Crossing the line into Dogsnobbery

While the word “Dogsnobbery” has not yet made it into the Miriam-Webster dictionary, it is a common enough term that Googling it brings up over 3.5 million references!  

What is dog snobbery?  It is the feeling that purebred dog owners are superior to mixed breed dog owners, and by definition breeders of quality purebred dogs are superior to those breeding lesser quality dogs. 

What it also is – is a condition that is going to cause the purebred dog world to implode upon itself.    As breeders of health-tested quality dogs, we want to segregate ourselves from the people supplying the pet market and breeding crossbreds, and dogs that don’t meet the standard.   Yet, in doing so I see so often people alienating the very market that they are trying to provide puppies to.

First, I have seen many posts in the last few months about a new website called Paws n Pups  that appears to have scraped club databases for information on breeders.  Yes, this site is advertising crossbreeds also which we as “preservationist” breeders abhor.   But if you look at the listings for your breed, you will most likely find it is a who’s who of your National Club’s breeder’s directory.  

Yet people are horrified at being listed on this page without their knowledge and consent and are notifying everyone that they know of that is listed on it.

My opinion, although it may be unpopular, is different.   I don’t mind being listed on these types of websites.   I look at it as an opportunity to educate.   If someone reaches out to me about should I buy a Cardigan corgi, or  a Pembroke corgi or an “American” corgi (a cross between the two breeds for those unaware) – I WELCOME the opportunity to educate that person and to give them the information that they require to make a good choice.   I will tell them what they should be looking for, how to approach breeders, and give them recommendations to those I would buy a <insert breed here> from if I were in the market for one myself.    So why NOT have your name on there and increase their chances of making contact with someone with ethics and knowledge instead of distancing yourself from Joe Public who may not KNOW to look at the AKC or CKC websites or the Breed Club directories.

And that brings me to my second point I feel really needs to be made about dogsnobbery.  There are some breeds I have a really difficult time referring people to breeders for.  One of the ways that we used to differentiate ourselves from the breeders just out to make money was that we did health testing when they did not.   I have been on the health testing bandwagon for 30 years – testing dogs long before it was fashionable to do so.    But now the pet breeders are starting to health test, and they are winning the battle.   While their puppies may not adhere to the breed standard and many are barely recognizable as far as “type” – again that does not matter to Joe Public.   He wants a dog that is going to live a long and healthy life.   It does not matter to him that his dog is a little long on leg, or the ear set is wrong, or even that the head looks more like a collie than a corgi!  He cares that he is not going to have a dog become incapacited with a shortened or severely restricted life because it is affected with a disease that there is a known test for, even if the science is not perfect.

Preservationist breeders argue that we can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater and maintain type.    Yet look at all the breeds that have eliminated issues, or were recreated by going away from type and carefully breeding back to it.    There ARE breeders who have managed to eliminate those testable issues from their lines and gone back to winning specialties with dogs clear of the health issues.   There was a dalmation with pointer in its background that won at Crufts.   I wrote about my own problems eliminating health issues in this blog post – Pruning the Tree Helps it Develop Stronger.

It can be done     In my mind Dogsnobbery is going to kill the demand for purebred dogs far faster than any of the crossbreeding will.   Just look how quickly Labradoodles and Goldendoodles proliferated.  It isn’t that people don’t WANT a purebred dog – or they wouldn’t give them fancy names and they wouldn’t buy into the “hybrid vigour” myth.   People want a HEALTHY purebred dog, and they need to be able to find the good breeders to get them – those who work to eliminate the genetic junk from their lines.   So before you get on your high horse and ride off into the sunset with the most “award-winning” elite, be sure that your boots are clean of the genetic muck you may be carrying on them.

Are you my type?

I thought it might be interesting to have a discussion about “type”. What is type and why is it important? Recently I saw a post where someone asked about the structure of their dog, and the comment was made that it didn’t matter what the dog looked like. I’ve been mulling this about in my head for a few days, because it DOES matter. Type is the defining qualities that make a dog recognizable as a breed.  We should be able to look at a dog and immediately say “That is a Cardigan”, or “That is an Irish Wolfhound”, or “That is a American Foxhound”.    And we should be able to do this whether we are looking at a sillhouette of the breed, or looking at its head. The dictionary defines type as “a person or thing symbolizing or exemplifying the ideal or defining characteristics of something.” So what are those ideal characteristics, and who decides what is right and what is wrong?

