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Type, Hype, Or Personal Preference

written and submitted by Bill Garnett

…Choose your poison

Some time ago I wrote about having heard about two handlers, who when asked to speak before a judge’s group, told that group of judges that type was the first and foremost consideration when evaluating Dobermans.  They even went as far as to instruct the group that soundness was of little or no serious consequence . . . quote, unquote.  It has got to look like a Doberman first . . . they advised.  That was the first bleep on my radar screen that made me sit up and take notice and get me to thinking:

What did they mean, it has to look like a Doberman?  I’ve been involved with Dobermans
for longer than I care to admit and have been judging them for almost twenty  years and I have yet had a dog (Doberman) walk into my ring that I didn’t recognize as a Doberman.  Admittedly some were better specimens than others but I had no problem recognizing them as to the breed they were. As a matter of fact when you have been involved with Dobermans as long as I have you develop a sense of recognizing them a long way off and I bet a lot of you can recognize a Doberman several blocks away.  So what do you mean it has to look like a Doberman and you have to consider “type” before anything else?  The Doberman Pinscher is a type . . .  a “type” of dog!

I have to admit that it was a puzzlement to me for years . . . this thing called type and over the years I realized that I’ve heard the word type used in  many different ways when describing a Doberman . . . enough to confuse the most ardent of fanciers.

  • He is my type.
  • He is not my type.
  • I like that type.
  • I don’t like that type.
  • She’s really typey.
  • She doesn’t have good type.
  • I like the showy type.
  • I like the big type or
  • I don’t like the little type

…and  on and on it goes to where finally we have reached a point where everybody has a type.  What the heck is going on with this thing called type?  And then it hit me.  The type that everyone is talking about is not really type at all . . . it’s  hype . . . or better yet it’s called personal preference and what they are really doing is hyping their personal preference under the guise of type.

For what reason and why is this happening?  Finally it hit me.  It’s pretty simple!  It  creates several scenarios:

  1. First it benefits the personal preference crowd in that it justifies their breeding program’s lack of soundness.
  2. Secondly it creates enough confusion and a venue where the poorly informed judges and the weak minded have excuses as to why they put up those un-sound dogs.  

I once had a judge tell me that he liked his dogs to look like dogs.  Another told me that she liked her bitches to look like bitches.  Still another said he liked a lot of bone and substance.  Another liked the high stationed look.  Another liked good down and back.  And still another like strong side movement and etc. Each time I would hear one of these personal preferences I shuddered and would wonder to myself why no one ever mentions they want their Dobermans to conform to the Breed Standard by being balanced, sound and processing the symmetry that only a standard conforming Doberman would have and those with a good eye could appreciate.

In an attempt to rationalize their ignorance of the standard many have implied that the standard says little about a Doberman being sound or as the two handlers said . . . “soundness is of little or no serious consequence.”

Either those people haven’t read the standard or if they have, they have absolutely no understanding of the concepts it imparts for the standard from beginning to end calls for and demands an orderly and harmonious arrangement of parts to create a statically and kinetically balanced dog.  It even acts as a blueprint, instructing us on just how to do so.  The problem that raises it’s ugly head is that a lot of us won’t read or can’t understand the blueprint (standard) for whatever reason.  Think how difficult it would be to build a house if one wouldn’t read, or for that matter couldn’t understand, a blueprint.

I’m sure that with pure gall some of us would get something up but for how long would structural integrity be present . . . if at all?  By applying a shiny coat of paint, called type,  hype or personal preference, I’m sure that some could convince others that structural soundness was present.  That same analogy has been popping up in Dobermans for quite some time.  Too few people understand or for that matter bother to read the blueprint (standard) and too many have buckets of paint, glossing over the important stuff, bluffing their way along, intimidating those who know even less . . . painting everything in sight. The color is called type, hype or personal preference and it’s guaranteed to cover all faults in one coat.  It’s even accepted, as I said earlier, as an excuse for those that breed and exhibit Dobermans that are un-sound but are charismatic, showy, do tricks and back-flips for a piece of bait and ask for wins.

On a more serious note if we allow soundness, that which is so methodically outlined in the Doberman standard, to be circumvented  in the name of type, hype or personal preference, not only will we be acting irresponsibly but we could be culpable to contributing to the decimation of another breed of dog.  Today,  the Monks in New York are having to import their breeding stock to get correctly conformed Shepherds. Cockers can no longer go to field and Irish setters can’t even find the field. All this has happened because our judges are being influenced in the name of hyped/type which simply translates to personal preference.  We no longer require working dogs to be sound enough to work, sporting dogs agile enough to hunt or herding dogs balanced enough to herd.  If we don’t know how and we refuse to learn to read the blueprint (standard), if standard conforming Dobermans are of no interest to us, then we should go fly kites, collect baseball cards, become millionaires, be astronauts, captains of industries, whatever!  If those alternatives are of no interest and we must stay involved in Dobermans, please let’s spread as little of our “hyped/type” or “personal preference” as possible.

If you have only learned one thing from reading what I have written I would hope that it would be the following analogy:

The Doberman does have a type and it is manifested when we adhere to the Doberman standard. It’s not my type  nor your type nor his or her type it’s called proper breed type.  Once you’ve seen and understand the balance, symmetry and soundness of proper breed type you won’t settle for less.

“The DOBERMAN PINSCHER is a square, compact, medium size dog of balanced proportions, noble in it’s intent, courageous by nature and SOUND of mind, body and joints. If you should be so fortunate as to find two dogs possessing these nine traits then by all means break the tie with any of your personal preferences” .