This section is from the book "Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors", by Neville Lytton. Also available from Amazon: Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors: Including The History And Management Of Toy Spaniels, Pekingese, Japanese, And Pomeranians.
A dog of the right type, however badly blemished or mismarked, ought always to win over a dog of the wrong type. This should be a fundamental principle in judging. A dog of the wrong type is worse than no dog at all.
First prizes must be withheld from bad dogs. This is another fundamental principle, but one which requires great fortitude to carry out. I have seen so many bad dogs used at stud, on the strength of wins in classes where they were the only entries, that I feel that a stand should be made against misleading victories of this kind (though it would be sure to be most unpopular).
I have for years inveighed against the modern type and scale of points, and on October 16, 1908, I wrote an article in The Kennel expressing yet stronger criticisms on the exaggerations and deformities of the present day. Some weeks later Mrs. Jenkins also wrote to The Kennel, expressing the same views as myself, which surprised me considerably, as we had always held entirely opposite opinions.
Mrs. Jenkins wrote of noselessness as one of "Nature's deformities/' and yet she was among the first to take the lead as judge in giving prominence to the most abnormal of the noseless types. When a judging scale gives too great a proportion of points to any one part of a dog, it is clear that dogs will win on abnormalities of that part, and I think that revision is advisable for any scale which can be made an argument to support an abnormal type admittedly against a judge's better judgment.
Nature has a great horror of inefficiency and deformity, and this abhorrence is necessary to the soundness of the race, but can only operate where there is no artificial preservation of that which is unfit and unsound.
The cult of beauty and strength and the natural attraction towards them and the preference even of animals for them (especially for the latter quality), are Nature's provision for the selection of the fittest parents for the best offspring in all departments of life. Any delight in weakness, unfitness, and ugliness is a morbid perversion of natural instincts which should be sternly discouraged among all live-stock breeders. Nature ruthlessly destroys the weaklings, the weeds, and the failures. The conditions of life are too uncompromising, and they die. The modern man preserves them at infinite trouble and expense, and offers prizes for them on the show bench. He breeds from individuals which would never naturally breed, which are too small, too feeble, or too deformed to propagate their species in a natural condition, and, moreover, often have a violent aversion in doing so. This is a grievous mistake, and our inbred deformed and artificial dogs are visited, as a consequence of their artificiality, by ghastly diseases like the "Black Death" distemper which are themselves almost "artificial" in virulence, and which, I venture to think, would not have existed at all had our pet stock been less inbred and unsound.
Remember that Nature will not be entirely frustrated, and when thwarted in one direction, kills off the obnoxious productions of human skill in some unforeseen way, and generally does it with a blind, wholesale lavishness by which a large proportion of the healthy and strong are carried off as well.
On the other hand we must not try and make the Toy Spaniel into a police dog. He is in his nature an ornamental object, like a rare flower or piece of china. We do not require him as a rat killer, and if he is ugly his point is entirely gone. The contempt of prettiness which is the pride of the average Englishman may be all very well in choosing a hunter, but it is out of place in judging a lady's pet. I have known sporting judges in a variety class refuse to look at the Toy Spaniels in it, saying they hated the useless little things. A second-rate Bulldog or a third-rate Collie will always be preferred to a first-class Blenheim, were he the best that ever lived. This is not the right spirit in which to judge variety classes. Honestly speaking, I think variety classes are absurd. There is not one man in five hundred thousand who is an equally good judge of all the breeds that come before him.
I myself feel thoroughly capable of judging all Toy Spaniels, and am equally familiar with Japanese, Pekingese, and Pomeranians, but I should be very sorry indeed to have to judge Airedales or Bobtail Sheep dogs.
If, however, I had to judge a variety class I certainly should not consider it right to turn my back on the unfamiliar varieties, saying, "I hate the great, clumsy things." The less one knows of a breed the more attention one should give to it, so as, if possible, to make up by observation and comparison for lack of experience. A judge's own particular fancy in breeds ought not to bias him in variety classes.
A contempt of beauty and elegance runs through most of modern sporting life. Take two animals of about equal intrinsic merit, one pretty and the other useful looking, and the man who judges them will go for the ugly one as sure as fate. He is so afraid of being misled by prettiness that he feels safer that way, and says to himself :
"If I have made a mistake, at any rate no one can say that I have been taken in by meretricious and superficial charm."
To discover hidden merits and astonish the novice is a common ambition. I have recently seen several judges report on Toy Spaniels as "too toyish." One might as well complain of a cat for being too " pussy-ish." If you are judging toys, the more "toyish" they are, the better. I do not consider that any man should lay down the points of a lady's toy. The man who knows the special requirements of a lady's pet is just about as rare as the man who understands needlework or lace. Most modern men have an innate impatience of useless beauty, and will unconsciously infuse an element of good, useful plainness into any pretty, useless dog. The only time where this comes in well is in the matter of soundness, which many ladies left to themselves are apt to overlook. I am speaking here of the average judge, but there are, of course, geniuses of both sexes.