With Chow Chows, it's hip to be square.
Fri, 10/06/2023 - 9:32pm

Question of the Week

What is the one thing about your breed that judges don’t understand?

Jim Covey

Ballston Lake, New York 

If what you're looking at puts you in mind of a small setter, it should NOT win. The English Cocker Spaniels you reward with points or placements must have big bone, a big butt and big rib. Without those attributes, they are not good English Cockers. 


Vicki DeGruy

Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

There are a couple things, but I think the most critical is squareness. The length of the Chow's body from outermost point of the chest to the point of the buttocks must equal the height of the dog at the withers. Many Chows are too long in body, and it's the drag of the breed. Also note that the Chow standard does not make allowances for extra body length in bitches. They, too, are supposed to be SQUARE. 


Charlotte Patterson

Destin, Florida

Most judges do not understand the importance a wide underjaw on the Pug head. That width gives the head the required roundness. The slightly — repeat, slightly — undershot bite should always be considered to complete the rounded shape of the head as described in our standard.


Joan Zielinski

Olympia, Washington

When judging the Saint Bernard, what might be missed is the fact that these dogs must have strong, powerful, balanced movement like a true Working dog. Even though there is no section of our standard that specifically addresses movement, if the Saint is built as described in the entire standard, the Saint will move like the athlete he is meant to be.


Susan Shephard

Deltona, Florida

Just one? I'll try ...

Hair! Too many judges put far too much emphasis on coat. That is the last thing you should be concerned with. Look at structure, get your hands under the coat.  

That "cute" little bounce is WRONG; the dog needs to move with a side-to-side slight roll from over the shoulders. If the front is bouncing up and down, the construction is faulty. 

Moving just a few steps on the down and back ... NO! At least have the dog go halfway down the mat and back. They have to be sound enough to do that; they have to be able to breathe freely, never gasping. Learn how to lift properly and understand why you are lifting. Do not open the mouth; use the thumb exam, please. 

Please reach out to a Pekingese Club of America mentor in your area and they will be thrilled to do a kennel visit or meet you at a show to do some hands-on mentoring. Come to the national in December at Royal Canin for Judges Education. Go to AKC.org and review the slide presentation in judges education. Please educate yourself on this charming little breed and do them justice in the ring.

Please judge them as breeding stock, not a beauty contest! Thank you, off my soapbox now. 


Sharon Newcomb

Santa Fe, New Mexico

When standing, the Anatolian Shepherd has a drop at the withers, gradual arch over the loin and slightly sloping croup with a distinct tuck-up. ONLY appears LEVEL in motion. There is Sighthound back there. Every village had a Sighthound they hunted with. 


Barbara Casey

Neskowin, Oregon

They do not recognize the importance of the “lowness” needed in the body in order to do the Scottish Terrier’s job ... the lower, the better. Some judges are putting up too many high-stationed dogs without bone and substance ... not my breed ...


Doug Johnson

Bloomington, Indiana

For Clumber Spaniels, most judges miss the extreme type of this breed. They are massively built, low on leg and a huge column of bone. They have loose skin and call for a rolling gait. The pliable skin will move with the body and works as a protective element in the field. This can make them look more loose or watery in body compared to the other dogs in the Spaniel family. A tight-skinned Clumber is a bad one. With many breeds we see an Americanization trend taking place, with taller, finer, racier examples abounding. These are incorrect and represent all the wrong traits in one package ... beware!


Linda George

Waukesha, Wisconsin

The Chihuahua standard states the correct proportion as slightly longer than tall. It also uses a more definitive description of "off square," which implies that an obviously rectangular dog is incorrect. Chihuahuas should not be low and long, as I see many judges putting up the last several years.


Barbara Burns

Freeport, Illinois 

The Gordon Setter is square, with substantial bone. We don't want an Irish Setter in black-and-tan clothing. 


