Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grooming or "Grooming"?

Okay, so, here is where I possibly stir some shit (or, you know, would stir some shit if anyone were actually reading this blog, which it doesn't appear they are. But hey, I've never minded talking to myself, so...

I have heard some Cardigan Welsh Corgi folks refer to "grooming fluffies" to take into the show ring. "Fluffies" are Cardis that carry a longer-than-desirable coat. What is desirable? Well, let's take a look at the AKC Standard, as written by the CWCCA:

"Medium length but dense as it is double."

All right class, everyone take out your rulers and find where it's marked "medium". What? Your ruler doesn't say that? It just has a bunch of numbers? Huh. Well, what would you guess is medium, then? Six inches is the midway mark on your typical 12-inch ruler. Go ahead: try to show a Cardi with a 6-inch long coat. (I wanna watch.) So what is "medium length" then? An inch? Two inches? Three? Well, since all the standard says is "medium", I guess that's up to the judge.

"Outer hairs slightly harsh in texture; never wiry, curly or silky. Lies relatively smooth and is weather resistant. The insulating undercoat is short, soft and thick. A correct coat has short hair on ears, head, the legs; medium hair on body; and slightly longer, thicker hair in ruff, on the backs of the thighs to form "pants," and on the underside of the tail."

Ah, okay; so we have "short", "medium" and "slightly longer" hair. That clears it right up!

"The coat should not be so exaggerated as to appear fluffy."

*gasp* They said the F-word! So, "fluffy" is an exaggerated coat. One that is... not short. Or medium. When you say exaggerated, how much is that? You can't say, exactly? Hey, I know! It's like porn: you can't really describe it, but you know it when you see it.

So what's the big deal? If the coat is too long, why not cut it and make it the right length before you go into the ring?

"Trimming is not allowed except to tidy feet and, if desired, remove whiskers."

Oh!!!!!! So when you say you're going to groom your fluffy for the show ring, you mean you're just going to give it a bath and brush it out and tidy its feet and hope the judge doesn't take out his ruler and measure the hair, which extends somewhat past "medium" on the ruler. Right?

No? Why not?

"A distinctly long or fluffy coat is an extremely serious fault."

Oh wow dude. Bummer. So, how exactly were you going to "groom" your fluffy?

But your fluffy has the best reach-and-drive you've seen in 20 years. His front is to die for, his earset is perfection, his tailset makes you weep tears of joy and gives fairies their wings. He's smart as a whip, and his lovely temperament charms everyone who meets him. His topline is so awesome that when the sun hits it, you see a little sparkle and hear that little "ting". With all this, why should something so superfluous as the length of his hair and those little whispies on his perfectly-set ears keep him out of the show ring? Why can't you just whip out the shears and "tidy" the coat a little so it's the right length?

Um, because the Standard says so: "Trimming is not allowed except to tidy feet and, if desired, remove whiskers."

And yet, it seems to be fairly commonly known and accepted that some fluffies are "groomed" and shown. I mean, really -- should an otherwise sound, typey dog be kept out of the show ring just because of a longer-than-desired coat? Does the existence of fluffies in a line signal the end of life on earth as we know it? Does it somehow break one of the biblical seals and thereby usher in the apocalypse? Of course not. But the Standard is explicit: "Trimming is not allowed except to tidy feet and, if desired, remove whiskers... A distinctly long or fluffy coat is an extremely serious fault."

So: If you "groom" your (otherwise) perfect Cardi and take him into the show ring, aren't you...



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  2. Well, Dawn, there's a lot of cheating going on -- for many people, their dogs equal honor, glory, identity. People have bites repaired, people have ears repaired, people trim fluffies. So, is dog showing a game or is it a matter of life and death? When we forget that we should be "breeding" to the standard and instead try to create to the standard -- by whatever means are at our disposal, we are indeed cheating. I think the manual repair takes the challenge out of producing a great dog. Personally I think the color/marking prohibitions are incredibly stupid. The coat prohibition has some basis in practicality (for outdoor work). However, they are in the Standard. If someone thinks his/her fluff is otherwise perfect, it would win notwithstanding the serious coat fault -- so show it fluffy and make the judge dump the otherwise perfect dog.

    That's my 2 cents worth -- and yes I read your blog! Also note that From Down Here is now

  3. I do not show fluffies. The only bitch in a very desirable breeding I did was a fluffy. I had people tell me that we could groom her but I placed her in a performance home instead. I prefer to follow the standard.

    The correct Cardigan coat as described in the standard has a very good purpose. Take two very muddy dogs (after all this rain I am tired of muddy dogs),one fluff and one correctly coated, put them both in a crate and see which one is "clean" after a half hour. The fluffy will be an absolute mess. The correctly coated dog will have all the mud dry up and fall out of its coat.

    The correctly coated dog is what the Welsh farmers needed as they did not have the time, nor wanted to, groom a fluffy coat full of twigs, leaves, mud, etc.

  4. Hi Penni,
    I totally agree with you on the prohibition on markings and color. "No bad color on a good dog." I also agree that manufacturing a good dog through grooming when the underlying dog isn't as good pretty much defeats the purpose of having conformation classes. If the original purpose of showing is to evaluate breeding stock, then the genes will out -- they don't change because the dog has been clipped down, or has had its teeth fixed, or its tail base numbed, or whatever else is done to win. I guess it comes down to how the individual involved is measuring success: by the ribbons on the wall, or the puppies in the whelping box.

    I'd rather see the results in the box. It may take longer and involve more effort, but it means more.

    I will totally agree that the correct Cardigan coat is much more "user friendly." My male has a strip of curls down his back that is the bane of my showing existence. Trying to comb that out decently for the showring is a devil of a time; but I refuse to do as some people have suggested and "clip him down." And his coat is why he'll be neutered after he finishes his championship -- I don't want to carry that coat over. My bitch, on the other hand, has a shorter, straight, correct coat, and she's totally wash-and-wear.

  5. great post. As an owner of a fluffy, and a veryy pretty one at that, I was originally asked over, and over, and over again why I wasn't showing her...

    some people don't get it....

  6. I'm not personally a fan of trimming fluffies, and personally, would NEVER do it. To me, it IS cheating.

    But, fluffies are a fault, NOT a DQ. I'm not, at all against a fluffy, or split-faced, white headed, or other 'fault' entering the ring, and being judged on the merits it does have. No dog is perfect, and the whole goal in breeding, is to try and piece together the dog you want, using the tools you have. High tails, bad fronts, and poor temperaments win often- what's wrong with showing OTHER faults?

    Not everyone will waste their time/money showing a dog with a serious fault, but if said dog has major virtues, I vote it should be used for it's virtues.

    Of course, this is the owner of 2 failed show dogs speaking, so I'm no expert on the breed at all :)