Jennifer Kealys domarrapport
Wheaten Festival 25th August 2018
First of all I would like to extend a huge thank you to all the exhibitors who showed their dogs under me. The exhibitors all showed great sportsmanship too. It was a true honour to have so many lovely dogs to judge. Some classes were hard to split as there were many lovely dogs to choose from.
Also a heartfelt thank you to the secretary and to all the committee on a very well-run show in a lovely venue. There was a lovely atmosphere at the show and of course weather helped too. A special thank you to my two ring stewards too, they were kept busy.
I have been asked to answer the following questions:
How did you find the overall quality of all the dogs that you have just judged?
I felt the overall quality of Wheatens at the show to be of excellent type, many worthy champions. I was very pleased overall with the class winners. There are some nice young dogs coming up through the ranks, with quality veterans also, shown in great condition.
What were the pros and cons of the dogs you saw?
Pros: breeding good type with good head and expression. Nearly all had typical out-going temperaments. In the most part they are of good size and breed type. Coats overall were of good type.
Cons: movement is letting down some lovely dogs. Loose elbows were on several dogs. As you will see in next question: mouths are a major problem. Another area of concern to me would be toplines, some have sloping toplines and some fall away too steeply at the croup.
What should the breeders focus on when breeding Wheaten Terriers?
I think there are a couple of things that breeders need to focus on, I have been lucky enough to travel and see Wheatens across Europe; we still seem to be a young breed without a cemented breed type. There are several types of Wheatens in the show ring and I am not referring to coat here.
We seem to have short legged ones, short backed ones, some have lost bone, some are as big as Airedales and some not much bigger then Fox Terriers. This makes them a very difficult breed to judge as in some cases you are deciding which fault you like least and I don’t mean fault judging a breed.
The breed seems to be immature in consistent type in comparison to other breeds. Also we need to be patient as owners, as they are a slow maturing breed. However this does mean that we can show them for a long number of years and I have seen some really beautiful specimens of the breed coming from Veteran classes.
A huge watch out I have noticed over the last number of years judging them is bite and teeth. We in my opinion have several mouth problems in Wheatens, yes they often have a correct bite but they have very small teeth where you are left searching for molars and pre molars. If you look at the dogs’ bottom teeth they are often just barely above the gum line or they have been worn down. Also we are seeing a lot where the bottom two front teeth ‘drop’ and a lot of movement in the bottom teeth. I believe some of these problems are arising from lack of underjaw, Wheatens are meant to have a strong under jaw and often this is not here. As I said they can start with correct bites and these problems with teeth don’t manifest themselves until the dogs are 3 or 4 years of age, at that stage dogs have often been breed from.
Another watch out for me is something that is completely foreign to the breed and that is a deep stop with a turned up nose. I don’t know where this has come from but if you looked at a silhouette of a head with this turned up nose we wouldn’t be recognizing it as a terrier.
I think we can get bogged down with coats, yes a correct coat with gleam and sheen and good loose wave is a joy to watch, especially outdoors on a sunny day like we had when I was judging. This is not the only thing that makes a Wheaten good, we need breed type; we hear this word been used a lot but I am not entirely sure everyone understands its meaning. In dog terms I believe it means having defining characteristics, it means that we should be able to recognize a breed by its silhouette drawing. Type also comes into movement, which should be free, light and coordinated.
In my opinion the thing that threatens Wheatens the most is also threatening a lot of breeds.
If we do not pay attention to breed type we end up with what I refer to as a flashy FCI show dog, like what has happened to a lot of breeds in America regardless of what the standards say. Short backed long necked dogs are top winners in all breeds. One of the words that crops up in several breed standards is balanced and moderate including in our own! Take note!
We used to have huge problems with cow hocks and now thankfully that is a very unusual fault and I hope in 15 years’ time I will be impressed with every dog’s good sized correctly positioned teeth.