Lorene Wilson

Murrieta, California

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a head breed; they made their living with their punishing head/jaws as a canine gladiator. The muzzle must be broad, deep and for strength most important is a powerful underjaw for biting power; absolutely no loose skin or heavy lips. This breed should have a "punishing head” with powerful jaws, thin lips well above reach of underjaw and prominent cheek muscles. The ideal head proportions are linear length 1/3 muzzle with 2/3 depth from a distinct stop to occiput. Male and female should both stand strong at 14 to 16 inches in height with only slight weight variation. Temperament should be bold, confident and completely reliable; not shy or fearful but always respectful of humans.


Bonnie Threlfall

Cary, North Carolina

When you reward narrow-bodied, long-loined English Cocker Spaniels with front legs under their chin and rear legs reaching into the next county, you know nothing about correct Cocker type and should not be judging the breed. 


April and Todd Clyde

Selbyville, Delaware

Sparring and TEMPERAMENT!


Sandy Harris

Basking Ridge, New Jersey

There is a problem within some of the low-entry breeds unrelated to the judging of them. A judge reads the standard and attempts to judge accordingly. However, the "advantage" is that breeders are able to make majors by entering entire litters. The judge is then presented with dogs that may or may not be good representatives of that breed, but they are all similar. Points are awarded and dogs become champions. Advertising helps to present these champions to others in the breed. If shown consistently, these incorrect dogs can become high in the breed statistics. Some breed to these "winners." After a while, the breed presented in the ring differs from what the standard calls for. I have been part of a breed that is changing because of this. The standard calls for "slightly longer than tall" and "well-let-down hocks." What is seen and winning are square or taller dogs with long hock-to-floor pasterns. A judge can only judge what is presented on that day. I can name any number of breeds where this is true. Eventually, the standard is changed or ignored to accommodate what is being shown. Sadly, I have seen one breed that is totally unsound coming and going, but looks "good" on the side movement if the lead is held high enough and the dog is far enough ahead of the handler.

"Flash" and conformation are not necessarily the same. Sadly, this has become the norm in this breed and judges continue to put up incorrect animals. The more correct dogs look different and out of place. An astute judge will do the right thing and try to place the dogs that represent the standard. Do we fault the judges or do we blame those who show everything that they breed regardless of conformational faults? The internet helps (hurts), as all of the "oohs and ahs" and "congratulations" support conformationally incorrect animals. To me, the fault lies with the breeders and not the judges, who can only judge what is presented to them on any specific day.


Donna Gottdenker

St. Agatha, Ontario, Canada

Judges don’t seem to understand that because of the variation in coats and colors in Portuguese Water Dogs, the dog underneath must conform to the standard. Therefore, you need to spend more than two seconds on feeling the dog, then assess the correct movement, not generic movement. Think “pulling a boat from the water.”


Madeline Patterson 

Santa Rosa Valley, California 

The one thing I wish judges would understand when judging Poodles is that our standard describes a hunting breed, specifically a water retriever. To that end, we must not sacrifice the necessary good-bodied, sound-moving dog for the ultra-refined, exaggerated, huge-coated, fancy specimens we so often see winning today. Also remember, the same breed standard applies to the Toys as to the Miniatures and Standards. One final thought: Our breed standard calls for a square dog, not a short-backed one.

Mike Macbeth

Ontario, Canada

The one thing judges don’t always understand when judging a Dandie Dinmont happens to be two words in the standard that apply to the breed’s unique topline ... “slight” and “corresponding” — as in “a slight downward curve and a corresponding arch over the loins.”

Judges often reward dogs who are almost sway-backed behind the shoulder … and thus the rise is too dramatic over the loin. The topline should have a gentle, slight dip behind the wither, with, again, a slight (thus corresponding) rise over the loin. The line then gently flows downward to the root of tail, where the beautiful soft curve of the body is enhanced by the scimitar-shaped tail.  

It is important that the soft, flowing curve of the body be maintained; otherwise, the breed may see more disc problems in the future than it should. 

However, a flat-backed Dandie is equally incorrect.


