The first thing that would-be judges of the Cesky Terrier often learn is that the breed originates with a cross between Scottish and Sealyham Terriers. But as a judge of the breed, that fact is completely irrelevant; even more, it is totally misleading.
Most of the required features of the two constituent breeds are undesirable in the Cesky Terrier. This is a ‘manufactured’ breed, designed to fulfil three specific criteria - a terrier suitable for hunting in the Bohemian forests; an attractive and easily prepared show dog; an obedient and loyal family companion.
Many Czech breeders regard the working ability of their Cesky Terriers to be of paramount importance and the Standard, designed to guide the show-ring exhibitor and judge, is equally important for the working terrier in the field.
When judging, keep the ideal ‘small, slim and elegant’ in mind. Small is, of course, relative - what is small to a Great Dane, for example, might look quite large to a Chihuahua! So we need to expand the concept to ‘small enough....’ easily to go to ground.
In the field, the Cesky Terrier is an all-purpose hunter, tracking game (usually wild boar, sometimes deer) and baying to attract the hunter’s attention when the quarry is cornered, retrieving shot rabbits and birds, as well as going to ground against fox and badger (the East European badger being somewhat smaller than its British counterpart). Any terrier which is destined to go to ground must have a comparatively small, easily compressed rib-cage, and the Cesky Terrier is no different. The ideal chest circumference is given as between 40 and 45cm. The FCI Standard makes a chest circumference of more than 50cm a disqualifying fault, and it is common to see judges checking this with a tape measure.
The Cesky Terrier should never appear cloddy or heavy, the ideal weight for a dog being 8kg, with bitches slightly lighter. He stands a little higher on the leg than either of his forebears, and is much more flexible and agile - able to twist and turn to evade both the fox below ground and the wild boar in the forest. For the same reason he must be slim in build, not too wide across the chest, and with smooth muscle, well-laid shoulders and well-angulated hindquarters, and a reasonable length of loin (which should nevertheless be strong and muscular) - all of which will assist him when moving around underground, as indeed will his large front feet with their well-developed pads and strong nails.
The Cesky Terrier needs a good length of muzzle with large teeth set into a strong jaw. Missing incisors can be a problem. This is a serious fault and one that should be taken into consideration when planning a breeding programme but there are, at present, probably more serious issues to be addressed in the UK with regard to overall type, and perhaps judges should consider rewarding correct type before penalising a good terrier for a missing tooth. The FCI Standard allows both scissor and level bite as equally acceptable, and the latter is quite often seen. The strong jaw should be ccombined with a neck of sufficient strength and length to enable the Cesky Terrier to pick up and carry game with ease. He needs a good spring of rib to provide ample room for heart and lungs - this is a dog who must survive in difficult conditions underground, where he must dig, twist, push and pull, and at the same time also have the stamina to go across rough terrain all day, tracking through undergrowth, up hill and down into the valleys, keeping up with his master for hours on end. His elbows should be slightly loose, to help his short legs push earth out of his path underground, but this should not be apparent when he is stacked.
Although the points of the Standard are important in the consideration as a working terrier, working ability per se cannot be judged in the show ring. Horák was as interested in showing as in working his terriers, and it was for this reason that he took the decision to breed for a soft coat that could be easily prepared for the show ring by clipping rather than handstripping.
Coat texture is very important. The Cesky Terrier must have a silky coat with a metallic sheen and a slight wave. Cottony, woolly, wiry and frizzy are all incorrect. Grooming and presentation should enhance the terrier, giving it the elegance which is so desirable in the show ring. However, this must never be overdone; the Cesky Terrier should not give the impression of a trimmed terrier breed, rather an understated, natural look is required. Over-profuse furnishings should be penalised, as the outline of the dog must never be obscured.
When judging any breed, it is the overall outline that gives the first impression of an exhibit. The Cesky Terrier’s outline is quite distinctive, with an elegant curve from the head, through the neck and over the arched loin to the low-carried tail. The FCI Standard is far more detailed than that of the KC, specifically with regard to the topline (‘not straight, because loins and rump are always moderately arched. Hip bones often slightly higher than withers.’). It also gives ideal measurements for both dogs and bitches. The overall appearance is rectangular, with a moderate length of back. The Cesky Terrier is slightly taller and a little longer in the back than its Scottie and Sealyham ancestors, but it must never have proportions similar to those of a Dandie Dinmont.
Whilst temperament as such is not evaluated in the show ring, it is helpful for the judge to bear in mind the temperament clause of the Standard. Both FCI and KC Standards are quite clear - the Cesky Terrier is a non-aggressive, cheerful companion, but somewhat reserved towards strangers.
Form follows function
is a phrase well worth remembering with regard to judging any working animal, and is especially true of the Cesky Terrier. It would be tempting for exhibitors to go down the road of glamour and presentation in the show ring, encouraging flowing skirts, stringing up the exhibits to flatten the topline, then racing round the ring with front feet barely touching the ground. The more sparsely coated terrier, moving freely on a loose lead, may not be so immediately eye-catching, but has his own quiet elegance. This is the breed as it has been entrusted to us by Mr Horák and his fellow Czech breeders. We have no mandate to ‘improve’ it to suit our own ideas of what is required in a show dog.
© Sheila Atter
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