BDIC dolly

Let’s look at the UK (Country of Origin) standards for the Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
Under “General Appearance” the Cardigan says: Sturdy, tough, mobile, capable of endurance. Long in proportion to height, terminating in fox-like brush, set in line with body.  The Pembroke standard says: Low set, strong, sturdily built, alert and active, giving impression of substance and stamina in small space. If we went on these two descriptions alone – any of these could be a Cardigan or a Pembroke.

LONG, LOW SET DOGS
 
skye terrier

Breed A

 
petit-basset-griffon-vendeen-01

Breed B

 
dandie dinmont

Breed C

 
basset hound

Breed D

 
dachshund

Breed E

pekinese

Breed F

So what makes these NOT correct? Why are they not corgis?

The answer to that can be found by digging further into the standards for other defining characteristics that make up what we call “breed type”.   It is the factors that when one looks even at a silhouette makes that individually recognizable as a specific breed.
Whether you believe it or not, I think that  every single person who is reading this really does recognize it, otherwise you would not have been attracted to a specific breed.  Let’s test it – look at the silhouettes below and see if you can match them to the breeds pictured above, as well as picking out the Cardigan and the Pembroke.

silhouette 1

Silhouette 1

silhouette 4

Silhouette 2

silhouette 2

Silhouette 3

 
pekingese_silhouette_postcard-r32dfa29a5c4d40daaf367b106a98a5e2_vgbaq_8byvr_324

Silhouette 4

 
silhouette 5

Silhouette 5

silhouette 6 
 
silhouette 7

Silhouette 7

 
silhouette 8

Silhouette 8

How did you do?   In case you did have an issue, here are the answers:

Breed Photo Silhouette
Skye Terrier A 5
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen B 7
Dandie Dinmont Terrier C 2
Basset Hound D 8
Dachshund E 6
Pekinese F 4
Cardigan Welsh Corgi   3
Pembroke Welsh Corgi   1

What would probably be surprising to most readers, is how much these breeds that you would immediately dismiss as “not a Corgi”, actually have in common with Corgis.   Five of the six breeds you would immediately dismiss because of their dropped ears – but how often do we see dogs where the ears have not come up?   Four would be dismissed because of coat – but corgis DO carry a fluffy gene, and although reputable breeders don’t breed for that characteristic they do pop up.

Would it surprise you to know that the Dachshund and Basset are descended from the same lineage (Teckels) as the Cardigan, and that they, together with the Pekinese have the same front as the Cardigan?    Look at the prominent prosternum (breast bone) and the way the legs wrap around the egg shaped front.  I was very surprised to learn this from a Peke breeder when she allowed me to go over a shaved down Peke. Let’s make this a little bit tougher now.   We have determined that coat length and type are defining features that make up Corgi type.   So what about these dogs?

Lancashire Heeler

Lancashire Heeler

Swedish Valhund

Swedish Valhund

These are two European herding breeds that are dwarfs, with shorter coats, and prick ears – what makes them distinct from either of the Corgi breeds?

Lets look at the Lancashire first. In size this breed is similar to the Pembroke, and slightly smaller than the Cardigan.  The coat however is different.  The standard calls for a fine undercoat covered throughout by weather resistant, short, thick, hard, flat topcoat.  This is different than the “medium length” described in the Pembroke Standard, and the “short or medium hard texture” coat of the Cardigan.   Then Lancashire is always either Black and Tan or Liver and Tan, whereas Pembrokes are red, sable, fawn or black and tan with or without white markings, and Cardigans are  blue merle, brindle, red, sable, and tri-colour with brindle or red points. The Lancashire is not as long bodied as either of the Corgis, with the body being approximately 1″ longer than the height at the withers, and the front is not bowed like the Cardigan, nor does it have the prominent prosternum of the Pembroke.   There are many more differences – but these few simple observations separate the Lancashire “type” from the two Corgis.   You can read more on the Lancashire standard at this link

Now lets look at the Swedish Valhund.  Again we have a dwarf dog with upright ears. The Valhund is a slightly taller dog than either of the corgis with the ideal height being 12-13″.  Again, like the Lancashire, colours are different with the description being: Grey,  greyish brown, greyish yellow, reddish yellow or reddish brown with lighter “harness markings” and cheeks being desirable.   The tail of the Valhund can be long or short and carried in any manner – bob, straight, curled – all are correct, whereas Pembrokes naturally have a tail that comes straight off the back and Cardigan at a downward slope.  A full standard for the Swedish Vallhund is at this link.

