And our faults. But have you ever read dog breed standards? Height, weight, color, markings – I understand those. But take for example, America’s most popular dog, the Labrador Retriever: we know what they look like, but to be a member in good keeping with the American Kennel Club, this is what a Labrador Retriever ought to look like:
The skull and foreface should be on parallel planes and of approximately equal length. There should be a moderate stop--the brow slightly pronounced so that the skull is not absolutely in a straight line with the nose. The brow ridges aid in defining the stop.
The Labrador’s hindquarters are broad, muscular and well-developed from the hip to the hock with well-turned stifles and strong short hocks.
Pasterns should be strong and short and should slope slightly from the perpendicular line of the leg. Feet are strong and compact, with well-arched toes and well-developed pads. Dew claws may be removed.
These are just a few sentences from the multi-paragraphed requirements. But if you, like me, are an amateur dog enthusiast (and not a horse person) and need some help on more obscure terms like stop, hock, and pasterns, here’s a little worksheet for you to complete before reading through the rest of the standards. When you’re done filling it out, you can color it with your favorite dog markings and put it on the fridge.
Then take a gander at the faults, or characteristics that will disqualify a Lab from Club standards.
Eye rims without pigmentation is a disqualification.
Docking or otherwise altering the length or natural carriage of the tail is a disqualification.
Undershot, overshot, or misaligned teeth are serious faults.
Woolly coats, soft silky coats, and sparse slick coats are not typical of the breed, and should be severely penalized.
Light, "weedy" individuals are definitely incorrect; equally objectionable are cloddy lumbering specimens. Labrador Retrievers shall be shown in working condition well-muscled and without excess fat.
Well-muscled and without excess fat? Who knew that the standards for a Lab would so closely resemble my own?
It makes me happy to know that except for those strictly tied to youth, a man can meet most of his important standards at any age.