All cavies are liable to carry faults of a general nature, mainly due to genetics, health and owner care or the lack of it. If a cavy has an extra toe (due to genetics), has a case of scours (health) or is a bag of bones (owner care), then they are unlikely to go far on the show bench. These points apply equally to Agoutis as to all other breeds. But this short article is more concerned with faults against the Agouti Standard.
So what constitutes a fault against the standard? If the standard states:- rich, even and short, faults (by varying degrees) would be:- poor, uneven and long. I intend to outline the faults in the main sections, which are more commonly encountered.
To start with Colour, this for ease of description breaks down into three sub-sections, the ticking colour, under shaft colour and the belly. There are only four colours of ticking, golden, silver, lemon and orange.
The Golden Agouti is seen most often, their most common fault is being too light in colour. The desired deep rich colour is all too often absent and replaced with a poorer pale colour. Sometimes to the extent that they are not golden at all.
The lemon coloured ticking of the Cream and Lemon Agoutis is usually nearer a desired shade, however the main colour fault here, especially in the Lemon Agouti is the shaft under colour, which is often only a deep grey instead of black.
Chocolate Agoutis also suffer from shaft under colour, which is often nearer milk chocolate than the standards stated rich deep chocolate.
Silver Agoutis usually get nearer the standard, colour-wise, but sometimes the shaft colour is on the pale side.
Cinnamon Agoutis vary in shaft undercolour a bit, but it is harder to define true cinnamon. One person's ideal might well differ from another. They often seem too light for quite another reason -long ticking.
Belly colour faults on nearly all Agoutis are too light and uneven. The unevenness is usually a too light upper belly (this is below the chest and under the front legs). Some cases rubbing is the fault, often causing a streaky appearance.
The Ticking Section, the highest pointed in our standard and not surprisingly lots of faults come under this title. Ticking should be as crisp and even as is possible over all areas. Ticking which is too long, especially over the shoulders gives a too light effect. If it is uneven, the fault is patchiness, if it is sparse or absent from the feet (more often from the front pair), then they get the dark feet fault. Worst faults however are too light feet, another being uneven feet, both these faults are down to ticking. Eye circles and light chests, two very common faults are down to the absence or near absence of ticking in these areas, as are the often encountered eye flashes. It must be said here the faults such as eye circles and flashes are usually more prevalent on youngsters, before the heads have finished. If these faults persist into adulthood, you have got trouble! Ticking is a very important section of the standard, only nicely ticked pigs do all the winning on the show bench!
Now we come to the Coat and Condition Section. I will start with the coat. Most common fault here by far is too long. In most cases the non-removal of the guard hairs are to blame. This fault also spoils the overall look of the ticking because the long solid coloured guard hairs will mask the ticking in places. However removing the guard hairs unevenly will create a patchy looking top, also a fault. The evenness of the top is sometimes spoilt by a coat break, where for some reason a patch of hair is missing. Even where re-growth of the missing hair is under way, the effect of unevenness can still be seen and judges will usually term this fault as an “old break in coat”.
Our next fault could be included in the colour section, but I thought it fits quite well here. It is odd coloured hairs in the coat that are not ticked. Very often these are white but providing these are few and far between they are minor faults. Coats that are too coarse in texture are a fault. A short and silky coat is the desired quality. A grubby and sticky coat is also a fault. Boars in particular often suffer from active grease glands giving a sticky rear to the coat if not cleaned off.
Regards the condition of the Agouti, big fit pigs are a joy to behold. Skinny ones, baggy types and those that are as soft as water beds are going to suffer on the show bench. The same fate will befall cavies with dodgy eyes, runny noses and ears. It is common sense to only show fit pigs if you are going to exhibit!
There are further faults but I have tried to outline the most common. Let us hope those reading this article will be better equipped to recognise faults on Agoutis and do their best to help eradicate or at least lessen them.