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AKC Judging Approval


AKC Judging Approval Process as seen by busy Judges Boutwell, Shelton, Kay, Doniere, and Hastings.


In November 1996 we asked Is AKC’S current policy of advancement  and approval of judges too strict, too stringent, too lenient, or just right? Refresh your mind and memory of the judges who have passed away, then tell us who would you like us to ask this year? Click Here


Nearly an All Breed Judge, is such a sweet lady, I expected her to say everything is “just right” but she fooled me. “Huh, that is a tough one. I think judging approval is improving. I don’t think it’s just right, but it has merit even though I’m not real sure where they’re going with the new plan judging approval plan that they have. The plan had some real good ideas from what I heard, I was not in on that.


"I think that some of the things that they did were really very good and I hope they will be implemented in the future. Of course, there is a lot of room for improve­ment, but they are willing to try new things and I think that’s good.


"We have applied perhaps ten different times and each time it is a new policy. We’ve seen ups and downs and all kinds of different things. Trying something new is good except that some of the ideas haven’t worked out real well.


“It's good that they are willing to try something new. The plan changed as it went along but it needed that because when they thought the approval process had problems, you know, they were willing to change.”


JANE KAY (All-Breeds)

Her initial response was typical of her keen wit and no-nonsense-common-sense. She said “Yeah......?” smiling as she dared me, “You’re gonna hate my answers.” I told her I didn’t think so and she replied “They’re real pat. I’m not kidding you.” Now she had me going so I said ‘Go ahead, just try and disappoint me!””


She laughed, “You won’t believe this, but I don’t even know, I have no opinion on it. I haven’t studied judging approval - I don’t have to go through it so I haven’t paid much attention to it. All I know is that back in my day we had our own problems. And whatever they are today, they seemed just as bad back then.”


My turn to chuckle at her candor.  I asked if she meant the good old days were better. “You’re out of your mind! No matter when, if you go back to those early magazines, you’ll find the same problems, the same explanations, the same trying to fix it up. Which is ok, as long as people keep trying, something good is going to happen sooner or later.”


“As far as judging is concerned, it says in the Good Book that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, and if the Good Book says that, I don’t see why the American Kennel Club can’t do the same thing. If they can give approval and the people are not up to doing their jobs, they should also take approvals away.”

JANE KAY passed away Feb 2013. A particularly astute Chihuahua fancier, Jane was in her 90's but her legacy will live at least another century!



Multi-Group judge, wife of Pat Doniere, smiled, “Well, I don’t think it is that stringent any more, and yet it’s not very lenient. Seriously, I don’t really think judging approval today is a good, sound practice because it’s great if you are good at memory (although now with the open book test, it is a little easier), but I don’t think it really tells anything.


“Until you get into the ring and actually start judging, you haven’t the slightest idea on the many different types in different areas. There are big differences in some breeds and the tests don’t allow for that.


“Also, you read the standard, you study the background of the breed, so you have the basic knowledge but then you go to seminars, and there again it depends on who is putting it on and how good it is. It can be kind of one sided.


"When you take your interview with a rep who may or may not be that familiar with that particular breed, certainly they are not familiar with everything, you are really covering a lot of things.


“I think if you go through the initial testing, then it should be up to maybe a combination of the AKC rep’s report or your entries or the times that you were invited to judge. For instance judges that don’t get many invitations (I’m talking about Group judges now, the ones that have enough breeds to make it worthwhile for Kennel Clubs to hire them), if they are not asked on a regular basis, something is wrong.”


Judy lost her husband Pat in 2003.  The dog fancy mourned over losing part of one of the most popular judging couples of all time.  In Sept. 2009 Judy's daughter Tami notified TheDogPress that Judy has passed away. Read the Toledobes story


(judging at time of interview) was very thoughtful. After a moment he said with conviction “Well, it would be probably be more “too lenient” than “just right." I think that the whole perspective of judging and the procedure of giving breeds out could use more imagination... The whole system needs to be revamped, but I believe that in doing so there needs to be a broad spectrum of people who are involved with it, and there needs to be a lot more imagination drawn into viewing these issues.


“You know, I think judging is one of those few vocations or occupations that people come to that they don’t have to have, that there isn’t... (I could almost see him push the rewind switch)


Look, a few months ago, Jerry Schwartz wrote an article about turning judges into artists. Well first of all, people would never become an artist if they didn’t have ability yet we have people who come to judging that have no ability. I mean that’s pretty strong and pretty hard but it’s the truth.


“So do you let anybody be a judge? If a new judge is just awful, I don’t think that they should say ‘okay we’re going to make you do another five assignments and see if you’re ready.’ I believe they should give you a sabbatical for a year. You go back and go to seminars and learn about the breed and then after a year you are eligible to reapply and try five more assignments. I think that we’re being approved too quickly and nobody has ever taken any breeds away. They may make them do five assignments again but they never take them away.


“I believe that the staff is well equipped and just like a City Council votes on the laws and the rules, it’s the staff that implements them, and just as sure as you have a Mayor who starts getting involved in the staff, they typically are voted out of office the following year. And so I don’t understand all this stuff about the Board always wanting to be involved in controlling approval, that’s the other thing I really don’t understand.


“You know another idea that I believe too? I know that a lot of people won’t like this, but if judges were only allowed to judge a maximum of two groups, it would greatly improve the quality of judging. You would have a lot more people judging who had real expertise in their groups and they would be judging with more regularity because you would have slowed it down. They would only have one group, just a few breeds at a time. Now we have - it’s like a shrinking middle class. We have this big gap in the middle where there’s nobody really there. We have 20-30% of judges doing all the dog shows because the show chairmen are too lazy to sit down and work it out, or to make 30 phone calls. There are so many provisional judges out there who are willing to come for $3 a dog. It just takes a lot of time and effort and a lot of show chairmen aren’t willing to do it.”


In closing, Bill put it on the line, saying he would be willing to have AKC take away a breed if they felt that he wasn’t qualified to judge it!



Doberman handler, AKC Judge, the other half of "Pat and Bob" judging team (since deceased) told me right off that he wasn’t good at this sort of thing. Proving himself wrong, he was terrific and to the point!


“I think that what they have now for approving judges is as good as they have had in a long time. The only suggestion I would have is I think too much time elapses between the application and being able to take the test. I think they should be able to speed that up. They speed up everything else, so...”



Dog Show exhibitors are quick to complain about judging results but most quickly recognize judging talent and handler or breeder, they all respect greatness.


With travel expenses and entry fees nearly tripled since 1996, the more we learn about judges and how they are approved or advanced today, the better we can plan our show schedules.


If you judge one or more Groups or you know a Group judge who should be interviewed, please contact us


2013 AKC Judges Approval In Disarray


What do top judges think about the approval process in 2014?


20th ACEF Judges Institute Report & Pictorial Coverage EST 2005 © 1996-1411

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