JUDGING ONE DOG AT A TIME
by Beverly Vics
Judging Best Of Breed at National Specialties and classes of 100 dogs, Beverly Vics’s method of individually showcasing every dog judged brings rave reviews.
It is a very prestigious honor to be invited to judge any
National Specialty, especially to judge Best of Breed. I
have judged Best of Breed at several National Specialties as
well as Pre-National Specialties, many of which have had
class entries of well over 50 dogs, some were more than 100
Specialties are the place to show off your dog. Whether it’s
a new puppy for the sweepstakes, your treasured Veteran or a
currently campaigned Grand Champion. It’s the place to see
dogs and have your dog be seen. Exhibiting in the Best
of Breed class at a National Specialty is about having your
dog on the “be seen” side.
judging Best of Breed at a National Specialty I judge all
the entrants in catalog order, and initially, with only one
dog in the ring at a time. I want to give each exhibitor a
chance to showcase their Champion and give myself as well as
the ringside spectators, the best opportunity to see each
dog presented individually. This allows the exhibitor an
opportunity to present his dog to me and to the spectators
without the distraction of other dogs in the ring.
observed Best of Breed at National Specialties many times,
as well as having exhibited in the class more times than I
can remember. When watching from ringside, if there are many
dogs in the ring, I am not always focusing on the dog that
is being presented at the moment. I can be easily distracted
to focus on a dog waiting for his “turn” rather than on the
one that is “up”. Perhaps it’s a friend’s dog, or one I am
interested in using for stud or from whom I would like to
purchase a puppy. In any case, I am watching some dog other
than the one being presented. I have had friends ask me
after the judging, “Did you see ‘Ch So & So?’” My answer
has at times been “no, I missed him, I was watching my
friend’s dog when that one did his individual."
Why Judge One Dog At A Time?
reason I judge one dog in the ring at a time is to offer the
spectators an opportunity to see each dog equally, without
the distraction of other dogs in the ring. This also allows
each exhibitor the opportunity showcase his dog to the
spectators. The “spotlight” is ALL his.
the judges I have seen judge large classes of Best of Breed
dogs split the large class into several smaller classes of
eight to ten dogs in each class. This seems to be the
popular way of doing it; getting through several smaller
classes, making a cut in each, then bringing back all the
dogs who were the keepers in each individual cut.
create an unanticipated problem. At one show I observed,
the judge split the large Best of Breed class into six
classes of ten each. The first class of ten that walked in
was a beautiful class of Specials. Seven of those dogs made
the cut. The judge then recorded those seven numbers for
recall and brought in his second class of ten dogs. This
second class of ten dogs was not nearly as strong as the
first group of ten. Only three of these made the cut. The
judge went through the rest of his groups keeping for
recall, three to five from each class of ten. Now here’s my
problem...of course this is only my opinion, but I thought
the three dogs that did not make the cut in that first group
of ten were considerably superior to several of the dogs who
DID make the cut in the subsequent groups.
to myself at that time “If I ever get an invitation to judge
at a National Specialty, I don’t want to do that.” Other
judges have told me that who makes the cut doesn’t really
matter, as long as you wind up with the best dogs in the
end. I don’t agree. As an exhibitor, if I wasn’t to win the
breed under that judge at a National Specialty, did it
matter to me that I made the cut? You bet it did. And to NOT
make the first cut and have dogs of considerably lesser
quality than mine make it because they were in a weaker
group of ten would NOT make me happy!
was first invited to judge Best of Breed at a National
Specialty, it was for my own breed. I did not want to have
the possibility that my BEST dogs were all in the first
group...and then have inferior dogs walk in with later
groups. Of course if you keep seven dogs from your first
group of ten, and the three you dismiss are still better
than anything that comes in later, you COULD not keep any of
those inferior dogs in subsequent cuts but, IMHO, if you
wind up with only seven dogs out of the whole entry, that
would be a slap in the face to the breed you have been so
honored to judge. But if you were to keep all ten dogs in
the first group because they are very good and that turns
out to be your weakest cut because subsequent groups contain
dogs that are ALL better than the first ten, better dogs get
cut and lesser dogs made the keepers.
Scoring One Dog At A Time
I said “Self, I will do it my way!” I decided I would bring
each entrant into the ring individually. Judge him against
the standard as I understand it and give each dog a score of
one to ten. One being not bad enough to withhold on and ten
being as perfect to the standard as a living animal can be.