Patti Clark

Newtown, Connecticut

In Greyhounds, outline is the priority! S-shaped curves are a must-have. 


Karen Staudt-Cartabona

Swartswood, New Jersey, and Houston, Texas

A fundamental breed characteristic that sets the Borzoi uniquely apart from most other breeds is the obvious distinction between dogs and bitches. It seems that newer judges do not fully understand how crucial these points are to the preservation of the breed as a Sighthound.

When mentoring I often use a comparison of the lion and the lioness. There is the obvious difference in height and bone, while only the male should carry the mane and fringing. Bitches carry a close, thick yet soft, stand-out body coat that frames the lovely "S" curves of the Sighthound body. Due to their cycling, they are at a disadvantage and should not be penalized for lack of coat. Patti Neale emphasizes these points when giving her outstanding judges’ education presentations. 

Looking down the line, a judge should never have to put "hands on" to check the sex of an entry.

Our AKC standard says, "Mature males should be at least 28 inches,” and “mature bitches at least 26.” Also, "Bitches, feminine and refined." (Height was even raised in 1972 when the standard was revised!)

Borzoi of correct lower-standard heights, regardless of quality, could never win today. My mentors who were master breeders taught me that to be correct a bitch should never be over 29 inches nor a dog over 32. The average bitch today averages 30 inches at the shoulder, dogs much taller. With the taller, more heavily fringed dogs more often being rewarded, size continues to creep upward.

With this excess of height comes another one of my archaic comparisons: A Borzoi should resemble and move similar to a thoroughbred horse. As height and bone increase, they actual more resemble the Budweiser Clydesdale, beautiful and sound, but not built for speed.

Sid Marx 

Mesa, Arizona

Unfortunately, there are many judges of Irish Setters who become mesmerized by the beautiful coat and forget that the standard says the movement should be as if they are reaching out and pulling the ground underneath them. Too many are looking at movement like Minpins that makes the coat fly and looks flashy. The breed should also have some substance in addition to elegance.


Ronny Junkins

Dallas, Texas

Of all the breeds I have observed or in which I have had experience, the Lhasa Apso is one of the most poorly judged.

From the watered-down, new and improved standard with all of its vague and ambiguous wording, to the not-so-new-and-improved judges-education presentation that in many ways contradicts the current, written standard, it is not hard to understand the problems facing non-breeder judges, who are forced to focus on just a couple of aspects such as teeth and coat, basically ignoring the rest of the dog, or by consulting the latest show catalogs. Anne Rogers Clark once said when judging a Lhasa Apso: "Look for the dog with type and hope it can move."  So many of the dogs in the ring today, while having a lovely bite and beautiful coat, completely lack type or the structure to survive in the environment of the land from which they came. 


Leslie Sorensen 

Keenesburg, Colorado

Australian Shepherd: Judges miss the word “moderate.”


Donna Bruce

Williamsburg, Virginia

When judging my breed, you missed ...

That the PBGV is neither a hairy Basset Hound nor is it a short-legged or a dwarf breed. It was developed from the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen, much as the Toy and Miniature Poodles were from the Standard Poodle (with the exception that the PBGV and GBGV heads are quite different). As quoted from Frenchman Paul Daubignéis, "It is no longer a small Vendéen by simple reduction of the height, but a small Basset harmoniously reduced in all its proportions and in its volume."

The Canadian and U.K. standards call the PBGV a short-legged hound. However, the AKC and FCI standards do not.

The AKC standard is very specific about the length of the legs:

“LEGS - The length of leg from elbow to ground should be slightly more than half the height from withers to ground.”

This measurement cannot result in a short-legged dog. Yet most Canadian, U.K. and several AKC judges award short-legged dogs and dismiss dogs with proper leg proportions.

The PBGV is a compact dog whose body is "somewhat longer than tall when measured from point of shoulder to buttocks ..."(AKC standard). Even if the body proportions are correct, a short-legged dog will give the appearance of being long in body/back, and that belies the term compact.

