I wish Dave Emke were still on the job. Don't get me wrong. I wish him well in West Virginia, and I like Scott Shelters just fine. I would just like one teensy little conversation with Dave about capitalization of dog breed names.
I don't know if The Post-Journal uses a stylebook as a guideline. Many places do use an official stylebook, such as the Associated Press Stylebook that is sitting on my desk.
The AP book states, "Capitalize species of livestock, animals, fowl, etc., but lower case noun: Airedale, terrier, Percheron, horse; Hereford, whiteface, etc."
So, when I wrote about different breeds of dog a couple of weeks ago, Dave changed my spellings to conform to whatever stylebook he follows.
I follow the American Kennel Club spellings, which capitalizes all parts of a breed name. So, I typed Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Dave changed it to Rhodesian ridgeback. A Norwich Terrier became Norwich terrier.
I understand the point of the AP Stylebook, but I don't agree with it.
First, not all editors have a background in dogs. That's fine, until they start editing. As an example, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, in my column, became cardigan Welsh corgi, but "Cardigan" is a proper noun. It is the shortened version of "Cardiganshire," which is the region in Wales where this particular breed of dog originated. Cardigan, in this instance, is not a type of sweater.
An editor might also call a Doberman Pinscher a doberman pinscher, not realizing that the breed was named after Louis Dobermann. So, even by AP standards, it should at least be Doberman pinscher. The same is true of the Rottweiler, named for a specific region of Germany. Always capitalize, please.
A Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier should, according to the AP stylebook, read, soft-coated wheaten terrier. That could refer to any terrier which had the color coat called "wheaten" and whose coat was soft. A Scottish Terrier with an incorrect "soft" coat could be called a soft-coated wheaten terrier, which is not at all the same as a Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier.
And what about a West Highland White Terrier? The AP Stylebook says that regions should be capitalized but not general areas, "West Germany, but western North Dakota). The Highlands are a specific region, but is there also a specific region designated "West Highlands?" Should it be west Highland white terrier, or West Highland white terrier? I vote for West Highland White Terrier.
In some breeds, not capitalizing all parts of the name seems awkward. For instance, a Great Dane is a breed of dog. A great Dane could be Victor Borge. (His joke, not mine).
The AKC recognizes the Parson Russell Terrier. Would AP prefer parson Russell? AP capitalizes forms of address but as the dog is not a parson, and specifically not Parson Russell, who developed the breed, what then?
Would "parson" come under the AP definition of a "false title" and therefore remain in lower case? Would it be parson Russell terrier, or Parson Russell terrier? Another breed that presents a similar problem is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Should that be cavalier king Charles? The dog was named after King Charles, but in the breed, does "king" become a false title? And, if you type cavalier King Charles spaniel is there a chance that the reader will think that a King Charles spaniel has a cavalier attitude?
The official name of a particular herding dog is German Shepherd Dog. Capitalizing each word helps to make that clear. Saying German shepherd dog could refer to any German-bred herding dog. Or, a reader could wonder why the word "dog" was even included, as many people just say "German Shepherd," leaving off the last word of the breed's official name.
Exactly which part of this phrase is the breed name if I type petit basset griffon Vendeen? Would a person unfamiliar with the breed think that it was a petit "basset griffon Vendeen? Would a person realize that "petit" was part of the name? I, once again, vote for the AKC's choice of Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen.
Using only lower case, someone unfamiliar with dog breeds might envision a Labrador when reading the phrase, "flat-coated retriever" because technically, a Labrador Retriever has a flat coat. Capitalizing "Flat-Coated" lets you know this is not a generic term.
I'd be willing to concede lower case on "terrier," "spaniel" and "retriever" and I understand the paper having a specific style, but know that, however a breed name appears in this column, I capitalized Every Single Word.