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What Do You Think?

It's Black or White, Not Gray

by Kevin Hooper

note: the issues Kevin is responding to were written in Warren Wiltman's Directors column, and parts of it has been reprinted here so one can understand the what Kevin is responding to.

Warren Wilman brought up some interesting points in the last issue of the DR. He said that those were a few points to get us motivated to write to the DR. Well, he motivated me. First, let me state, I like Warren and value his opinions. I do disagree with some of those opinions however.

Should judges DQ for too light of eye color? If they are light brown instead of dark brown I feel they should be faulted but not a DQ. After all they are still brown. Who or what is going to determine where that too light point exactly is?

I will begin on the eye color point. He states that he feels that they should be faulted for light brown instead of DQ'ed. Our Dutch Standard calls for DARK BROWN EYES. It does not call for brown, preferably dark. The standard also states it is a DQ for off-colored eyes on page 25 of the new Standard. If we see a "blue" eye, according to the standard, in one of our blues, would that be okay? Our standard calls for a blue-gray eye. They are both blue, so is that okay? There is a picture of a "blue" eye in the new standard, it is not the same as the "blue-gray" eye. Lime green and forest green are both green. Are they the same color? No.
What if we, as judges, just fault those Dutch - mostly chocolates - for light eye color. How much could they be faulted when the eyes are worth 1 point total! Then, when we cant' fault them for much, then we must place them. If it is only one point cut, then it will come into play unless the rabbits you're comparing are completely equal. Therefore, those with light eyes will win. When they win, we keep them because it must be okay, as the judges don't seem to mind. Then we breed them, and the eye color continues to lighten. Then in twenty years, it is brought before the ARBA Standards committee to change the Dutch eye color, as none of them have dark eyes! Either it is correct or not correct, not sort of correct!
You can see improvement in the eye color in chocolates. Now that some of us as breeders, or even judges, are kicking them out for incorrect eye color, breeders are striving for dark eyes. The dark eyes coincide with darker chocolate color, which is what we are to strive for. Many of our chocolates are not dark brown.

If you DQ for varying eye color then you should do the same with fur color. DQ those light blues that are probably closer to lilac and faded out chocolates. Besides the blue and chocolate, should judges DQ for no ring color over the center of the back on grays and white tails on torts? Not all judges are consistent; they will DQ the gray but not the tort. Since I mentioned torts, when is a tort too light or too dark?

Warren mentions the faded out chocolates and blues, and should they be DQ'ed? No. The Dutch Standard says brownish or faded color is a fault in blues, while other shades or tints are a fault in chocolates. I could fault a Dutch for light eyes, if it were something that happened only when it was shedding or it's eye color was stained. That is not what we are dealing with.
Another question brought up is "should it be a DQ for lack of ring color on grays"? Now this is a good question. This was put into our standard in 1996. I think a wording change here would help. The Standard calls for a DQ for "lack of intermediate ring color over the colored portion of the body". This was put in to address those very light steels that were being shown as grays, or just plain poorly colored grays. I believe the wording should be changed to lack of intermediate tan banding over the back. As many of you have seen, some judges take this to extremes in that they have to see a ring pattern. Some Dutch which are switching coats will not show ring color. The original intent here was to make sure the intermediate tan band was present over the back. If the tan band is visible here, then it has the proper color, and when prime, it will have good ring color. The other trouble spot with having the grays show "ring pattern" is that the short coat we call for will not show the ring compared to one with a longer coat, which is not desirable in our Dutch. So we need some clarification here. You can definitely see a huge color improvement in the last ten years. Is that not what we want?

At what point does an injury (such as an ear bit) detract from a rabbit's looks? About one-fourth of all judges probably DQ it automatically. I've had a slight bite on the ear DQ'ed one day and win BOB the next.

Warren brings up a good point on the missing part of the ear. How much is needed to make it a DQ? This one will always be a judgment call.

Ideally the tip of a Dutch's ear should be in line with the back of the saddle. So do long ears justify a wide saddle?

Another point he brings up - is that the saddle should be the length of the ear from the heads. I have heard this many times, yet I have no idea where it came from? This does basically describe balance, but if you have long ears and a saddle that sits back to match the ears, you then have two faults! The saddle should set right behind the shoulders.

At what point is a rabbit too long in the body? What I've noticed is that if you pose a long looking rabbit with a lot of width, they still will seem long. You may see a narrower rabbit that appears long in the cage but when you pose it the length seems to turn into more depth. Hell, what's that all about?

Here is where my next big pet peeve lies; get the new Standard! Look at pages 32-35. This is the new posing section. Note that under compact type, the correct pose is to have the front feet under the eyes, with the toes of the rear feet aligned with the front of the hips. Then notice that NONE of the proper poses of any of the breeds are to have their head on the table!
Have you ever seen a cattle/horse/sheep/dog/chicken show? How many of their judges go out and say "well, this one is a little flat, but if I squeeze it's head, it sure looks better? And if I take this steer, and push it's head towards it's rump, that sway back will disappear? I now like this steer?"
I know this seems exaggerated, but is it? How do you pose your Dutch? Should not we want a judge to put the animal in its' proper position, then see if it has the proper body structure, not hold it in that position to make it look better than it is?
Next, how many points is the Dutch head worth? Five points, right? Wrong! It is worth TWENTY-FOUR POINTS! If I as a judge or breeder, evaluates the Dutch by holding a hand over the head, squeezing the head to make the body deep, then you don't see the head, eye, blaze, cheeks, let alone the ears and neck, (which would then total 31 points!)
Don't we want our Dutch to show the proper body on their own? What will give you long term success? Keeping/using those animals that you can make look like they have the proper body, or striving to have those with the depth and roundness on their own? Long term, we should want our Dutch evaluated for what they actually have, not what we can make them have!
If we say "well, I guess they are okay" then we will have wishy-washy Dutch. They will be the ones in the gray area. I see mine as black or white, they are either correct or not correct.

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