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Judging methods in the spotlight

JUDGES FAILING in their duties towards exhibits and exhibitors when selecting their winners have been the target this week of KC Chairman, Ronnie Irving, who has stressed again the importance of judging to type, whilst keeping in mind any obvious signs or exaggerations which may be detrimental to a dog’s health.

In his From the Chairman column in this month’s Kennel Gazette, he states that it is not just novice judges who stray from the rules whilst going over exhibits, but that it also applied to some well established judges who, he said, ‘may need to consider whether their judging technique enabled them to consider the whole dog.’

The recent conference of group judges at the KC’s venue in Stoneleigh earlier this year highlighted certain flaws in the judging of some breeds, including the fact that it had become the norm in some toy breeds for judges not to bother looking in the mouths of many of the dogs under them. The ‘vast majority of those present thought this to be a ridiculous situation and one which should be strongly discouraged,’ he said.

KC Accredited trainers, including toy experts, always give the advice that judges should examine dogs’ mouths to ensure they have good, clean and healthy teeth, and that they also have the correct bite. His article continued: ‘No one is promoting the fanatical tooth counting that obsesses judges in some countries - but the consensus here in the UK seems to be that judges must, as part of their task, make sure that dogs have a good head of reasonable sized teeth in good order, no matter what breed they are judging.’


The fact that this had come to light at all led to the KC Health and Welfare Strategy group examining other aspects of judging, including checks on how judges went about their tasks. In some breeds, Mr Irving said, dogs were not handled on a loose lead but were instead ‘stacked’, with their tails held up and stood in a pre-set position. His feelings were that judges should spend more time moving these dogs to get a better picture of the dogs’ true outlines. He continues: ‘In other breeds, such as german Shepherd Dogs, and in other countries, may judges scarely, if ever, watch the dog moving directly away and so totally ignore the wek cow hocks commonly seen.’

He also stressed that an idea would be to move prospective winners at the end of the class, to make absolutely sure there was no evidence of lameness before prizes were awarded. He said he himself felt amazed how few judges checked movement properly before awarding a CC of BOB.

Double handling

Double handling also came under question. Though prevalent in many countries, he pointed out that over here it was not a consideration, and though uncommon, it could also create a situation where the judge’s ability to assess normal conformation and movement could be severely impaired, not to mention the fact that it tended to over-excite the dogs.

Mr Irving continued: ‘Obviously any judge has to look for a combination of breed type and soundness, but all should remember that every Standard has it in the following statements: ‘Judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental to the health, welfare or soundness of the breed. Anydeparture from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.’
Judges should also be mindful of not being carried away by a desire to concentrate on a limited number of breed characteristics when making their decisions, they need to consider the whole dog, something which is now being clearly stressed by KC Accredited Trainers.

He suggested seeking the views of senior judges at some point in the future, in order to move things further forward.

OUR DOGS spoke to a KC Evaluator, a breed specialist whose job it is to judge the judges, who is invited to shows without the judge being aware. he told us: ‘Given that judging dogs is relatively subjective, albeit within the parameters of a KC Breed Standard, it can be difficult to justify criticism of judges’ decisions.

‘Failings in procedure, thoroughness, and excessive time taken to examine exhibits etc., are of course a totally different matter as they are more ‘black and white’ so to speak.

‘I have to say that on the few occasions where I have heard of assessors submitting critical reports I am told that no action appears to have been taken and the judges involved appear to continue to award Challenge Certificates.’

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Yes when people are paying  £30 to £50 a dog to be judged the judge should at least know the breed standard,some judges dont even watch the dogs move, i've seen dogs picked that limp all the way round ring because of who is showing the dog, many exhibitors are getting tired of this blatant favortism and a lot will soon be packing it in ..

ddb exhibitor ...

Hi , I agree with the above £30 £ 40 per dog and some times Ii have three in show .... it isn't right... I've seen dogs in the ring being judged , by "judges" with conflicting interest i've seen dogs so small from the breed standard winning why ? As above as said becauce of who is on the end of the lead it isnt fair. It is the dog who is in for exhibit not the handler ...
so what's the answer . My was to stop showing......

dog exibitor

Double handling although prevalent in many countries" he pointed out "that over here it was not a consideration". These comments fail to grasp the serious issue of exhibitors leaving our GSD show scene because of the KC stance on double handling at our GSD Breed Shows. Their "zero tolerance" on double handling is killing the enjoyment of showing a GSD. The GSD will not walk around alert and interested without some stimulous, they are far too intelligent to simply walk or gait in circles without stimulus. It's about time the KC allowed our breed club shows to prepare and adopt a "code of practice" for double handling.
The GSD is not a "dimwit breed" like many of the other breeds.

David Payne

Attended this show as an interested spectator with a particular interest in the GSD. I thought the judge on the day was noticeably biased and did not even attempt to check all the dogs that were put in front of him. He appeared to have his own agenda and if I was to suggest that he was only looking for his "friends" dogs to win would I be far from the mark ??
If an exhibitor has paid the relevant entry fee then that person should be entitled to having the dog looked at - professionally !!
I am not sure how many of the GSD exhibited were scrutinised to meet the various breed standards for their particular class and I was disappointed to see that the dogs put in for judging were not all subjected to the same scrutiny, some were not even looked at. 
My other main point of this show was that the judge for the Dobermanns acted in a very unprofessional manner when trying to get into a fight with members of the GSD spectator groups. More like a village fete than a top show.
The lingering thought I came away from the show with was that the Judges were not professional and that there was a definite bias towards certain breeders. A comment being raised amongst the GSD exhibitors was that the judge awarded the CC winner to a breeder whose premises he frequents on a daily basis. Now it "may" have been the best but there is also a thing called "coincidence" !! 
My own take on the question of judging is that you enter a dog and it is the opinion of the judge on the day whether or not your dog was good enough. Take the medicine and get on with it - however when questions are being asked by all the exhibitors then ......
Dog Lover

Another point with judges is why do they always have to give tickets to people who also give tickets. Having been showing for many many years it does seem to be getting worst. Irish terriers is sooooo noticeable it is no wonder the numbers are dropping like a stone. At a show in May the judge gave the tickets and res's to his friends and a ticket giver. Some of the exhibitors had wrote down the results once they saw the catalouge and before judging. All were right in what they wrote. This is going on in this breed all the time and good dogs are being knocked down because of it. 

Why oh why cant some thing be done about this. Money is short nowadays and folks will not pay for a judge to be dishonest.

J Pratt