A leading all breeds judge and breeder disscuses show dogs coats. Just as some boys are crazy about football, cricket, swimming or other sports, Jimmy Mitchell at the age of 11 years was crazy about dogs. So much so that his first, 10/- pocket money was invested in a Smooth Fox Terrier. The bug has remained constant ever since. The age of 22 found him judging at the smaller English shows in company with Personalities whose names have become famous throughout the dog world. To mention a few, J:W: Marples, Tom Scott, Mac Donald Daly; Joe Braddon, Alex Mutrray James Garrow, John Benyon and many, many, more. Owning or handing during his show career about 25 different breeds brought him innumerable best-in-show and over 4,000 first prizes. In 1953, he came to New Zealand and since then would probably have judged more shows than any other judge, including a section of the first N.Z. National. He has visited Australia four times and has judged, among his other shows, a Brisbane Royal. This article was written immediately before he returned to New Zealand recently after juding Four P’s,Mainly all Breeds Kennel Club and the Corgi Club of N.S.W. Championship show. in which there were 320 Corgis entered. Still as fanatical as ever at the age of 51, he spends all his spare time reading, trimming, walking and living dogs.
No one part of any dog plays such an important part in the show ring as coat. All of us who have taken part in shows, whether as exhibitors or judges, realise the importance of it. The dog that is in poor coat the dog that lacks coat, the dog with the wrong texture of coat and the dog that is losing his coat all pay the price when final decision are made by the judge. The honest exhibitor will accept without murmur the decision that a dog is out of coat. Where a dog is normally carrying a good coat of correct texture the remedy is obvious. We either leave the dog at home until the coat is right again or take a gamble that our competitors exhibits are at a similar disadvantage.This kind of coat is usually only a matter of how long one is prepared to wait or how clever the exhibitor is in pulling out and making the new coat grows. Dogs with short coats are at the decided advantage here, as usually the new coat will be making an apperance while the old one is disapperaing. In Dachshunds recently the writer treated a dog that was pratically bald with a home made ointment and the dog was in full coat within fortnight.Had the dog been of such a breed as a collie the same effect would have probably taken three months. The affected parts would have been shaven and the length of the coat required so much longer.
The dog that normally carries poor coat is a different proportion. In many breeds the dog that look from the ringside to be certain winner is a source of disappointment to the judge, Many breeds of Terrier that should carry a hard coat appear in the ring with coats like silk. What a pleasure it is to read a critique that says: “Had a real wire coat”, Terriers that were bred for going to ground are useless without the real hardness and density of coat. Again, we find the correct top coat but no undercoat in breeds that require one. It is impossible to have a real weather-resisting coat without a good dense undercoat. One has Only to work gun dogs to learn, just how important it is. Just as important is the rule that, if your breed requires an under coat leave the comb out of his grooming programme as much as possible. If you must use a comb for this type of breed make sure it is a wide toothed one. A poor coat can come under several headings – poor in texture, poor in length and, of course, Poor in colour.
Texture is a hard thing to improve. Certainly a new coat can be better than the old, but texture’s a thing that either you have or you haven’t, Poor in length is a different matter. Climate is probably the dominating factor here, but some strains seem to do better than others wherever they are and the writer is convinced that coats are bred. It is possible to increase the length of coats in certain breeds and many kennels have their own secret preparations, but the fact remains that, all given the same treatment some dog’s coats respond more quickly than others, and some respond at all. It is certain that a dog must be in first-class condition to have a good coat , and the use of a balanced diet is of major importance. Colour in coat is a different kettle of fish, altogether. In the normal channels of dog breeding, one breeds for it, and here we talk if dogs or bitches that throw good colour. We have talked with breeders who claim to have used secret preparations to richen colours. Frankly as a judge, I have found many of these to be external and not all of them are moisture proof. Colour breeding is a study for the genetic student and forms another fascinating side of breeding. In breeds like the Scottish Terrier it is a fact that are generally harder than blacks, so that colour does play its part in texture.
Generally speaking, the owner of any dog can help considerably to improve appearance. Grooming plays a very important part, and we have yet to find the peer to elbow grease. Every kennel has its own private recipe the brush, the houndglove, a piece of velvet, etc. The writter is convinced that above all the dog must be fit, and fitness comes from feeding correct and balanced feeding, for without it all exercise and grooming, etc., are wasted. If you are about to start in any breed. whether a novice or not, it pays to make sure you buy stock from a line that carries good coats and the time spent will be amply repaid by your successes in the ring. This applies absolutely in toy breeds where so many points are allowed for coat that if your exhibit has a bad one it is almost impossible to go to the top.
Questions – Answers
Question: What factors in a dog’s diet have the most important effect on coat?
Answer: Some breeders have attempted to improve coat by administering special doses of one or more of the above compounds to their dogs. Sometimes this has resulted in a temporary improvement to the coat. However this type of treatment can be very dangerous in that it can upset the overall balance of a dog’s digestive system and result in reducing the general health to a point where it is difficult to bring back again.
It can be said that with confidence that are best administered in the form of a balanced formula which contains both vitamins and minerals. This boosts the dog’s condition in every respect and improvement in the coat follows naturally.
The importance of the correct level and type of fats in the diet is recognised by all authorties, Individual dogs will have different demands for fats. If a dog is on a well-balanced dry food containing say, 9 per cent, of fat; than it is not difficult to increase the amount of fat given to him in a controlled fashion should you find that improves with extra fat. This extra fat might be given in the form of full cream milk, lard, dripping; tallow or even vegetable fats margarine, etc. However it is most important that you should know how much extra fat you are giving to your dog so that you know what yields the best results. Control of the amount of fat is very diffcult if meat is the main diet, as the fat content of meat can vary by over 25 per cent.
The new expanded type of dog food has a great advantage in being able to provide an exact percentage of fat which is ideal for the average dog. In the older type of kibble this fat content was casually very low and had always been subjected to high baking tempratures. In the meal type of food it was customary for the fat content to vary widely according to the sound of the meat used in its prepration.
A complete range of amino acids is again best ensured by feeding a scientifically prepared food which has been processed by the modern pressure cooking and expanding method which has been not destroy delicate protein.
Question: How important is the effect of external parasites and how are they best treated?
Answer: A very important factor affecting coat condition is the effect of parasites – ticks, fleas, lice; mange and the various fugus disorders. In the extreme case of such disorders the coat will be very patchy, eczema may break out (e.g., “red itch”), fungus complaints may cause bald patches, etc. In lesser cases where the coat may merely be affected to the point where it, is of a poor standard and lack lustre. for most breeds this problem is countered best by washing with a combination of shampoo and insecticide. The detergent, in the shampoo penetrates the coat and makes the insecticide work more effectively on the surface of the dog’s skin. The presence of a fungistat in such a preparation is also important. It should also include lanolion or some other oil, as this soothes the skin as well as giving a sheen to a coat. There are also preprations available which contain oils and fats that can be applied to coats of dogs which suffer from abnormally dry hair. In some cases this treatment will result in marked improvements. Nor some breeds , such as wired haired, washing can effect the firmness of the coat, and is to be avoided. However, such coats still need cleaning and protection from parasites. A dry shampoo powder containing both indectisides and fungistat will give the best result here. It is recognised by most authorities that over 90 per cent of skin problem are caused by parasites, and a dog with a skin problem cannot grow his best coat. Thus the use of an effective insectiside plus fungistat is essential.