Very interesting to note is the description of the feet and forequarters in these four breeds.  Which do you think describes the Lancashire, the Vallhund, the Cardigan and the Pembroke?

  1. Forequarters:  Shoulder long and set at an angle of 45 degrees to a horizontal plane.Upper arm slightly shorter than the shoulder-blades and set at a distinct angle. Upper arms lie close to ribs, but are still very mobile.  Forearm when viewed from the front, slightly bent, just enough to give them free action against the lower part of the chest.Metacarpus (Pastern): Elastic.  Feet:  Medium sized, short, oval, pointing straight forward with strong pads, tightly knit and well knuckled up
  2. Forequarters:  Shoulders well laid, angulated at approximately 90 degrees to upper arm; muscular, elbows close to sides. Strong bone carried down to feet. Legs short but body well clear of the ground, forearms slightly bowed to mould round the chest. Feet turned slightly outwards.  Feet:  Round, tight, rather large and well padded
  3. Forequarters:  Lower legs short and as straight as possible, forearm moulded round chest. Ample bone, carried right down to feet. Elbows fitting closely to sides, neither loose nor tied. Shoulders well laid, and angulated at 90 degrees to the upper arm.Feet: Oval, toes strong, well arched, and tight, two centre toes slightly advance of two outer, pads strong and well arched. Nails short.
  4. Forequarters:  Well laid shoulder, elbows firm against ribs. Amply boned. Pasterns allow feet to turn slightly outwards, but not enough to cause weakness or affect freedom of movement.  Feet:  Small, firm and well padded.

Number 1 is the Vallhund,  2 is the Cardigan, 3 is the Pembroke and 4 is the Lancashire.    Note that the Pembroke standards says LOWER LEGS AS STRAIGHT AS POSSIBLE!!  This is a major difference between the Pembroke and the Cardigan which says “slightly bowed”.    If your Pembroke has curved legs and feet that point outwards it is not correct.

Armed with this information can you pick out which of the silhouettes below are Pems, Cardis, Lancashires, and Vallhunds?

 
Silhouette 1

Silhouette 1

Silhouette 2

Silhouette 2

 
Sillhouette 3

Sillhouette 3

 
Silhouette 4

Silhouette 4

 
Silhouette 5

Silhouette 5

 
Silhouette 6

Silhouette 6

VALLHUND 1

Silhouette 7

Silhouette 8

Silhouette 8



 

 Have you got your answers?

Silhouettes 3, 6 and 8 are Pembroke Welsh Corgis.   Did #6 fool you?  He is indeed a Pembroke in Australia where docking is not permitted and here is the photo I used to create the silhouette.

Ch. Dygae Limited Edition

Ch. Dygae Limited Edition – photo Courtesy of Diane Baillie

 

Here is another example in colour.   Even with the tail there is no mistaking this dog for anything other than a Pem.

Tailed Pem 2

Photo courtesy of Diane Baillie, Dygae Reg’d

Silhouettes 2, 4 & 7 illustrate the three varieties of tails found in the Swedish Valhund.

Silhouette 5 is the Lancashire, and Silhouette 1 is the Cardigan.

Lets look at some of the other differences between the two types of corgis now.   When I look at a corgi head, I want to be able to immediately identify whether it is a Cardigan and a Pembroke, and there are several factors that determine this.   The shape, size and placement of the ears, the cheeks, the width and shape of the muzzle, the shape and placement of the eyes.

I am going to use slides from a Powerpoint presentation  I created for judges education to demonstrate differences between the breeds.

PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A COPYRIGHTED PRESENTATION AND THESE MAY NOT BE COPIED OR OTHERWISE DISTRIBUTED

Many, and dare I say almost ALL, of the pet Pembroke corgis I see posted on Facebook do not have correct heads.  They either have Cardigan ear size, shape and placement, or they look like basenjis, or are apple shaped like chihuahuas.   If you posted a picture solely of the head the breed could not be identified.  Therefore it is not correct TYPE.

