, in special the problems with the forelegs
A dog must walk troting, like a
horse. Look these photos:
The first dog has a trot movment.
Take a look on its legs and its triangle shape. But the second movement
is not a proper trot. It is named PACE.. The legs are parallel
while its is moving, exaclty like a cammel. Some dogs moves like that when
they are going faster than a "walk" and not so fast as a trot. Of
course that is WRONG. I know only one breed who should move like
that - Brazilian filas, but maybe there are others that do the same.
BUT COCKERS CAN NOT PACE ok?
There is another "movement mistake"
very common. A lot of people (I think they are the maiority of the breeders)
use to think as faster the dog moves as better the movement is and THAT
IS NOT TRUE! Nowadays the shows more look like races. Who goes faster
wins! And usualy a proper movement is like the dog is going in slow motion.
As it has lot of REACH and DRIVE (front and rears) it will take more time
to stretch the legs to the maximun point than a dog with poor reach.
Not sure if you undertand what I mean. Let's try in a different way:
You have two people walking side
by side. One is moving with big steeps and the other with little
ones. But as they are friend they want to be together. What
happens? The person with "little steps" should move the legs much
more times than the other, but they have the same speed and are walking
side by side
The same happens with dogs with
good and bad movement. They are able to move on the same speed, but
the one with little steps (not proper reach and drive - NOT GOOD COVER
GROUND) will have to move the legs much more times than the other with
good cover (big steeps), isn't that truth?
But do you know what happens?
People see that dog moving its legs so fast trying to go on the same speed
as the dog with good drive and reach and they think that one is a MOVING
MACHINE!!! But in fact the other one, who doesn't make so much effort to
move because it has the "big steeps" is the one who REALLY MOVES CORRECTLY!
Let's see what the standard says
"Prerequisite to good movement is
balance between the front and rear assemblies. He drives with strong, powerful
rear quarters and is properly constructed in the shoulders and forelegs
so that he can reach forward without constriction in a full stride to counterbalance
the driving force from the rear. Above all, his gait is coordinated, smooth
and effortless. The dogs must cover ground with his action; excessive animation
should not be mistaken for proper gait".
Do you see? EXCESSIVE ANIMATION
SHOULD NOT BE MISTAKEN FOR PROPER GAIT - it is not because a dog moves
its legs very fast it means its movement is right! NEVER FORGET THAT!
When the exibithors (in special
the handlers) noted a lot of people were doing that same mistake (including
JUDGES!), they start to make their dogs move faster and faster, like a
race. But when you make a dog goes so faster on its trot, maybe
this dog will show some problems in his back that in fact he doesn't have.
But that doesn't seem to mean that much for some handlers . In their
opinnion A SHOW DOG MUST MOVE FASTER and that is all.
Another VERY IMPORTAN THING: Time
by time we have in our breed dogs that become great winners, in special
because they are great movers. It is a great pleasure to watch them
flying around the ring, but when you pay attention on their structure -
ugly head, narrow front and rears, very long back, you realize that dog
is nothing more than a mover.
I believe you already note there
are some top models who aren't that beautiful. In fact you can't
understand why they are so famours, but when they see them on the "fashion
shows" you note they have some thing different, they get all the "eyes"
to them. It is "the flash", it is what we name on the dog world "show
attitude". And you can be sure the same happens to the dogs.
"The flash" is a great thing to
a handler. One dog who is a great mover and has flash is half way
to become a BIS winner, but to a breeder THAT CAN NOT BE SO IMPORTANT.
Of course I like a dog who is able to move correctly, but it MUST HAVE
other qualities. I never will use a dog with a bad head, long back, no
bones, no substance, just because it is a great mover of because has "show
I already had so many dogs who had
great structure, they weren't perfect but were very close to the standard
but besides they were able to move correctly, they didn't have "flash".
They were able to finish the championship, but they never got any
BIS. And every time they were on the same show with the "big movers" they
lost. Is that fair? Well ... who said the dog shows are "fair games" ?
