I started to breed cockers, I remember I had a very hard time reading the
standard. It was so difficult to me to understand what it truly meant,
and how an ideal dog should be. But I was lucky enough to have a
mentor – Mrs. Sonia Peixoto, Golden Gate Kennel in Brazil – who didn’t
mind to spend hours and more hours, month after month, teaching me
all the points of the standard and showing the faults and qualities of
my dogs, helping me to find a good stud sire for my bitches and giving
me a picture how a perfect dog must be.
there are so many breeders around the world who are not as lucky as I was,
and thinking on them, I decided to show my interpretation of the standard,
with as many photos as possible, trying to help the novices to understand
the standard of our so loved breed.
nobody is able to breed to improve the standard. The standard is
what it is. The breeders must IMPROVE THEIR DOGS to meet the standard.
That is the goal of any good breeder and a good dog is the one who is as
close as possible to the standard's description.
forget something: To breed good dogs you don't need any luck. You
need KNOWLEDGE. If you are able to understand the standard and visualize
how a good dog should be, you will not have any problems to breed good
dogs. You just need luck to breed GREAT DOGS, but the decent ones
are a piece of cake!
here we go!
"To attain a well proportioned head, which must be in balance with the
rest of the dog, it embodies the following:
- the expression is intelligent, alert, soft and appealing.
eyeballs are round and full and look directly forward. The shape of the
eye rims gives a slightly almond shaped appearance; the eyes are
not weak or goggled. The color of the iris is dark brown and in general,
the darker the better.
- lobular, long, of fine leather, well feathered and placed no higher than
a line to the lower part of the eye.
- rounded but not exaggerated with no tendency toward flatness; the eyebrows
are clearly defined with a pronounced stop.
bony structure beneath the eyes is well chiseled with no prominence in
the cheeks. The muzzle is broad and deep, with square even jaws. To be
in correct balance, the distance from the stop to the tip of the nose is
one half the distance from the stop up over the crown to the base of the
- of sufficient size to balance the muzzle and fore face, with well developed
nostrils typical of the sporting dog.
is black in color in the blacks, black & tans and black & whites;
in other colors it may be brown, liver or black, the darker the better.
color of nose harmonizes with the color of the eye rim.
the upper lip is full and of sufficient depth to cover the lower jaw.
- strong and sound, not too small and meet in a scissors bite."
head is the most important part of any dog - Why? Which part
of the dog do you look at first to recognize if that
is a doberman, a cocker or a collie? The head, right? We have different
opinions about how the perfect cocker head
should be. Basically, there are two types of heads that meet the standard:
Sporting and Plush and the difference
between them should be the length of the fore face and the skull shape.
Here are two VERY BEAUTIFUL examples of each one:
CH ST'JAMES BRIGHT
crown (forehead) is high, the skull is round,
stop is deep, the foreface is short and
muzzle is broad
WHO'S YOUR DADDY
crown is high, the skull isn't as round as it should be
stop is deep, the foreface is longer and
muzzle is broad
one is the right one? That is the big dilemma!
"plush lovers" say the skull of the sporting heads aren't round enough
and the foreface is too long.
the "sporting lovers" say the plush heads' foreface is too short and sometimes
the eyes are too round. And they never will be able to work on the fields
because they couldn't carry a bird.
like the plush head better and as I think the head is so important, I do
my best to breed dogs with plush ones. I am what people call a "head
hunter". It is quite difficult for me to like a dog without a plush
head. On the other hand, I will not think twice to use a male with a sporting
head if I believe this male will help me to fix some faults in one of my
I have noticed the sporting head is quite dominant to the plush one.
Every time I used a sporting to a plush I got NO plush headed puppy.
A good example are the two puppies below. The dam is the same, a
bitch with a very plush head out plush headed parents. The puppy
A is out the MALE A (sporting) and the puppy B is out the MALE B (plush),
each puppy (they are girls) was the first "head choice" of their
you can see, the PUPPY A is in the middle of a sporting and a plush head.
It has the same round skull and high forehead as the PUPPY B, the stop
is almost as deep as the other, but the muzzle isn't as broad and the foreface
isn't as short as the puppy B.
if you are a plush head lover, but all your dogs have sporting heads, I
don't have good news for you. It will be very difficult you get a
plush head out of them. But you will be able to get plush heads in two
generations. You will use your bitch to a plush male, hold the best
headed girl and use her again to a plush male. You will have a good chance
to get a plush headed puppy by doing that.
important point to identify a good head- IT
MUST HAVE A FIGURE "8" SHAPE, the two
elipses being almost the same size. There are more examples below
(believe it or not, the particolor was bred by me. It was the only
parti litter I ever bred):
good heads with correct 8 shape:
is another kind of overdone head, but unfortunately I don't have any photo.