Early in the history of the PBGV, most of the dogs came from England, bred to the U.K. standard of a short-legged hound. Even today, there are many dogs coming from England and Canada bred to their standards. Therefore, judges are going to see short-legged dogs. However, judges, especially Canadian and U.K. judges, need to remember that they are judging to the AKC standard, in which a short-legged dog is not correct.

All other things being equal, a short-legged PBGV should never be awarded over a dog with proper leg.


Richard F. Sedlack

Middlefield, Ohio 

That the Poodle has three varieties, but all are judged against the same standard. 


Heather Humphrey 

Naples, Florida 

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever: Breed size - There are a lots smaller than the standard. The dog should be able to retrieve a full-size duck. Color - White markings acceptable but not required. Nose and gums should be pink.

Norwegian Buhund: Spitz and herding with crazy intelligence; easily bored and up to mischief. If it isn't lively, something is not right about it.


David L. Anthony 

Girard, Pennsylvania 

The unique front assembly of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. It requires a slight turnout of the front feet of no more than 30 degrees from the centerline. Please stand back and properly access this characteristic.


Kathy Lorentzen

Chesaning, Michigan

When judging my breed, the English Springer Spaniel, judges are not realizing that it is the “tallest, highest on leg, raciest in build of all the British land spaniels.” This is a quote from the country-of-origin breed standard. They must have leg length and not be cloddy. 


Diane Young McCormack 

Revo, Nevada

When judging my Dachshund, you missed … Checking for keel.


Geri Gerstner Hart

Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

Schipperkes: Schipperkes DO have a paragraph on gait, and they DO need to be able to move with "a smooth, well-coordinated and graceful trot.” We are seeing hackney fronts and terrible rears with no drive, and many with sickle hocks. I realize that breed entries are small, and there may not be much to work with at that level, but please do not award bad-moving Schips in group and BIS competition! It is not all about coat and silhouette.

Golden Retrievers: The first thought that should cross a judge’s mind is, “Is this dog in hard, working condition?” The Golden is primarily a hunting dog, and should have a strong, level backline — standing as well as moving. This should eliminate a dog long in the loin with a topline that rolls from side to side. 


Julie Felten

Wauconda, Illinois

The correct silhouette. The Parson Russell Terrier is approximately "square."


Susan and Larry Legg

Clayton, Delaware, and Homosassa, Florida

We have been breeding and showing Malinois for 31 years. There have been judges in the last five years missing that this is a square breed. Also, males should be masculine with bone. This is not a small breed; preferred height in a male is 24 to 26 inches and females 22 to 24 inches. If you see a male that looks big, wicket it. I would be willing to bet it is not big, and the wicket should be called on the small dogs in the ring instead making the correct-size male look big.

Malinois should not have light, round eyes; they should be dark and almond shaped. Also, incorrectly shaped ears and ears that are too big. Malinois should have a thick, coarse coat with a dense undercoat. Our breed should have black tips at the end of the hair, but shouldn’t be sooty black all over; they should not have a soft coat, or a long coat that hangs down, or a short coat like a Great Dane. They should not have a round skull; they have to have parallel planes. They also should not be straight in the shoulder and should not be over-angulated in the rear. They should not be cow hocked. Our standard says Malinois should not have extreme angulation. They should not gait with their head down with their nose pointing at the ground.


Terri L. Burrows

Tomball, Texas

In my experience, the most common thing judges do not understand about English Cocker Spaniels is that there should be significant width. From the front there is “fill” between the front legs, not just air and hair. Viewed from behind and above, the rib should be the widest part of the dog.


Shelley Hennessy 

Toledo, Ohio 

The Chinese Crested tail SHOULD NOT curl over the back and/or touch the back! The tail should be carried up (rather like an Afghan Hound). If you look across a building and can’t tell if it’s a Havanese or a powderpuff Chinese Crested, then it’s a bad tail!
Also, the Crested is a rectangular breed, not a square one! The word “rectangular” is in the standard!