So here goes one advice. Movement
is very important to show the dog's faults, but it doesn't mean a "flashy
dog"r is a perfect dog. Don't use a dog with your bitch just because
it is a big winner or a big mover, because maybe it will mean nothing on
your whelping box.
But let's talk about movement ...
As you already saw on this page,
a dog with a proper front and proper rear angulations will have a beautiful
REACH and DRIVE, an expression we see very often on the stud sires advertisements.
It will be BALLANCED. Let's see these photos in movement:
You see this dog stacked and
you believe it is a ballanced dog. For the topline you are able to
see it has good shoulders, but you are not sure about the rears.
You can't see that very well with all that cover, right? And you can't
touch the dog to see how it really looks like What should you do? WHATCH
IT MOVING! When you see this dog's movement you have the confirmation
it has a good structure. You trace a line from its two paws together to
the back of the dog. And thus trace a line from that point to the
front foot and another one to the back foot These two lines must have almost
the same size. I used my computer to trace these lines and believe
me, THEY ARE EXACTLY THE SAME SIZE. This triangle must have two sides with
the same size.
Do you want to see another dog moving,
this time a young puppy?
Once again we have the a tringle
with 2 same size sides.
But what is a NOT BALLANCED DOG?
We must think on him as two parts. Each part will walk with different
size of steps. If he doesn't have REACH enoght, his "front steps" will
be short ones. If he is over angulated on his rears, his "hind steps"
will be large ones. So a not ballanced dog is the one wicth
"front steps" will not have the same size as his "hind steps".
A dog with bad reach will look like
You already learned the front legs
should go over the nose of the dog when it is moving. And looking
to the triangle, you can note one side is longer than the other. The longer
side shows longer steps. The smaller size, smaller steps. On
this case this dog has much more DRIVE than REACH. His "hind steps" are
lareger/bigger than the "front step".
And you can find another kind of
movement problems when a dog has more drive than reach: SIDEWINDING or
SIDLE. What is that? It is when the dog can not move in a streight
line. Why that happens?
Very simple ... look the photo of
the buff puppy moving (above). Can you note the paws which are on
the floor are very close to each other? All the dogs use to move in that
way. But now think in a dog not ballanced. He doesn't have too much
reach (small/short front steps) but as it is over angulated on rears, he
pushes the ground very much (large/big hind steps). If this dog was
moving in a streight line, he would put his hind leg AHEAD than the foreleg.
Of course he can't do that, so what he does? He puts his hind leg at the
side of the foreleg. Look the draw bellow.
Let's imagine these are two dogs.
The left dog is a ballanced one. The red elipses are his forelegs.
The blue are his hindlegs, ok? He is moving in a streight line, because
his good reach, his forelegs go ahead than his nose. As he is ballanced
his you can trace a perfect triangle (green color) shwoing his steps are
the same size.
But the right dog isn't ballanced
. It doesn't have to much REACH (short front steps) and because
of that his foreleg isn't ahead than his nose. On the other hand he has
too much DRIVE (large hind steps) and his hind leg goes ahead than the
point his foreleg is. He puts his two right legs side by side and
to make that possible, he can't go in a streight line. He must twist
his body. It is the Mother Nature adjusting the dog's movement to
It is what Byron Santos (Sherwood
Cockers in USA) said: "I guess you have to describe
the rear as a "balanced to the front" because no matter how good or bad
the front is, God will adjust the rears so the dog can move more adequately"
Believe me, siddle movement is much
more common than you can imagine, in special in short back dogs. As I like
the short back dogs I already had a couple dogs with this problem in my
place. And I had oportunity to watch a Dobermann National Show here in
Brazil (I was the judge's assistent) and I can tell you 90% of the
dogs on that show (including the ones imported from USA) had the same problem.
It is easier to see the problem in a dobermann because there is no coat
to cover its legs ...
But sometimes you have a dog (very
common on puppies) and it moves streight, but when you put the leash on
it he will start to to siddle. Sometimes he is doing that because
he dog is pulling away from you and not because it has problems in his