It is when a sporting head style is overdone. The dog will look like
have 3 other kind of heads than the plush and sporty, but not all of them
is the the dog that doesn't have a deep stop, has a plain skull, the muzzle
isn't broad, the foreface is long. I don't know if there is a correct description
for this kind of head. I name them CARROTS, because it is what
they look like to me.
you have a cocker with this kind of head, maybe it would be a good idea
to take this out your breeding program, because it will be so hard to have
good heads (even if you like the sporting type) using it. Maybe you
can keep a bitch (if her body is truly nice) and use her to a very plush
headed male. But if you are planning to keep a male with this kind
of head ... well, it must have a FANTASTIC body, the best movement and
terrific temperament. But please never forget.. this is MY POINT
sometimes the dog has a high forehead, short muzzle, deep stop, but the
two elipses of the "8" are not the same size, it usually happens
for two reasons:
example below is a combination of both: the eyes are too wide and the muzzle
isn't broad enough.
muzzle isn't broad enough
eyes are too wide
always used to think a head should be very plush; the plusher the better,
but I found out we can have heads that are much too plush and they are
not correct either. I call them overdone and it looks like a result
of crossing of a boxer to a shar-pei!
can note the stop is much too deep, "the bony structure beneath the eyes
isn't well chiseled". There are so many folds under the chin and
on the area at the side of the eye to the earset. Here are two examples:
I have used overdone head dogs in my breeding program and I got very good
results. You can use any kind of head with them (except the plush
ones) and the puppies will have very nice heads. They work very well
with sporting bitches. It is the only case you can get a plush head (out
a sporting head) on the first generation.
didn't finish yet! we must pay attention in every little detail of the
- the standard says it is round and full, but not goggled, and the darker
the better. The bitch in the photo below, has two problems with her eyes.
They are goggled and could be darker. All the other dogs I used to illustrate
the standard have good shape of eyes and correct color
- The standard mentions the ears are to be "of fine leather and must be
placed no higher than the line to the lower part of the eye". We
see the expressive high earset very often, especially on the dogs in advertisements.
High earset is when the ears are placed higher than the eye line.
Unfortunately, you see many more cases of high earset in the plush heads
than on the sporting ones.
is an example of a high earset:
dogs, especially puppies, look like they have a high earset in the photos.
In several cases, it is because someone is trying to get their attention
for the camera. Why do they do their best to look to any other
side than the camera?! It is the same dog in two different positions.
His earset isn't as high on the 2nd photo as it is in the 1st one.
finally, don't forget almost all the plush head puppies have high earset
before the age of 2 months! Same puppy girl at different ages:
- The standard asks for strong, not small teeth, and for a scissors bite,
we have seen in the USA, champions who have a level bite. The American
judges penalize the bite as any other fault and to tell you the truth,
I don't think they are that wrong. But in the other countries around
the world (FCI member) the bite is so very important. The dog will
be heavily penalized if it doesn't have a perfect scissors bite and it
is just impossible to finish a dog with a level bite. In fact, the (FCI)
judges would like to disqualify them, the only reason they don't do that,
is because it is not a disqualification in the standard.
has been a big headache for the breeders who import dogs from the USA in
the past. Sometimes we import a dog who had a good bite but who produced
bad ones because there are cases of bad bites in their line. But
I am noticing day by day more American breeders are paying attention to
the bite problems and are eliminating dogs with bad bites from their breeding
program. But the small teeth still are very common, not only in the USA,
but almost everywhere.
believe the other descriptions of the standard about skull, nose and lips
are very easy to understand and I don't need to comment on them.
BODY AND FOREQUARTERS
- the neck is sufficiently long to allow the nose to reach the ground easily,
muscular and free from pendulous "throatiness". It rises strongly from
the shoulders and arches slightly as it tapers to join the head.
- Sloping slightly toward muscular quarters.
- The chest is deep, its lowest point no higher than elbows, its front
sufficiently wide for adequate heart and lung space, yet not so wide as
to interfere with the straight forward movement of the forelegs. Ribs are
deep and well sprung. Back is strong and sloping evenly and slightly downward
from the shoulders to the set on of the docked tail. The docked tail is
set on and carried on a line with the topline of the back, or slightly
higher; never straight up like a Terrier and never so low as to indicate
timidty. When the dog is in motion, the tail action is merry.
shoulders are well laid back forming an angle with the upper arm to approximately
90 degrees which permits the dog to move his forelegs in an easy manner
with forward reach. Shoulders are clean cut and sloping without protrusion
and so set that the upper points of the withers are at an angle which permits
a wide spring of rib. When viewed from the side with the forelegs vertical,
the elbow is directly below the highest point of the shoulder blade. Forelegs
are parallel, straight, strongly boned and muscular and set close to the
body well under the scapulae. The pasterns are short and strong.
