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Standards Go to the Dogs at Westminster Kennel Club Show

New York, Feb 18, 2010

February 16 marked the 134th Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Dogs, their handlers, and animal lovers gathered to see who would be best in show, as voluntary consensus standards stood by to help pet owners nationwide.

Dogs in this and other professional competitions are judged on both appearance and personality. Handlers pay careful attention to their dog’s coat for these shows, assuring that it is well cleaned, cut, and brushed. In order to get the perfect shine and style, many will even blow dry the hair of dogs like Shih Tzus and Lhasa Apsos, who have longer fur. Fortunately, International Standards for hair appliances assure that these tools do not present a hazard. IEC 60335-2-23 Ed. 5.1 b:2008, Household and similar electrical appliances - Safety - Part 2-23: Particular requirements for appliances for skin or hair care, deals with the safety of electric appliances for the care of skin or hair of persons or animals.

Breed Standards: What’s in a Name?

Voluntary consensus standards like those highlighted in this article make life safer and easier for dogs and owners alike, whether your pooch is a Westminster champion or a prize-winning couch potato.

But for the thousands of Americans who breed and show dogs, a different kind of standard takes center stage. Breed standards cover a dog’s externally observable qualities such as appearance, gait, and behavior. Neither scientific nor technical, breed standards are written by breed clubs for their own specific requirements and are approved by the national kennel club – in the U.S., the American Kennel Club (AKC). To read breed standards for all of the AKC recognized breeds, click here.

This standard was developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Committee (TC) 61, Safety of household and similar electrical appliances. Secretariat duties for TC 61 are performed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a member and audited designator of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). UL also serves as the U.S. National Committee (USNC)–approved U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator to TC 61, carrying U.S. positions forward to the committee.

Those watching the show from the stadium-style seating in Madison Square Garden may not be able to feel how smooth the dogs’ coats are, but they can still follow the action thanks to commentators. The insights of commentators, often professionals in the dog handling and breeding industry themselves, are broadcast throughout the Garden with the help of standards for microphones. IEC 60268-4 Ed. 3.0 en:2004, Sound system equipment - Part 4: Microphones, was developed by IEC TC 100, Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment. This TC is chaired by Mark Hyman of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), also an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, is the USNC-approved Technical Advisory Group (TAG) administrator to IEC TC 100.

Some standards are helpful to all dog owners, whether pooches are purebred or lovable mutts. Guidelines for effective vacuum cleaners are a lifesaver for those cleaning up after pups that shed frequently. ASTM F2609-07, Standard Test Method for Litter-Cleaning Effectiveness of Vacuum Cleaners, applies specifically to materials like pet or human hair that cling to the surface of carpets. This standard was developed by ASTM International, an ANSI member and audited designator.

As any dog owner can attest, muddy paws and shedding fur make a high-quality washing machine a necessity. An American National Standard from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, provides technical means to compare and evaluate how well different brands and models of household clothes washers perform. ANSI/AHAM HLW-1-2007, Performance Evaluation Procedures for Household Clothes Washers, helps consumers to select machines that are up to the task at hand – or at paw.

In the end, the best in show medal went to Sadie, a Scottish terrier with a winning personality and a shiny coat to match. Thanks to voluntary consensus standards for safe and effective pet care, animal lovers everywhere are enjoying the companionship and joy that dogs bring to a home.

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