Natalie Donnelly 

Franklin Park, New Jersey

Judges don't understand that Curly-Coated Retrievers are not supposed to look like Chessies and Labs. Bigger is not better! And they are the tallest of the retriever breeds. 


Mary and Scott Olund

St. Helena, California

Poodles are our breed, and the one thing that judges don't understand is that the breed is a total package, not pieces to be judged. 


Peggy Kotin

Boothbay, Maine

Above all, the Cocker must be free and merry, sound, well balanced throughout and in action show a keen inclination to work. A dog well balanced in all parts is more desirable than a dog with strongly contrasting good points and faults.


Sally Wuornos

North Branch, Minnesota

For Basenjis:

1. The males carry their testicles one in front of the other, not side by side.

2. Do NOT try to uncurl the tail. Some have the last few bones in their tail naturally fused. You can ruin Basenji for conformation if you try to uncurl the tail. 

3. You will see wrinkles on tris. On blacks or dark brindles, best if they are baited down.


Bill Stebbins

Port St. Lucie, Florida

The most misunderstood aspect of the Great Dane is color and markings. I don’t believe that this necessarily is a case of judges not doing their homework, but, rather, that the multitude of markings they can see in the ring is sometimes confusing. There are times when a lovely specimen is not considered for an award due to the uncertainty of a judge asking themselves: “Is that acceptable?” The Dane standard specifically states that “Faults of Patterns and Markings shall not carry as much weight as faults of conformation and breed type.” Our breed has DQs for color and not markings. As of January 1, 2019, the Great Dane has had seven approved colors: Black, Blue, Brindle, Fawn, Harlequin, Mantle and Merle. The color that often causes the most angst on the part of a judge is the Harlequin. Although the description of markings on a Harlequin is what we would all hope to see, the Harlequin gene is so unstable that we don’t get a dog with lovely show markings nearly as often as we would like. It is not uncommon for a Harlequin with wonderful conformation to have far less than desirable cosmetics. Therefore, a Dane judge often has to make decisions on those types of specimens. My own personal decision usually falls on the side of a dog that is a good representative of what a Dane should be … the Apollo of dogs, a dog that could hunt wild boar, a dog that stands foursquare and doesn’t show ANY sign of timidity. I would suggest that judges who are having difficulty with the color and markings in the Dane speak to one of our highly knowledgeable mentors.    


Steven Herman

Wesley Chapel, Florida 

The standard for the German Shorthaired Pointer states that the dog is “with a short back but standing over plenty of ground.” Many dogs are rewarded that have backs and loins that create a long dog. Side movement is often competitive with this, but Shorthairs can move well while conforming to the standard.


Diane McClurg

Gainesville, Texas

When judging my breed, the Labrador Retriever, you missed the hallmark of this breed: Type, head, coat and the otter tail that comes straight off the back.


Beverly Vics

Leesburg, Florida

HAVANESE: You TOTALLY missed the part of the standard that states, "The straight topline rises slightly from the withers to the croup." The Havanese is not a Sporting dog ... he should NOT have a level topline and reach and drive ... showing in lateral movement.
You missed the part of the standard that states, "The upper arm is short." This causes the called-for "RISE" in the topline: The total front-end assembly is SHORTER than the total rear assembly. ... Gait: "The characteristic spring is the result of the short upper arm combined with the rear drive." The shorter front assembly causes the FRONT to spring in order to facilitate foot timing. If the REAR is springing, it is not showing shorter upper arm. Spring in rear is caused by an overlong rear pastern, not a short upper arm. Lateral movement tells the whole story. The HAVANESE correctly has an unbalanced structure, giving it its unique "spring" off the front end.