Poor shoulder angulation, roaching toplines, and short backs are in abundance, as well as Cardigans with Pem-type croups, and Pems with Cardigan croups.   Docking the tail off a puppy does not make it a Pembroke, any more than cropping its ears would make it a Doberman.   Again these are features of “TYPE” that have been lost in the mass proliferation of questionably bred corgis to fill the demand of the pet market.

And of course this is the subject that you don’t even want to get me started on!!   Mixing Pembrokes and Cardigans to get a ‘cool” colour is a travesty to both breeds.

So in conclusion, Yes, it does matter if your dogs legs are too long,   It does matter if the head is incorrect and it does matter if his tail set isn’t right, and his colour isn’t acceptable.  These are all signs of careless breeding being done to fill a niche market created by those who “just want a corgi”.

Do you want “just a corgi” or do you want a corgi that you can be proud of as a good representative of its breed?   Until buyers start demanding that those producing puppies increase the quality of what they are producing, there will always be those who just breed to sell puppies.   They tell buyers that there is no need to prove their breeding stock in the show ring because it is “just a pet”.   To my mind, and those of most of my peers, “just a pet” should be just as healthy, sound and well-bred as the dogs we keep for ourselves as part of our breeding programs.  It should be correctly structured to no have conformation faults that will lead to devastating injuries such as spinal cord or ACL tears or luxating patellas.  The parents should be health tested to ensure that no preventable diseases are perpetuated.    Because “just a pet” deserves to live a long, happy, healthy and pain free life too.

Why do you care where my dog comes from?

Ever since I can remember there have been people out to make a quick buck off their dogs.   As a child, back in the very early 60’s,  I can remember my neighbour getting a “Cock-a-poo” and being told that it would be a recognized breed soon.   Here we are 55  years later – and there is still no CKC or AKC recognition.

blazduchI’ve been accused of being a “dog snob” many times and having Nazi-like tendencies, only believing that the purest blood should be carried on.   These people don’t realize that these were my first two dogs – 5 breeds in two bodies.    I don’t hate mixed breeds dogs – I hate the irresponsible breeding practices that create them, and the sellers who bilk unsuspecting buyers out of thousands of dollars by giving them cute names.

In 1985 I got my first purebred dog, and so began my life with purebreds.  I did not ‘get rid of” my girls – they both stayed with me until I lost them 3 months apart at 17 and 14.

After that I had my Irish Wolfhounds and Cardigan Welsh Corgis, and at that point my deep involvement began, as I stepped into the pool of exhibitors and later breeders.   I was fortunate to have in my life people who wanted to do it “right” and taught me how to do it the same way.

Free-Online-Chatting-Websites-With-Strangers

Around 1995 I joined the on-line world – and that is when I realized just how much poor breeding goes on in North America.  Whereas these substandard breeding practices had previously been limited to selling their “products” through pet stores, they now had full access to the pet buying public, and Search Engine Optimization to push their listings to the top of Google searches.

Horrified breeders have watched the proliferation of Doodles – everything being bred to poodles and given “cutesy” names to make them more marketable.   And then came the corgi crosses – yes everything in the world being crossed with Corgis and marketed.  No one gave a care to the possible health issues that would be faced by these new dwarfs – “Aren’t they CUTE?!?!” was the response from the Millenials.  And as their narcissistic desires to own these Frankensteins increased, so did the number of greedy puppy producers who felt they could profit from their “I want it and I want it now!” mentality. Corgis were bred with anything and everything – in fact Buzzfeed did a page of the Top 25 Corgi Hybrids.

Purebred Cardigan Welsh Corgi Puppies - Billie and Heather

Purebred Cardigan Welsh Corgi Puppies – Billie and Heather

The other way that puppy producers profit is to come up with “unique” and “rare” colours, and sell them for even more money!   Again the puppy producers came up with a way to make even more money – they began to cross Pembrokes with Blue Merle cardigans and to market “Blue Merle Pembrokes”.   And as the craze for these off coloured dogs spread, the price of them went through the roof – sellers getting $3,000 for a blue merle puppy and $1,800 for their tri-coloured siblings.  

