Fri, 07/28/2023 - 7:38pm

Question of the Week

Given the improvement of nutrition for growth in dog food, should size and weight disqualifications be adjusted for the times?


Leslie Earl

Davis, California

A resounding NO. Breeds were developed for one or more tasks, and their size DQs reflect that purpose. Better nutrition is lovely, but doesn’t change the optimal requirements for breeds to perform their original purpose.


Harry Bennett

Jacksonville, Florida

For G-d’s sake, NO! Weight most often governs proportion of bone to size, and height is governed moreso by genes. Please use our own species as a reference!

(And that was my short answer. You know there’s a long one.)


Linda Tilka

Madeira Beach, Florida

No. Our breed standards have been formulated for the breed, not for the new and improved formulas of dog food.


Sue Bauman 

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

There are specific reasons why there is a weight or height disqualification. In some breeds, such as Dalmatians, height requirements are considered due to the job they were bred for. Good nutrition should not be used in determining whether the breed’s height or weight requirements should be changed.


Kendall Herr 

Gainesville, Texas

The quality of the nutrition in dog food has changed the health and overall size and weight in many breeds. In my breed, the Labrador Retriever, the weight suggestion in our standard is way off the true weight of most Labradors today. With better nutrition, good bone, muscle and body condition, the dogs weigh a lot more than the old suggested weights.

In the Labrador Retriever, the disqualifications for height do nothing to improve the quality of the dogs. Labradors are used for many different jobs and hunting situations, and a variety of height is needed to fit the situation in which the dogs are used. Also, when breeders see the dogs becoming too large or too small, they adjust the breeding program to improve the situation, as they do to work on correcting any fault. Disqualifying an otherwise beautiful dog with proper type and structure for half an inch off the height standard to leave lesser-quality dogs in the ring does not make sense.


Andrew Green

Readington Township, New Jersey

No. Adjust the amount of food you’re feeding! And monitor that as your puppy goes forward. Not the standard!


Peggy Kotin

Boothbay, Maine

I am not sure they should be. Particular breeds of dogs were bred to do a particular kind of work and along with that came the breed standard, including size and weight, that made it optimal for that line of work or job. 

I understand that we as humans always try to “improve,” but breeding bigger and bulkier doesn’t make dogs better at their original job. If indeed that job has disappeared and we no longer care, then we should do away with standards and breed cute, “exotic” or “designer” dogs.


Randy Mcateer

Ocala, Florida

No. Size and weight on any breed, whether a DQ or preferred, was and are dependent on the job that breed is supposed to do. 

How can anything you feed be used to change that job?

I believe EVERY breed should have height disqualification to ensure the integrity of the breed.


Richard F. Sedlack 

Middlefield, Ohio

Eat all your vegetables and you'll grow big and strong. We all heard it, but it didn't happen unless genetically you were going to be big. A better food gives a healthier life; however, it does not change genetics. Find the cause for oversize dogs in your pedigrees, not your dog food. 


Steven L. Klein

Laveen, Arizona

No. To allow bigger dogs would be changing the standard to what is being bred, rather than breeding to the standard.
It would take away the function or purpose for which the dog is bred. Increase in size and/or weight alone is not a good justification for changing a standard. When it can be shown that increasing size and/or weight will benefit the breed, then a change could be warranted. 


John Behan

Tucker, Georgia

Size and weight requirements should ABSOLUTELY NOT be adjusted to compensate for supposed/assumed improvements in dog-food nutrition. Size and weight requirements in the AKC breed standards for breeds that have occupational demands in their standards are all about the "work" required of the dogs.

As an example: If the natural bounty (available food) is minimal for a fox in a particular year, it is a given of nature that the underground tunnels and dens will be smaller. A 22-pound Border Terrier male (this is more than 40 percent larger than the top of the standard weight advisement for Border Terriers) is going to have MAJOR problems pursuing a fox in the tunnels. The 17.4-pound Border Terrier (10 percent above the top of the standard weight advisement — to cover the "in hard working condition" caveat — is going to pursue the fox in the tunnel with tremendous more success.

The problems with oversized dogs fall completely on neglectful breeders. In nearly every breed, there are very fine examples of appropriately sized specimens. Considering these dogs and bitches, along with proper temperament, and the other critical components of each standard, should be pursued in each breeder’s "breeding priorities." Appropriate size MUST be a "top-five priority" for ALL breeds with occupational requirements.  


Allison Alexander

Sidney, British Columbia, Canada

While I don’t have the answer to this question, I cannot wait to see what is submitted. I have thought a lot about humans and how each generation is taller than the last and how that same science could be affecting dogs. Great question.


Shawn Brown

Grass Valley, California

As a long-time Toy exhibitor, small-hound exhibitor and now judge, I would NOT be in favor of changing standards to allow for larger and heavier dogs. The entire concept of a "preservation breeder" is to maintain the breed to perform the function of its original purpose. A Toy dog of 15 to 20 pounds, or larger, hardly seems like a comfortable lap companion. A small hound of medium size will NOT be as efficient in the field, and that advantage will be lost. I believe we, as stewards of our standards, MUST strive to maintain the very qualities that make each individual breed a distinct and useful form of that breed.


Jay Phinizy

Acworth, New Hampshire

No. Otherwise, why have a standard?


Virginia Rowland

Templeton, Massachusetts 

No. The standards of my two breeds — Frenchies and Bullmastiffs — specify maximum weights. For Frenchies, over 28 pounds is a disqualification. Male Bullmastiffs are supposed to weigh between 110 and 130 pounds. Many are heavier, I know, but the bigger they get, the more Mastiff-like they become. Breeders should breed/select for dogs that will conform to what the standard says. 


Wendy Willhauck

Port St Lucie, Florida

Absolutely not! A breeder’s responsibility is to adhere to the breed standard, not to change the standard to fit the dog.


Wyoma Clouss

Meridian, Idaho

No: Miniature Schnauzers have already increased size, so that by 1934, when they entered AKC, 14 inches was the limit. 

As one of three Schnauzer breeds, the Miniatures must keep their size distinction from the larger Standard Schnauzer they resemble. Our breed disqualifies for less than 12 inches or over 14 inches at the withers, regardless of age or sex.  

When a lovely Mini, most often a boy, heads oversize — it’s heartbreaking, and can be tempting to try to slip by. So we ask judges to please, please, measure if they have any question. Use the official AKC wicket, and review their wicket video.  

I’ve watched ringside when very nice and legal-size dogs have walked because the judge seemed reluctant to call for the wicket. I’ve measured dogs I thought were too big but actually they measured in, and dogs who appeared legal but had to be DQd as over the 14-inch limit.   

Yes, size is the breeder’s and exhibitor’s responsibility, but that lovely show prospect can be so tempting. We really do appreciate judges who measure when a Mini appears either too big or too small. And the judge may be doing an exhibitor a real favor by shutting down the gossipers that a particular special is “huge” (a favorite snipe by some). Nope, actually it’s not!

Delores Burkholder

Rockton, Illinois

No, disqualifications should not be changed for weight or size. DQs are a part of the breed standards. They are in the standards as part of the characteristics of the breed. 


Janice M. Leonard

Denver, Colorado

No. Even with better nutrition, we still produce plenty of dogs that are within the DQs for the breed. It is about genetics and selection of who to breed and why. Our job is to preserve these breeds, not re-create them.



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