How many times have you seen the proud owner or the puffed breeder parade their favored muse and proclaim "My dog was bred to course hares" or "hunt badgers" or "flush birds" and you look at the primped and preened speciman and think "That??!"
Well guess what? You're probably right. Most of todays purebreds were not bred to do anything, other than look upbeat and pretty when they're led around a show ring. In fact, in many cases it's quite likely the sturdy little terrier with the ferocious bark couldn't even fit down a badger hole if he wanted to.
Livestock Judging Handbook by Julius E. Nordby, M.S,Agr (University of Idaho), W. Malcolm Beeson, Ph.D (Purdue University) and David L. Fourt, M.S.Agr (University of Idaho).
In a further consideration of utility type in draft horses it is of value to note carefully what Wayne Dinsmore, Secretary, The Horse and Mule Association of America, has recently found concerning type in the farm horse. This discussion is the result of a carefully conducted and extensive survey among farmers of twelve midwestern states, in which their choice is expressed with respect to the qualities that should prevail in the ideal farm work horse.
To get these facts and other information about horse and mule breeding, a trained horseman was sent on a trip which took him to [these twelve midwestern states]. ..[T]he route traversed was usually a mile or more away from paved highways, and the farmers interviewed were not selected, but 'run of the mine' farmers, taken as they came.
...[T]the farmer was asked: 'Have you a horse (or mule) that just suits you?' Where the answer was in the affirmative, the horse or mule was led out and ...accurately measured.
So this is the definitive test. Take those that best do the work (function), document their size and shape, and derive the standard (form).
Is there any better method for determining what a dog "bred to ...(fill in the blank)..." should look like?
So the only remaining question is, are there enough dogs left doing the work to get a good sampling? For some jobs, there probably are. For others, the only thing to do is set the record straight.
"That dog was bred to prance around the showring looking upbeat and pretty."