Last year I set up the Facebook page and Website for “The Truth About Blue Merle Pembroke Welsh Corgis”.    The Website has had about 18,000 views from approximately 8,500 unique visitors since its launch in July, and received many thank you emails from people who were totally unaware of the fraud that was being perpetuated.  

BMP Views

As a result of this page, and the education imparted, not only have we managed to somewhat slow down the production of these puppies, but the Continental Kennel Club has also started to cancel the registrations on the dogs that were previously registered as Blue Merle Pems.

As National Purebred Dog Day is tomorrow, I am reflecting on why I am continuing to try and fight this battle.   I try and steer people to the educational site whenever possible to prevent them from getting sucked in by the “cute” factor of the Blue Merle coloured Pembroke crosses, and to try to make people understand not only are they being taken advantage of, and paying unreasonable prices, but they are contributing to a growing  health issue by creating a market for these producers to continue to fill.

So after being attacked again for trying to help, I was asked today why do I care where people’s dogs come from and why don’t I just stop.   This made me think and take a closer look at my own motivations.

magnifying glass

Those who attack me for trying to educate say that I must be worried about my own puppy sales.   That could not be further from the truth.  I have a waiting list for puppies that will take me quite a while to fill.

The reason I care is that since I got on the internet, first on Corgi-L and Irish Wolfhound-L, then on IRC Corgi & Wolfhound chat forums, and now onto Facebook, is that the responsible and ethical breeders are the ones who must provide the “clean up service” for the puppies produced by these back yard breeders.

Call for help

My puppy buyers are told to call me – day or night – when they are worried about their dog.  After 45 years with dogs I have seen a lot.   I can advise them whether they are likely to be okay, or if they should be rushing to an emergency vet.  I can give  input on treatment options, and if they need me to be there, I will go along for that final vet visit.

However, those who purchase from BYB don’t have that option.   Once their payment has cleared the seller is no longer interested in knowing about the puppy.   So when they have a worry, a concern or a question, they go to public forums to ask questions.   Some are simple questions that anyone can answer.   But I can’t begin to total up the hours I have spent on email and chat and the telephone with people I don’t know and who I will most likely never meet, discussing problems from growth issues, to housebreaking, from food to diarrhea. 

As  a breeder I feel a moral obligation to help dogs in need whether I produce them or not.  I just can’t turn my back on someone who is frantically looking for information or advice.

possumAnother reason I care is because of dogs like “Possum”.   On the website I created a page called “Why is it a Dangerous Practice”.  On it I explained how breeding merle irresponsibly could result in double merle puppies with the resulting deafness and blindness issues.   A short time ago Possum came into rescue – the product of breeding a blue merle cardigan with a Pembroke that “appeared” to be sable but carried a cryptic merle gene – and he fulfilled that prophecy being totally deaf and minimally sighted.   You can read read about Possum’s journey on his Facebook page Possum – the double merle Corgi.  

Another issue is the lack of rescue.  Because the people producing these crossbreds don’t take back what they produce, when they don’t work out they get dumped in shelters.  And then the rescues need to go and pull them out, get them vetted, rehabilitated and rehomed.  The people running these rescue programs are once again usually volunteers from the purebred dog clubs, and the rescues are funded in part by purebred dog clubs.

hurt feelings

I was told today that I could hurt people’s feelings by saying there are possible problems with their dogs if they aren’t purchased from reputable breeders.   To me the issue is not about the buyers – they should have done their research – the issue is about saving dogs produced by disreputable breeders, and preventing more “Possums” from being brought into the world.

So that is why I care about where you got your dog from.  I want you to buy a dog from a breeder who will give you support when you need it, and who cares about the quality of the puppies that they bring into the world.  A preservationist breeder who cares about the history, and the reason that your breed was created, and who does their very best to honour and enhance the work of those who went before.  A breeder who takes the time to educate themselves and to mentor others to do the same.  A breeder who, through their membership in a breed specific club has helped to develop testing for genetic markers to eradicate possible genetic diseases.   When a breeders motivation is solely to produce puppies for sale, without a care to producing quality, they are obviously going to be cutting corners on health testing, and on puppy care.

