Judges ... please be aware of the dangers of social media !

Dear Rottweiler Friends,

On the evening before the IFR World Championship IPO 2018,  so on the eve before we will celebrate the breed as a healthy utility breed, I was contacted by several Rottweiler lovers concerning photo’s that were recently published on social media.  

Some of these again show dogs with such extreme features that they can honestly no longer be judged under the FCI-standard.  There was even a video of a pup whose physical and genetic health may be questioned at first sight !   

As always, these photo’s and the video were “liked” by numerous people.   

I find this shocking.  I am sure the same is true for most of you and I sincerely hope that all social media-visitors realize that the people who publish and “like” those photo’s, are only a very small minority and are certainly not representative for the breed and its lovers !

I find this shocking, especially because of the recent amendment of the breed-standard that was exactly meant to stop this evolution that leads away from the breed’s definition !

I find this shocking, because I cannot believe that anyone who loves the breed or who loves dogs in general, would publish and “like” or applaud dogs that clearly do not comply to the definition of a healthy utility breed but whose health and/or fitness to function may very well be seriously affected !

I find it even more shocking to see that amongst those that “like” and in their comments explicitly applaud these dogs and such breeding, I find the names of judges, some even breed specialists who know better !

I find this shocking, because judges before all others must realise that they have an example function and that their behaviour in the ring but also on social media has a direct influence on the selection of breeding dogs and that when they promote such dogs for sale and/or breeding, that this is harmful for the breed and its future !    

We’ve all seen the worldwide impact of social media on the conformity of the breed … and we know that this impact is important but most certainly not always in the best interest of the breed, even to the contrary  !   We should all be aware of this and especially judges should realize that our behaviour and comments on public social media have consequences.

Yes, there is only one standard, one breed, only one Rottweiler … but if judges do not respect the breed in a homogeneous manner or if even after the recent amendment of the standard they still openly support deviations from the standard,  then I fear for the future of the breed.   It may then indeed – as was recently published in an article on the ADRK-website – be split in distinct breeds … !

The IFR abides to the FCI-breed standard.   Not respecting the standard, is in the context of the IFR not acceptable and I call out to all breeders and especially to all judges to respect and support the breed as defined in the standard and to take up their responsibility, including to no longer “like” or support deviations from the standard, not in the ring but also not on social media !!!

The IFR has become a lively and active Federation and with a strong support of its Member clubs, we are working towards regulations and tests that are meant to safeguard the breed’s mental and physical conformity and its genetic and physical health.   

Part of this, will be the creation and imputation of an international Breed Suitability Test. 

During these discussions, the question has already repeatedly risen to draw a limited list of specialist-judges who will be empowered to judge this test and at the same time to make sure that the list of judges on the IFR-website is limited to those who show to be supporting and knowledgeable about the FCI-standard and to exclude those who are openly calling out to breed or keep the Rottweiler in any other way … .

Do not misunderstand : it is not the Board’s intention to question any judge’s individual education / experience / knowledge / show-decisions nor to introduce censorship.     We don’t and we won’t !    That is not our task nor our competence !  

On the other hand, the IFR may and will not let itself and its instruments be (ab)used to support or recommend those who blatantly ignore the breed standard and/or the FCI-regulation  “dogs fit for their original function” or in other words those who are openly motivating people to buy, keep and breed dogs that deviate from the standard because of extreme features and/or dogs that show to be unhealthy or unfit to function … .  That, my friends, is just not acceptable !

Our intentions are to ensure that only healthy dogs, physically and mentally conform to the standard and with no extreme features,  are used for breeding.   And that, my friends, is a necessity !       

On behalf of the IFR-Board,

Dirk Vandecasteele