The Judges Place > Meet The Judges



As we look around ringside and note the vigor and health of elder judges, we should count our blessings that we are a part of showing dogs.  There's much we can learn from those senior judges who remain involved and engaged.  Dogs do keep us healthy!

David J. Kirkland

by Joan Weiskopf, Meet The Judge Columnist


Approved for: All Terrier Breeds, Giant Schnauzer, Standard Schnauzer, Affenpinscher, Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, English Toy Spaniel, Havanese, Italian Greyhound, Japanese Chin, Maltese, Toy Manchester Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, Pug, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, Toy Fox Terrier, Yorkshire Terriers, Bulldog, Poodle, JS, Best In Show (BIS), Groups 4 & 5 as of July 2006

MEET THE JUDGE IN THEDOGPLACE - DAVID J. KIRKLANDTDP: In which judged activity did you first compete? Obedience, Conformation, or Performance?
DJK: Conformation


TDP: About when was that and with what breed?

DJK: 1973 Miniature Schnauzer


TDP: Did you owner handle or have you always used handlers?
DJK: Owner/handler.

TDP: Do you have other dogs now and if so, what breed?
DJK: Cavalier King Charles and Japanese Chins although we're not breeding Chins any longer. We're still breeding Cavaliers and my original breed which as I said, was Miniature Schnauzers. I owner handled them but then I turned professional in that I was a specialty handler of that breed, much as there are specialty handlers in poodles or cockers.

TDP: Do you own other animals? If so what?
DJK: A few breeds of cats and specifically now Cornish Rex. I showed her to her Grand Champion title and a Best Cat In Show.

TDP: Which do you feel is more important in a breeding program, the dog or the bitch? Why?
DJK: Bitches because that is what seemed to be superior in the line I was breeding.

TDP: When considering a breeding, which do you look at first, pedigree or physical virtues?
DJK: I was breeding one specific line of Mini-Schnauzers and always was able to look for and find a match within that family.

TDP: What is the single most important physical characteristic you look for in a dog?
DJK: Breed type specific to the standard of that breed. What I might look for in a Peke would be different than what I would look for in a Toy Fox Terrier. They have different structure and requirements.

TDP: In what field are/were you employed outside of dogs?
DJK: Pharmaceuticals, I worked for Glaxo-Smith Kline for 27 years.

TDP: About how long have you been judging?
DJK: Since 1994.

TDP: How many breeds or groups are you currently approved for?
DJK: Terriers, Toys, Standard and Giant Schnauzers, Bulldogs, Poodles JR. show and BIS.

TDP: Do you plan to apply for more breeds/groups?
DJK: I may continue with the non-sporting group and also herding group.

TDP: Which breed (or group) do you personally enjoy doing the most?
DJK: Of course I enjoy every breed that I am approved to do because why would I judge them if I didn't enjoy them? If I had to say, probably Cavaliers and Schnauzers even a tab bit more because I know so much more about them. I know so many more of the nuances of breed type because I bred them for so many years. They are very dear to my heart, those two breeds. I think the closer you are to something, the more passionate you are about doing it.

TDP: What is the most annoying thing exhibitors do?
DJK: Running a dog when it is not appropriate for the breed.

TDP: What is the most important thing exhibitors should do in your ring?
DJK: Follow instructions.

TDP: Do you usually fly or drive to your assignments? Which do you prefer?
DJK: I prefer driving and fly albeit an unpleasant necessity.

TDP: Have you judged in another country, if so, where and which breeds?
DJK: England, Schnauzers, and Ireland.

TDP: Have you judged for another registry, if so, which one and which breeds?

TDP: What is the most inconsiderate thing a kennel club can do to its judges?
DJK: Leave a judge at the airport.

TDP: What is the nicest thing a kennel club can do for the judges?
DJK: Most clubs are more than hospitable.

TDP: What do you look at first when you turn to assess a class or group?
DJK: I send them around looking at type and movement. What you look at first is very dependant on how you structure your ring and since I bring them in and send them around first, that ends up being what I look at first. Side movement and how they hold their type in side movement, and then what I usually do is go down the line and look. And one of the things that hits you first is head type. You naturally start in the front of the dog and work towards the rear so the first thing that hits you is head type.

TDP: Do you evaluate puppies as puppies or as adults when selecting winners?
DJK: You have to evaluate them as puppies because that's what they are. You have to judge them as they are on that day and if they still conform to the breed standard, they can win. If not, then they have to go home and grow up and come back and win when they do conform. In that regard, toy breeds may have a slight advantage because they generally mature quicker.

TDP: What do you look for in judging breed as opposed to judging the group:
DJK: I always look for the same thing, I judge the dogs to their standards.

TDP: What advice would you give aspiring judges?
DJK: Be prepared for lots of paperwork and keep good records.

TDP: What was your most memorable judging experience:
DJK: I am most proud of the fact that I have judged the National for all 3 Schnauzers, Minis, Standards, and Giants.

TDP: Thank you for taking time to do this for our readers.

David Kirkland


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