SATURDAY 9 MAY 2015
37TH ANNUAL CHAMPIONSHIP SHOW
JUDGE: Mr Laurie Ford (UK)
Firstly, my sincere thanks to all the exhibitors who allowed me the privilege of judging their dogs. It was indeed a huge honour to be invited to judge at this prestigious show and my thanks to the Officers and Committee for their superb hospitality during my stay in South Africa. Special thanks to Eurika van Heerden for assisting with the necessary paperwork and correspondence and to my ring steward Roy Clark for ensuring proceedings ran smoothly.
It would be amiss of me not to generalize on the quality of the numbers I had to judge on the day and my observations of the breed quality that you have at present in South Africa, which, should not be construed as a negative, but a positive approach to ensuring the quality you have is retained whilst improving on other elements of the breed standard which are lacking.
The easiest target for a weak judge is a faulty mouth. Some judges will dismiss an otherwise sound animal because of faulty dentition whist ignoring the overall virtues. Fortunately there were very few mouth faults in the numbers I had here today and those that did have were penalised to the severity of the fault so I shall not mention bite in any of the following critiques, I don’t condone this fault and as breeders we should all strive to eradicate this as with any other fault from our breeding.
Head shape and properties define this breed and I found some diversity amongst the exhibits here today as I would expect anywhere in the world, however, some well defined heads were spoilt by spongy muzzles and overhanging flews. Eye shape and placement is a major part of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier identity. Round, forward facing eyes are much more desirable than obliquely placed almond shaped eyes which detract from the desired expression of this breed, another aspect which can spoil the overall picture of an otherwise sound animal and is usually found to accompany long forefaces which lack stop. These however were few and far between. Ear shape and placement also enhance the appearance and in general most possessed an acceptable ear carriage.
The neck of the Stafford should be relatively short and strong. I have noticed having judged in many places around the world that some breeders ignore this very important aspect of the breed and are favouring the swan necks of more elegant breeds, this is totally wrong and would inhibit the ability of the functional animal to perform its duties, again I saw little evidence of this amongst the dogs I judged which pleased me no end.
Shoulders and forequarters were generally of good order, however, some over angulated shoulders were noticed which causes incorrect gait thus leading to weak pasterns , also very difficult to disguise to the experienced eye when the dog is stacked.
Toplines were acceptable. Correct spring, length and depth of rib was excellent with very few showing signs of being overdone or slab sided, the large majority possessing short strong couplings.
Hindquarters amongst the exhibits here varied from the well constructed and muscular to the under developed weak and straight. Hindquarters play an integral part in this breeds make up and functionality. The ability to drive forwards is of paramount importance, there is nothing more pleasing to the eye than seeing a mature Staffordshire Bull Terrier powering along!
Finally tail set and feet. Unfortunately it is quite noticeable that some here today had horrendously long nails usually accompanied by long hare like toes. Feet are not hard to look after. Regular trimming and filing of nails will in most cases ensure the animal will have tight feet and be able to move without discomfort. I saw today a problem that appears to be creeping into the breed during the past decade at least but which in my opinion has progressed throughout the world, that of gay tails. The tail, although in the grand scheme of things and on a points basis would appear negligible disrupts the overall outline and balance when a dog is on the move. The profile of otherwise nice dogs are spoilt by the broken lines a gay tail creates, so please consider this when breeding in the future.
There. I hope I have been constructive without offending anyone as this is never my intention. All decisions on the day were made without fear or favour and in my opinion the best dogs won. Opinions will vary of course and on another occasion winners may well be losers, such is judging and the exhibiting of dogs!!!!!