Comments to the standard

See also: [Standard]   [Morphology]

Here are some personal opinions regarding some standard issues.

[Docking and cropping]   [Coat clipping]   [Height at the withers]   [ticked]   [Brown]


Docking and cropping

This breed is traditionally docked and cropped. At Aradik, we do not cut the ears or the tail. We believe the future of the Barbado da Terceira, just like that of other traditionally docked/cropped breeds, necessarily depends on showing the animals in their natural form. Therefore, we aim to contribute today to the knowledge of what we should select tomorrow.

Totalmente amputado e inteiro

Ch Adágio (left) and Ch Bóina de Aradik (right), one docked and cropped, the other natural. The past and the future?

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Coat clipping

Regarding the coat, the breed standard says:

Work clipping is admissible, shortening the coat evenly, and should be used in conformation dog shows.

This sentence makes no sense… First it says “it admits a working clipping”. But when you say you admit it, it is taken to mean it is not preferable. However, the rest of the sentence says the working clipping is not “admissible” but “mandatory”. Well,which is it?

Furthermore, since the breed was recognized provisionally by the Portuguese Kennel Club, there are internal discussions about the definition of the clipping, which clipping should be created for dog shows! Well, in that case, the standard is clear enough, saying that it’s the working clipping – in the beginning of the summer, dogs are thoroughly clipped short all over, and then the coat grows throughout the year until next summer. As de clipping is definined on the standard, there’s no need to “creat” any other.

Efeito visual da tosquia

Influence the clipping has on the dog’s visual appearance. In this case it’s a dog who himself does not have that good of a coat – Ch Adágio. In the case of a dog with a fuller coat, the difference is even greater.

Virtually all European long-coated bearded herding dog breeds were traditionally clipped upon the arrival of warm weather, at the same time as sheep were, due to the matting and tangling of the coat. However, for dog shows that clipping is not required (also because these dogs have their coat cared for).Instead, each breed naturally evolved toward appropriate coat care and show “preparation”.

In my opinion, forcing the Barbado to a specific clipping (specially one made up as such) is no more than skewing the breed’s own merit. It is also an excellent way to disguise a dog’s coat problems – by shortening too much the dogs’ coat, and especially because that is usually done to the outercoat reducing it to the undercoat’s length, a dog with incorrect coat length/texture/density will be considered equal to a dog with a natural good coat. In a breed where the coat is one of the most striking elements of its overall appearance, I think this is a serious situation.

(Regarding Adágio, on the photo above, one judge even said he was being shown too clipped, when he was never shown with any kind of clipping)

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Height at the withers

The standard stipulates a height of 52 to 58 cm for males and 48 to 54 cm for females. However there is a wide range of tolerance, as height is only considered a (serious) fault when it is above 60 cm or below 48 cm, regardless of the sex.

There is currently a big discussion regarding the “Azores” Barbados and the “Mainland” Barbados. That’s because in these latter it is to see dogs at shows who are at the top of the standard, or even above it.

Yet interestingly, these dogs are direct descendants of dogs born in the Azores. Therefore, how much of this is trying to get bigger dogs, as some claim, and how much is due to the fact that most of thwse dogs are being breed by breeders who give their puppies full and adequate nutritional and health care (frequent worming, food suitable to the bitch’s and puppies’ stage) – which means, instead of fighting off external elements, puppies can redirect their energy to growing.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t good breeders on the Azores, and fortunately they are getting more frequent, mas it is still common to get a puppy who, at 2 months of age, only knew one worming and one shot because those are required for the plane travel.

Without adding much more to this discussion, on this website I have added the height at the withers of my dogs measured thus far. Those with the Aradik affix were bred by me, the rest came from the Azores. You can compare the heights of the parents and of the progeny and make your own inference.

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Ticked or merle?

The standard says ticking is an eliminating flaw. However, according to one of the persons who worked in the making of the standard, what they actually meant to consider a disqualifying flaw is merle, and “ticking” only came to be due to a mix-up in the specific terminology.

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The standard mentions as an eliminating fault:

Coat – Brown or ticked.

But it says before:

Nose: (…) Well pigmented, black, brown admissible in yellow and whitish coats.

What’s the problem? Well, by allowing brown noses, it allows for “camouflaged” brown coats. How?

Starting from the top… There are 2 types of pigment influencing coat color – eumelanin (black/brown pigment) and phaeomelanin (yellow/red pigment). It’s the mixture of these 2 pigments, on the same strand of hair or on different hairs, and its distribution in different areas of the body, that will condition the wide variety of colors dogs can show.

A single gene controls if eumelanin will be black or brown, for which the dominant allele codes for black and the recessive set codes for brown.

Frequently, when you think about a brown dog, you think of an animal which is brown all over, like a chocolate Labrador. But genetically that is not the only possibility. Given that the gene is just about eumelanin changing from black to brown, any black-based hair will be brown – and hence you have brown and tan dogs (like some Dobermanns), brown-based fawn/sable, etc.

Barbado fulvo de base castanha

Brown-based fawn Barbado. This dog competed in a few dog shows, always well qualifyed.

Then, how to know if the dog is actually brown? Simple, even if the coat color is dubious, the nose, lips and eyelids will always be brown! Nothing to be mistaken about!

This should not be mistaken with the lack of pigmentation which occurs in many “white” dogs (actually genetically yellow or pale fawn):

Nariz despigmentado

This situation is not necessarily genetic, the lack of pigmentation is not uniform all over the nose, and the lips and eyelids are still black, proving a correct genetic basis.

In the Barbado there is also another situation which may hinder the interpretation of brown, for those who don’tknow what they’re looking for. In bearded dogs there may be another gene leading to a paling of melanin (both types). This paling usually starts from 6/7 weeks to a few months of age. Thus, gray dogs are usually born black and pale yellow/white dog are usually born darker.

When we happen to have a brown dog who paled, from a few months of age on he may look as “yellow” and a dog with an “accepted” color.

Cachorro castanho aclarado

A puppy a few months old who was born brown but was “lucky enough” to pale, so some no longer consider him brown. Notice however the nose, lips and eyelids, who clearly prove the dog’s real color. This puppy was well qualified at a Barbado da Terceira National Specialty Show.

So, on one hand the breed standard forbids a given color, but on the other it allows it under certain situations, as it does not consider the difference between noses that lack pigmentation or noses of an animal with an eliminating fault.

If even under normal circumstances it is difficult to purge a recessive allele from a breed, unless you genetically screen against it (but do you really want to do it, given that this color involves no health or other problems?), when the breed standard is lax, both forbidding it and allowing it according to the situation, it gets even harder!

What to do then? Some eliminating faults are always eliminating (such as blue eyes), others are only so sometimes depending on the dog’s “luck” (such as brown?)

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