Standards and Stonehenge
John Henry Walsh invented the Kennel Club "standard" -- cookie cutter judging based on a series of arbitrary points compiled by folks who may not have even owned any of the dogs they were writing a "standard" for.
Walsh was editor of The Field magazine, and wrote for that publication under the pseudonym of ‘Stonehenge.’
In 1867, a scant eight years after the first formal dog show, Walsh published The Dogs of the British Islands, in which he and several friends set out to to detail the physical attributes of various breeds, and to assign various "points" to these features so that the dogs could be judged in a systematic way from show to show.
Walsh's point system (along wih the eugenics theories of Francis Galton) served as the backbone and architectural model of the Kennel Club point system which is used to judge dogs in the ring, and on the bench, to this day.
Yet, here's a question: Do these show-ring standards actually tell us anything about the dogs in question?
For example, without resorting to a search engine, can you even tell what breed of dog this is?
And how, exactly, are the attributes of this breed different from other breeds of a similar type?
Other than guessing, how do you know that this dog is definitively a "This" rather than dedinitively a "That?"
And if standards are so damn important and immutable, why has every canine standard been changed at least once?
Long and narrow, fairly wide between the ears, scarcely perceptible stop, little or no development of nasal sinuses, good length of muzzle, which should be powerful without coarseness. Teeth very strong and even in front.
Small and fine in texture, thrown back and folded, except when excited, when they are semi-pricked.
Dark, bright, intelligent, indicating spirit.
Long, muscular, without throatiness, slightly arched, and widening gradually into the shoulder.
Placed as obliquely as possible, muscular without being loaded.
Perfectly straight, set well into the shoulders, neither turned in nor out, pasterns strong.
Deep, and as wide as consistent with speed, fairly well-sprung ribs.
Muscular and broad.
Good depth of muscle, well arched, well cut up in the flanks.
Long, very muscular and powerful, wide and well let down, well-bent stifles. Hocks well bent and rather close to ground, wide but straight fore and aft.
Hard and close, rather more hare than catfeet, well knuckled up with good strong claws.
Long, fine and tapering with a slight upward curve.
Short, smooth and firm in texture.
Dogs, 65 to 70 pounds; bitches 60 to 65 pounds