Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Shikoku Book Part 6: The Standard

The following chapter is a breakdown of the standard.
First we're naming all the body parts.
Here the author is using these two pictures to show the correct proportions for the breed.
He then uses pictures 3 and 4 to discuss sexual dimorphism which is vital part of the standard for the Japanese breeds. Males should look like males, larger heads, thicker stronger builds, and one should at a glance be able to assume the sex of a dog. Females should look feminine.
The four illustrations are labeling and quantifying proportion, and the text explains things like the need for a straight/level bridgeline on the top of the muzzle.
The illustrations on the page below show correct and incorrect stops. This is an issue that many people who are not well versed in the breed tend to miss, especially since a dog with less stop can look more wolflike, which is a trait that draws a lot of people to the Shikoku in the first place. However, Shikoku should have a defined stop. In the three illustrations, the bottom one is described as a correct, natural looking, stop.
And then here moving into correct angles and shapes for eyes and ears.
Notice the bottom line of the eye points toward the bottom outside corner of the ear. That's the angle you're looking for in Shikoku, no more, no less. Of course this is dependent on the ears being in the correct position. You can also see the shape of the ears, more rounded on the outside, and straighter on the inside. The illustration is slightly exaggerated, but you get the idea. Something seen quite often is gyaku-mimi (opposite ears) where the outside line is straight, and the inside is curved. Naturally this is incorrect. You also want the ears angled forward at the proper angle, not too 'heavy' (pointing too far forward), and not straight up either. The angle they point forward at should line up with the muzzle. Eye color is also discussed, they're not black, just a very dark brown. Light eyes are penalized.
The page below discusses the proper scissor bite, and the middle illustration shows the proper shape for the torso (with the far left being correct). Teeth are discussed, something very important in the Japanese breeds. Missing teeth are penalized heavily (they should have 42!)
This next page explains the topline (should be straight!) and angulation in the front and back legs. As I've mentioned before regarding angulation in the back legs, vertically the front line from the hock to the foot should line up with the back line of the thigh when the dog is stacked. In the front, the dog should have a chest, which means there is a line from the neck down to the chest, and the legs should not drop straight down from that line. The legs should drop down from behind the chest.
Continuing with the correct angles in the limbs... on the far left is the view from behind the dog, with obviously the top example being correct. No cow hocked or bow legged dogs thank you. Illustration 18 shows correct rear angulation with again the top example being correct. The middle one is too straight, the bottom too angulated which gives the dog's rear a weak appearance. Illustration 16 shows correct angles in the wrist. I see a lot of Shiba with little to no angulation in the wrist, similar to the middle example. This is incorrect. Illustration 15 is another of my pet peeves, again something I see in Shiba a lot is the middle example of an incorrect front. Too wide. In this Shikoku the bottom example of narrow to no chest is a problem I see often. The reason the lack of angulation in the wrist and wide fronts is something I want to clearly point out is because dogs with these traits can look deceptively appealing. When a dog has no wrist angulation and is up on its tip toes, to the untrained eye it can look like it's stacked very nicely. An overly wide and open front can also look like a very strong front if you don't know what you're supposed to be looking for.
Lastly, and here's another one that people often get wrong, correct tails in the Shikoku (and generally in the Japanese breeds, though tail type is a bit different for Akita, and then there are sickle type tails etc). A correct tail should stand up away from the back, and then curl around in a nice arch, with the curl continuing to the tip of the tail as in the top picture. There should be space in the middle of this curve, between the tail and the back, so that you can actually see through to the other side. We often say there should be enough space to put an egg through it. Incorrect tails that I see alot are tails that drape (the end of the tail does not curl but drops vertically toward the ground), and of course the biggest issue is usually tails that are too tight or are flat on the back.
This concludes explanation and discussion of the standard. Why are all these little things important you may ask? Well most of them have their roots in hunting utility. I'll discuss this at some later stage when I have the time, but the longer I've owned and hunted with the Japanese breeds, the more I understand the standard.

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