If you want to find good breeders, contact me!  I would rather help you to find the right dog in the first place, then to be trying to help you in the middle of the night because your dog is suffering from some genetic malady.   Not only will you most likely save money since some of these people charge ridiculous prices, but the money you save in vet bills over the life of the dog will be be even more savings.   Doing the right thing benefits everyone, especially the dogs!

The back of the bus

There has been a lot of discussion on correct fronts – so I thought I would do a post about rear assemblies.   Having started with awful rears in both my breeds it is something I have worked very hard on correcting, and something I am very critical of.  I will need to watch, if I ever take up judging, that I don’t become the “butt fairy” 

No matter what breed we look at the number of bones and their layout is the same.   Here is a picture of the “ideal” Irish Wolfhound rear end from “The Irish Wolfhound” by Alfred DeQuoy, and the rear assembly from the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Illustrated Standard produced by the CWCCA .   They, of course, are not in correct proportion, or the corgi size would be about 1/3 of the size of the IW, but I got them as close as possible in sie to show that the structure is basically the same.   At the top of the assembly both breed have an ideal slope of about 30° for the pelvis.  From there the femur goes down to the patella (knee) and there meets the fibula/tibula (second thigh) at an ideal 90° angle.   In both breeds again, the ideal is to have the two sets of bones (femur and fib/tib) be of equal length.   At the end is the hocks which we want to be as short, and then down to the bones of the hind paw.

rearend2 corgi rear

 While we can’t “deconstuct” a live dog to actually measure bone lengths. we can do a reasonable approximation of the bone lengths and angles.  The best way to do this, is of course on a live dog by using a marker such as a sticky dot to mark the point of the hip, knee, and hock, and then using calipers to measure bone lengths, and a protractor to measure the angles.   However many times we are working with photos and trying to determine what our eyes are seeing.   I am going to use a variety of photos to try and illustrate desirable and undesirable rear assemblies, and then compare rears of puppies and adults.

pennyrear

As as I said, I did not start with good rears!   On this girl you can see the ratio of bone lengths (femur:fib/tib) is about 1.5:1 instead of the desirable 1:1, and the angle is 110° instead of the desirable 90°.   The way this affected her, along with all her conformation faults, was that she had very restricted rear movement, and no drive in the rear.   She was strong and muscular, after all she grew up with a wolfhound sister, but as the years passed this structure took a toll on her movement and her hips.

darrenrear

Here  is a much better rear example, the F:FT ratio is just about a perfect 1:1 (of course estimatng based on the photo, but the angle is actually very slighty less than desirable at 85°.

So now to look at how this develops in puppies.   As I said in my prior blog post on how puppies grow BONE LENGTH PROPORTIONS DO NOT CHANGE.  If a dog has a short second thigh when evaluated as a puppy, it is going to have that as an adult also.   If it has long hocks, it again will as an adult.

I unfortunately do not have “bad angulation pictures” of puppies and adults.  Back when I did have a lot of bad rears, I didn’t do the evaluation pictures I do now.  Puppies that were not as good in the rear were not kept as show/breeding dogs, and therefore I don’t have stacked photos of them.   What I can show is how puppies keep their angulation into adulthood.

Dolly
 

7 weeks

BDIC dolly

3 years

 

 

Jack
DSC01902

7 weeks

10 months

10 months

These picture are only the profile view, and I don’t really have a lot of rear views of puppies other than some recent at 7 weeks.   Here is a shot of Jack’s rear, vs a puppy I did not keep.  You can see Jack’s hocks are straight up and down and not tilted vs. the other puppy who is slightly cow-hocked (tops of the hocks pointing at each other.  You want the hocks as straight as possible and just balancing the width of the puppy

DSC01906  DSC02176sm

One final comment about evaluating rears, and actually about evaluating puppies in general.   You can “force” a puppy into almost any position, and you can hold its feet in exactly the right spot.    But if the puppy is truly balanced, and its structure is actually correct it will NATURALLY fall into the correct postion.   I much prefer the pictures I get with the yogurt in front of the puppies as to those with “hands on” holding puppies in place.  I can see what it is actually there, and what the puppy is doing naturally vs. what is being manufactured for the purposes of the photo.

I hope this is helpful to those who were looking for the information.