Dewclaws on forelegs may be removed. Feet compact, large, round and
firm with horny pads, they turn neither in nor out.
I started with cockers - 1993 - the fronts were the big problem in the
breed and since then, it has improved a lot, but it still is what our cockers
have the worst problem with. Each part depends of the other one.
shoulders will "destroy" the topline, bad shoulders will make your dog's
neck be short, bad shoulders will make your dog not have a good reach.
the most terrible, you can fix a head in two generations (like I said before)
but you will finish your breeding program with the shoulders you started
foundation bitch had quite decent shoulders with a good neck . I used her
with a dog with decent shoulders (at that time it was quite impossible
to find a cocker with excellent shoulders) and I didn't have any truly
bad shoulders in her litter.
I decided to import my first American dog and I can tell you, its' shoulders
were terrible. I used him once with this same bitch and all the 6
puppies had the same shoulders as their father. I used him with another
bitch and she had only one puppy, but with the same terrible shoulders.
I just placed him in a pet home as well his kids and didn't think to use
him or anything out of him ever again. THAT WAS THE BEST DECISION IN ALL
MY "DOG LIFE". Just a little detail - I paid US$ 2,000.00 for
that dog plus shipping cost and it was in 1994!
you want some advice, here it goes: You can take your chances with
heads, with hindquarters, bites, even with temperament, but NEVER use bad
shoulders in your breeding program. In few generations you can destroy
all your years of hard work breeding dogs.
let me start to explain about the shoulders and all the other important
points. The standard says the shoulders are to form a 90 degree angle
with the upper arm. There is no way to explain this other than
using photos or drawings.
is the ideal cocker, with proper angulation. In this drawing you
can easily see the proper 90 degree angle, but sometimes we have problems
seeing these angles in a "real dog". Well, things will be much easier if
you remember to trace an imaginary line from the withers (nothing more
than "highest point of the shoulder blade" the standard is talking about)
to the ground. This line MUST TOUCH the dog's elbows. Check
line touches the withers and elbows at the same time. It is what
the standard means: "when viewed from the side with the forelegs vertical,
the elbow is directly below the highest point of the shoulder blade".
Much easier, right? What else are you able to see on this girl?
Can you see her long neck and short back? Any clue why her neck is long
and her back is short? BECAUSE SHE HAS PERFECT SHOULDER ANGULATION! Because
her elbows are under the highest point of her shoulder blade. It is exactly
what the standard asks for!
before, I traced a line from the withers to the ground, but this time it
isn't even close to the elbows. Why? Because the shoulder angulation is
over 90 degrees. And what about the topline? Can you see the short
neck? Can you see the long back from its withers to the tailset?
pay attention to the 2nd line I traced, the one from the elbows to the
ground. What would happen if the shoulders had proper angulation from its
withers were there? This dog would be much shorter in back and with a longer
neck, wouldn't it? If you get a cocker magazine and start to trace these
lines you will see why people say the fronts are the biggest problem in
if you want to evaluate your own dog, and if there is no one to stack it
for you while you take a look on it. What to do? Use your hands!
Stack the dog, put your thumb on the withers. Your little finger
should touch the elbows. Check the photo below.
did you remember when I said bad shoulders will limit dogs movement? Why
it happens? Look at the pictures once again:
time, I traced a line from the withers across to the point where it meets
the upper arm and keep a linegoing straight to the ground. This line
is exactly where they will put their foreleg when they are moving. It is
the famous REACH! There is no way the leg can go ahead past that
point, and it's not because they don't want to move, don't have attitude
or is not being shown by a professional handler, it is because THEY CAN'T
GO OVER THAT POINT. Their anatomy doesn't allow them to do that.
at both of them side by side, can you see how the black & tan's shoulders
are well laid back, like the standard asks for? So, every time you read
or hear something about well laid back shoulders you now know how it should
be! Now pay attention to the ground. The black and tan will be able
to put her leg much farther ahead than the black one, right? It means
she will cover much more ground than the other, with a single step. Now
imagine the difference it will be in one day working on the fields. But
I will talk more about this when I start to work with the GAIT subject.
another important thing: When you are watching a dog in movement (especially
in a dog show) pay attention to its front legs and on the nose (YES, THE
NOSE). A dog with a good reach will be able to put his foreleg ahead
of his nose. If it is not able to do that, it is because it doesn't have
a good reach and its has problems with the angles of its shoulders.
