Did you know that once the AKC Board of Directors approves a breed standard, there is a five-year moratorium on revisions, changes, clarifications or deletions? It pays to get things right the first time, and making the text of the standard as clear and concise as possible using sentences that are simple and straightforward is a good start.
Lengthy breed standards are less appreciated these days. Though we, ourselves, find that a breed standard of any length can be a fascinating read, one can see the case to be made for brevity. As more breeds are added to registries, judges are faced with remembering – and comprehending – more breed standards, and this can make it challenging to evaluate a dog in the show ring in just two minutes. It’s possible that an even greater challenge faces the parent club committee tasked to write a standard which is, in a nutshell, the “blueprint” of a breed. How to define, maintain, and preserve a breed’s distinct type and purpose in as few words as possible?
In this scenario, every word counts, and if an aspect of a breed appears in a standard, it must be important, no matter how small.
As small as an eyeball?
What’s smaller than an eyeball? How about the hole located in the center of the iris of the eye that allows light to strike the retina? Better known as the pupil, only two AKC breed standards make mention of the pupil. Can you guess which two?
The first is the Chow Chow: From its standard: “The eye rims black with lids which neither turn in nor droop and the pupils of the eyes clearly visible.”
In this breed, eyes should be “dark brown, deep set and placed wide apart and obliquely, of moderate size, almond in shape. The correct placement and shape should create an Oriental appearance. The eye rims black with lids which neither turn in nor droop and the pupils of the eyes clearly visible.” (from the Chow Chow Club Illustrated Standard). Noteworthy is that if the pupils are clearly visible, the eyes most certainly are, as well.
The other breed is the Norwegian Lundehund: “Eyes -almond-shaped, yellow-brown to brown with a brown ring around the pupil.”
Circling back to the way standards are written, it’s important to note that adjectives can mean different things to different people, and there is no quibbling over what an eye pupil is. Less clear is why pupils are important enough to mention in the standards of these two beautiful breeds. Perhaps readers can help us out?
Image: Norwegian Lundhund by Lars Christensen/Adobe Stock Photo