Saturday, January 11, 2020
“What is the best stack for each breed? And why are they stacked a certain way?” -MH
This is a “there is a general rule and then there are the exceptions” kind of question. Most breeds are at a slight angle (we joke and call it a ⅞ on occasion) so you have an overall look at the dog, all four legs, both eyes, both ears and the tail are all visible. Having the ears alert and mouth shut are also common. Small dogs on a table or ramp allows the photo to center on the dog, when you put a small dog on the ground and then stand you are going to have a hard time with this and many of our older judges cannot kneel beside you. Large dogs can be shot on the podium at the back drop but the largest should not be as it often is too short for a Great Dane or Mastiff to stretch out properly.
Now for the exceptions, and the why for each:
Three breeds are “three legged stools.” The Pug, French Bulldog and Bulldog They should show two front legs, and the camera side rear. The camera side front should "hide" the exhibitor side rear. These are small “head breeds” and this has become the standard format to exhibit this.
The German Shepherd prefers full profile or slight profile with off camera (handler) side rear leg flat to the ground.
Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes prefer a full profile, this gives the appearance of one ear, one eye, two legs and tail. Much of this preference was set in the 1980’s by specific dogs.
There are many breeds that need a strong 3/4. Most of these are seen as the larger head breeds but, unlike the smaller dogs mentioned earlier, all 4 legs/feet should be visible. Bull Mastiffs, Mastiffs, St. Bernards, American Staffordshire Terriers (and other “bully” terriers), Collies, Belgians, etc.
Ears and Mouths are again general, Ears “up” and mouths closed is the preference over all but some breeds or “groups” of breeds prefer different looks. Setters, Spaniels, and Scent hounds are generally ears down. There are exceptions to every rule! Some Clumber Spaniels prefer ears up, Dachshunds should have their ears up certain sighthounds (Borzoi, Irish Wolfhounds, and Scottish Deerhounds) prefer ears down for various reasons. Great Pyrenese, Bulldogs, and Old English Sheepdogs are all also breeds that tend to prefer ears down on their dogs (my sister used to chant Pyrs no ears when going into photograph them to remember not to throw a toy). Mouths shut is at around 90% German Shepherds, many of the Belgian breeds, Keeshonden, and Samoyeds prefer the mouth open for a “smile” or to give a more massive muzzle look to the dog.
All of this is subjective and should be open to adjustment for your dog. Does your whippet have a bad ear set? Or even “coursing” ears when that toy flies? Tell the photographer no ears! Want the mouth shut on your bulldog or want to show off your dog has correct ears? Ask for it! On hot days sometimes we aren’t going to get the mouth shut. There are days at outdoor shows it seems the only dogs I can get to shut their mouths are the ones who shouldn't!
No dog is perfect. Want to make it a little closer to that though for the photo? Consider changing up what is normal! Your dog is usually a profile breed, but your dog is long or even short? Add some angle, it will give the appearance that the length is from the angle. Soft rear? Angle, strong front? Angle. The pics you are getting not to your liking? Flip the usual and go the opposite of usual. Even try backwards if your markings call for it!
So, breed determines the "standard" way it is done, but each dog should be taken to its advantage. Don’t get stuck in “this is the way it should be done;” but listen to your photographer because they are at the camera and the professional! I have over 35 years breeding, showing and photographing dogs. I promise you I want to take the best photo of your dog possible in the time available!
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