Let's see what I am talking about:
is a Brazilian dog bred by one of my good friends - CH Good Advice Total
Eclipse, aka Jordan.
Jordan in movement. Can you see his front leg is ahead of his nose?
the same photo with some lines so you see better what I am talking about:
wasn't that difficult, was it?
you already know how to evaluate a good head, layback of shoulders &
long neck. Believe me, the head can change, but the shoulders never
will. Bad shoulders never will be good ones. And the opposite
doesn't happen too. Sometimes it can improve A LITTLE, but don't wait for
MIRACLES, ok? I have some photos to prove what I am saying. Take
a look at this girl. Since she was 15 DAYS OLD I was pretty sure
how her shoulders should be. DON'T FORGET TO TRACE THE IMAGINARY LINE,
will repeat this again:To
breed good dogs you don't need any luck. You need KNOWLEDGE. If you
are able to understand the standard and visualize how a good dog should
be, you will not have any problems learning to breed good dogs. You
just need luck to breed GREAT DOGS, but the decent ones are a piece of
we are not done with the fronts. We must check the ribs. The standard says:
"its front sufficiently wide for adequate heart and lung
space, yet not so wide as to interfere with the straight forward movement
of the forelegs. Ribs are deep and well sprung."
is a diagram of a cocker, front view. You can see the ribs on it.
If the ribs are not wide enough, the dog will have a narrow front, but
if it is too wide it will force the elbows to be out, like a bulldog front.
are the three types of front:
photo of a good front. This time I am using a shaved down dog.
I traced lines at the side of its scapulaes. The forelegs are exactly
under it, showing how a proper front should be. Read again what the standard
says: "Forelegs are parallel, straight, strongly boned and muscular and
set close to the body well under the scapulae."
forget about what the standard says about the ribs and movement "it is
not so wide as to interfere with the straight forward movement of the forelegs".
Let's see what happens with the movement of a dog with wide front:
attention to the elbow. Can you see it is "out" of the dog's body
while it is moving? I know it looks like it could be difficult now,
but believe me, you will be able to see it even the dog is in full coat.
In fact, it is easier to see when the dog is in show coat, because you
will see the coat going to that direction while the dog is moving.
You just need to train your eyes a little.
we hear the expression: "this dog needs more substance". Usually people
are talking about the fronts. The dog who needs more substance is
the one with the narrow front.
puppies with a narrow front will improve with exercise. By the way, exercise
is the best thing for any puppy. Some breeders don't like to do that,
saying it will damage the coat. Remember, that a coat can grow out
when the dog is older, but the same will not happen with the dog's structure.
Exercise works great for the rears too, but we will talk about that later.
are almost finished with the fronts. We only need to talk about the
chest and forechest. The standard asks for a deep chest, "its lowest point
no higher than elbows". There is no way you "see" how deep
a chest is in a dog in show coat; but you can feel it. Put your finger
on the elbows (there is an arrow showing the right place), the chest must
be deeper than your finger. By the way, it is a good test for the ribs
too. If there is a "space" between your finger and the ribs, it is
because the ribs are not wide enough. Ribs with good shape will be very
close to the elbow.
photos above are of the same girl. When she was 2 months old, you
already could see her fore chest (check the arrow). She had a good fore
chest at that age and kept that when she was an adult. I traced one
line in front of her foreleg. The forechest must be ahead of the
I traced another line to show where her chest "finishes". If you
put your finger on the arrow (exactly on the elbow) you will be able to
touch her chest.
a puppy without enough fore chest. It is easy to see the problem when the
dog doesn't have much coat, but in full coat, it is quite difficult, especially
with a good trimming. It will be necessary to touch the dog to feel
We are done with the fronts. To conclude, the dog with a good front
MUST have proper shoulder angulation (90 degrees) + good rib cage (not
narrow, not too wide) + deep chest + good amount of forechest + parallel
- Sloping slightly toward muscular rear quarters. Back is strong and sloping
evenly and slightly downward from the shoulders to the set on of the docked
tail. The docked tail is set on and carried on a line with the topline
of the back, or slightly higher; never straight up like a Terrier and never
so low as to indicate timidty. When the dog is in motion, the tail action
the fact I am a "head hunter", I agree there is something in cockers
(or any other breed) which is more important than the heads. It is
the TOPLINE. What is the topline? It is the neck + back + tailset.
A dog with a good topline is half way to being a good dog.
there are three kind of toplines, but I don't know how to say that in English.
