How often have you heard or read the Holy Grail statement from a dog breeder?
A breed standard is a word description of what the ideal dog of that breed looks like. It is an attempt to describe "perfection."
And the phrase that keeps it relevant... "The perfect dog has never been bred"?
Is there enough purpose to breeding if your dogs don't perform any function? All that time and money wasted on ... nothing? Effort, determination and expense must be justified by something. Nature abhors a vacuum. If there is no purpose to be found, a Holy Grail can be substituted.
In the article The Functional Saluki, Dan Belkin stated "So, I must add that not only is a Saluki a dog that looks like a Saluki, but also a dog that works like a Saluki".
You can, of course, substitute any dog breed for 'Saluki' in that statement. Mr. Belkin's article deconstructs the myth that a standard will describe the dog that works best. Indeed, at most a standard can only describe the dog that "looks" best.
So here's the question. When the original creators of a breeds' standardwrote their description of their breed, were they really trying to describe the "ideal" specimen of that breed? Or were they merely putting enough description to paper to distinguish their creation from their neighbors creation on the next farm?
Mr Belkin opined that standard drafters looked at a lot of dogs doing a certain task, and said "this is what a dog doing this job should look like". In other words, a general description of the features that could identify a "good" working dog for whatever purpose.
If a standard was really created to describe the ideal speciman, and the "perfect dog" has never been bred, why do standards change? Are the breeders admitting defeat? Or are they proving the theory of the Holy Grail... Looks are always subject to fashion and fashion changes; the Holy Grail must remain desireable therefore, the descriptions of the perfect dog must change to meet the fashions?