Type and Soundness

The "type and soundness" topic evolved in the show ring from simplistic beginnings to its contemporary level of profound stupidity.

The subject germinated when show judges began to "educate" one another. Rather than emphasize the need to have an eye for a dog, some judges devised little rules that were easy to follow. What does a judge do when faced with an entry of dogs all of whom leave something to be desired? Should one choose breed identity over mechanical perfection, or should mechanical perfection come first? The answer my fair lady, is that breed identity must always be foremost, because that is what makes a breed a breed.

This awareness became distorted. Breed identity was called type. Mechanical perfection was called soundness. Things became a little confused in doggy show-time-hollywood. Firstly, fashion was mistaken for type, then people forgot that a mechanically imperfect dog can still possess a high level of soundness. As the concept became more obscure, people looked harder for simple pathways leading them through the woods towards greater understanding.

Shades of grey were eliminated in this process of simplification: mechanical design is now seen in two lights: either sound or unsound, therefore "type must come before soundness". On that cue, the worst case scenario makes it's debut: as long as the dog has type, soundness doesn't matter. Next the ultimate: fashion comes ahead of everything. Then the ultimate ultimate: forget everything except fashion. One more climax of climaxes gives us the American dream: too much is only just enough, we call it ultimate ultimate breed type. Do you get the feeling it's almost unfashionable to be sound?

Soundness is the property of strength and balance. A dog can possess minor mechanical imperfections and still remain sound.

Weakness and imbalance make a dog unsound. This is not mechanical imperfection, it is mechanical disaster.

Unsound dogs are an insult to nature, to the canine species, to human sensibility and to morality. We have no right to breed unsound dogs, as judges we have no right to sight them as typical because they are not. Type and soundness go hand and hand, not one before the other. If all of your sound exhibits lack type, withhold your awards.

Unsound dogs are not dogs, they are ex-dogs. The tragedy is they have no say in the matter.

Sandy Peter'ka. Back Home