But let's see:
the standard says, the back must be strong and sloping.
a good trimming and experience stacking the dog, it is not difficult to
cover the problem when the dog is stacked. So, the best way to see
if the dog has a bad back is to watch the dog moving. Unfortunately, I
don't have photos to show them in movement. But here is a photo of a perfect
sloping back in movement:
first puppy is a good example how a good back should be.
puppy in the middle has a curve (roach) to it. Some lines have this type
of roachy back on the puppies, but when the dog is an adult, the back will
be ok. That was the case of this puppy as well as her dam.
I saw them growing up and their backs were absolutely strong before one
year old. I have one friend who is a very famous schnauzer breeder in Brazil
and he says he has the same in his line. Some of his puppies has
this curve, but when adults have the best backs. But how do we know if
the puppy will have a hard back in the future or will keep the curved (roached)
back? Only by using a crystal ball. There is no way to know.
So, maybe it is better to don't take your chances keeping a puppy like
other puppy is what I call a soft back. It is the same kind of a
horse back (sway back) and I never saw one puppy with this kind of back
that will be ok when it is an adult. It is quite the opposite.
It never improves but can get worse with age. Some puppies have good backs
when young, but because they are overweight they can become soft backs
when adults. And it happens very often with bitches after they have
have three kinds of tailset: NORMAL, LOW TAILSET AND TERRIER TAILSET.
is an example of a LOW TAILSET. When the dog is stacked and in show
coat, with a proper trimming, it is very difficult to see the problem.
But when it is moving, the problem will show up:
are wide and quarters well rounded and muscular. When viewed from behind,
the hind legs are parallel when in motion and at rest. The hind legs are
strongly boned, and muscled with moderate angulation at the stifle and
powerful, clearly defined thighs. The stifle is strong and there is no
slippage of it in motion or when standing. The hocks are strong and well
let down. Dewclaws on the legs may be removed."
I did with the fronts, I will show the proper angulation. This is
a photo of a bitch with very good angulation, front and rear:
I am saying she has very good angulation? Let's take a look on the
diagram I used to show the front angulations:
I am using the same lines on the photo:
you see she has the same angulation as the drawing? It means she
is BALANCED - another term used frequently by breeders - and a dog with
this kind of angulation will be able to move very well. And it isn't
just theoric, this bitch is a great mover.
understand the rear angulation and its movement (it is called DRIVE) it
is necessary to think in "to bend" and "to jump". I know, it doesn't
seem to make sense, but I will show you my point.
are standing up and start to bend your knee. The more you bend, the higher
you will be able to jump, right? The same thing happens with the dogs rear
but the dog will not jump, it will "push the ground". The more angulation
the dog has (bend in the knees), the more it will be able to push the ground,
commonly called 'DRIVE'. The bend in the knee is also called bend of stifle.
also means that a dog with less angulation (the knees don't bend enough)
will not be able to 'push' the ground properly (less drive) and an over
angulated dog (knees bend too much) will 'push' the ground too much (too
attention to these two puppies, littermates, pictured on the same day.
It is important to say I resized the photos and the puppies have exactly
the same height , ok?
first puppy has proper rear angulation and the 2nd one less angulation.
Can you see the knee of the first puppy is much more bent than the second
one? What else you can see on these puppies? Do you see the
first puppy has a sloping back and the second one a level back? Why
it happens? Because the second puppy's knees aren't as angled as they should
can think the second puppy isn't well stacked, but it is the "comfortable"
position for him. How do I know that? Because the hock must be in
90 degres with the ground. In fact, his hock is a little ahead than they
should be and you can see the angle with the table is less than 90 degrees.
It is the reason we say THIS DOG NEEDS MORE ANGULATION, the angle should
interesting bit of information. Pay attention to their hocks. Can
you note the first puppy has smaller hocks than the second one? Every time
you see a dog with a high hock it is because it doesn't have enough angulation.
In fact, I believe a lot of problems with rear angulation are because the
size of hocks. As the higher the hocks are, the less angulation the dog
I don't know is the following: the dog has high hocks because it has less
angulation or it has less angulation because it has high hocks? If someone
has the answer for this question, please let me know.
let's see other photo of the 2nd puppy when he was a couple of months older:
time we put his legs as far back as possible, trying to improve his topline.
But he still is "level" backed and not as a sloping back as it should be.
