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KC Group Judges’ Development Programmes
are alive and well!

Candidates assessing the Scottish Terrier

The Group Judges’ Development Programme concept has come a long way since it was started in November 2000 by the terrier group, writes Ferelith Somerfield. Since that time all of the other six groups have followed suit and now every group has its own programme in full swing.

During these four years many terrier people, some already passed to judge the group and others who awarded CCs in three terrier breeds, have had the opportunity to hear breed experts explain the fundamentals of breed type, balance and soundness, demonstrating these with carefully chosen `models`. They have then had the chance to go over dogs, discuss their virtues and faults, and generally demonstrate their own knowledge of the breed. They have also taken part in discussions involving problems facing some of the breeds in the terrier group.

As a result of careful assessments many of those taking part have achieved credit passes and a good number of breed clubs, realising the importance of these training programmes, have placed those successful on their own judging lists. This means that we are now able to see them coming through the system to award CCs.

Pleased with the way the programme is now going forward in all the groups the Kennel Club is allowing those who have achieved credit passes to judge more than three classes at open shows in the breeds concerned even if they are not on a breed club B list. This is easing the task of societies looking for new eligible judges and gives the judges more opportunity of hands-on experience in the show-ring. Further, those who achieve credit passes also get special consideration by the Kennel Club when their names come forward to award CCs.

These are positive steps forward to ensure that, despite falling breed entries at open shows, the group judges of the future have a good working knowledge of all the breeds within the group. It must be admitted that in the past many of the owners felt themselves to be at a considerable disadvantage when competing in a group judged by someone who only awarded CCs in, say, three not very dissimilar breeds.

Now that the terrier people are going through the breeds for the second time it has been decided to take another idea on board. This is occasionally to invite an overseas expert to talk on his, or her, breed. This was tried for the first time on August 11 when Dan Ericsson from Sweden talked about the Scottish Terrier helped with slides and a number of winning dogs and bitches kindly loaned for the day. Dan was generous with his praise for the good points but did not pull his punches when it came to faults, and certainly no one should have left without knowing exactly what constituted good type in his eyes. A teacher himself, he held his audience throughout which is perhaps why there were not too many questions.


A number of people took advantage of the Kennel Club`s recent decision to allow championship show best-in-show judges to attend these group judges development programmes, to come and hear Dan speak, while people who judge another group and give two sets of CCs in terriers may also join in.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the terrier group is that people who are already passed to award CCs or who already have credit passes are still coming back to attend the sessions. This provides a particularly strong discussion group. The terrier group organisers now also write to the senior breed clubs to invite them to submit items of particular concern to them so that they can be discussed by the group.

While it was in no way obligatory to take the assessment which followed Mr Ericsson’s talk, 12 people did and eight passed, five with credit.

Peter Winfield showed his dedication to the scheme by working hard for its success despite the fact that he was moving house the next day. Helen Reaney, the group’s administrator, was as efficient as usual, while we are fortunate that KC chairman Ronnie Irving is as enthusiastic about the programme as he was when he dreamed it up over five years ago.

The next session for the terrier group programme is planned for Tuesday and Wednesday, November 3 and 4 when two of the breeds to be covered will be Skyes and Dandie Dinmonts.

Much has been written about the problem of the shortage of younger competent British group judges across all of the groups. At the same time breeds and breed clubs quite rightly want to ensure that those who judge their breed are competent to do so. With this balancing act in mind, the Kennel Club has created the Judges’ Development Programme system and it is to be hoped that this approach will prove successful for the future of the world of dogs in the UK.

If the enthusiasm displayed at the recent Scottish Terrier workshop is typical of the programmes generally, the system is alive and well and will indeed prove to be a great success.