Spinone Club of America National Specialty “2020ne” October 1, 2021
JUDGE’S CRITIQUE:Elaine J.Lessig
After waiting longingly for our dog shows to return, the sun truly shined on the Spinone Club of America National Specialty on October 1, 2021. It was a beautiful day in every sense of the word. The committee made a superior effort with stunning rosettes, trophies, and decorations at ringside. It was easy to see how much the humans were enjoying being with one another while they delighted in the canines. From inside the ring, it reminded me of an impressionist painting. A superior steward guided me through the assignment. Exhibitors were universally kind.
You gave me a great honor by choosing me as your national specialty judge and allowing me the pleasure of your dogs. I hope you know that every moment in the ring was a joy. While we faced some challenges in the ring, we also made great strides with some of the less experienced dogs. At the end of the day, the ring was full of the very best of your breed, endowed with characteristics that exemplify the Spinone.
Looking at these outstanding photos of the major winners, generously provided to me by Dean Lake, what stands out most is the depth of quality. The hallmarks of the breed stood out in the ring. Before I judged, I wrote myself a memo I called “the must-haves.” Let me share it with you:
Substance, Nearly Square, Human Expression, Long Head with Divergent planes, Thick Neck Smooth into the Shoulder, Distinctive Topline, Muscular, Vigorous, Powerful Bone, Harsh Single Coat, Thick Skin, Gentle Demeanor, Built to work all Day, Trots, Spurts of Galloping
Perhaps, that clarifies my priorities for you? Not only was I looking for the correct Spinone make and shape, with all the details too, but the ability to work all day was also a serious consideration in making my final decisions.
Now let’s look at the major winners and see the commonalities they exhibited.
Best of Breed: A stunning bitch who has yet to reach her prime. Balanced fore and aft. Sound, sound, sound. Exemplifies the standard and met every criteria of my memo. Frankly, she out moved every other entry and always seemed ready for more. With her outline, head, coat and skin matching the standard, this proud young woman was easy to find. Look for her to just keep getting better!
Best of Winners, Winner’s Bitch, Best Puppy: A close relation to BOB. Barely old enough to be in the ring, she brought a joie to vie along with her remarkable ability to move the way she is made. It is easy to see that all the hallmarks are there, ready to improve as she matures.
Best of Opposite Sex: A dog of great quality. He exudes breed type. Nearly square with an imposing stature. Clearly, a mature male who commanded attention. All the details that make the Spinone were there in abundance. On the day, the bitch simply out moved him. Many of his relations also received high praise.
Select Dog: A younger male looking quite mature for his age. His appealing head, excellent construction, powerful bone, and easy trot worked well with his other Spinone character.
Select Bitch & Best Veteran: In reviewing the catalog, I noticed this striking bitch was the dam of several winners including BOB & BOW. She pushed her daughter for BOB with every inch of her soul and Spinone hallmarks. She wears her age magnificently. However, her daughter gave her no quarter. A remarkable and worthy showgirl and dam.
Awards of Merit: Although I had 5 AOMs to award, it was not nearly enough. My final cut oozed with Spinone quality. You can see in the photos how similar they are in type. They were all a tribute to the breed and its hallmarks.
Winner’s Dog: From the 12-18 month class this youngster went from an unsure newbie to a star. Such a lovely boy. With the calm conviction of his handler, he found his confidence and got better and better every time he performed. I congratulate his owner for her manor with this young fellow and his breeder who bred many of the dogs who received high awards.
Reserve Winner’s Dog: Another from the 12-18 month class. Full brother to Winner’s Dog. Another youngster of the highest quality. His time in the ring was a learning experience, but his type…textbook. Both these boys are an asset to the breeder’s and breed’s future.
Reserve Winner’s Bitch: A lovely feminine bitch from the Open Bitch Class. In her quiet way, she showed all her attributes. She had the coat the breed requires. Underneath it was a bitch full of the hallmarks, and a gentle temperament too. Her smooth trot was appreciated.
In our world of purebred dogs, with many breeds losing their quality, the Spinone stands out for its continued improvement since its initial recognition by AKC. Currently, the breed has depth and scope. Unique among so many breeds, the Spinone in its present state portends a promising future. A few traits to watch are shy temperaments, uncharacteristic in gun dogs, soft coats, and insufficient bone. I am confident that good breeders will address those issues and go from strength to strength.