|©2005 Ms D E Ashdown
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This template depicts a handsome, striking Red Sable/White Papillon which is very slightly longer in body than height at shoulder, (but not by much.) He has a beautiful, flowing, correct coat The head markings are identical in each drawing - the only change is in the body markings. Some versions show a darker red sable and white colouring, some a lighter shade. This template is intended to demonstrate flattering and unflattering markings, and the optical illusions some markings can create.
Another purpose of this - as with many templates in the Complete Illustrated Standard - is to stimulate discussion and thinking. You may not agree that these 9 versions of the same template do create the illusions we have described in the text. You may think they create quite different impressions on the eye. What is certain is that the some of the 9 versions look very different from some of the others.
All types of body markings are acceptable, according to all four Standards. This sequence of drawings simply compares some markings with others and invites comparisons from the reader and viewer. Optical illusions are a reality, and sometimes need to be overcome in order to appreciate a dog on its real merits. Ideally, they are overcome very quickly.
A shows the dog without any body markings at all, just the head marking with its full white blaze and white muzzle. You might think he looks square, or even a little tall. This is an optical illusion caused by the total lack of body colour.
B shows a marking which is very flattering to any dog, of any breed, whether he has a good neck and shoulders (as this dog has) or whether he has a short neck and stuffy shoulders. This is the "shawl" marking, which more or less follows the outline of the shoulder placement and which is also very glamorous and showy. In this version, the white collar is relatively narrow.
In C the "shawl" marking is, if anything, even more flattering for it descends to the brisket most gracefully, and the neck, lacking the red sable patch behind the head, forms a full, wide ,white collar.
Note how, in B and C, the very shadings of the sable colour - essentially black tips on a base colour - add to the pretty effect of the "shawl"
D is a version showing a "blanket" body marking. Here, the patch of colour begins at the shoulder and extends right to the base of the tail. The colour also descends to the full extent of the dog's undercarriage featherings and to the same level down his right hind leg. This probably is not anyone's favourite marking, as it gives the impression of a big, oblong patch planted on the side of the dog. But this does not matter particularly - what matters is that the topline appears to rise from shoulder to root of tail. In fact, it does not - it is the red sable marking that rises up.
E is quite a dark dog, this deep, rich red sable colour is most dramatic. The dog's markings are nicely balanced and he has a flattering narrow white collar. The point of this version, however, is that the sable marking stretches almost to the full extent of the chest hair (frill) then falls away steeply in a right angle. This marking, combined with the patch of colour on the hindquarters, creates the impression that the dog is rather longer than he actually is (compare with A) On the other hand, his good neck and shoulders are drawn attention to far more effectively than A.
F is patched very irregularly. It is the long, narrow band of colour on his hindquarters that makes him look rather unbalanced, however, since the markings on his forequarters are well broken up.
G looks rather too high on the leg, solely because all the body colour is concentrated upon the upper half of his body. To add to the effect, he does not have a white collar - the sable colouring continues relentlessly from his head to his tail.
H is similar, but these markings look much better on first impression, because the dog has a white collar and because he is lighter in colouring. In addition H's sable markings occupy a smaller area of his body. Many a dog has been unfairly penalised in the ring through the combination of heavy blanket markings and a very dark colour, because the combination creates an optical illusion of size. In other words, not only will he stand out like a sore thumb against his more lightly-marked competitors, he will look bigger (even if he is not).
I looks very similar indeed to D. The difference is that although the big, broad sable patch is evenly finished on his hindquarters, descending harmoniously to the ground, the jagged, irregular edges at his shoulders and chest give the impression that he is out at elbow.
I is only one example of markings that give the wrong impression of a dog's construction; we could have gone on almost indefinitely on this theme. Markings are sometimes the bane, and sometimes the delight, of all breeders and exhibitors of patched dogs.