Maremma Sheepdog breeder / Maremmano Abruzzese
TMC / charactertest
TMC in Italy, Orvieto 19th February 2011
On February 19th the reintroduction of the TMC was on schedule in Italy. I don’t know if TMC means anything to you. So let me refresh your memory. In 2002 the Italian Kennelclub (enci) gave the Italian breedclub (cpma) permission to oblige dogs to do this TMC (test-morfologico-caratteriale) in order to become Italian Champion. TMC would be translated into English as BMT, behavioral and morphological test. This test is so interesting, because in order to participate a dog must have x-raid hips with A or B as a result. A and B refer to the FCI qualifications and would be comparable to the British system 0-10 hipscore for A and 11-25 for B. The reason for the obligation of the TMC was the idea that also or especially champion dogs, that are used frequently in breeding programms need to have a pleasant character and good hips. Something that in the past years had not always been the case.
Of course not every breeder was happy with the obligation to pass this test, as they saw Italian championship titles going to other dogs instead of their own dogs. So in 2007 the Kennelclub abolished the test and made it applicable only for Campione Sociale, or clubchampion. Now, 4 years later, the breedclub reintroduced the test: at the end of October the clubshow to compete for the Campione Sociale is planned.
Some other development that plays a role in organizing the TMC is the possibility Enci offers to breeders to enter their dog as ‘riproduzione selezionata’, or selected breeding. Apparently also Italy has difficulty in distinguishing between good and badly bred puppies. I have not yet come across any regulations regarding the well-being of the bitch/dog, let alone regulations regarding inbreeding reduction, as we have in Holland now a days. But Enci decided this TMC is compulsory for dogs that want to become riprodutore selezionato. In order to make the difference visible, also to the public, the pedigree of puppies from these dogs will get a different color. And of course there are breeders who would like to distinguish themselves from the others, and informed about entering their dog as ripodutore selezionato. So one more reason for the cmpa to organize this test.
How does the test work?
The TMC consists of 2 parts, the behavioral part and the morphological part. There are 2 judges, for each part there is a different judge. The behavioral test was done, and has always been done by Mr Bonannno, the morphological test used to be done by Mr Paolo Damiani, the president of the circolo, but this year it was Mr Gigi D’Alessio, one of the vice-presidents, who performed the task. First the behavioral test is carried out, then the morphological test.
The behavioral test contains of 3 parts.
The first part tries to see if the dog is well socialized and how he behaves with people. First they check the tattoo or microchip. Then a group of volunteers is gathering around and the dog on leash accompanied by its owner walk towards the group. The judge greets the owner and they shake hands. Then the owner with his dog walk through the group of people. After that the owner stands still and the group walks in a circle towards owner and dog and close in on them. Of course the dog should not show any fear or aggression during this procedure.
The second part is what they call a visual stimulus. In this case some agility equipment was placed on the premises, and some flags were attached under a ‘bridge’. The flags are waving in the wind. The owner and his dog have to pass these waving flags. Again the dog should not show any fear.
The third part is a sound stimulus. Owner and dog continue to walk on and at a distance of 20-30 meters a gun shot is fired. Of course the dog is allowed to show some reaction, but in this case it is important how much time it takes the dog to recover from his fright. So he may not show any overanxiety or extreme fear.
At the morphological part the dog is completely measured: height at the withers, body length, circumference of the chest, length of the muzzle is compared to the skull with some kind of ingenious device. They also weight the dogs. The judge gives his judgement about every single part of the dog as it is mentioned in the breedstandard. Actually quit comparable to a judgement at a normal show, but far more extensive and everything is written down
Working ability is not yet a part of the test. The Maremma Sheepdog is a working dog, that is he is/was bred and used to guard the sheep. The possibility for the Maremma to work diminishes, as also in Italy sheep-farming is loosing interest. Only a very small part of the dogs are still used as working dog with the sheep, although some breeders do keep some sheep. To see how the Maremma Sheepdog of today will react to sheep, they are considering the possibility to make this reaction to sheep become part of the test. Of course there is still a dispute to whether this part of the test would be useful: then what’s the point in knowing if a Maremma gets along with sheep, if he seldom will be in contact with them, being a companion dog. Apart from that, also the judgement of the behavior plays a role: sheep are accustomed to ‘their’ dogs, and dogs are accustomed to ‘their’ herd. An other dog or other sheep can create a wrong pictures of the working ability of the dog.
Despite that there were some sheep present, so people could on a voluntary basis see how their dog would react. The sheep were on a fenced bit of grass, and the ones who did go to the sheep, soon noticed that neither sheep, nor dogs were very interested in each other; they ignored each other completely.
23 dogs were entered, 10 males and 13 females. 1 dog did not pass the test, because he was found too small. Of 22 dogs 14 were HD A, and so 8 were HD B. Of 12 dogs also the elbows were tested, 10 had grade 0, and 2 had grade 1.
Remarkable may be that the behavioral test did not give any problems for the dogs, while as the measuring at the morphological part seemed to cause a lot more problems, with dogs having their tail between the legs, cringe and one bitch even managed to escape.
Unfortunately the results do not say whether a dog got excellent or very good. But I heard a lot of the dogs got an excellent for the morphological part. Further details can be found at the website of the cpma, www.cpma.it and then click on TMC. Who is curious which dogs will go to the clubshow for the Campione Sociale can go to Grosetto on October 30, where (the) three specialist judges Mr Damiani, D’Allesio and Allemand will decide who will become the first Campione Sociale.
© March 2011 E. Jagtenberg