The hocks still are at an angle smaller than 90 degrees. I traced a line
of the end of his back (where the tailset starts) to the ground. The knee
should go ahead of that line, but his doesn't. There is an arrow showing
where his knee is.
the knee can't go ahead of that line? Because when it happens his
legs will not bend enough to push the ground properly.
again the photo of the bitch with good rear angles. Trace an imaginary
line on her tailset to the ground and check her knees. Her knee isn't behind
the line like the other puppy, her rear legs are still bent and ready to
push the ground. Here is her photo again:
let's see the last example, the over angulated rears. This puppy is over
angulated. When I stacked him I could see his knee was not ahead
of the line of his tailset.
a look at his hock. Can you see the angle with the ground (table)
is more than 90 degrees?
what would happen if I stack this same puppy and put his hock on the proper
angle (90 degrees)? His knee would be after that line and that is not right.
See the photo:
you are starting to wonder if a dog over angulated is much better:
or not, a lot of breeders thought the same in the past. Nowadays
over angulated dogs are so common in the rings, but they forgot about the
balance of the dog. The front will not be able to follow the rear
movement even if the dog has a good front. And we shouldn't forget that
until 1992, that cockers were to be 15% shorter in their backs than in
will be able to move faster because he will "push the ground" much more.
over angulated has short hocks (good point)
who is over angulated always have a sloping back (great point)
to have a picture. The fronts were terrible, no proper angles and
you already learned a dog with that characteristc doesn't have GOOD REACH.
The rears were over angulated, it means the dog had TOO MUCH DRIVE.
And the back should be short! To reiterate: IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE DOG
MOVE PROPERLY. The best movers were the ones with long backs.
What happened? They changed the standard in 1992, and the dogs should now
be longer backed.
know a lot of people will not agree. They will say there are other
reasons, but it is hard for me to agree with a dog who is overangulated,
for the reasons like pain in the back (someone already told me about that).
But just remember IT IS MY OPINION.
should keep this in mind - A GOOD DOG IS
A BALANCED DOG. The rear and front
should work together, ok?
we must see the rear from another view:
are the photos of the same bitch. The first one around 45 days old
and the other when she was an adult. You can see her legs are parallel,
not so wide and not so narrow. It is how correct rears should look
are two other kinds: cow-hocked (the hocks almost touching each other)
and another one who would be exactly the opposite: The hocks are too far
apart and the legs has the same shape as a "cowboy leg" (bow legged).
I don't have photos of these two types, but I will try to find them.
we are done with the rears. I will talk now about short and up on
leg dogs. I am sure you already heard these expressions, right?
- The ideal height at the withers for an adult dog is 15 inches and for
an adult bitch, 14 inches. Height may vary one half inch above or below
this ideal. A dog whose height exceeds 15 /12 inches or a bitch whose height
exceeds 14 1/2 inches shall be DISQUALIFIED. Any adult dog whose height
is less than 14 1/2 inches and an adult bitch whose height is less than
13 1/2 inches shall be penalized. Height is determined by a line perpendicular
to the ground from the top of the shoulder blades, the dog standing naturally
with its forelegs and lower hind legs parallel to the line of measurement.
- The measurement from the breast bone to back of thigh is slightly longer
than the measurement from the highest point of withers to the ground. The
body must be of sufficient length to permit a straight and free stride;
the dog never appears long and low."
standard is VERY CLEAR about the dog's size. A dog or bitch who is
over that size should be DISQUALIFIED. For this reason I never will
be able to understand why dogs in USA are so big. However I already
noticed it is different from one state to another. Sometimes if you show
a dog 15" tall it will look like a mini-cocker when you put it side by
side with other cockers on the same show. I am sorry, but I don't think
that is right.
dogs usually are as close as possible to the IDEAL HEIGHT (around 15",
because it is what the standard asks for, right?) but some breeders think
my dogs are too small !
thing that I don't like are big bitches who look more like males than girls,
or small males who look like bitches. I think you should know immediately
if a cocker is a male or a female by just looking at it. If you must ask
the owner about the sex it is because something is wrong. The same for
example; I am using photos of two littermates - CH ST'JAMES NEVER ON SUNDAY
and CH ST'JAMES NOVEMBER RAIN, at the same age. I think you will
not have any problems knowing who is who, right?
what about this cocker? Is it a boy or a girl?
you be surprised to know it is a girl?!
important thing about the dog's proportion is the length of the legs.
I believe everybody already has seen a photo of the "father of the breed"
- CH Obo. He was a very low dog. Don't forget there is a big difference
between a small dog and a low one. The low dog has short legs and
the small is just small, but still a well proportioned dog.
I started out, my dogs used to be small with "normal" legs - not so low
not so long - but it was very common to have some puppies short on legs.
I had to introduce new dogs in my breeding program to fix that problem.
But you must be careful trying to make your dogs up on leg because you
can get oversized dogs, and of course, that is not desirable.
last time I was in the USA to watch a National was in January, 2003.
