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What Do You Think?

Ask the Judge - April/May/June 2006

There is a move to revise the Dutch point standard in 2010 to place more emphasis on body type, thus reducing the points for markings. One of the features of the change is the belief that Dutch would become more competitive for BIS. Another would be an increase in the number of rabbits with better body type on the show table. On the downside, there might be an increase in poorly marked animals being successful. From the judge’s point of view, how do you think a change in the point standard will affect the Dutch rabbits on the show table?

From Glen Carr of Illinois:

First let me state that I feel the standard now in place for the Dutch breed is a very good one, better than most. It is precise and describes what most Dutch breeders desire. I do think that some minor adjustments in the point schedule may be a positive move. The present standard allows five points each for the blaze and for the neck marking. The blaze is a very visible, distinct marking and the neck marking is somewhat obscure thus I would agree that a couple of points be removed from the neck marking and moved to the body type. Perhaps, a couple of points from cheeks or stops (not both) could be moved to the body type. Markings are important but the general type should be of the utmost importance. The points should reflect this desirability.
Now to the question. Adding more emphasis on the body should make judges consider the body, head, and ears, more over just markings A well marked animal with poor general type should never be placed over an animal with ideal general type with markings of a lesser quality. I don't think that these changes will make a Dutch more likely to be selected for BIS. They already often times represent themselves well at the BIS table. The total animal, all 100 points, must be considered when selecting BIS. Moving points from one aspect to another will not enhance the chances of winning BIS. It should send a message that one must have the house built before adding the paint. Poor analogy perhaps, but the best I could come up with.
Love those Dutch!

From Kevin Hooper of Ohio:

My opinion is that it would not affect the way most of your top judges judge the Dutch. I believe it would cause poor judges who judge mainly on markings, to pay more attention to type, less on markings.
Now, if you have a judge who likes to add points while they judge, it would change their judging. I have never been one who judged by adding points. I feel the point structure is used to show the how each feature relates to the others, and is not there to be added up, then the one with the highest total wins. Adding points will allow the perfectly marked Dutch with only fair type, to do quite well. This is not what we want.

From Briony Barnes from Kansas:

My personal opinion is that a shift in points will have no effect at all on Dutch winning BIS. Yes, judges will look for a typey rabbit, and yes, it will always be tough for a Dutch with a type fault to beat a slick, smooth, hard white rabbit. However, I don’t see judges willing to overlook an obvious marking fault (or faults) no matter how nice the type or condition. It is just a fact that there are more possible faults on a Dutch than on a white (or even solid colored) animal, and that no point change will even this out. While I am a big type critic as both a judge and breeder, I would argue that the uniqueness and “showiness” of our Dutch is, in the end, all about the markings. 
That said, I do agree our point structure needs to be re-worked.  
I don’t think any of our favorite Dutch judges actually judge by this standard. Currently, the proportion of points is ½ markings, ¼ type, and ¼ fur, color, and condition. So, type is only half as important as markings.
As part of the ADRC Standards Committee, I have written a proposed standard change that will not significantly alter the number of points on any factor, but will significantly change the proportion of those points:
Briony’s Proposed Standard
Type 30  
Body   23
Head   5
Ears   2
Markings 45  
Cheeks   10
Blaze   5
Neck   3
Saddle   10
Undercut   7
Stops   10
Fur 10  
Color 10  
Condition 5  
Total 100  
First of all, I think we need to leave fur, color, and condition alone. Fur greatly affects how the markings are seen: a short, dense coat will make markings look a lot sharper than a long, thin one. And we have enough color problems and variations (especially in tort, steel, and gray) to warrant the ten points for color. 5 points for condition is standard in almost every breed.
So you don’t have to grab your standard, here’s what I did. I took the “eye” point off and added it to the body. Dutch either have eyes or they don’t, in which case your problem is a lot bigger than one point! I also took two points off of the cheeks, two off the neck, and one off the undercut. All were added to the body. I felt that taking two points away from the cheeks wouldn’t de-emphasize them in a judge’s mind. I also did not feel that the neck should have points equal to the blaze when it is a much more difficult marking to evaluate given the fur growth pattern. The undercut, like the neck, is a “hidden” marking when the rabbit is posed, and I did not feel it would suffer for losing a point.
So by moving these five points from the markings to the body, voila! Type points equal 2/3 of marking points, instead of ½. Believe me, judges DO look at the proportion of points when consulting the Standard!
There have been some other ideas floated, mostly taking even more points from the markings and putting them on type. My argument against this is that most of the “marked” breeds whose points are arranged like this are not truly “marked” breeds! For example, the Himalayan has an equal number of points on body and markings. Himalayan/Californian is a color pattern, but they are not truly marked. You don’t see purebred Himmies with missing nose markings or leg markings that run clear up onto the body, or for that matter entire, disappointing litters of mismarks. The vast majority is all marked the same with any variations mostly a result of climate. Tans are much the same, in that while there are some minor variations, all rabbits will have the same basic pattern. There isn’t much difficulty in producing a Himalayan or Tan with show-worthy markings, but you all know there is some difficulty in producing a Dutch that will eventually reach the show table!
Whatever your reaction to MY opinion, I do encourage all of you to look at all the ideas presented by others and voice your own opinions. Remember that any change we make is ultimately for the goal of improving the Dutch breed, and a gorgeous Dutch will speak for itself on the show table!

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