This is one of those posts that calls for reader participation because we don’t have a definitive answer. The topic is the word, “rustic” as it pertains to certain dog breeds.

The Berger Picard, Spanish Water Dog, Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, Barbet and Lagotto Romagnolo all have in common a breed standard that uses the word, “rustic” to describe the breed. One won’t find a Non-Sporting, Working, Toy, or Terrier breed in the bunch (and that’s interesting for reasons we’ll get to later). Finding a “one-stop” definition of rustic as it pertains to a dog breed has been challenging.

Let’s look at the ways in which “rustic” is used in the breed standards that use the word:

  • Spanish Water Dog: General Appearance: A rustic breed of the Iberian Peninsula
  • Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen: The rough, unrefined outline and tousled appearance of this rustic hunting hound is essential.
  • Portuguese Podengo Pequeno: General Appearance: A wedge shaped head (a four sided pyramid) with erect ears, a sickle shaped tail, a sound skeleton, well muscled: very lively and intelligent, sober and rustic.
  • The Barbet is a rustic breed of medium size and balanced proportions which appears in works as early as the 16th century.
  • Lagotto Romagnolo: General Appearance: Small to medium-sized dog, well proportioned, powerfully built, of a rustic appearance, with a dense, curly coat of woolly texture.
  • Berger Picard: This is a rustic, working shepherd’s dog, without exaggeration or refinement.

Syntax, or how the word is used in the standard, offers a hint regarding its meaning, but more helpful is what was found in the judges study guides for a couple of the breeds. The Picard, for example, is described in its standard as a “rustic” shepherd’s dog, but the breed study guide expands upon this by explaining that the Picard is shown in its rustic, rough, natural coat which is not to be sculpted, shaped, or scissored.

The breed standard of the Pequeno simply describes the breed as having a rustic appearance, but again, it’s the study guide that “fleshes” this out by instructing that this is very rustic breed that is shown naturally, and the wire coated variety is to be groomed but not trimmed or sculpted.

When the aforementioned examples are looked at as a whole, we can infer that “rustic” refers to a coat that is left natural, plain, un-sculpted, and in some cases, rough or tousled looking. That said, the Bearded Collie standard describes a natural and unspoiled breed, but one would never describe the breed as “rustic.” The same could be said of the Chinook (“…to be presented in a natural condition with no trimming), the Beauceron (“…exhibited in the natural condition with no trimming), the Border Collie, (dogs should be presented naturally), the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje (“…presented with a natural, untrimmed coat), and several other breeds.  In that light, does “rustic” really mean “tousled?”

What say you?

Image” Portuguese Podengo Pequeno” by LA Shepherd

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