A breed standard is an essential tool that serves as a blueprint and outlines the ideal characteristics for each dog breed. They help dog show judges and breeders select the best possible breed representation and ensure that the most distinguishing features and traits are preserved and produced into each following generation. For example, even breeds that are incredibly similar, like the Belgian Malinois and the Belgian Malinois Tervuren (Tur-Veer-N), have distinguishing attributes that make them unique. So, breed standards are used to ensure that the animals produced by a breeder conform to the specifics of the breed, and are suitable for the function it was bred: herding, tracking, hunting, and many more.
So, how were breed standards created? And why are they important?
The History of Breed Standards
Dogs weren’t always just kept as life companions, as they are for many people today. People owned dogs to help get work done, like on farms. If they weren’t for work, they were usually status symbols for the wealthy. The love of showing off these symbols is what led to dog shows.
The first dog show was held in England in 1859, and was only open to gun dogs, like Pointers and Setters. Needing standards in order to judge the dogs, organizations like kennel clubs were founded to document and create those standards. These organizations became official establishments for a variety of dog-related services, products, and resources for both dog owners and breeders. Continental Kennel Club is proud to be one of those official organizations.
Historically speaking, individual clubs created breed standards for their respective breeds, and larger all-breed clubs honored them in their all-breed shows and field trials. This allowed for future breeders and competitors to preserve a dog’s working ability and standardize dog shows.
We hope this information helped you understand breed standards, their purpose, and some of the history that led to their creation. Follow along in this series to further your understanding of breed standards and learn about breed type in the next video.