I keep a scoresheet on a clipboard face down on my judge’s
table. My husband (or a trusted steward) sits right next to
it so no one can see what numerical scores I give to which
dogs. If my first ten dogs turn out to be the best of the
entry, they all received deserved high scores. In other
words, if all were in one group of ten, they would all be
keepers. Judging the dog against the standard (not each
other) and keeping the best in the group, the dog gets
scored on his qualities, no matter where his armband number brings
him into my ring.
procedure also gives handlers who have been hired to handle
more than one special an opportunity to personally show each
of their dogs for the initial examination. They don’t have
to ask to have the numbers separated into different
“groups,” nor have to get any of their dogs “covered” by
another handler unless two or more of their dogs should make
the final cut. My method gives the handler a chance to show
each of his dogs to the judge for the first time, thereby
giving each dog the best opportunity to make the most of a
first impression and actually make that first cut.
becomes the first dog in the “group,” fresh, not bored with
the procedure, overheated from possible weather, or simply
tired from waiting through the other nine in his group until
it’s his turn. Each dog gets the exact same opportunity to
be at his best.
steward is instructed to bring each dog in and have the
handler set him up in a particular place (sometimes that’s
where the videographer has requested). I take my first
overall look at the dog standing, examine him, move him up
and back, and then all the way around to stand before me. I
mentally note an overall score for this dog, based on
evaluating his strengths and weaknesses against the standard
and then I send him around the ring and out the exit. I go
back to my table and write in my mentally noted score number
next to his armband number on the sheet affixed to my
steward brings the next dog in as I am writing the score for
my previous dog so the procedure goes very smoothly. No time
is lost as when I turn around from marking my scoresheet, my
next dog is set up and ready for examination. I am not
concerned about the five or six seconds more it may take me.
Ten seconds per dog at 100 dogs is only about 13 minutes
extra. At a National Specialty, I should be taking more time
so each dog can be carefully evaluated more thoroughly. And
each handler has that showcase time to truly present the dog
at its very best.
have completed individually examining all the entrants, we
all take a lunch break. I sit with my husband (or trusted
steward) and go over all the numbers. I consider the quality
of the overall entry and what percentage justifies bringing
back in, usually 30 to 40 percent of the entry. Depending on
the overall quality and size of the entry, that could mean
all dogs that scored an eight or higher would “make the
cut.” I write the numbers of those dogs down for the ring
stewards to post so the handlers will know which of their
dogs made it through to the next round. I then go to lunch
giving everyone plenty of time to have the dogs that make
the cut ready to bring back into the ring.
always run the risk that your whole entry will be scored a
six or less.... or your whole entry is an eight or better...
wow wouldn’t that be great!! In either case, you decide
what percentage of the whole entry warrants “making the cut”
and then you keep the top scorers, lowering your “who comes
back” score if you need to in order to make up that
percentage. In one case, I brought back only tens, nines and
eights. Another time, I only had two tens so had to bring
back as low as sevens in order to make up a fair percentage
of the whole entry. And, “no” the two tens did not wind up
BOB & BOS. The initial scoring is only a first impression,
examination, and observation.
Judging Them All - The Finer Points
After the break, I get deeper into the finer points of the
standard, evaluating each of my keepers with a “fine tooth
comb.” It’s as if on my first round I am Monet, the
impressionist, but when each cut comes back in, I become
Guiseppe Armani and get down to details. Now I am only looking at the dogs I
consider to be the absolute best of the entry. I make a
second cut if the number of entrants warrants it. I then
select my Awards of Merit, Select Dog and Select Bitch, Best
of Winners, move BOB to the front of the line and BOS right
behind him/her. Sometimes it’s BOS and then BOB to the front
of the line. Always keep ‘em guessing!
always gotten positive feedback on my ring procedure from
the exhibitors, spectators and stewards. If an exhibitor
later wants to know what I thought of his dog, I can go back
to my scores and tell him where I scored the dog. Then if he
wants specifics, he should bring the dog back to me and I
will look at it again and tell him why he received the
negative feedback I have received is that the exhibitor does
not know which dogs made the cut until all dogs are
individually examined. But, IMHO, we shouldn’t know who made
the cut until all the dogs HAVE been examined.
How can you possibly know which are the BEST until you have examined them ALL, One Dog at a Time!
Related Article: Judging The Havanese
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