By and For People Who Shape The Sport Of Dogs








Katie Gammill, Showring Editor / April 2010


Multi-Group AKC Judge-Club Officer offers simple but critical guidelines for both dog show judges and the specialty shows and kennel clubs who hire them.


EDNA “KATIE” GAMMILLThe phone rings - an invitation to judge. The judge pencils in the dates, a judging contract is coming. Months pass but no contract, no follow up.


During this time, a Specialty club contacts the judge. He/she turns the club down due to conflict. Still no contract is forthcoming. The judge calls the club. The response is “We were just checking to see if you were available."


All too often, the first invitation didn’t materialize into an actual judging contract even though a second judging invitation was turned down.  Two judging weekends were lost.


The American Kennel Club, in the past, insisted breeds be listed on contracts. Today, too many are “open ended” contracts. A Group may be listed but breeds aren’t specified. When the Specialty club calls, under the assumption of doing the Group for the prior club, the judge says no, can’t do that breed. Then, when the first contract arrives, many of the breeds in the specified group are not assigned to that judge. Therefore, judging the specialty WAS possible.


Problems ensue when breeds aren’t assigned until a month or so prior to the show. Understandably, breeds are often held for provisional judges. Perhaps if breeds had been assigned to that first judge, most judges would happily relinquish those breeds if asked. Some judges will not sign an open contract. Others want consecutive days to avoid “sitting out” a middle show. Some judges take that as opportunity to catch a seminar. Clubs used to work together on panels but that isn’t always the case and smaller shows have a tough time making ends meet.


Today, the AKC allows the hiring of provisional judges to be considered as a club educational requirement. Exhibitors at one time requested judges for panels. That has changed. Today a judge is guaranteed a group due to AKC support and networking. In the past, without support of the exhibitors, those unqualified fell by the wayside.


What is the show club’s responsibility?


It should always be a club officer who contacts the judge. Judging fees and expenses are determined. The club follows up with a judging contract within a reasonable or specified time.  The judging contract should include The Three “A”s.  Accommodations, Agreements and Airport.  If hiring a provisional judge, all details should be confirmed. Some clubs consider a limit regarding a provisional judge such as 175 dogs at $4 a dog. Some judges may feel shorted but it wasn’t so long ago that a tank of gas was a boon!  New judges lived to get their hands on dogs, even at their own expense. This was the price of learning and of doing business.


The show giving club makes provisions for judge’s pickup. Bless those members holding signs to identify themselves. Van drivers should carry a step stool. Realize some judges cannot move to the back of the van easily. When leaving the judge at the hotel, advise the judge whether or not a supper is planned.


Establish hotel payment prior to checking in. The desk MUST KNOW if the club’s credit card or a personal credit card is to be used. If it is a personal card, the judge will turn this in on his/her bill.  IF a hotel charges two credit cards, it takes months to correct. This can happen when clubs request a judge make their own reservations. Most hotels serve breakfast. Most clubs leave “goody bags” in the room. (Bless you!) A note on the pillow regarding pick up time is appreciated.


Upon arrival at the show facility, direct the judge to hospitality. During show day, a golf cart is handy for lunch break or if a judge moves ring to ring. Have a responsible person collect judge’s bills during lunch. Club members make every effort to insure judges are well cared for. Treat them nice!


What is the judge’s responsibility?


Return your signed judging contract immediately. Honor the first contract, even IF a better deal is offered. Advise club of arrival and departure time. Most judges are hired for the DAY! Travel arrangements should be convenient for the club as some locations are miles from the airport. In case of illness, breeds may be reassigned. Provisional judges may come and go. Book your flight early to save club money.


Include receipts, contract and air flight with the bill. Determine if meals are per diem, or expenses. When a judge uses air miles, this comes directly from THEIR pocket and it does NOT relieve the club of travel expenses. Once the judge is returned to the airport, the club is not responsible for inclement weather conditions or delays.


Appear at your ring thirty minutes before scheduled judging time. If you need an observation, contact the AKC rep early in the morning as they schedule their day. Follow up reviews come after judging, therefore courtesy reigns anytime there is a question, contact the AKC representative. They are there for you.


Judges come from different backgrounds and may see virtues and faults differently. Ringside is not the place to discuss placements, applications, or future assignments.


Accommodate requests for pictures. Dress comfortable but remember, you ARE officiating and judging IS a privilege. Give each dog allocated time and be kind to exhibitors. Your ring steward is your best friend. If questioned by an exhibitor, don’t feel compelled to explain placements. The exhibitor paid for your opinion, they got it! Do not allow yourself to be intimidated.


Upon leaving the show, make sure your check is the correct amount and is signed. Be ready, coat in hand and luggage by your side when the van arrives. Be kind to those club workers as four day circuits are grueling. Courtesy and kindness make a great day for the exhibitor, club and officiating judges.


Some evenings judges gather for dinner. Discussion regarding entered dogs should be held to a minimum. Due to diverse opinions regarding solicitation of judging assignments, be discreet. Even though now “legal” solicitation should be done with tact and consideration for those who don’t agree with the policy.  Good sportsmanship is the key to a successful show.


The AKC, judge, club members, and exhibitors must protect and contribute to this great sport.  Only by walking hand in hand can we secure the sport of pure bred dogs for future exhibitors. EST 2005 Apr 2011-2102

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