AKITA: You missed the importance of the tilted-forward earset, following the line of a well-arched neck. Ears should be well on TOP of the head; the bell should NOT BE halfway down the side of the skull. Regarding the line from the inner eye directly to the bottom of the bell of the ear: IF correct, the eye will be slanted upward ... not downward.
You missed the part of the standard that says "strides of moderate length" on the lateral movement. Akitas are NOT supposed to move with the reach and drive you would want on a Rottweiler or German Shepherd or Sporting dog
You missed the part of the length of leg proportion being equal ... the Akita is an agile hunting dog in mountainous areas of Japan. He should have good length of leg under him for agility. He is not to have the heavy body of an Alaskan Malamute.


William Shelton

Pomona, California

In as much as adjudicators have less an understanding today of structural anatomy, how could we ask them to know what a good achondroplastic front assembly should be? As in many breeds the PWC. 


Janice Mcclary

Hacienda Heights, California

My breed, the Old English Sheepdog, should be "pear shaped": "Broader at the rump than at the shoulders."


Kathleen B. Kolbert

Naugatuck, Connecticut

The head on a Yorkshire Terrier is small and rather flat, the skull not too prominent or round. The muzzle is not too long. The eyes are medium in size and not too prominent, dark in color and sparkling with a sharp, intelligent expression.

What we are seeing in the ring is what is called a “baby doll head”: round heads, round eyes, very short muzzles, and overbites and underbites because of the short muzzles.

As a judge when I question this, my answer from the exhibitor is, "This is what I like."  

It is not a question of what you like or don't like. As breeders and judges, we need to follow the standard.


Michelle LaFlamme Haag

Cave Creek, Arizona

The one thing about Salukis that judges don’t understand is that the angles fore and aft must be balanced, with the front assembly set well into the body and the rear assembly set under the body rather than behind.


Meg Callea

Shelton, Washington

Balance, balance, balance, in make and shape. Dals should never be an exaggerated breed standing or moving, ever.


Carol Hamilton

Los Angeles, California

As an historian and dog lover, what I’m seeing is judges negating the history of the breed and the reasons for the standard. For instance: size, movement, coat. CAN they do the job they were bred to do for a substantial time? The essence of the breed is rooted in their history, and it appears that is what is missing. Dog that are Sighthounds ARE aloof, dogs that go to ground SHOULD FIT into a 9-inch-by-9-inch hole. Sled dogs SHOULD single-track. Companion dogs SHOULD show some personality. Terriers SHOULD have a presence, or, as one judge told me, a ‘TUDE. A very famous judge told me: Form follows Function. Watching breeds make me realize WHY the standard is so precise — because it goes back to their purpose!  


Sherry Gibson

Ocala, Florida

The Puli standard clearly states that the only requirement regarding coat is that it must be long enough to evaluate texture. It does NOT require cords, only the proper texture. Also, the length of the coat should NOT be used to place the dogs. Long cords are held equal with short cords or a brushed-out coat of proper texture.


Eric Liebes

Peyton, Colorado

When judging the Komondor, length of coat is a function of age. It is not an element of type or even a judging criterion. 


Bo Bengtson

Ojai, California

Whippets are not the easiest breed to judge, because the standard asks for seemingly contradictory characteristics: elegance and strength on the one hand, power and grace on the other. Too much of one and you get a carthorse, too much of the other and you get a weedy cartoon animal … Judges really need to learn the breed standard by heart!

The most common mistake all-rounders make when judging Whippets is probably to misunderstand what a good topline is. It's clearly spelled out in the standard: "The back is broad, firm and well muscled, having length over the loin. The backline runs smoothly from the withers with a graceful natural arch, not too accentuated, beginning over the loin and carrying through over the croup; the arch is continuous without flatness.” The “graceful natural arch, not too accentuated” is key: Not too flat but not slap-ass, either!

I also wish judges would not favor certain colors and markings: “Color immaterial.”

It’s not part of your question, but I wish our breed standard wasn't quite so negative. (I helped write it; I’m not blaming anyone but myself.) The words “undesirable,” “to be faulted,” “penalized” (usually “strictly” or “severely”) appear way too many times. And we already have seven or eight disqualifications!

