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Okay, maybe I am a novice, but I just saw some of the video feed from the Cairn Terrier round at the Westminster Kennel Show and at the end they were having the dogs two at a time kind of scrap with each other. My friend who shows another breed of dog told me this is "sparring" and they do this in terrier breeds to show the nature of the breed. I just really didnt like this. I know that show dogs are to demonstrate what the breed was designed for, and are trained differently than "pet quality" dogs, but I try hard to teach Yoda to be nice to other dogs at the park or elsewhere. I see the good in Earth Dog trial type things for demonstrating the nature of the breed, but I dont think this sparring is necessary.

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Sparring is occasionally a subject of debate. I think it's generally understood that when done properly the dogs are expected to remain fully on the floor and simply stand tall and hold their ground in state of surpassing alertness and confidence. As an example, the dog that eventually won is a master earthdog - I've seen him hunt amicably in the field with a randomly drawn bracemate - sometimes another Cairn, sometimes another terrier breed (or dachshund) - the dog is solid as can be and as well socialized as any good pet. Indeed, for his family, he IS a pet.

As with any debate, there are many who fall on each side of the question of whether or not it is necessary.

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Well, speaking of Westminster, but on a different subject, I was disappointed yet again to see the cairn overlooked. I thought Oliver was wonderful (I know, I am biased) but he truly did seem animated and to me looked like what a cairn should be. I think he should've at least made the short list. Ah well. I do love this dog show because the commentary is so informative.


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Guest Sparring at Westminster

Hi Brigette:

Apparently, the folks at Westminster discourage sparring among the various terrier breeds in the terrier group ring. One theory in support of this policy is that television coverage of sparring terriers streaming into pet homes would generate negative reactions from the general public. It will be interesting to see whether the Dreamworks Internet coverage of sparring in the Best of Breed Competition will end future sparring in among terriers of the same breed as well.

Sparring of Cairns has not occurred in the breed ring in the UK from the 1950s to the present. On the other hand, Lydia Hutchinson is a proponent of sparring Cairns when it is performed by knowledgeable judges and competent handlers in accordance with Brad's discription.

Although Mr. Cashoudian is not a Cairnite, you might like to read his analysis of sparring. Please see:

Chashoudian, Ric. "One Man's Opinion." Canine Chronicle

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An anonymous mentor points out that:

1. The Westminster Kennel Club is a member club of the American Kennel Club.

2. AKC member clubs are subject to whatever rules the AKC establishes regarding sparring, judging procedures, entries, rules, eligible breeds or any dog show matters and procedures.

My earlier statement that the folks at Westminster discourage sparring in the Terrier Group is based on anectdotal evidence.

Television coverage of Westminster takes place for the first time in 1948. Whether the coverage in that year included the Terrier Group ring isn't recorded on the Westminster website. Rumor has it that sparring in the Westminster Terrier Group ring has occurred as late as the 1990s.

So, what was the year in which a Terrier Group judge last sparred dogs shown under him or her?


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I'm not exactly sure what you are asking, but if you are asking where I saw this, I went to the web page for Westminster, clicked on the best of breeds for Cairns, and clicked view video feed.

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Hi Brigette:

Several Cairn list discussions have focused on the possibility that the Westminster folks may have discouraged the Terrier Group judges from sparring dogs. The Terrier Group is where the various terrier Best of Breed winner's compete to determine group placements.

I intended to ask the CTCA Forum my question about the year in which a Westminster Terrier Group judge last sparred dogs in the Terrier Group.

Sorry for the confusion.

As an AKC member club, the Westminster Kennel Club follows the AKC Guidelines for Conformation Dog Show Judges. The section of these guidelines that refers to sparring is reproduced below.



Guidelines for Conformation Dog Show Judges

Amended to November 1, 2004

Judging the Dogs

Sparring Sparring means bringing select dogs together, usually in the center of the ring, to stand naturally on their own. It is important that sparring be a controlled demonstration of the dogs' "Terrier attitude". Bring out only two dogs at a time to spar, maintain control, and do not allow handlers to use other dogs as bait. The dogs should be very alert, up on their toes, looking for whatever is going on.

Sparring can be an excellent way to ascertain both desirable and faulty temperament. Are the dogs feisty, congenial, tolerant, cowardly or aloof?

Sparring is not fighting. With a clearer understanding of its present-day meaning and application, it will be easier for everyone involved to see that sparring is a vital part of the dog show scene.


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