A Letter from our Italian Judge
Let me begin by thanking the Spinone Club of America, and the Bracco Italiano Club of America, for inviting me to judge at such a prestigious and important event in Loveland, Colorado. I would also like to express my gratitude for the hospitality and the collaboration I received. To judge in the United States has been a new and fascinating experience for me. I was pleasantly surprised by the educated and passionate behavior and attitudes of the competitors. The location of the event and the show ring were absolutely adequate for a manifestation of such importance. The educated, well-mannered and well-organized mind set of the competitors allowed me to execute my task as smoothly as possible, and the assistance, kindness and patience of the lady helping me out in the ring were fundamental for the event to turn out in the best possible ways.
My main “complaint” would be the fact that I was not allowed to behave myself in the ring in the same way I am used to in Europe: I want to engage with the handler; I need to explain the reasoning behind my verdict. I understand that one has to respect the regulations of the hosting country. I was therefore most delighted to get a chance to mingle with everyone that one afternoon: I really felt at home and hope that I was able to communicate to you all my honest opinion on the morphology of each of your dogs.
Let me say that I had never expected to find as many Spinoni that were absolutely typical, so far away in the USA! I have only encountered similar quality in such quantity at high-level events in Italy. I would, however, make one observation: the Spinone is a rustic, working dog, and therefore should be presented as a working dog, which means keeping grooming to a minimum. When one judges a breed, whichever it may be, one evaluates how much a subject conforms, or belongs to the breed. While this may seem obvious, it is often disregarded: we look at the spectacle, and a spectacle aims at satisfying the spectator. True Cynophilia is a different story. The expression of the eye, the form, the color, are what determines the breed first and foremost, then comes all the rest.
The most common defect that I have encountered in your dogs –and those are defects I keep encountering in Italy, as well-- was a flat and poorly chiseled skull, often resulting in too much distance between the eyes, sometimes in insufficient divergence, more rarely in too much divergence. In the head, as surely in all other parts of the body, balance is everything. Any form of hyper-typicality should be avoided. You should pay a lot of attention to the tartufo, the nose: small tartufi, and the resulting insufficiently squared muzzles, are not typical. Another fundamental characteristic to watch out for is the texture of the coat: coats that are wooly, inconsistent, or thin, indicate the introduction of spurious blood, as do coats that are too short, and have scarce defenses. Long and insufficiently robust necks and too much divergence point to introduction of Bracco blood. The same is true for those dogs that trot through the ring too elegantly, with too long a stride. You should pay particular attention to the angulation of the shoulder, and to the length of the humerus: the humerus should be as long as possible, and the shoulder should be well angulated. I have encountered a few dogs with weak, excessively sloping rumps. Then there was Winston, the veteran I declared Best of Breed: that dog represents the absolute perfect prototype for the breed. There were also 6 or 7 more outstanding subjects, amongst which a couple of bitches that were truly high-level.
I hope that despite the difficulty I had in communicating with you directly, in English, during those hours we spent together discussing many of your subjects, I was able to share enough of my thoughts on your dogs, as well as the Spinone in general. It has truly been an enriching experience for me, and I hope it helped both, you breeders and you owners who hunt with the Spinone, in one way or another.
I greet you all with affection and will be available feedback if you ever need me. I would like to thank the organizers again for allowing me to perform my work so smoothly, in such a nice atmosphere. Lastly, my daughter and translator Eva and I would like to thank our new “American” friend Ralf Kracke-Berndorff, his family and friends, for dedicating 2 days to showing us a good time in Colorado, (and translating this letter).
Ciao a Tutti!