I have to say I was so disapointed with the buff dogs shown there. Almost
80% of all the dogs/bitches/puppies were short on legs. I believe the length
of the legs are the worst problem with the buff cockers nowadays, even
worse than the shoulder angles. Since I haven't gone there since
then, I am not sure if the problem is still the same or if the legs are
are examples of normal, short and up on leg dogs. As usual, I am using
puppy's photos to show better:
must stack the puppy and see the area under its belly. A normal dog
will be almost the same size from it's withers to the chest than from the
chest to the ground. However some puppies with a very deep chest will look
like they are shorter on legs but in fact, they aren't.
I said before, the shoulders never change, but the legs do. Some
short legged puppies at 2 months old can be normal when are older.
The opposite happens too. And never forget; DON'T TAKE photos of
your puppies just after they got food. Their belly will be so full and
they will look like they have shorter legs than what they really are.
Another example of the same puppy. I got the first photo as soon
she got food. The other was around one month after. Much different,
will start to work with movement. That will take more time because
it is the most important aspect of the cocker.
is the most important thing about dogs, not just about cockers, but as
all other breeds. In a breed like cockers. with so much coat, it
is not difficult to cover the problems with a good trimming. And
if you have enough experience stacking dogs, you will be able to make the
dog look beautiful, even when it is not even close to be perfect.
when the dog starts to move, it will shows all its qualities and faults.
The low tailset will be there, the soft back too, especially the problems
with the forelegs and rears.
dog must walk trotting, like a horse. Look these photos:
first dog has a trotting movement. Take a look at its legs and its
triangle shape. But the second movement is not a proper trot.
It is called PACE.. The legs are parallel while its is moving, exactly
like a camel. Some dogs move like that when they are going faster than
a "walk" and not as fast as a trot. Of course that is WRONG.
I know only one breed who should move like that - Brazilian filas, but
maybe there are others that do the same. BUT COCKERS CAN NOT PACE
is another "movement mistake" very common. A lot of people (I think
they are the majority of the breeders) used to think the faster the
dog moves the better the movement is and THAT IS NOT TRUE!
the shows more look like races. Who goes faster wins! A proper movement
appears like the dog is going in slow motion. As it has lot of REACH
and DRIVE (front and rear) it will take more time to stretch the legs to
the maximun point than a dog with poor reach. Not sure if you undertand
what I mean. Let's try in a different way:
have two people walking side by side. One is moving with big steps
and the other with little ones. But as they are friend they want
to be together. What happens? The person with "little steps"
will move their legs many more times than the other, but they have the
same speed and are walking side by side
same happens with dogs with good and bad movement. They are able
to move the same speed, but the one with little steps (not proper reach
and drive - NOT GOOD AT COVERERING GROUND) will have to move the
legs many more times than the other with good cover (big steps), isn't
do you know what happens? People see that dog moving its legs so
fast trying to go the same speed as the dog with good drive and reach and
they think that one with the fast little steps is a MOVING MACHINE!!! But
in fact the other one, who doesn't take so much effort to move because
it has the "big steps" is the one who REALLY MOVES CORRECTLY!
see what the standard says about GAIT:
to good movement is balance between the front and rear assemblies. He drives
with strong, powerful rear quarters and is properly constructed in the
shoulders and forelegs so that he can reach forward without constriction
in a full stride to counterbalance the driving force from the rear. Above
all, his gait is coordinated, smooth and effortless. The dog must cover
ground with his action; excessive animation should not be mistaken for
you see? EXCESSIVE ANIMATION SHOULD NOT BE MISTAKEN FOR PROPER GAIT - it
is not because a dog moves its legs very fast it means the even proper
movement is right! NEVER FORGET THAT!
the exhibitors (especially the handlers) noticed a lot of people were making
that same mistake (including JUDGES!), they start to make their dogs move
faster and faster, like a race. But when you make a dog go so fast in its
trot, maybe this dog will show some problems in his back that in fact he
doesn't have. But that doesn't seem to mean that much for some handlers
. In their opinion; A SHOW DOG MUST MOVE FASTER and that is all.
