Moderate:

MODERATION IN THE ENGLISH COCKER


* This article begins with a reprint of an article from the Salukis AKC Gazette Column, December 1993, by Guest Columnist Mimi Carlyle. These points on Moderation accentuate a point in English Cocker Spaniels which Kay Sutter will make below.*

Saluki article:

MODERATION: The key word in understanding Saluki conformation is moderation.

...According to the dictionary, moderate is "avoiding excess or extremes" within reasonable limits "middle of the road." If we begin with the idea that moderate is middle of the road "or halfway between" it might help to clarify the problem with understanding what moderate means in relation to the Saluki standard.

...Moderate [appears] four times in the Saluki Standard.

...Moderate is unexplainable in a vacuum, so comparisons are necessary, which require study and observation on the part of the breeder, owner, and judge of Salukis.

...Any breed that becomes extreme loses its original purpose and identity. This is the case with the modern show ring Saluki. The overangulated rears, along with the [stick straight] front, are major changes in our breed that have basically destroyed the hounds as true Salukis.

    No one could ever begin to call most of the rears we see today moderate or middle-of-the-road, neither straight nor overly long. One of the best ways to judge the rear angulation is to drop a line, either visually on a live dog or with a ruler on a photo, from the rear point of the pelvic bone to the ground. Ideally, the line should touch the front of the toe -- which it will when the hock is perpendicular to the ground. That's moderate. When the lower thigh is much longer than the upper thigh, the dog will be overangulated. If the line drops along the back of the hock, the dog is underangulated, or straight in the rear.
    The reason for a moderately angulated rear on an endurance or long-distance runner is that it contributes to power and speed. If the lower thigh is weedy and lacks strength, like a garden hose nozzle too far from the faucet, the hose bends out of control. The straight rear lacks flexibility and strength over distance; however, it just may be preferred to the long, weedy, overangulated rear for strength of function. Moderate means simply "in the middle."

...Few breeders are willing to accept the challenge of creating a Saluki that's put together correctly. Showmanship and hair are easier to achieve than a truly good dog.

    There is no justification for the great extremes, not just in the overly long, overangulated rears, but of the total dog. It's mere popularity ? which the dog show judges go along with willingly by rewarding style and hair over substance and function. We can equate popularity in look to the different fashion trends of each year.
    I use the terms "style" and "look" instead of "type" because I cannot consider the extremes created by the majority of current breeders to be related to type. True type is created by function. Each breed of dog looked as it did because of what it did, not the other way around. When dogs no longer function, it's a simple process to turn them into caricatures of what they were. That is what happened to our breed.
    Until breeders and judges care, Salukis will continue to rapidly descend into the structural doom suffered by so many of the once useful and beautiful, elegantly functional animals of the past. Salukis are historic treasure not to be defiled by ignorance or arrogance!

MODERATION IN THE ENGLISH COCKER by Kay Sutter

    What on Earth, might you say, do an English Cocker and a Saluki have in common? I would have said the same thing before I read the column partially reprinted here. But Ms. Carlyle brings out several points that are relative to many breeds in the show ring today...the effect of breeding and judging for extremes, including, but not limited to, showmanship and hair, resulting in extremes in many aspects of English Cockers and apparently Salukis as well.
    Her comments on evaluating rear angulation in Salukis are just as correct in regard to English Cockers.
    Sometimes a dog with correct rear angulation is so stretched and posed in the show ring so as to make him appear to be overangulated. This trend gets more widespread every year. Judges don't help when they award top wins to these dogs. When a handler persists in presenting an English Cocker in that manner, the judge should simply penalize the dog by not placing it.
    In 1980, Dr. Ferguson spoke at the Dog Judges' Association symposium and said the following: "The fact remains that there has also been a marked tendency among English Cocker breeders in this country to over-value eye-catching qualities and to carry a good thing to an extreme... Somewhere between justifiable differences there is a 'golden mean', and ideal of elegance without exaggeration which breeders should strive for and judges encourage. Judges can help by refusing to reward meretricious extremes and by concentrating on balance. Balance, is... I repeat, a matter of elegance without exaggeration." Take note, this was spoken over 13 years ago and is as true today as it was then.

Notes from the Standard:

  • General Appearance: ...a dog of balance, both standing and moving, without exaggeration in any part...

  • Head: ...stop definite, but moderate...

  • Neck: ...moderate in length and in balance with the length and height of the dog.

  • Topline: ...slopes very slightly toward a gently rounded croup.

  • Chest: ...deep, not so wide as to interfere... nor so narrow as to allow the front to appear narrow or pinched.

  • Prosternum: ...projecting moderately beyond the shoulder points.

  • Brisket: ...slopes gradually to a moderate tuck-up.

  • Forequarters: The English Cocker is moderately angulated.

  • Hindquarters: Angulation moderate, and most importantly, in balance...

  • Gait: ...He covers ground effortlessly and with extension both in front and rear, appropriate to his angulation (moderate?!)

  • Temperament: ...of equable disposition, neither sluggish nor hyperactive...

    The word moderate appears in the Standard six times (as compared to four in the Saluki Standard). There are several other words referring to what I consider moderate aspects of the English Cocker.
    If the gait is appropriate to the angulation which is moderate, would not the gait be considered moderate also? If the chest is "not so wide" and "not so narrow", wouldn't the chest also qualify as moderate? If the topline slopes "very slightly" to a "gently rounded" croup, isn't that topline moderate too? And if the temperament is to be "neither sluggish nor hyperactive", shouldn't that be termed moderate as well?
    Softly (head), gently (croup), slightly (topline, loin), without exaggeration (appearance), without sharp angles (head), medium in size (eyes), gradually (rib spring), relatively broad (hips), medium length (body coat).
    Do any of these words convey to you a dog of extremes? Get out your dictionary and thesaurus, look them up. Redirect your breeding program to produce, once again, a truly moderate English Cocker Spaniel. BREED TO THE STANDARD.

by Kay Sutter

Definitions:

New Webster's Dictionary 1992 Edition

Soft (Not sharp) Gentle (Moderate) Slight (Very Little, without exaggeration, not having increased emphasis, not larger than normal) Without Sharp (not acute or sudden) Medium (a middle quality) Gradually (not steep or abrupt) Relatively (to a qualified degree or extent)

PFS Thesaurus

Soft (free from severity) Gently (free from severity) Slight (small in degree) W/o exaggeration (w/o overstating) W/o sharpness (not clearly defined) Medium (midpoint) Gradual (Moderate) Relatively (comparatively)

Reprinted from the ECSCA Review, Winter 1994