Fri, 05/19/2023 - 11:29pm

My Opinion, and I Am Sticking To It!

Johnny Shoemaker argues for a measured approach to breed disqualifications

Some people may not like what I am going to write in this article, and it is their right to think any way they wish. That being said, I also have my right to think and write about things in my way.

I am very disturbed by some statements I have heard from judges regarding disqualifications or lack of merit. The most disturbing statement is to put a dog that is oversize or undersize (yes, there are breeds that have standard addressing undersize) at the end of the line. That statement, which I have heard over and over again, is very disturbing to me! It was introduced to the judging world back in the ’70s and ’80s by a very knowledgeable woman who was very respected by the whole dog community. She was an outstanding breeder and handler, and then became a judge. Since she was so respected by the dog community in all aspects, judges listened to her and did what she had said. I do not know if she ever measured a dog or weighed a dog, though I am sure she did. The problem is she said, “Put them at the end of the line.” I also do not know if she ever excused a dog for lack of merit. Some of the judges I have spoken to have put them at the end of the line, as they think it would discourage the exhibitor from showing again at a dog show.

That may be true, but there is a way to deal with that situation, and that is to take the time to discuss why you are disqualifying or excusing the dog in a nice, friendly way and to make some suggestions about what he or she can do after they leave the ring. One thing is to discuss the merits of your dog with another breeder or exhibitor. Listen to more people than just one and take a look at your dog and compare it to other top-winning dogs. Talk to a breeder whom you respect. Read the breed standard, please. Go to a seminar on your breed or go to the national for your breed, listen to the breeders there and attend the breed education if they offer it. You will be surprised at what you may learn. After that, think about what the judge said and evaluate what the judge said about your dog.

I think some judges are afraid to measure and/or weigh, as they know most likely the AKC field representative will be watching. That is a lame excuse. There is a wonderful study guide that was written based on the presentation by AKC staff of what to do and how to do it when measuring or weighing a dog. I suggest you read it and take it with you for reference when you judge. (You can get this study guide on the AKC website. Go to Sports & Events / Judging Resource Center / Conformation Judge / Judges Education & Resources / Measuring and Weighing Dogs Study Guide.)

On the very first page is a sentence that states:

“Judges are responsible for acquiring the skills and knowledge for the proficient use of wicket/scale as an integral component of applicable breed study and per AKC requirement. Respect for the breed standard requirement is owed to breeders/owners.”

That last sentence is so true, and judges should judge with that in mind.

I have heard so many judges say to me that if they measure in Poodles the exhibitors will not show to them in the future. That is bull! That is my breed, and most of the exhibitors in other breeds will say the same. Most breeders and exhibitors respect the breed standard; if you are afraid to measure or weigh, you should not be judging these breeds. I mean that last sentence. I do weigh and measure when I feel that a dog does not meet the requirements for its breed standard. I also feel that exhibitors know I weigh and measure, and they do not show dogs that do not meet the breed standard. They will show those to judges who do not weigh or measure.

I have also been at a couple of shows where the AKC executive field representative did a presentation on how to measure and weigh for judges as well as breeders and exhibitors. I have attended two of these and they were well done.

I close this article with the wish that judges, exhibitors and breeders take seriously disqualifications in a breed standard, and sometimes weighing and measuring are two of them. There are also many other disqualifications, such as color and markings, eyes, etc., that need to be addressed by judges, and hopefully they are, but I see some judges are afraid of weighing and measuring. If that is the case, you must get over it, and do not “Put them at the end of the line.”


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