WSS Hands-On Handling

Collar On? Collar Off?

I think everyone knows my feeling by now. I am a definite pro- collar off person. I dislike seeing a Welsh presented with the handler using the collar as a means to hold the head up. I do, however, recognize that there are times when keeping the collar on are necessary. My argument is that most handlers do not recognize the picture they are creating. If the judge requests you keep the collar on, or you are concerned about removing the collar on the dog, then place the collar in the small indentation between the head and the neck, leave it there and continue holding the head as you would without the collar. I really don't understand where this trend started. Perhaps, some people saw professional handlers doing it, the pros won and the owners copied the pros.

If you hold the head up by using the collar, you are more inclined to:

  • Pull the nose up and the skull down because the dog doesn't want to lean on the collar. This causes the dog to lose the blend of the head into the neck and the arch of neck.
  • Bunch up the skin behind the back skull, creating a harsh expression on your dog or making the head look too broad.
  • Cause the dog to look throaty because the neck skin is caught up in the collar.
  • Peg the tail. I don't know why this phenomenon occurs, but it is the rare handler who can hold a head up by the collar and still keep the tail level with the topline.

If you want to show your dog by using the collar, then I recommend you practice the proper way to do it. Make sure your dog is comfortable with the collar and will stand either with his nose down so that the neck line is maintained or, better yet, with his nose level as if the collar isn't there. Make sure you do not bunch up any skin around the collar. And practice keeping the tail level by keeping you left hand low. If your right hand is higher because you are holding the collar up, then your left hand naturally tends to drift upwards also. You are showing a Welsh Springer not a Welsh Terrier. Do what is correct for the breed not what is the fashion of the day.


Don't pull the collar up and forward!
Don't catch the throat skin up in the collar!


Don't cover the foreface your fingers!
Don't have your hands all over the back skull!


Keep the collar back in the natural indentation between head and neck while keeping the throat clean.


Gently hold the head with your right hand. If you need to steady the dog keep your left hand inconspicuous.


The Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America, Inc. is a sanctioned and recognized member club of the AKC.



The Amrican Kennel Club