|A natural tail? How very dare you!|
The ridiculous case is highlighted in The Dog Press. On an accompanying blog, Maggie Keuser, one of the breeders named in the suit, claims the Club also tried to make the national club specialty judge sign an addendum to his contract to not put up a dog with a tail - "because he had awarded a tailed dog a BISS and they didn't want it at their specialty".
The anonymous author of the Dog Press article is, fortunately, on the side of sanity.
"Is this a frivolous action on the part of the Directors of the Silky Terrier Club of America? The Silky Terrier AKC Breed Standard, approved 1989, says The Breed Standard does not require docking ...nor can it! According to AKC Rules no standard may require, mandate, or otherwise prescribe docking or cropping of ears or tails. Do you interpret the sentence referring to "docked" as nothing more than an observation that the tail is usually docked? No penalty is stated for natural tails. There is not even the usual disclaimer such as any deviation should be considered a fault, etc.
"There is considerable debate on the necessity of cropping and docking for the conformation ring. Indeed much of the western world, including Europe where many of our breeds come from, does not allow tail docking or ear cropping. American breeders are exercising their right, preference and choice for natural ears and tails and some clubs have handled the cropping/docking debate better than others. It is hard to fathom that the American Kennel Club would allow a Club with AKC-approved By-Laws and an AKC-approved Breed Standard to entertain a Code Of Ethics violation for failing to crop or dock.If internecine breed club wars are your thang, you can follow the debate here.
"The current trend toward importing natural ears and tails, coupled with breeder refusal to crop ears or dock tails has affected all breeds that have descriptions of docked tails or cropped ears in their standards. The cropping-docking debate has caused much in-fighting among clubs, destroyed friendships, and generally damaged the reputation and integrity of the sport over an issue which some consider strictly cosmetic and others consider mutilation."
The Dog Press blog reveals, among other gems, that a law suit brought against the Brittany Club of America to amend the breed standard to allow Brittany Spaniels with tails to be to be shown failed four years ago. As a result, the current breed standard in America still states: "Any tail substantially more than four inches shall be severely penalised."
I was also interested to see mentioned this statement from the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association (despite its name, this is the AKC parent club and conformation showing is a big part of it).
"Springer enthusiasts, both field and conformation, dock tails for utilitarian function and to reinforce the breed’s moderate, balanced outline, consistent with proper breed type as defined in the standard.
'A docked tail is required by the standard, and natural tails are not customary. For this reason, the standard provides no description of the correct carriage of a natural tail.
Judges are advised that the presentation of the English Springer Spaniel with a natural tail is inconsistent with the breed standard. In the United States, therefore, a natural tail is a fault. It is not, however, a disqualification.
"Judges are encouraged to evaluate positive attributes of breed type first and then measure the impact of individual faults on that overall evaluation.
"Please note: With regard to the length of docked tails typically seen, conformation judges should be aware that conformation exhibitors leave approximately one-third of the tail’s length, while field trial exhibitors approximately two-thirds. Exhibits in field trial and hunting classes may have longer, though docked tails."Lovin' the irony in the fact that conformation breeders in the US cling to a shorter-docked tail in the Springer than the working folk on the basis of "utilitarian function". In fact, a fair few working breeders of ESS in the US no longer dock at all (although many do still here in the UK where there is an exemption from the docking ban for working dogs).
I'm a little off-topic here, I know. But if the Fancy wants to survive, it needs to recognise that frivolous lawsuits like this will send it spiralling into the abyss faster than any animal rights activist.