Four Cardigan National Speciality Shows

Over the past year I have been extremely privileged to have judged a number of Cardigan Nationals, The Danish Cardigan National drew an excellent entry of 157 Cardigans and 96 Pembroke's. This was the clubs 40th year jubilee show and after the judging they held a banquet and during the evening a special gold emblem presentation was made to Kim Neilson and Margareta Widin Cardax Kennels from Sweden. The Chz Rep Cardigan National show was held in the wonderful small town of Austerlitz thats so steeped in history. The show was held in the castle grounds and the opening ceremony was performed with many in national costume. The U.K West of England Corgi Club and finally the Finland Cardigan National. Certainly the past year has enabled me to view the breed, with its strength and weaknesses, along with views to my hopes and aspirations for the future.

First everyone does need to understand that breed National shows do tend to bring out large entries, and some that are exhibited are club members pets making their annual appearance. Personally I think its very much to the betterment of the breed that these dogs turn out, for not only does it swell the entry but more importantly gives every one the opportunity to understand in more detail different lines of breeding.

I'm a firm believer that one should always look for virtues weather it be in breeding or judging, while at the same time understanding and identifying faults in a true perspective. Also I feel that its extremely important to identify and understand the major problem within the breed at any one time. Only by being extremely hard on this point either judge or breeders, will one start to eradicate the problems.

Over the years I have noticed many changes, thankfully the vast majority of these have been advantageous to the breed, and this is bore out by the Cardigans that I have judged over the past year. The Cardigan temperament today has improved greatly and today in the show ring thankfully its most unusual to see one bearing nervous tendencies. While I consider that heads are pretty uniform around the world I do feel that we should be concerned about eye's. The breed standard calls for these to be medium size, clear, giving kindly, alert but watchful expression. Rather widely set with corners clearly defined. The last three words sum up the eye shape, and should leave no one under any illusion that round eyes are acceptable. Today I consider far to many are lacking the correct Cardigan eye, and this point should play a part in further breeding programs. While hindquarters have improved with correct angulation many still today are lacking rear drive. Maybe some of this problem is due to a lack of muscle. Road work will certainly go a long way in helping correct this. This later point would also help many of the exhibits whose feet were spoiled by having long nails. The correct Cardigan foot is becoming a point of concern, with many lacking those large front feet that should be well knuckled, and tight.

The Cardigan front will always, I feel, be a point of concern. Whilst today I think we have made great inroads into correcting some of the front construction problems, much work still needs to be done before this problem becomes a think of the past. Maybe we should ask ourselves why a few breeders are able to produce correct fronts, generation after generation, and others cannot. Maybe we should ask ourselves why correct body shape plays such an important part in front construction.

The U.K breed standard states ideal height 12'' (30.5cm) at shoulder. Many that I have judged fall into what I consider outside the ideal height, and I feel it is time that the matter is now addressed, as to what is acceptable above or below the stated ideal size. Big is not always beautiful, nor should it be seen as correct under the present standard. One also needs to ask that should one consider it acceptable to go 1 or 2 inches above the ideal hight would it be deemed acceptable to go the same under. On this point it is also worth noting that the U.S standard states oversized or undersized are serious faults. Its also becoming a serious worry that exhibits of the standard correct size are being penalised both with written and verbal comments I.e. would like a little more of him/her. It should be hoped that should these judges ever cook, that they take up my recommendation to weigh all ingredients, maybe then and only then will they get it correct.

Movement is not about speed, nor front legs moving just off true parallel with rear in line, it is about total freedom, with ability to cover the ground with effortless ease with drive and reach.

Today breeders are able to bring in stock from around the world. While one can benefit from introducing new blood, I do consider that there is a limit that any one line can take on board to maintain its strength. It is quite a mystery with the ease of flights, that one will spend such vast amounts bringing stock in from unseen lines, that one has none or very little knowledge of.

Presentation has improved both in the condition of the exhibits and also the handling ability of the exhibitors. While many of you are more than capable of holding your own in the worlds show ring’s I would just ask that some still need to master the art of timing. By this I mean understanding just when the judge is going to be looking your exhibits way, for at this time everything should be spot on. Also always try to ensure that ones own dress attire compliments ones exhibit. While the above mentioned plays an important part in making ones exhibit stand out to all judges, we do thankfully still have a number of judges that have the ability to find excellent exhibits no matter how they are presented.

From the four shows that I have judged I was very pleased with my final winners, I found exhibits that I would proudly own and handle. If I could have a wish then it would be to have them in one ring all together, thus proving that quality is apparent on this side of the world.

To all the Cardigan folk in these counties, thank you for giving me such an excellent entry, it really was a great pleasure to judge your exhibits. While I have in the above, given my thoughts on the good and bad, please be assured that many of your exhibits are well able to compete in any show ring worldwide, and as breeders and exhibitors you have my greatest respect, and should be extremely proud of your achievements.



Peter Clifton