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Conformation of a Chinchilla is the overall shape. Ideally, Chinchillas that are bred or purchased should be graded for Confirmation. There are three main areas for examining conformation, these being the body, neck and the head. I hope that the following information will prove useful when choosing partners for your breeding stock or when entering a show. However, just because an animal may have a good or an excellent conformation, this does not necessarily mean that it will do well at a show, other characteristics have to be taken into consideration, for example – fur color, fur density, cleanliness etc… Try to work with your animals, picking out the points that need to be improved and looking for these qualities in other animals, then breeding the two animals together to try to improve. Do not think, however, that you can work miracles overnight, building up your Chinchillas so that they have good or excellent conformation can take a long time. I feel it important to mention, however, that in my opinion Chinchillas with poor conformation are not suitable for showing or for breeding anything other than pet Chinchillas.
Ideally, you are looking for an animal that when you look down upon it, it is shaped like a ball. Also, you want the animal to have the size to go with the confirmation whenever possible.
|EXCELLENT||Is an animal with a short, round evenly shaped body.|
|GOOD||The animal will be more oval in shape. This shape is caused by a narrower chest and front quarters. It is often referred to as egg-shaped, having a little longer body structure.|
|FAIR||This animal would tend to be longer and more narrow in shape.|
|POOR||Is a narrow animal with a very shallow chest, which appears to be pinched from in front of the hips to the front quarters.|
The length and the density of the fur of the Chinchilla determines the neck conformation. It is possible for an animal to have a high roach or ruff and still be poorly furred in the neck if there is excess fat in the area.
|EXCELLENT||The neck shall be very short and full. The fur must be dense enough to reach behind the ears and break when the animal moves. The ideal neck should be of a blocky conformation with outstanding density, thereby forcing the fur to stand higher.|
|GOOD||Will be reasonably short and full, creating a virtual straight line from the ears back to the rump. There may be a slight dip, but there must be sufficient length of fur to avoid the dip becoming pronounced.|
|FAIR||In this case, the neck is longer, and the fur is usually thinner and shorter. When viewing the animal from the side a definite dip in the neck area can be observed.|
|POOR||Is a neck that is long and shallow with little fur behind the ears. When viewing from the side, the dip is plain to see, and the fur on the neck area tends to be short and thin.|
When looking to purchase a Chinchilla never come away with an animal with a ‘rat’ like face. Try to always go for a squashed looking face and the wider apart the eyes, the better; this shows how broad the head is.
|EXCELLENT||The animal should have a short and broad head with a short ear and a full arched crown. Upon examination of the animal, the eyes will appear to be deep-set and the nose blunt and square.|
|GOOD||The ears are slightly longer, but the face still falls under the short and broad class. The eyes may appear to be slightly closer and the nose a little longer. A good head usually lacks the full arched crown found in an excellent animal.|
|FAIR||Is one with a medium to long ear and a wedged or triangular shaped face.|
|POOR||Is a chinchilla with a medium to long ear, a very narrow, pointed face with little width between the eyes and the ears. When examined from the front, a very narrow triangle can be imagined using the ears, eyes a, d nose as guideposts. The face is definately ratty in appearance and lacks beauty.|
You can try grading your own animals for conformation by use of the above information. I also use a point system with my own animals. Animals that get POOR on any of the three categories do not get a point, but if FAIR is achieved they score one point, for GOOD allow two points and for EXCELLENT award three points on each category scored. Then add them up and work out the animals conformation score out of the nine points available.