What is Type?
- In conformation judging, health, temperament and performance aside, ‘type’ is the most important thing to identify and promote. In its most basic form ... if it doesn’t look like a German Shepherd Dog it isn’t a German Shepherd Dog.
- Whilst from an historical point of view we all know what we mean when we refer to type, most of us, me included, misuse the word ‘type’. We use the word 'typey' or 'very good type' as an all encompassing one word says it all description that states the dog is a very good reflection of the written standard. That not withstanding the vagaries contained within the standard and the odd bit of fine tuning here and there, what you have read in the standard is now standing in front of you.
- Grammatically speaking the word 'type' distinguishes one breed of dog from another and the word 'style' describes variations that occur within a breed. A dog may well be a dog of 'typey appearance' be it articulated as 'good type', 'very good type', 'excellent type', but other than the 'very rare occasion' one might encounter at a Specialty Show of seeing a dog that is not typey i.e ' not typical of the German Shepherd Dog breed' what is being seen is a ‘style’ of dog and the variations one sees in 'style' not in 'type' can be seen in the following collage of dogs who all comply with the description befitting the words 'good type' but they are of 'varying styles'.
- Type comes first and foremost and within 'type' there are 'styles' of dogs.
- The standard articulates the desired type using descriptive and to varying degrees, quantifiable words and terms, but because breed standards leave room for interpretation, and an example in the context of this subject are the words; ’high’ - ‘long’ - ’straight’ - ’gently curved’ - ’moderately long’ - 'slightly sloping', conformation show judging becomes highly subjective. Consequently the definition of breed type and its evolutionary direction also becomes subjective and that is why it is a mistake for anyone to believe judging in its broadest terms is objective, it isn't objective, and this why there are variations of opinion and placing of dogs in shows. The only area in the Specialist ring where there should be no variation is in the grading of exhibits and at Breed Survey in classification.
- 'Type' defines one breed of dog from another and 'style', a trend, defines one breed of dog from another.
- Type needs to be vigorously and jealously defended by the breeds primary guardians, the SV, because when type is altered it is generally irreversibly altered because it becomes normalised, and when it becomes normalised it becomes desired.