VERY IMPORTANT THING: Time after time we have in our breed dogs that become
great winners, especially because they are great movers. It is a
great pleasure to watch them flying around the ring, but when you pay attention
to their structure - ugly head, narrow front and rears, very long back,
you realize that dog is nothing more than a mover.
believe you've already noticed that there are some top models who aren't
that beautiful. In fact you can't understand why they are so famous,
but when they see them in the "fashion shows" you notice they have something
different, they have all the "eyes" on them. It is "the flash", it
is what we say in the dog world "show attitude". And you can be sure
the same happens to the dogs.
flash" is a great thing to a handler. One dog who is a great mover
and has flash is half way to become a BIS winner, but to a breeder THAT
CAN NOT BE SO IMPORTANT. Of course I like a dog who is able to move correctly,
but it MUST HAVE other qualities. I never will use a dog with a bad head,
long back, no bone, no substance, just because it is a great mover or because
has "show attitude".
already had so many dogs who had great structure, they weren't perfect
but were very close to the standard but besides that, they were able to
move correctly, BUT they didn't have "flash". They were able to finish
their championship, but they never got any BIS. And every time they
were in the same show with the "big movers" they lost. Is that fair? Well
... who said the dog shows are "fair games" ?
here goes one piece of advice. Movement is very important to show
the dog's faults, but it doesn't mean a "flashy dog" is a perfect dog.
Don't use a dog with your bitch just because it is a big winner or a great
mover, because maybe it will mean nothing in your whelping box.
let's talk about movement ...
you already saw on this page, a dog with a proper front and proper rear
angulation will have a beautiful REACH and DRIVE, an expression we see
very often on the stud sire advertisements.
will be BALANCED.
see these photos in movement:
see this dog stacked and you believe it is a balanced dog.
For the topline you are able to see it has good shoulders, but you are
not sure about the rear. You can't see that very well with all that
cover, right? And you can't touch the dog to see how it really looks like
What should you do? WATCH IT MOVING! When you see this dog's movement
you have the confirmation it has a good structure. You trace a line from
its two paws together to the back of the dog. And thus trace a line
from that point to the front foot and another one to the back foot These
two lines must have almost the same size. I used my computer to trace
these lines and believe me, THEY ARE EXACTLY THE SAME SIZE. This triangle
must have two sides with the same size.
you want to see another dog moving, this time a young puppy?
again we have the a triangle with 2 sides of the same size.
what is a DOG THAT'S NOT BALANCED? We must think of him as two parts.
Each part will walk with different size of steps. If he doesn't have enough
REACH, his "front steps" will be short ones. If he is over angulated
in his rear, his "hind steps" will be large ones. So a dog that is
not balanced is the one whose "front steps" will not be the same size as
his "hind steps".
dog with bad reach will look like this:
already learned the front legs should go ahead of the nose of the dog when
it is moving. And looking to the triangle, you can see that one side
is longer than the other. The longer side shows longer steps. The
smaller size, smaller steps. In this case, this dog has much more
DRIVE than REACH. His "hind steps" are larger/bigger than the "front step".
you can find another kind of movement problem when a dog has more drive
than reach: SIDE WINDING or SIDLE. What is that? It is when the dog
can not move in a straight line. Why does that happen?
simple ... look the photo of the buff puppy moving (above). Do you
notice the paws which are on the floor are very close to each other? All
the dogs used to move in that way. But now think of a dog that is
not balanced. He doesn't have too much reach (small/short front steps)
but as it is over angulated in the rear, he pushes the ground very hard
(large/big hind steps). If this dog was moving in a straight line,
he would put his hind leg AHEAD of the foreleg. Of course, he can't do
that, so what does he do? He puts his hind leg at the side of the foreleg.
Look the drawing below.
imagine these are two dogs. The left dog is a balanced one.
The red elipses are his forelegs. The blue are his hindlegs, ok?
He is moving in a straight line, because of his good reach, his forelegs
go ahead of his nose. As he is balanced, you can trace a perfect triangle
(green color) showing his steps are the same size.
the dog on the right isn't balanced. It doesn't have enough REACH (short
front steps) and because of that, his foreleg isn't ahead of his nose.
On the other hand, he has too much DRIVE (large hind steps) and his hind
leg goes ahead of the point his foreleg is. He puts his two right
legs side by side and to make that possible, he can't go in a straight
line. He must twist his body. It is Mother Nature adjusting
the dog's movement to its structure.
is what Byron Santos (Sherwood Cockers in USA) said: "I guess you have
to describe the rear as a "balanced to the front" because no matter how
good or bad the front is, God will adjust the rears so the dog can move
me, siddle (side winding) movement is much more common than you can imagine,
especially in short backed dogs. As I like the short back dogs, I already
had a couple of dogs with this problem in my place. And I had opportunity
to watch a Doberman National Show here in Brazil (I was the judge's assistant)
and I can tell you 90% of the dogs on that show (including the ones imported
from USA) had the same problem. It is easier to see the problem in a doberman
because there is no coat to cover its legs ...
sometimes you have a dog (very common in puppies) and it moves straight,
but when you put the leash on it he will start to to siddle. Sometimes
he is doing that because the dog is pulling away from you and not because
it has problems in his structure, ok?