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  Articles - Standards and athletic capacity

Standards and athletic capacity

Working capacity and athleticism are not limited by show standards.

However if we look at breeds like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (SBT), the original standard (from 1935) dictated a more athletic build as seen in the light of the original type of work than does the revised standard. Bear in mind that the original standard already described the heavy type of Bull & Terrier, and that further revisions have further exagerated that heavy build.

Another aspect that plays within the SBT is should a dog be a typical stafford? Often dogs that resemble more to the old standard than the current revised one, are nowadays classified as atypical by many SBT-owners. We would rather look at it from the complete opposite viewpoint: are dogs deviated too such an extent from the original standard as are the SBTs that are typical under the revised standard, typical for the original = the real SBT?

Moreover athletic dogs that have the proper height to weight ratio of the original standard, but exceed the original standards height up to 8 cms of height are typically seen as non-typical standards of the original type, whereas SBTs that closer fit the height to weight ratio of the revised standard than that of the original standard are seen as typical original type SBTs. We would rather look at it from a performance viewpoint, and would not harshly look at additional height especially as this additional height comes with the original height to weight ratio. The very heavy build South African line of SBT for example would fit in the original standards height range but would strongly deviate from the height/weight ratio of the original and even revised standard.

Athleticism is the sum of the following parts:
I. heart/lung function: the capacity to supply the body with blood and of special importance: oxygen.
II. mind set and persistence: the willingness, concentration/focus and drive to maximize the potential of (I) and to do so consistently and during prolonged, intense timelapses if needed to.
III. supporting build: sufficient length in the snout (for amongst others the optimized functioning of the uvula), minimal natural muscle construction (very important: allowing flexibility, long muscle build if necessary for the intended performance), a deep, semi-narrow chest offering ample room to accomodate the optimal set op lungs to further support the blood/air flow as mentioned under I.

Although presented as three parts, it has to be noted that they function as a indissolable whole (the sum of interacting parts is more than that of the parts when not interacting).

These three parts are universal for all athletic purposes, regardless of the intended performance.

The intended performance can further prefer a deviation in build. Three examples will be briefly mentioned. Example 1 hunt: a terrier should be small enough to enter the den of it's prey, a lurcher should be fast enough to cease fleeing prey on the 'open' field, e.g. foxes or hares, etc. Example 2 blood sports: these sports are weight-dependend (kinda like our boxing weight classes: super fly weight, fly weight, heavy weight etc.), thus a 'ratter' should be as light as possible to do his job and a dog for the dog pit would also need to be at his optimal weight and conditioning to avoid being pitted out of his league (performance-wise; not weight-wise) against a dog of optimal power for it's weight. Example 3 weight pulling: again power to weight is crucial, the performance is related to the relative amount of weight that can be pulled (e.g. a small dog (5 kg) pulling 300 times his own weight = 1500 kg will win from a gigantic dog (80 kg) that pulls only 200 times his own weight = 16,000 kg), of course the big dog can still qualify for most weight pulled that day (a class that is often regardless of the dog's own weight).

Although some tweaking can be done to optimalize these three parts, an optimal working dog was gifted with a high degree of natural ability. Furthermore, the chance that a dog has these abilities is greatly improved if his parents (and his parents' parents, etc.) had these abilities. Working dogs are often the result of generation on generation of careful selection. A magnificent dog with strong athletic capabilities without the necessary parents backing this dog up, can be a magnificent specimen in it's own right but not the quality one would seek in breeding stock for working lines. This concept is often hard to grasp for the novice, let alone outsiders. Often novices use their dog of questionable pedigree to start their attemps at an 'atlethic'/ 'working' line/ breeding program, with a lot of dissapointment along the road.


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Standards and Athletic Capacity


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