Karen Fitzpatrick

Kankakee, Illinois

Border Terriers: Otter heads, otter heads, otter heads. Second thing? They are not long and low.

Miniature Pinschers: SQUARE! And a good hackney gait does not mean chin thumper!


Teresa Brown

Eminence, Indiana

They missed that Swedish Vallhunds are not Corgis. They are not "stocky,” nor short, nor squatty. They have tails, or no tail, or a stub. They are not as rectangular as Corgis. Swedish Vallhunds are a distinct breed.


Marjorie Martorella

Millstone Township, New Jersey

I think judges are missing the general appearance of the breed. This is mentioned in the first paragraph of the standard: “gives the impression of compact power and agile grace.” The ideal Pointer should be a series of gentle curves. They should not have sloping toplines, long loins and a lack of tuck-up.


Shawn Brown

Grass Valley, California

I think there is a big misunderstanding of the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno. They are not a "toy" hound. They are a high-prey-drive Sighthound that uses scent and sound with equal ease. The preferred size of eight to 12 inches seems to be largely ignored at the top end, but the smaller sizes are crucial to a successful hunt. They are extremely smart, and often could care less about giving "ears" when they know there is no good reason to! They do coursing, Fast CAT and agility because they love the hunt and the chase. They do NOT have reach and drive.


Phil Briasco

Ocala, Florida

The main thing people miss about the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is that you should move them fast enough to be able to see good reach and drive. Well-laid-back shoulder and discernible drive from the rear ... Topline LEVEL …


Kristeen Jepsen

Cortland, New York 

When judging my breed, Russell Terriers, judges oftentimes don't understand that we have three coat types. All of which go in the same ring at the same time. 


Gary L. Andersen

Scottsdale, Arizona 

Two things: 1. Gordon Setters are to be large boned; many now are lacking. 2. They are expected to move as fast as the other Setters. This is wrong: Gordons are to be moved with a slower, powerful motion.


Dina Burke

Augusta, Kentucky

Breed type! The Cocker Spaniel is a bird dog. It needs to have reach and drive to cover ground efficiently, which means correct layback of shoulders. A Cocker with shoulders all the way up by its ears should not be awarded, yet they win BIS due to poor judging of the wrong end of lead.  Also, proper Cocker breed type means good feet and bone, spring of rib. Balanced. I remember Annie Clark would check feet. Also proper head and width of muzzle — a “soft” mouth to carry a bird. Tiny, cute Cockers with poor headpieces, lousy fronts and awful movement should not be awarded! Most important, they must have excellent, biddable temperament: “Above all, must be merry.” Thank you. 

Lindley Henson

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

The wicket. PBGVs are a low-entry breed. We will not call the wicket on each other. Judges need to wicket rather than putting up a dog that is too big or too small, or simply ignoring the dog.


Denise Borton

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Unfortunately, there is more than one thing that some judges struggle to understand about the Bullmastiff.

The Bullmastiff has a NEARLY square profile. "The length from tip of breastbone to rear of thigh exceeds the height from withers to ground only slightly." Additionally, the distance from withers to elbow and elbow to the ground is equal. Please do not reward or consider dogs that are not symmetrical and balanced.

There are far too many dogs being shown today that exceed the height and weight limits stated in the standard. Dogs are to be 25 to 27 inches at the withers with a weight range of 110 to 130 pounds. Bitches are to be 24 to 26 inches at the withers with a weight range of 100 to 120 pounds. Although the more substantial dog within these limits is to be favored, remember that bigger and heavier is not better. A cumbersome and lumbering Bullmastiff would not have the stamina, strength and agility to track and hold a poacher. While there is no longer a modern-day use for the Gamekeeper's Night Dog, today's exhibits should still retain the function and ability for which they were purposely bred for.

Bite should never be considered as a preference for placement. There are too many other crucial aspects of judging that should take precedence, such as correct front/rear assembly, topline or tailset. Assuming that the bite is within the range of level or slightly undershot, the most important concern is that the upper and lower canines are set wide apart. This contributes to the broad, deep and square muzzle whose length compared to the width of the entire head is as 1 is to 3.  

