Reflections on the breed standard

Over almost 40 years of recognition of the Norwegian Forest breed, there has been an ongoing debate about “Which is better?” During this time, the breed standard, written and adopted initially, was imperceptibly changed, and not only on paper but also in the minds of people – judges and breeders. Changes in the standard of Norwegian forest cats are closely related to the development and popularity of related breeds – Maine Coons and Siberian cats. When the Maine-kun breed became more and more popular in the 80-90s of the 20th century, judges began to pay attention to the Norwegian face, and the worst ratings were given to animals with a square muzzle and wide cheeks. That is, there was a marked desire to emphasize the differences between the two breeds.

Interestingly, with a change in the appearance of the breed (without changing the standard in writing), the definition “in the old type” appears in each breed. After a while, both “types” appear at exhibitions simultaneously. Unfortunately, it happens that the judges and breeders selected changes in the form of the breed, relating to one trait, entail the same changes and other traits. And so it turned out that Norwegians with a shorter, rounded head or with square cheeks began to be considered “old-type”, but they mostly have a large, strong body, which is still a desirable feature of the NFO. It is characteristic that such animals come from the oldest Norwegian “families”. But for cats in the “new type” with longer heads, the right triangle was lost. As a result, the breeders returned to breeding cats with a strong physique,

In the mid-90s of the last century, NFOs appeared with a long (having the form more isosceles triangle than equilateral) with head, flat forehead and expressive protrusion in front of cheekbones (the so-called pinch). This was very worrying for many breeders: nobody wanted a Norwegian with lightweight bones, a flat forehead, and a long head, which some called the “snake” (or TGV – with a hint of the French express rail, because such cats were most often born in France). That is why in 1998 a seminar was held in Horby in Sweden, where 10 groups of Breeders (more than 80 people) described their ideal Norwegian forest cat. They discussed separately the fur, body, tail, ears, eyes, expression, as well as the general appearance of the cat. After several days, each group presented the results, on the basis of which the overall result was worked out, which led to the introduction in 1999 of changes to the standard.

I would note that the Norwegian Forest Standards for the WCF system are also vague and unspecific, which allows judges to interpret some points, let’s say, in their own way. The shape of the head, ear-set (someone wants to see it high, like Maine-coon, someone, on the contrary, is wider, closer to the Siberian girl) and so on. Next, I give the Norwegian Forest breed standard according to the WCF system.

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