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Judging Dutch

by Erik A. Bengtson

To be accurate and consistent when judging Dutch, it is important to develop a pattern and use it exclusively. Here is the pattern which I use to increase my accuracy, consistency, and efficiency.
1. Start with a general examination checking the Dutch thoroughly for disqualifications. Here are some of the DQs which are common to Dutch.
The examination begins with a quick glance at the ears of the Dutch. The purpose of the glance is to assess any white/bare spots which may be lurking on the ears. Common areas for white spots are on the front and back edges of the ears.
The next area which I check is the eyes. I check the eyes for correct color, abnormalities, and spots. It is VERY important to look closely and to roll the animal's head so that all areas of the eyes can be checked for white/blue flecks or areas which may lack pigmentation. I'm willing to guess that 1 in 20 Dutch born have an eye abnormality and some of those manage to make it to the judging table at some point.
Next the teeth are checked and while checking the teeth, I also check for freckles on or around the nose area. Freckles are quite common in some strains of Dutch, and are of great concern for breeders. It is important that the breeder's attention is called to the freckle. A common cop-out among judges is using the phrase, "only disqualify if it noticeably detracts from the appearance of the animal" as a crutch to overlook any freckle smaller than a Volkswagen. If you see a freckle, you have noticed it and all freckles detract from the perfect Dutch's appearance, hence any freckles you see, noticeably detract from the animal's appearance, and should be disqualified.
Next I check the underside of the Dutch for possible disqualifications. The animal should be checked for being "tied" at this point, that is, checking for color to pass beyond the elbow joint on to the front leg. Determining whether or not Dutch is tied can be difficult when it is close due to the pliability and movement of the pelt. The method which I use to make the final decision, is to allow the animal to move on the table. If I see the elbow push color out, I will disqualify the animal. It is important to remember that a Dutch is only tied, if color extends past the elbow on the front leg. A Dutch can have a drag on it's chest from it's undercut that almost reaches its head, but unless there is color on the front leg, it is only a drag. (In a case like that, you may make that animal unworthy of an award, but don't DQ it for being tied.) The hind legs also have a common disqualification, called a split stop. I will examine the animal by either extending the back legs (while holding the animal vertically, or by picking the animal up from it's pose which also exposes the stops. Remember that stops completely encircle the hock, so it is important to examine the animal from the top and the bottom. If color runs close to the toes, you must examine that area more closely for a possible split stop. You are the judge, you have an obligation to separate those toes and remove any doubt as to whether the stop is split or not. The final item I check for when examining the underside of the Dutch, is a bellybutton white spot, or a white spot around the vent area.
2. Following the examination for DQs, I start by moving those animals with critical marking faults to the bottom of the class "Group E". Marking faults which I consider critical are: extremely long stops (over 50% of hind foot being white), extremely high checks, and extremely narrow blaze in combination with heavy cheeks.
3. Next I will arrange the remainder of the class based on body type.
  • The top "Group A" would be animals with good depth and good width of body.
  • Next would be "Group B" the animals with good depth, but lacking width to balance.
  • Followed by "Group C" animals with width, but lacking depth.
  • Ending with "Group D" animals lacking depth and width.
Note that "Group E" were the animals with critical marking faults.
4. Once I have the initial grouping of the class done, I'll go through it and refine my placings, by considering markings. Here is the priority which I put on the specific markings:
  1. Blaze & Cheeks. Although they are broken down into separate points in the standard, they are a continuation of each other, and as such, I consider them as a combined unit. They not only carry the most points allotted in the standard, they also are extremely important to the visual appeal of the animal. Another reason the top priority is paced on the blaze and cheeks is due to the fact that the 5 points allotted for the head can also be lumped into this category. A Dutch must have a well-shaped head to make the blaze and cheeks look well placed and proportional.
  2. Saddle. The saddle is equal in points to the stops, but due to it's visible position when the animal is posed, I consider it to be of a higher priority than the stops.
  3. Stops. There are three major factors to consider when judging the stops, and I break down the 10 points in this manner; placement (6), angle (2), and balance with the other stop (2). For the placement, stops are to be 1/3 of the length of the hock. I fault heavily stops over 1/3, but consider stops less than 1/3 only a minor fault. For angle, stops are to be perpendicular. Stops are faulted for both horizontal and vertical deviations from perpendicular. Finally, for balance with the other stop, stops are to be identical.
  4. Undercut. The method of examining the undercut is extremely important. The Dutch should be turned over with great care, as to keep it in the same position as it was when it was posed on the table. The animal is not to be stretched out when examining the undercut.
  5. Neck. I consider the neck marking to be the last resort when all else is very close between two animals.
A well marked animal in "Group B" would be moved up to the bottom of "Group A", and a poorly marked animal in "Group A" would be moved down to the top of "Group B". Then those animals would be compared. An animal in "Group A" would have to have poor marking in each of the five areas, to be placed below all the animals in "Group B".
My final consideration when judging Dutch is on color. Color is only 10 points, and I use it much like the neck marking, as a last resort or tiebreaker. There are of course exceptions, such as an extremely mealy or frosty animal or torts with bad shading, or grays or steels with bad color. The most severe cases would be dropped down to the lowest group. Remember that steels cannot show ring color on the upper portions of their body, and grays must show ring color on the top of their backs.
I hope that this system will benefit other judges and make Dutch an easy and enjoyable breed to judge.

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