For further and more in-depth educational resources, please visit the American Bullmastiff Association's website at www.bullmastiff.us under the Judge's Education tab.


Kristin Winter

Cape Girardeau, Missouri 

Proper breed type in the Dogo: concave muzzle with convex skull. 


Karen Mull

Lititz, Pennsylvania

Border Collies come in 17 colors and all should be judged equally. The other major item that I am seeing in the ring is judges awarding tiny Border Collies that would never be able to work all day. Our standard says that they should be 18 to 21 inches for females and 19 to 22 inches for males. My one female is 18.25 inches, and I have judges say that she is too big, because what is out there is so small we nickname them “sheltie collies.” I have another female that is close to 20 inches, and most judges think she is a male, even though she has a very feminine face.


Terry Hundt

Sandy Hook, Connecticut

My breed is the wonderful Doberman Pinscher! I find that today many, but not all, judges forget that we have a standard to abide by when judging. Dobes are more than a baiting, showy dog. Sure, we love their ability to make themselves look wonderful! We must remember they are a smooth, elegant animal with a beautiful head with parallel planes, a short straight back, a forechest, laid-backed shoulders, and balanced front and rear. Some of these attributes are definitely being missed.


Laura Libner

Grand Rapids, Michigan 

One thing judges miss with Pugs are the nuances that give them their character. Pugs will be silly from time to time and aren’t all little soldiers willing to stand perfectly still and correct all the time in the ring.  

I see a lot of Pugs missing details that “finish” them in having correct breed type: short, straight hocks; a well-angled stifle; legs well underneath, and level topline. They are not supposed to be a tall, flashy dog, but compact and well balanced.  

The mouth exam is often done incorrectly, with the bite being man-handled by some judges. The lip line should be even and smooth — little details like this that some judges miss or aren’t aware of.  


Sue Bauman 

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

I have Dalmatians, and the spotting is often misunderstood or misinterpreted by some judges. There can be large amounts of spots that have white hairs intermingled and are not patches. More mentoring with a breeder may assist with the understanding of what is a patch and what is just heavy spotting. I also feel that judges should have refresher guidance on the use of the wicket. This is a breed with a DQ on height, and judges should be confident in their ability to properly use the wicket.


Sandy Bingham-Porter

Charleston, Illinois

There’s more to a Maltese than a long white coat; there’s structure to consider underneath and it’s being overlooked frequently.  


Donna Hills

Atlanta, Georgia

Miniature Schnauzers do not have short necks. The breed standard is clear: “well arched neck.”

The coat is a dense, double coat with wiry outer coat. A slick, flat coat is a fault.

The Mini is “nearly square,” not short backed or square. 

Hallmarks of the breed: big body, “robust” and forechest with a Working dog balanced gait. 

The correct expression on a mini is “down the nose,” not looking up like a Havanese.


Larry Payne

Easley, South Carolina

My breed is Dachshund. Most judges do not understand that the Dachshund breed standard calls for the Dachshund to be FEARLESS and NOT SHY or TIMID or SCARED. I witnessed many a judge give BOB, BOS, WD, WB and ribbons as well as group placements to Dachshunds that were SHY, TIMID, SCARED, and should have been disqualified from the ring since it is a serious fault. 

“Temperament: The Dachshund is clever, lively and courageous to the point of rashness, persevering in above- and below-ground work, with all the senses well-developed. Any display of shyness is a serious fault.”

I have seen Dachshunds that were so shy or scared, a judge could not examine them on the table. I have seen Dachshunds so shy, they stopped six to 12 feet away from the judge and would not approach any closer. And they were judged BOB and given group placements.

And exhibitors joked about how bad it was when it was so obvious.


Gladys W. Knox

Artaagh, Pennsylvania

The correct bone structure, which creates the proper Pekingese rolling movement.



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