Tuesday, October 28, 2008


We began this site thinking of readers here in the US, but we have developed a faithful following from all over the world for which we are eternally grateful. The dog fancy is truly a universal interest. One of our regular readers, Sofie Wilbraaten from Norway, writes suggesting we begin a discussion on the differences between purebred breeds here in the US and in Europe and the UK. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart. It’s also a subject that never fails to stir up a lively debate. We have seen some excellent European dogs here as well as at least one Asian dog. So everybody join in, but keep it civil ;-)

Ok, I write this blog, so I will go first. When I got into this game some 40 years ago, we in the US looked to the UK for the best examples of many breeds, virtually all the terriers, and several other breeds as well. While the British terriers were imported to improve soundness and type, I remember British Pekingese were more extreme (larger heads, flatter faces) than American examples of the breed. Later in the 1970s and 1980s German Rottweilers and German Shepherd Dogs were imported to improve substance and soundness.

CH Hjohoo's Best Wishes To Hjo

Just recently we have seen a couple of Swedish imports that I believe will be an important influence here, the beautiful Bedlington Terrier, CH Velvety Angel Eyes, and a fine example of my own breed, the Cairn Terrier, CH Hjohoo's Best Wishes To Hjo (Hjo is a town in Sweden and is pronounced “you”) bred by Swede Elisabeth Theodorsson, owned by Brazilians Mario Duarte & Victor Malzoni and shown here in America by Armando Morales.

CH Exl's Leather N Lace
Number One Cocker Spaniel in the US

As far as consistent differences between American dogs and British and European dogs. Here’s my own, very personal opinion. We have here in the US many talented professional handlers and many breed enthusiasts who are master groomers. As a group Americans like their dogs like their movie stars, not a hair out of place. This leads to extremes in grooming like the sun flower faced West Highland White Terriers or the walking dust mops that are American Cocker Spaniels. In many breeds, the standard set by Americans is what the rest of the world aspires to. You simply do not see poor examples of grooming in our Poodle, Maltese, or Pekingese rings. I do not mean to imply that dog fanciers outside the US are poor groomers, but that outside the US, a more natural look is generally preferred.

CH Camcrest Bebe Queen Of Trouble
Number One West Highland White Terrier in the US

Another characteristic, this one lamentable, is the tendency of American breeders to refine breeds to the point of losing sight of the breeds original purpose. Four examples, happily now in the past, were Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Vizla, and Irish Setters of the 1980s. In an attempt to achieve a racy, elegant silhouette, some of the highly regarded dogs of the era were overly refined and lacked the substance to do the job for which they were bred. I could cite specific examples, but on the advice of my attorneys, I won’t.

An excellent examle of a US Doberman Pinscher
BIS Winner CH Aquarius Garbo V Tiburon

Finally, as I have written before, radical animal rights groups have had an impact on British and European breeds. I fear that some of our breeds will either evolve to an unrecognizable version of the breed or disappear all together. The same people that clamor over the Walrus, one of God’s most awkward designs, would deprive us of the Pekingese we have lived with for thousands of years. But enough of my ramblings, let us hear the your opinions. We will print all responses, excepting those not suited for the eyes of my 77 year old mother, who is my most dedicated reader.


  1. I love Swedish Papillons. They don't look that much different than the ones here in the US but they have better bone and usually more color. I feel the US Papillon has become to fragile and you don't see many with lots of color. I love a Papillon with lots of bone and good color. It's sad to not see that around here anymore.

  2. Thanks for taking up my suggestion. I was maybe thinking of even more breeds that are not only groomed differently, but also bred to the degree that you'd hardly guess that it was the same breed. Take the sheltie for example. Looking at a photo of the top winning US sheltie versus the top winning UK sheltie - it's a huge difference! Same with the Goldens, they are in fact also groomed very, very differently, but there is also a difference in build and expression.

  3. I love this post. I have thought that in some breeds they simply can't compete with each other because the type is just so different. My big example is in Beagles, in the US we like a lighter boned and more cobby dog. In the UK, they can be an inch taller which makes them have more bone and some even move differently. Being a hound person I have to compare Foxhounds across different countries. The UK has several different types of English Foxhound that originate from various different lines, where as the ones showing in the US usually come from few lines and tend to be shorter and stockier than those in the UK. The ones that refined the breed almost to an extreme creation of angles would be the Australians. They have created an English Foxhound with so much rear angluation that it just doesn't seem possible to work in the field with that.

    I would love it if you would talk about the changes that the UK are making to several breed standards. One breed that is very near and dear to my heart, the Clumber Spaniel, is up for some changes.