Many of us have heard about dog breed standards but few of us understand them. So, what are they and who creates dog breed standards in the first place? In short, dog breed standards document how a specific dog breed should look and behave like.
Creating dog breed standards is the responsibility of parent clubs of individual breeds, who then pass these documents down the chain to kennel clubs. There are several nuances and finer details of this subject we will be discussing. Consequently, by the time you finish reading this article, dog breed standards won’t be a mystery to you at all.
What is a Dog Breed Standard?
A dog breed standard is a detailed description of a dog breed. It is a piece of documentation that details the look and temperament of a dog, this makes it helpful for dog breeders to breed a consistent litter. This “detailed description” is the dog breed standard.
The first part of the dog breed standard is the appearance of that breed. From the shape of their face to their height, this document describes what physical features a purebred-dog of that breed should possess. The latter half of the breed standard is the temperament of that dog breed. For example, if you take a look at the AKC breeding criteria for a Siberian Husky, you will see an entire section on the breed’s ideal temperament. To sum it all up, a dog breed standard is a blueprint or a manual of the ideal physical features and temperament of a dog breed.
Who Creates Dog Breed Standards?
Dog breed standard creation follows rules defined by an organization. Voting will take place to pass these standards. If passed, breeders interested will then begin to follow these standards to earn a higher income or sell dogs appropriate for dog show standards. There is a parent club that creates dog breeding standards in the first place. This parent club may choose to create an entirely new standard, update an existing one, or let the standard remain as it is.
Once the parent club has determined what changes to make to the standard, its members vote whether to implement these changes or not. As soon as a decision has been made, the parent club passes these standards on to child clubs like the American Kennel Club for implementation. Clubs like the AKC then encourage breeders to use these standards as ‘blueprints’ for dog breeding. In addition to breeders, show ring judges also use these standards as the criteria of judging dogs. In short, parent breed clubs create breed standards and kennel clubs implement them.
Why are Dog Breed Standards Created?
Dog breed standards are created to ensure that all the dogs of a breed look and act in a similar fashion. Also, breed standards ensure that breeders do not enforce unnatural and dangerous features on dogs like extremely smaller heads or snouts. Breeders have to follow certain standards like safety regulations. If dog breeders did what they desired and took no consideration about the expected outcome of breeding, dogs wouldn’t be what they are today.
Historically, dogs have been man’s best friend because they have been useful. Dogs have helped in history, and still help, in hunting, herding, protecting, and transporting. To make sure the dogs are able to do what they were bred to do, breeders have to conform to a set of rules. These rules are the breed standards. Breed standards make sure the dogs of a particular breed are healthy, have a characteristic appearance, and can do their job without a hitch. A dog breeding standard ensures that the breed has the same characteristics across the board.
Can a Dog Breed Standard Change Once Created?
Parent clubs can edit breed standards after creation. As dog breeds change, the breeding standards will evolve with them. For example, Huskies are more of a house dog than a working dog nowadays and the breed standard aims to reflect each breed currently.
Times have changed and as people have moved away from using dogs to aid in their work to primarily serving as companions, the characteristics and dog behaviors needed to be changed as well. Parent clubs add these changes in the breeding standards to ensure that future generations have all the desirable characteristics. So, whenever anything regarding a specific breed needs to change, the parent club proposes these changes. Members vote whether or not this change should alter the current breed standard.
Dog Breed Standard Creation – FAQs
You may still have some questions you need to ask, take a look at some of the more common ones answered below.
Are Dog Breed Standards Important to Follow?
Dog breed standards are pretty important to follow as a breeder and especially those interested in dog shows. The dog breeds we see today are the result of thousands of years of selective breeding. Selective breeding made sure that only such dogs were bred that were fit for the job required of them. These practices resulted in breeds with distinct forms and temperaments.
Dog breeding standards are the guidelines of how to achieve these desirable effects from a dog. Dogs that do not follow breed standards often suffer from a variety of issues ranging from physical disabilities to behavioral problems.
Does the AKC Create Dog Breed Standards?
The AKC does not create dog breed standards. Instead, parent breed clubs create the standard for their breed and send it to the AKC for implementation. The AKC, the American Kennel Club, is an organization responsible for implementing dog breeding standards rather than creating them. Dog breeding standard creation is actually the responsibility of parent clubs. Parent clubs create, update, and change the standards.
How is a Dog Breed Standard Changed?
When a dog breed standard needs to change, the parent club of a breed, an organization that is responsible for creating the standards in the first place, presents these changes in front of its members. The members vote to accept or reject these changes. If accepted, the changes are officially added to a dog breed standard.
In the case of the AKC, the parent club sends these changes to a committee of AKC Directors who have the final say in the matter. If the directors reject these changes, it’s back to the drawing board for the parent club.
What is Included in a Dog Breed Standard?
A dog breed standard usually includes its standard appearance and temperament. There is no set length of a dog breed standard. It can be as long or as short as the parent club wants it to be.
When it comes to appearances, a dog breeding standard describes every physical feature the parent club considers essential to the dog breed. This can include height, muzzle shape, expression, shoulder width, etc. It is on the basis of these guidelines of appearance that judges judge a dog’s look in a dog show as well. On the other hand, the temperament section in a breed standard describes the ideal breed behavior. Whether the dogs of the breed should be curious or shy or whether they be hyperactive or docile. In short, everything related to the behavioral aspects of a dog breed is covered in the breed standard.
These two things comprise the standard and are kept in mind during dog breed standard creation. Remember, these are general guidelines for the breeders rather than strict rules and as such these things are also subjective. Therefore, no two dogs of the same breed look and behave the same.
Dog breed standards are useful for higher selling prices, grooming guidelines and dog shows. Understanding the origins can be both useful and interesting to any dog owner or breeder.