UNDERSTANDING JUDGING CONSISTENCY
E. Katie Gammill, Multi-Groups, Showring Editor, November 2010
Some Judges may be consistent but not credible. If consistently selecting overdone heads or too much coat, then a judge negates the breed standard.
Judging consistency means to hold to uniformity. Some judges may be consistent but not credible. By consistently selecting overdone heads or too much coat, a judge negates the breed standard.
Imagine a class of fifteen dogs entering the ring. Twelve are
similar. Three are “different”. Those who do not fit in are excused
in the cut. The other twelve are again judged. Puzzled, observers
question why outstanding individuals walked.
Does being different translate as being incorrect to the standard?
Why does a judge choose from the type most prevalent in the ring? Is
this the path of least resistance or do they fear sticking their
neck out? Picking winners from the most consistent type sends the
Perhaps judges should give a verbal critique
regarding placements. Then exhibitors could follow the judge’s
thought process regarding choices and his/her ability to analyze and
consistently apply the breed standard.
Consistency and predictability are not prevalent in judging today.
Some judges are “reliable in their choices” and some appear to just
pass around wins. Consistency reveals a judge’s expertise and
understanding of a breed standard. OR DOES IT? Perhaps it only
reflects personal preference. It might be soundness, color, eye
shape, or coat type, but if dogs are judged in pieces, what
encouragement is this for breeders to breed to the standard at all?
When searching for the overall dog, “pieces” should only be given
the importance referenced in the standard. The goal is to find the
dog that “fills the eye.” When “piece judging” is given more
importance than symmetry, a new “type” or trend evolves. The
enhancement of a fault that becomes so common place in the ring it
eventually is seen as a virtue? This is interpreted by many as "If
it wins, it must be correct".
Consistency is not always a reflection of knowledge and it may not
be possible in a small entry. The opportunity to judge a large entry
is both challenging and rewarding. It affords the judge an
opportunity to be more selective in their choices, IF they have the
ability to prioritize and analyze a standard properly.
What if they
don’t? Some judges make “off the wall selections” reflecting no
consistency at all. They may be supported for a time, but
eventually, support dwindles.
A judge who appreciates soundness or a good front most likely will
look for it in breeds other than his/her own. If one visits this
particular judge’s kennel, those virtues may be evident in his/her
breeding stock as well. There one should see consistency in body
shape, top line, and breed specific movement.
Once a judge sorts on pieces and makes cuts, chosen dogs re-enter
the ring for a second evaluation. Do judges ever seem confused?
Staring at a dog does not make it better. Judges who seek specific
virtues often put the entire breed at risk.
Judging is prioritizing according to a standard. If something isn’t
called out in a standard, IT DOES NOT MEAN IT IS ACCEPTABLE! Common
sense reveals all dogs have one head, one tail, two ears, two eyes,
and four feet, hopefully all pointing in the same direction unless
otherwise specified in the standard.
What new judges seek through education is NOT opinion. They are
seeking assistance in prioritizing according to the written
standard. Breed club members ask what can be done to assure their
judges education programs actually address their standard. Changing
mentors periodically during an educational period would not be
necessary IF educators taught the standard rather than personal
Property Classes confuse judges. “Having one dog represent an eye,
another foot, another ear, another a skull, another proper coat and
top line is like playing Sudoku with breed characteristics. Can’t
these virtues be seen on a single dog or bitch?
How is a new judge
to find a composite of all virtues combined, when the educators
offer a group of dogs and call out each virtue individually on a
separate animal? Judges quickly learn breeders differ in opinion as
to what they feel is important to them. If the mentoring process is
about what a “breeder wants”, why bother to show the new judge the
standard at all?
If one sticks to the standard, it takes less dogs, means less
confusion, involves less mentors, and is more encouraging to judges
new to the breed.
Judging on type with little knowledge of structure leaves winners
“all over the board.” This causes “fleeting fads” and generic show
dogs. A selection of the best of the best requires a judge to
analyze and select the dog that is a balance between “type and
soundness”, NOT front and rear.
Most judges seek continuous education. Good judges carry a
“template” of a breed in their head. They simply select the dog that
fits into the template. These are the judges who reflect
consistency. They understand that a “different” dog may be the only
correct dog in the ring. A confident judge with expertise, knowledge
and courage will reward accordingly. Then ringside will see a
picture of the true breed standard and perhaps be better able to
identify differences in the future.
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