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Judging To The Breed Standard

 

 

 

by J. Byer Jr.

 

This small addition to dog club contracts would promote excellence in judging, adherence to the breed standard, and preserve features of purebred type.

 

The educational requirements to become an AKC judge are not as complete as we would like them to be. It would benefit purebred dogs to raise the bar of educational excellence in a couple of areas. (We invite your suggestions below) While the A.K.C. judge is trained and licensed it is incumbent upon the club to pick up the slack and contract for exactly what the breed requires but they have not done so.

 

STEP1: It is a generally accepted academic principle that exams are a teaching tool. Judges are given a quiz on the breed’s standard as part of the A.K.C.’s requirements to be licensed. It is a 25-question test that does not touch on all requirements, not even some of the fundamental ones and it is an open book quiz.

 

If the test the American Kennel Club is administering to its judging corps is lacking in breed fundamentals, we can then understand why the results produced by their judges are also seriously compromised in both quality and breed excellence. We can do better!

 

The Rottweiler Standard describes a docked tail and yet the test given to judge the breed contains ZERO questions about tails. Consequently 8 Rottweilers with long tails have earned a Championship.

 

Alaskan Malamutes with level toplines are being put up because they are magnificent looking, BUT wrong! A sloping topline is one of the three essential things needed to retain their individual characteristics.

 

The Spinone standard emphasizes that it is a “head” breed and yet the test does not emphasize the head? Is this why there are many Spinone being shown and finished with bad heads?

 

The Doberman Pinscher is a cropped and docked breed yet not one breed test question mentions this fact. Notably the Doberman is the only cropped breed with NO description of a dropped ear in the Breed Standard yet judges are putting up uncropped Dobermans

 

In Cardigan Welsh Corgis, judges may penalize a high tail carriage by confusing that with a high tail set which the Standard deems a serious fault. The test questions do not make this distinction?

 

In the Sporting breeds only 5 out of 14 docked sporting dogs have a question on docking. The breed test asks about the tail action, the tail set or coat on it, but no docking questions. This goes to the importance, or lack thereof, of docking.

 

Breeders are dismayed that Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are being put up with coats that have been “played with”, i.e. stripping out undercoat, back-brushing, and putting on thickening agents. Coat is an important breed characteristic.

 

Some judges are eliminating Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever exhibits just because the tail lacks a white tip. This is NOT a requirement in the breed standard! There are two test questions about the color white that fail to make clear the standard’s statements on tail color.

 

The Schipperkes Standard states that either a level or scissors bite is acceptable yet there are judges disregarding this when judging the breed. A possible reason may be the AKC test; the only applicable test question is about a slightly overshot bite.

 

So, despite all the talk of educating the judges, it seems to end at the speaking of it. All Parent Clubs need to redouble their efforts to educate judges properly and combine it with our next step in order to be as proactive as possible.

 

STEP 2: Let me suggest that breed club show chairs have completely missed the boat by not tightening up their contracts with clauses to protect the Breed Standard requirements. Breed clubs are responsible for the protection and preservation of their breed so they should work with show giving member and host clubs to ensure the continuance of a standard-conforming purebred dog.

 

With all the attorneys in dog clubs you would think sound legal practices would be followed, after all isn’t “Contracts 101” the first year of law school? The contract created between judges and clubs covers transportation, food, travel and the judge’s fee but they have overlooked the most important, underlying reason for all of exhibiting; the promulgation of the breed standard in our exhibits.

 

Up till now clubs have concerned themselves with the judge’s fee and other amenities. The club provides accommodations, food and transportation but at the show the judge exercises full control over his/her ring. Wouldn’t it be wise to incorporate breed-appropriate language in the judging contract that exercises protective measures over their breed? After all isn’t this test of conformance to a standard the reason we exhibit?

 

Adding the following paragraph to the judge’s contract does not in any way dictate how the judge is to perform. It allows the judge to maintain his (her) independent decision but extracts a liquidated damage fee for non-standard placements. Putting up dogs that are not within standard requirements is harmful to the preservation of purebred breeds.

 

If the judge ignores the AKC approved standard of the breed and awards a dog which deviates from that standard, liquidated damages may be sought by ___ (club name) ______________.

 

The liquidated damage fee will be ____ ($XX.xx) __________. The judging fee may be used as part of the fulfillment of said liquidated damages. The liquidated damage clause is included to help advocate for adherence of the AKC breed standard. By not adhering to the AKC standard the breed is at risk and the club will have neglected its duty to the breed.

 

With the suggested clause added to judge’s contract, a club properly exercises its right and duty to preserve breed type. Judges may put up whatever they desire but will be penalized for nonconforming choices that contribute to the erosion of excellence.

 

With the two prong approach of improved education and contractual restrictions in the agreement, the breeds will definitely benefit; judges will be more diligent in their breed placements and exhibitors will have a truer evaluation of their breeding stock.

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