Judging the Cardiganshire Corgi
by Mair Jones-Rees, Gwenlais, Wales.
I start judging the dogs as they enter the ring, I tend to watch from the steward's table, where judges sit until the exhibits are all present. This allows me to evaluate dogs quickly and efficiently in my mind. I study the balance of the dogs and I watch them moving naturally. I can also generally assess if they are nervous or outgoing and in the back of my mind I know I should be able to find my winners even before I put my hands on the exhibits.
I do my utmost to keep to a consistent routine in examining dogs to ensure that every dog receives a complete examination. When the dog is presented on the table, I always allow plenty of time for the exhibitor to set the dog up and settled. It is most important to be gentle but reassuring with puppies and nervous exhibits and also helpful and encouraging with novice exhibitors.
Then I stand back from the dog and evaluate his structure from a side view. I look at his proportions, the length of back in proportion to his height, the topline and his hindquarters. From just looking I get an accurate general impression of the quality of the dog.
I move towards the front of the dog and check the bite. Now, the head. I check the colour, shape and size of the eye and the expression. Occasionally I have seen Cardiganshire Corgis with an expression similar to that of a Siberian Husky. This is totally wrong and should not be encouraged in the breed. I check the shape and width of the skull, the shape and strength of the muzzle. I check the set of the ears, the shape and the size, and check that they can lie flat along the neck. I know we want LARGE ears but I do not like the "bat ears" that some top winning dogs have had in the past. In my opinion, these ears are not correct. I look at the dog's front, check he has the correct round bone and check that he has strong thick pads and the correct shaped foot with all dew-claws removed.
I then move to the side of the dog and quickly check his head in profile. I check the neck and the shoulders. Now shoulder placement is very important to me, they must be properly laid back and not loaded. Loaded shoulders will mean barrel ribs, I believe, and short upperarms will lead to upright shoulders. I check for the length of the ribcage and how long the loin is. A dog too long in loin is weak. Our breed needs to be able to work and I believe a long loin means a dog heading for trouble eventually. Then I check the topline and the muscling of the loin. I often find that a well muscled dog will have a slight rise over the loin. This has, in my opinion, nothing to do with a bad topline. A dip behind the shoulders though is not correct.
I then check the hindquarters and hindlegs for angulation and muscling. So very few dogs are well muscled owing to lack of exercise. A Cardiganshire Corgi is first and foremost a working dog, breeders must not forget this. Their exhibits should be presented in hard condition and well muscled. I then check the croup and tailset and for any deformities in the tail, from the base of the tail down to the tip of the tail. A kinky tail is a fault and will lead to problems in the breed eventually. If my exhibit is a male then I check the testicles.
Then I check from behind whether the thighs are well muscled and the hocks are parrallel or cow-hocked. This judgement on the table can occasionally be deceiving and I double check by looking again, when the dog is on the ground. I have come across a few exhibits who stand cow-hocked on the table but stand correctly when they are on the ground. Again I have seen dogs stand square on the table but cow-hocked on the ground, if it is a carpeted floor. One has to double check again when the dog is moving and also standing naturally.
For my final assessment I check again from the side and think back to my first impression I had before setting a hand on him. I look for a well balanced dog of the correct type and a dog oozing with quality. I want an overall balanced picture and I expect this dog to be able to move. This is not always the case though and once the dog is on the ground, my picture sometimes falls apart. I see dogs full of quality but lacking in type. I see dogs of the correct type lacking in quality. What I look for is breed type and quality and an exhibit that moves smoothly and corrrectly and preferably shows freely on a loose lead. This is what catches my eye.